Studies of the Human Body, Francis Bacon, 1970 (Fair Use)
by Joseph Spece
In Bacon’s Studies of the Human Body (1970), a panel pays skewed homage to Caravaggio’s Narcissus or a Narcissus by the Caravaggisti.
In mauve space, suspended on a convex plank too skinny to sail her, a globular figure trades breasts for digits & other definition; this Narcissus is denied her reflection, looking into mauve, finding mauve. There is——appointment in the right arm, as if it could buttress all the gaze in the head; & the left heel arches expectantly, posing its body-jelly closer to the self that may yet swim up from dreamlessness.
Does this Narcissus dream her double?——maybe not. Its steadfastness is more a matter of nadanusandana——unstruck sound, inner sound——living on a white limb. A form distended with mythlambic, historiolambic, but no history in fact. I can detect a thumbprint on her. She is deformed with a freight saying Look, but hasn’t got Narcissus’ world-weariness, just the dreamlessness of a named thing whose being is subtended in the naming. What taxonomy! I’m named Narcissus.
What if someone gave her a couch & brief outline of trials. BOTHERED BY A GIRL. HANDSOME AS FLOWERS. LANDSCAPE ROCKY & WITH LAKES. Well, she could imagine rising; that no double’s forthcoming might make her metaphysician in pink-purple, one that, fated to retire in double-discovery, turns and swims off the canvas, fine as a fish. Or the sado-anal character could deepen, instructed so to govern its gaze like a bladder, like piss; before she ever fancied an object was worth wagering her fantasy of self-sufficiency, she’s parted there from Nothing and told Look!——when her nadanusandana says Listen, in the boundary of void like a baby, Listen here (since there’s only here), Listen here.
This post-Narcissus is neo-Narcissus and pre-dream for being pre-lack, dreamless for being pre-lack. The concave flap of a fish on sand? A one-phrase ploce in a tongue one phrase long.
About the Author:
Joseph Spece lives outside Boston, MA.