World class end times

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What the mirror showed

The mirror showed what it chose to show, never what the viewer demanded to see.

The mirror didn’t show the back of his head, because the back of his head didn’t exist. You peered into his mask from the inside.

The mirror showed a mannequin but not the blood, brain, heart, lungs, intestines and other organs inside you.

The mirror showed a pile of masks, some cracked, all dirty. You stood next to them, but the mirror didn’t show you.

The mirror didn’t show the nightly massacres taking place behind your eyelids.

The mirror showed pages torn from a notebook, covered in poems, diary entries and obscene doodles, all artfully arranged in the form of a man.

The mirror showed a spurt of blood, a smashed camera, strewn flowers, a copy of Hamlet.

The mirror showed a hand in a glove, a bird in a cage, a thought in a head. You turned off the light to extinguish all three.

The mirror showed a forest, a little girl, a dead wolf. Outside, sirens howled.

The mirror showed your future. Your reflection’s cold, grey skin and sagging mouth smelt of death.

The mirror showed her washing her hands. Blood spattered the white sink. Behind her, in the doorway: a man made of rusty knives.

The mirror showed him the mask he thought he was wearing, not the mask he was wearing, which resembled his face.

The mirror didn’t show the masks you’d buried like corpses. You smoothed your black skirt, admired your stilettos. You were dressed to kill.

The mirror showed itself. Nothing on its silvered surface was real. You stood in front of it, staring at a face.

The mirror showed the house’s empty shell. Vapour trails scarred the sky. Elsewhere, in a dark room, you put on your tie and your fright mask.

The mirror showed a cat, a broken bottle, a trunk exploding with fake furs. She kept to the shadows, out of the light of the setting sun.

The mirror showed your most acceptable mask. While you shaved, the man on the other side of the glass dragged a blade over his throat.

The mirror showed a dream superficially indistinguishable from your day-to-day life. You had no idea.

The mirror showed an empty stage. The audience could be heard muttering and coughing. Put your mask on. Perform.

Garish oneiric pop art

These are the pictures I made as part of my experimental review of M K L Murphy’s novel, The Isle of Minimus. Each comprises a photo of a page from the book, over which is superimposed an object that in some way (and for a particular purpose) represents a human being: a baby doll, a first aid dummy, Barbie dolls, a mannequin. I gave each picture a border, made the colours as gaudy and unnatural as possible and, in two cases, added large symbols and references to the viewer and/or artist (eyes, cameras). I wanted the pictures to connote playing cards or perhaps the starting point for a Twentyfirst Century tarot deck. Their garishness and symbolism sprang naturally from Murphy’s book.

Each of my four pictures became the stimulus for a short text, in which I played freely with characters, themes and images found in The Isle of Minimus. The four-part text-and-image piece is not so much a review of Murphy’s book as a rear view of it, an irreverent but affectionate take on it. I approached Murphy’s theatre not from the front, with its impressive facade, but from the back alley and through the stage door.

You can read my rear view at Minor Literatures.