Paint Not the Thing

But the effect it provides.

You can see them in Goya: the cannibal Time eating his children, the hooded sisters pointing to the door, bodies swallowed by the earth. In the end, he was exploring the color black, not as an abstract idea, but in earnest, to know its texture. In its light, he found the spirit to move his brush. 

Rothko called them performers, the dark shapes standing by, alternately actors and choral elements in a tragedy. Out of the quarrel, we seek some calling into flight. Lorca would wait for the ghost and when it came, let it harness him by his own words.

Oh death. How she insinuates, with her senseless black strokes, some corkscrew in the guts of our continuance. She’ll have your eyes first. Here is the danger in being willing to follow. You become a walking sepulcher across sacred grounds as the somber eagles look on, poised to carve wild chasms through what moves.

What to say on these occasions? It may be this or that, but preferably both. Let only the delirious and lucid speak here. The written page is no mirror, but a way through the hall of mirrors, to these shapes that linger just beyond.


The title alludes to something Stephen Mallarmé once wrote, attempting to explain his “new conception” of poetry. I came across this in reference to the work of Robert Motherwell.