The Truth of Youth


LE MIROIR by Robert Aickman

“Genius, however, comes normally in inverse measure to the capacity to impart. The two things are strongly opposed.”

Unless one can balance them — as in Niemandswasser’s bi-polarity backdropped by time’s slowth — the latter being the ever-durability summoned by Aickman’s own lasting genius, here in Celia become paramount. Lasting beyond death with the rats eating you now transcended  by a  self-harming, an obsession  as aided or abetted  by insidious mirrors with many of which she had been brought up — and eventually by her own choice of knives and their durable threat of the final cut of all. The gangrene of time cut out or cut off from the body literally and from  the ageing mind metaphorically to hopefully help create the truth of youth again — while somehow swaddled by the celebratory figures of various  Arts, both geniuses and mediocrities, as named here.  

A version of Dorian Gray? So, what of that sense of immortality’s nullity? With Time itself to become the “divine benediction” of Celia’s “soft stole.” Or a sharp flaying and flensing? This a culmination of what I have found so far in Aickman’s work? Or is there never such a culmination when genius is involved?

Beautifully and complexly couched portrait of a well-bred young lady artist sent to the ateliers of Paris, a new life away from her very very old father, a new era for her as disarmingly launched by the  meal she once had with the family solicitor’s chief clerk. A meal that is later seen as  having been as a ‘romantic’ one by such an inferred male mediocrity…?

“Time flies when we watch it, but has no need to fly when we ignore it.”

…which perhaps evokes again that different version of  Dorian Gray?

“…that last payment she was able to make and had made more prematurely than ever, came to be overlooked altogether.”


My other ongoing Aickmeanderings:

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