Thursday, September 30, 2004

remembering parmagianino in an ambassador hubcap

Yesterday.

Hot afternoon. The low, once riverside, walls of the Red Fort passing on the left.

On the right, the reflection of the autorickshaw I'm travelling in, both spherical and elongated at the same time, in the spiralling convex chrome hubcap of a slow Ambassador taxi, moving parrallel in the traffic.

a bit like the convex mirror in which parmaginiano saw the reflection that he painted on a wooden demi-hemisphere.

of course, i don't know that then.

the hubcap reflection brings two memories -

one, a shot in a movie. the camera person reflected in the polsihed chrome of an ambassador hubcap. the hubcap of a taxi belonging to a sikh driver - a survivor of savage riots of 1984. a film called Delhi Diary, by Ranjani Mazumdar.

another, a half memory, of an interview with David Duchovny read years ago, DD whose Fox Mulder character i idolized through high school. a half memory, of him reciting lines from a poem about a man called parmaggio looking into a convex mirror. snatches of a poem read before google.

but now - i quickly called monica, who i knew to be at home, comfortable in her love for poetry and her mean abilities to tweak information out of dubious googled data. i gave her the words - parmaggio, looking into a convex mirror.

half an hour later, i knew that it wasn't parmaggio, but parmigiano, and the poem was "Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror", by John Ashbery.

the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Memory is actually a fun-house.

As Parmagianino did it, the right hand
Bigger than the head, thrust at the viewer
And swerving easily away, as though to protect
What it advertises...
- John Ashbery




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