Quantitative demo: Dickinson > Poe

The other day I posted this portrait to my Tumblr over a caption by Emily Dickinson: “I see thee better in the dark.”

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Instantly the likes and reblogs began pouring in, and by the time the flood let up there were 255 of them.

Last night I posted this portrait over a caption by Edgar Allan Poe: “How statue-like I see thee stand, / The agate lamp within thy hand!”

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Total number of likes and reblogs as of late this morning: 2.

A double portrait of Virginia Woolf and William Butler Yeats

The Open Culture blogpost “Virginia Woolf’s Personal Photo Album Digitized & Put Online by Harvard,”

http://www.openculture.com/2018/01/virginia-woolfs-personal-photo-album-digitized-put-online-by-harvard.html

links to Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Monk’s House album 4, dated 1939 but containing items from earlier and later. Online, one undated page from the album looks like this.

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Here’s a Photoshopped detail.

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Notes toward a theory of this portrait

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It must be seen that you aren’t a being that smiles.

Gaze is a contemplative gesture. Downward gaze might represent a self remembering what it has felt; upward gaze might represent a self imagining what it is going to feel. In these instances and all others, the represented self is a self looking inward. Nothing outside the self can be thought to matter. That is, in a portrait nothing except the self can be seen to matter.

Technical note about that: in a portrait, selective focus has the effect of subordinating and excluding from consideration all that is not face, contemplating.

Test: as portrayed, does your face entail the term “distinguished”?