Thursday, February 23, 2012

Echo's Haunting Reflections

My route home took me through Herbert Park and to my surprise, the pond was half drained. What an opportunity for a photograph I couldn't normally take! A woman throwing food brought the birds and they took up their place in the image. The remaining pools in the pond reflected the blue sky and the gulls picked up the colour from the water. The reflected world is the conquest of calm, says Gaston Bachelard in his seminal "Water and Dreams". Narcissus stares at his reflection in the water but to be fair, he sees more than himself. His reflection is surrounded by a forest that stands in for the whole world. so Bachelard ascribes to Narcissus a creative imagination in which his reflection engages with the cosmos. Narcissism also brings beauty, concludes Bachelard. Yet it does depend on the season. In spring and summer, reflections are crystal clear compared with those of winter. Objects just can't get sufficient purchase on the pool for a decent reflection. But are objects responsible for their own reflection?  In mythology, Echo was punished by losing her voice. She could only repeat the other's words.  But she falls in love with the beautiful self-admiring Narcissus. Hearing Echo in the forest, Narcissus calls "Who's there?" But Echo can only respond likewise and when she reveals herself, Narcissus recoils, wanting to be left alone with the reflection of his beauty. Rejected, Echo pines away in the forest until nothing is left of her voice except crying. Maybe Echo is here, haunting the reflections in the Herbert Park pond.