On the Bookshelf

Contributing Writer

If you were asked which you would prefer to be, a window or a mirror, which would you choose, and why?  Perhaps we might like to choose both, or neither.  The metaphor of window and/or mirror is rather an interesting one, if we can muster up the creative energy to contemplate this.  Thinking what the mirror does as a function, and then doing the same for windows begins to shed a little light on the premise.

Mirrors always and only reflect exactly what is in front of them.  When that something is removed, the reflection also is removed.  There is truth in the mirror.  Whether that truth is understood is another matter altogether.  Think of the witch in Snow White who received her daily ego fill-up from her trusty mirror, “fairest in the land,” at least until she was not the fairest in the land anymore.  Was she ever the fairest?  If she was, it must have been a tough land!  That really got her goat.

Windows allow light through while blocking natural forces like wind (perhaps window is some derivative of ‘wind-out’?), air and water.  The window helps with regulating the inside of the house in relationship to temperature, moisture and serenity.  What the window does let in, if it is clean and clear, is light.  What is the function of light?  It illuminates.  It brings ability to see.  It also happens to allow mirrors to function.  No light, no image in the mirror.  There is wisdom in the mirror and the window.  Do we act as windows and mirrors for each other?  Does the world do the same?  It is interesting inquiry.

Today’s book is a selection of interviews given by and with Andy Warhol.  I’ll Be Your Mirror is a collection of talks Warhol had from the sixties, seventies and early to mid-eighties.  The topics covered vary from art, film, people and paparazzi, current events of the times and general and varied subjects that arose during the discourses.  The Q&A interview was Warhol’s favorite medium for public interaction, outside of his creative arts.  The book is edited by Kenneth Goldsmith and published by Carroll and Graf Publishing.  It was assembled in 2004.

Andy Warhol is perhaps best known for some of the simple poster art he devised, simple in content, not so simple in concept.  The Tomato Soup cans, Marilyn Monroe images and other topics set on a poster space in repetitive patterned order was a unique a popular concept he utilized.  He also developed a great host of film shorts and pop-imagery along the path.  He began and ended as a supporter of the arts and new artists emerging.  He also had a bent towards religious and spiritual imagery early and at the end of his life.  

What did Andy Warhol try to show people, considering he viewed his work as a mirror?  Popular culture would be a quick and easy response.  Then we would need to define what is popular culture, or course.  What makes cultural events, items and so on popular?  How do we measure popularity?  What was the culture he was trying to mirror for his onlookers?  There are a tremendous host of rabbit holes to go down when we try to say popular culture and know what that is.  Maybe that was one of the messages of Warhol.  

A quote from one of the interviews that sticks is that “Beauty varies for everyone.”  What is beautiful to one is not to another.  Is there a root to all beauty and the idea of beauty?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, has been uttered before.  Warhol certainly had his own take and approach to his idea of beauty, to the agreement of some and disagreement of others.  The simplest approach is always going to be a general acceptance of a message (window), and then a look into this or that experience (mirror) for some personal message.  We are all on this trip together, sailing along in our own little boats.  Warhol seems to have enjoyed his ride, left a little something for us to ponder and as with all things came from God and returned to God in the end.

Enjoy and read on!

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