by James R. Hugunin 

(1983, revised 1991)



What a lot of texts we could quote which tell that the eye is a center of light, a little human sun which projects its light on the looked at object, well looked at in a will to see clearly.
mmmmmmmmmmmm—Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie

But on high all bodies are pure. Each of them is like an eye. Nothing is hidden nor anything pretended.
mmmmmmmmmmmm— Plotinus, "The Soul"

The sun-disk as emblem of the eye is an ancient device . . . the pupil is so called because of the doll-like reflection of the one who looks into it.
mmmmmmmmmmm— Francis Huxley, The Eye

The eye, she said, was egg-shaped. . . . She played gaily with words, speaking about broken eggs, and then broken eyes.
Georges Bataille, Story of the Eye



The museum encloses and displays. Like a frame it defines inside from outside, giving value to what resides within. In a 1992 essay, "A Discourse (with Shape of Reason Missing)," John Tagg argues that, "What defines the museum as frame is thus the constitution of the space that constitutes art yet effaces itself in the visibility of its works." He goes on to note that this can only take place "by excluding what remains as other, its heterogeneity reduced to the status of non-art." This has been cleverly done by traditional art history's regarding vernacular images of the ilk discussed in the following essay as objects of "material culture," rather than "art" proper. My essay is an attempt to blur the edges of that connoisseurial frame.

I have chosen to write on a vernacular image, a portrait of a young girl, taken by a photographer in Albany, Oregon in the late 19th century (sometime between 1868 and 1884, most likely around 1880). According to Albany's States Rights Democrat (January 7, 1881), this photographer, one A. B. Paxton, sojourned from Ohio, settling near Halsey, Oregon in 1852 where his first venture was in the harness and saddlery business. In 1856, at age 23, he married a 15-year-old Nancy Jane Gray. By 1859, in partnership with a Mr. Thompson, he established in Albany the first photo studio in the valley; eventually occupying the entire upper part of Froman's Block in Albany, it became, according to a local paper "one of the oldest and most justly celebrated photo-art firms in the Northwest."

By 1868, Paxton had bought out his first partner but, in 1884, found it necessary to obtain a much younger partner, a Mr. Crawford. Local records indicate at the time of Crawford's association with Paxton, the firm had $3,000 invested in apparatus and fixtures. By around 1900, Andrew Paxton's health began to fail and he spent several years traveling in hopes of recuperating, during which time his partner ran the firm. He never regained his health and died in Newcastle, Indiana in the Spring of 1902. The Albany Historical Society sent a sampling of Xerox copies of portraits by Paxton held in the Society's archives, none of which approached the enigmatic and uncanny aspects found in this young girl's portrait.

Winnoa Josephin Irvin (c.1880) A.B. Paxton



I can't describe Miss Winnoa Josephine Irvin. I can hold her full-length portrait before me, looking at her in her analogical plenitude, as Roland Barthes would say. Yet this very fullness of mirrored presence frustrates a simple description. It's not just a matter of me being imprecise or incomplete in my method. To describe, Barthes has quipped, "is to change structures, to signify something different to what is shown." [1] I can only approach a description of Miss Irvin asymptotically. More precisely, to the denotational level of the photograph is grafted ". . . a relay or second-order message derived from a code which is that of language and constituting in relation to the photographic analogue . . . a connotation . . . " [2] I begin to marvel at the myriad of "meaningworlds" contained within this curious turn-of-the-century portrait. My meditations take the form of three perspectives, three interrelated close-readings of Winnoa Irvin's photographic likeness. These readings are, respectively, structural, sociological, and psychological, constituting three second-order commentaries "parasitic" on the photographic "text" sitting before me on my desk.


"Divine Omniscience," from Dans le
(lithograph, 1879) Odilon Redon

A young girl leans against a table with an air of relaxed masculine self-assuredness. Her left normal eye coolly returns our gaze, the other veers abnormally off to her left, establishing crisscrossed sightlines. To look at her is not unlike gazing upon the bust of Nefertiti (ca. 1350 B.C.) in full frontal view where one notes the placid gaze and the statue's missing left pupil, a defect analogous to this girl's that is often hidden in reproduction by photographing the bust in profile view. [3] Her perfectly ovoid face and unnervingly placid, eternal watching recalls that "Renaissance Nefertiti," Leonardo's Mona Lisa (1503). [4] The girl dominates the plane of eye contact; she is fascinating for she is becalming. On the table beside the girl rests a framed portrait, a picture-within-a-picture that resembles a glazed eye; passive, it reflects what the camera's eye that day did not see directly. Behind the table, on a tall pedestal, rests a large ornate Ukrainian Easter egg, looking very much like a plucked eye, Ralph Waldo Emerson's eyeball metaphor — "I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God" — objectified. [5] On the girl's left stands a frilly chair looking more feminine than she. These odd manifestations, among others, begin to constitute the uncanny rhetoric of the image behind which lie strewn fragments of myth and history.

Pulpit Decoration (detail, 18th
century), Servitenkirche, Vienna

I turn over the 4¼- x 6½-inch cabinet card, the material support of this portrait, and read the "verbal translation" of this image. Written in an elegant hand in the upper left corner of the backing is the curious name "Winnoa Josephine Irvin." A sharp pen quill has gouged the appellation into the print's backing — a support finely decorated with a delicate faded green floral pattern — visibly wounding it.

I assume the name refers to the child portrayed. Centered on the backing, printed in eye-catching red ink, is the portraitist's logo. The contents of this insignia bespeak the wedding of two ofttimes divergent perspectives, art and technology: a view camera is flanked by a painter's palette on the left and an oval- framed portrait on the right. Behind is pictured chemist's paraphernalia. A sunburst pattern highlights the composition which rests upon an elaborate scroll design. If you see the similarity of the oval frame, palette, and lens (due to the oblique angle view) to the ovoid eye-shape, then the overall design appears not unlike the Baroque pulpit decoration of the Servitenkirche, Vienna with its emblematic eye situated in the center of the triune sunburst designating the authority of the creative logos. [6] The portraitist thus symbolizes the identity of light with both creative inspiration/ truth and the natural means by which a photograph is made. Here we do not have the chance encounter of a sewing machine with an umbrella on an operating table, but rather a self-conscious professionalization and aestheticization of the photographer's product that attempts to unite spirit and nature. Not surprisingly, below this logo the portraitist identifies himself in a way than foregrounds a pretension to creativity:

Photographer and Artist

Back of cabinet card photo by Paxton

In "reading" this portrait of Miss Irvin, I must interweave these verbal declarations with the ambiguities of the visual information in the portrait. Turning the card over again, I study the furniture, dress-style, sky-lighting, print mounting and, noting the fact that Paxton had only worked alone from 1868 - 1884, estimate the portrait to date from about 1880. Here is a photograph meant for intimate viewing, another addition to a family album, but whose possession by relatives has been usurped by time. Did the family die out, or did later generations of relatives lose interest in their forbearer's visage? Somehow, though, this portrait found its way into a stack of old photographs in an antique shop in Pearblossom, California. There, in 1977, I purchased it for a dollar and a half. A lucky find, this portrait has provided me long hours of speculation and reverie, enthralling me like a cult object in a crystal cabinet. Now I find myself compelled to put thoughts to paper. Like Roland Barthes, "I want to explore it not as a question (a theme) but as a wound: I see, I feel, hence I notice, I observe, and I think." [7]

In my reverie, I find Winnoa's presence to have shifted from that-has-been to the present tense, there-she-is. [8] But only recently did it become apparent how futile was my attempt to resurrect her personhood, a personality at the vanishing point. I realize I can never reflect on this child's reflection as her own relatives did. I cannot conjure up personal memories of her, only something vaguely transpersonal. This image, thus, remains a discursive site where I can only overlay my speculative relationship to "Winnoa" (the simulacrum) upon Paxton's "real life" photographic relationship to Winnoa (the referent).

Detail of Paxton cabinet card photograph

(Left): Woman of Lima (19th century), anonymous
(Right): Wodaabe youth in the throes of courtship

I again look at the photograph. The child is posed frontally. One eye returns the camera's gaze; the other, a crossed eye, stares wildly askew. She stares in two different directions simultaneously. Like myself, the photographer must have been intrigued by the cruelty of childhood's androgynous beauty marred by the abnormality of that crossed eye, by the admixture of that clear Apollonian gaze of the left eye with the nearly daemonic gaze of the other. Yet, by virtue of her defect, she sees more not less — "mutilation" as psychic expansion. Perception becomes doubly perspectival, relative. Possibly sensing this, Paxton, rather than obfuscate the child's defect, celebrates it. He, in fact, builds his composition around it. The photographer could have easily had Miss Irvin look to her left, bringing her normal eye into symmetry with her eye-errant, or he could have simply hid that offending eye by posing the child at an oblique angle as photographers have with Nefertiti's bust. But no, Paxton further emphasizes the offending internal strabismus by "doubling" that defect; he has the child cross her right leg, maintaining the asymmetry of the mismatched eyes. [9] Paxton does everything he can to echo the girl's physical defect in various ways within the composition. He has, for example, posed Winnoa's right arm so her hand and dress cuff stare as directly at the camera as her "good" eye, while her left arm hangs limp as if useless as her "bad" (evil?) eye. Paxton, confronted by this unusual subject, built his composition around the antinomy: straight/skewed.

I've mentioned that the child's bifurcated gaze is doubled by her crossed leg, but those legs also repeat other pictorial elements of the composition: 1) the child's left foot rests firmly on the floor near one of the table's "feet"; both that table's left "foot" and the girl's point in the same direction; 2) the child's crossed right leg permits her right foot to be positioned toe-down near a chair leg that similarly stands "toe-down"; 3) the child sports decorative stockings whose patterning invites comparison with the decoration on the large Easter egg behind her on the right. But it is that leg, crossed to match the crossed eye, that constitutes the poignancy of this portrait, that produces the "wound," "prick," or "punctum" in the image (as Roland Barthes has termed this visual disturbance). [10] This punctum, says Barthes, "is what I add to the photograph and what is nonetheless already there." [11] Why not the crossed eye? It can be too easily coded as aberrant and, continues Barthes, "what I can name cannot really prick me. The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance." [12] But that crossed leg resists such naming, being what Barthes terms a "subtle beyond" within the context of that crossed eye. [13]

Other doubling can be found. Within the portrait and on the back of the card, oval shapes echo each other. I can draw an imaginary oval within the composition, putting the ovoid Easter egg, the oval-matted tabletop portrait, and Winnoa's markedly ovoid head on the circumference. On the back of the print, the obliquely rendered painter's palette and camera lens form ovoids that echo the adjacent rendering of an oval-matted portrait (which, interestingly, depicts a rendition of a full-length female portrait). The oval, popular shape for painted miniatures and women's vanity mirrors, is an "aberrant" circle, a perspectivally distorted rendition of a perfect Platonic form. If the circle signifies a higher plane of spiritual unity, the oval, a distortion of perspective, suggests the "accidents" of imperfect physical vision. Within the context of the light-exposed, lens-formed image, the oval shape conforms to the lens' edge falloff; turned on its side, the oval repeats the form of the human eye, the model for the photographic lens. Flipping the print back to the emulsion side, to Winnoa's divided attention, I see that her eyes are large ovoids. They are further repeated in the pupil-within-oval patterning that runs around the draping tablecloth that covers the obliquely rendered, hence oval-shaped, table on which the child rests her arm. These eye-patterns, circling the table panopticonlike, stare out in divers directions further multiplying Winnoa's defect as many pairs of minatory eyes similar to those of a 13th-century Byzantine Pantocrator. [14] The effect is not unlike the giant eye painted on prows of ancient ships and war shields meant to ward off danger, and their number recalls Plutarch's taking the name of the Egyptian god Osiris as meaning "many-eyed" (from Greek os, many, and iris, eye), as well as the mythical being, Argus, who was surnamed "the many-eyed." [15]

Pantocrator (wall painting) apse of
St. Clemente, Tahull (13th century)

Further morphological homologies can be found. Around Miss Irvin's neck hangs a braided clasp culminating in a small tassel. Doubling this accoutrement — making Winnoa more objectlike and anthropomorphizing the furniture — is the braided fringe on the chair, the braided chain strung necklace-like around the edge of the Easter egg's pedestal, and the large tassel hanging limply from the chair's shoulder alongside the girl's own finger-tasseled arm. The table models a long "skirt" that hangs in folds about it; the upholstered chair sports a nice braid fringe, while Winnoa bridges the gap between, decked out in her fine taffeta. A table's foot peeks from under its garment, while the head-and-shoulders portrait, encased in an oval frame resting on the top of the table, provides the "table-person" with a torso. Indeed, the objects surrounding the child are uncannily anthropomorphic. Girl and furniture are each dressed in their Easter best, with Paxton investing in the studio props a good measure of the affect withdrawn from this young child. This is not your typical sentimentalized rendition of the cute child. Here emotion is ritualized and objectified.

The little framed portrait, that "glass-eye," captures both someone's countenance (her origin, her mother?) and simultaneously reflects the portraitist's own illuminating eye, his skylight, the door of the sun. [16] The tabletop portrait's oval shape not only echoes the shape of Winnoa's head but, like a Cyclopean eye, it "sees" in double vision, mirroring the child's own split-gaze. [17] Winnoa stares both directly into the camera (which stares back at her) and off to stage-left. The Cyclopean eye-portrait reflects (as a frozen memory, as history) what had been once in front of the camera, while also literally reflecting the immediate surroundings of Paxton's studio at the moment of exposure (this was, of course, a phenomenon that also occurred when attempting to view the image on the silvered-plate of a daguerreotype). Looking into this photograph-within-a-photograph I can see in-front-of and in-back-of Miss Irvin in both a spatial and temporal sense. Clairvoyant like the Cyclopean seers of mythology — Lithuania's Velinas and Scandinavia's Odin — this framed portrait "sees" much. Behind and to the right of that oval desk portrait rests the decorated egg, its vein-like patterning culminating in a pupil-like dot that mirrors Winnoa's own normal eye. [18] It looks as if this eyeball has been plucked from the Cyclopean desk portrait's "socket." If that egg-eye were to stand in for Winnoa's defective eye, she'd gaze at us in normal binocularity.

Odin-the-One-eyed (detail) on the bronze doors
of Stockholm's State Historical Museum

This portrait depicts Winnoa Josephine Irvin, but it may be read as a self-reflexive commentary on photography as a distorting mirror, as an aberrant gaze toward the world, a Medusan gaze in which what was shifts into what has been, fixing a fluid then into an immobile, perpetual now. As Winnoa both stares at and away from what was before her gaze, so does every photograph display a gaze at what is literally in front of the camera (denotation) and what is only symbolically there (connotation). The desk portrait, that image-within-an-image, simultaneously registers both the means of photographic rendition (light) and the end product (a frozen likeness — the union of sun and ice. This textual fragment, like other fragments within this portrait, mirrors in microcosm the larger whole of the portrait itself. In literary jargon such intratextual mirroring is a rhetorical device known as mise en abyme. [19] However, this suggestion of indefinite substitution, repetition, and splitting of the Self in a visual anadiplosis is not one of perfect symmetry. [20] Eyes and legs are crossed, the child's arms are arranged perpendicular to each other. The compositional paradigm straight/skewed is asserted.

Here's a portrait whose visual rhetoric suggests a visual parallel with Jorge Luis Borges' image of the world as a concatenation of secret syllables, with the notion of an absolute idiom or cosmic letter which underlies the rent fabric of languages — the supposition that the entirety of knowledge and experience is prefigured in a final tome containing all conceivable permutations of the alphabet. [21] For me, Paxton's photograph is such a final tome, harboring in cipher the mysteries and paradoxes of the photographic image, even as it affirms various mythic (pagan and Christian) associations with the eye, such as the Christian mystic Hildegarde of Bingen's vision that the Self is born in the image of the eye, the soul being full of suns and eyes. [22]



So far I have bracketed Miss Irvin's portrait from its social context, blurring the distinctions between then/now and private/public. I shall now expand my meditation to delineate them more specifically.

In late 1866, the cabinet card photograph was introduced in America. Edward L. Wilson — publisher of the Philadelphia Photographer, an important trade journal of the day — discussed this new format which quickly replaced the smaller carte-de-visite whose popularity was now in the wane: "Something must be done to create new and greater demand for photographs. The carte-de-visite, once so popular and in so great demand, seems to have grown out of fashion. . . . The adoption of a new size is what is wanted... From Mr. G. Wharton Simpson we have received a specimen picture [from London] . . . they call it the cabinet size. It is something like a carte-de-visite enlarged."The larger format presented new problems to the portraitist: "Flaws that were not particularly obvious in the smaller carte now became unacceptably visible. [23] A misplaced strand of hair in the carte was hardly noticeable, in the cabinet photo it became a virtual rope across the brow or face. Therefore much great care had to be taken in posing the subject and preparing the prints." [24]

After 1906, very few cabinet cards were produced, hence Paxton — if my guess as to the date of Winnoa's portrait is accurate — was active during the zenith of such cards' popularity on the last frontier in a small off-the-beaten-track town east of Salem and south of Portland, Oregon. Judging from the skylight reflection in the tabletop portrait, Paxton hadn't upgraded his lighting to the newfangled arc lighting his East Coast contemporaries were using. His materials were probably collodion dry plates contact-printed via sunlight onto an albumen paper positive. The going price in that day was usually four prints for two dollars. [25] As suggested by Wilson's aforementioned commentary on the cabinet card, Paxton had to be more aware of what he was including in his photograph than if he had been shooting the smaller cartes. I am assuming, then, Paxton's conscious deliberations over Winnoa's unflattering pose. Surprising? But we must remember that this strange portrait was destined for private display among family members and within the context of a small community that knew of, was accustomed to, the child's birth defect. Displaying that flaw meant testifying to the camera's veracity; to mask it would have probably evoked remonstrations over the falseness of the portrait, maybe even have elicited charges of vanity by severely moralistic townsfolk.

The situation is wholly reversed today. A portrait destined for family consumption is tackled by commercial portraitists as if one's visage was to grace the cover of People magazine or TV Guide. Moreover, as a sitter one would demand such a flattering likeness. Even if only a participant in the ritual of the family snapshot, one would pose oneself in a manner most befitting one's self-image (a self-image conditioned in part by the Media). If one's image failed to measure up to one's expectations, the camera would probably be accused of lying.

The erosion of the private sphere into the domain of the public — not wholly accomplished in Paxton's time — is now complete, even surpassed in a hyperreality (Jean Baudrillard) in which the opposition public/private is effaced in a sort of "obscenity" (Baudrillard) where the most intimate parts of our lives become camera-fodder for the Media. A murdered child's school portrait finds it way to the front page of newspapers; friends peruse the intimacies of the family photo-album, judging your "professionalism" as an image-maker; you display (if you're white-collar) a flattering portrait of your wife and kids on your desk; or stuff them (if you're blue-collar) in your wallet to show the guys in the shop. If the photographic renditions don't do our loved ones justice, we apologize for our lack of picture-taking skills: "She's really not that chubby." Although only private citizens, our images must sell us as being cute or sexy, macho or sensitive. Our portraits commodify us, help us maintain our personae.

Winnoa's defective eye ruptures any such cosmetic, speaking to me of a time when people really saw each other and didn't mind really being seen, when the terms perfect/flawed were constitutive of the whole person. Today, the last term in the opposition is actively suppressed giving us a lopsided vision of ourselves. The late Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, has shown a keen insight into our duplicities, our constructed selves: "... if we think our mask is our true face, we will protect it with fabrications even at the cost of violating our own truth." [26]

Winnoa's portraitist, hid away as he was in the backwoods of Oregon, was insulated from the burgeoning rhetoric of glamour, from the theatricality of such conveyors of public image as New York portraitist Napoleon Sarony (1821 - 1896) whose professional dealings with actors, politicians, and poets encouraged visual flattery. No, Paxton depicted Winnoa in the fullness of a description that encompasses, and strikingly asserts, the mutual dependency of the terms perfect/flawed (a duality objectified in Nefertiti's bust) in a photographic mirroring that uses that opposition as a formal device.



Winnoa Josephine Irvin has been rendered sexually ambiguous. What I've described as a structural tension between straight/skewed, and as a normative tension between perfect/flawed, becomes from a psychosexual perspective a sexual tension between male/female, a tension that may be resolved into the sexual persona of the androgyne. These aforementioned binaries — male/female; perfect/ flawed; straight/ skewed — succinctly abbreviate the ideology, if one privileges the first term over the second, of patriarchal dominance as given by Biblical Scriptures, Western philosophy, and Freudian psychoanalysis. However, applying Derrida's "logic of the supplement" to these binaries, [27] challenging the primacy of the initial terms in the opposition, one may deconstruct the sexist ideal and reach toward the human psyche's primitive androgynous state where, according to Jungian terminology, the animus (male principle) is balanced by the anima (female principle).

Modern social life, with its gender-mixing competitions, teaches us to curb manifestations of that original androgyny, to enforce the patriarchal stereotype. But in our myths, reveries, our poeticizing, our image-making, a yearning for this Ur-wholeness may surface. For instance, perusing Nietzsche's Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, I find the reference: "Empedocles remembered being . . . boy and girl." In Balzac's philosophical poem Séraphita (1835), we have as well a fascinating celebration of androgyny, a "flamelike interweaving of objective and subjective gender." [28] In part one, entitled Séraphitüs, Balzac's "Apollonian angel" is envisioned as masculine; in part two, Séraphita, he becomes a she; while in the third section, Séraphita-Séraphitüs, Balzac's wondrous entity seems (like the photograph) "conceived by the union of sun and ice," becoming both a he and a she. Thus, the integral being, the sum of the human, is presented successively as masculine, then as feminine, before the androgyny is produced. [29] In her book Sexual Personae (1991), Camille Paglia describes Séraphita's themes as similar to what I perceive as inhabiting Winnoa's portrait: as "the symbol of perfected man" and "the relativity of perception." [30] Relativity of perception — the myriad of eye-shapes inhabiting this peculiar portrait re-enforce this theme, but it is also significant that androgyny linguistically inhabits these eyes as well. The pupil of the eye gets its name from the Latin pupilla, denoting a little girl, and in Spanish is called el nina del ojo, the young girl of the eye, while in German the pupil becomes masculine, des Mannlein, the little man. A linguistic Séraphita-Séraphitüs.

In my "dreaming observation" (Gaston Bachelard) of this child's picture, does the irony I find there have its roots beyond the crossed eye, deeper than the punctum of the crossed leg? Are those physical crossings merely surface indicators of a deeper crossing? Bachelard observes: "Isn't it striking that more often than not the contradictions between animus and anima give rise to ironic judgements?" [31] But whose ironic judgements? Mine or Paxton's? Am I speaking through this portrait or is Paxton, the photographer? I have as much evidence to suspect myself as I do him.

Of Paxton, I can say he has posed Winnoa in a way that mixes, in a veritable "animosity," the patriarchal conventions of "masculinity" and "femininity": 1) the girl's dress, frills and hairdo clash with her more masculine, arm-on-table self-assuredness; 2) her left eye engages the viewer in a direct way more characteristic of the male portrait, while her abnormal eye gazes distractedly, more femininely, out of frame; [32] 3) her right hand rests near a partially hidden book (not thick enough to be a Bible) which was often used as a symbol of masculine learning and wisdom; yet she also stands in proximity to a sign of Nature's spring renewal, of feminine fecundity — the egg. Yet that egg is in symbolic rapport with both the eye (the weapon of the male gaze) and testes which invite a reading of sexual affinity between egg/eye/testes, further complicating the representation of gender here. [33] Only in potentia a woman, this prepubescent female's sexuality is less differentiated from the masculine than a mature woman's. Even her middle name, Josephine, is "hermaphroditic," a feminized male appellation.

Paxton's portrait juxtaposes inconsistency (the skewed) with platitude (the straight, the conventional). This "animosity" of form and gender in Paxton's portrait brings to mind an insight of Jung's from his Psychology and Religion: "The anima gives rise to illogical outbursts of temper; the animus produces irritating commonplaces," making difficult the dreamed-of communion between these principles. Paxton's photograph, a coded history of the soul with its opposing sexual principles, hermaphroditically is both "wound" and "prick." Yet (as archetypal androgyny) it also fascinates, becalms. For so long it had propelled me, when before it, into immobilization and muteness, holding me fast me like specimen pierced by the collector's pin. Only now the beginnings of verbally individuating the form, context, and psychodrama of this vision. So, might I venture to speculate that at its profoundest level, unknown to Paxton consciously, Winnoa's portrait mirrors Jung's theories of psychic ontogeny? Sun, egg, eyes — such polyopthalmic images were "well known to Jung, partly through drawings done by his patients, and he considered them symptomatic of the conceptual moment of individuation." [34] Suggestive here is Francis Huxley's remarks in The Eye: The Seer and the Seen (1990) that, "those in whom the inner life is just hatching often describe the egg of this beginning as being surrounded by eyes of serpentine light. . . . The experience of such a moment is said to be [like Barthes's punctum] piercing." [35]

--The End--



1. Roland Barthes, "The Photographic Message," in Photography in Print, ed. Vicki Goldberg (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981): 524.

2. Ibid., 524.

3. See Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (New York: Vintage Books, 1991): 67-71.

4. Ibid., 154.

5.Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (New York: New American Library, 1965): 189.

6. See Francis Huxley, The Eye: The Seer and the Seen (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1990): 38.

7. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981): 21.

8. Ibid., 79.

9. Interestingly, the Wodaabe of West Africa court their girls by making themselves delightful to look at by rolling their right eye in and out, and in and out again, a practice that if caught with a camera can result in a portrait not unlike Winnoa's (v. Huxley, 29).

10.Barthes, Camera Lucida, 26-27.

11. Ibid., 55.

12. Ibid. 51.

13. Ibid., 59.

14. A wall painting from the apse of St. Clemente, Tahull, 13th century, reproduced in Huxley, 35.

15. Huxley, 41, 52.

16. For numerous instances of the relationship in myth between the sun and the eye see Huxley, 14-16, 21, 38.

17. One recalls Claude-Nicholas Ledoux's illustration Coup d'Oeil due Théâtre de Besançon, interior of the theater of Besançon depicted within an eye, from Architecture (1804).

18. Interestingly, this egg recalls the Philosophic Egg described by Caesarius as: "like to the sphere of the moon, but furnished on all sides with eyes," while the mystic Jacob Boehme called it "the fiery Eye and form of the soul in the likeness of the First Principle" (cited in Huxley's The Eye, 68).

19. Huxley, 73, mentions a Greek drinking cup with the Gorgon's head painted thereon, whose two eyes are each filled with another image of the Gorgon and so on in an infinite regress.

20. Craig Owens, "Photography en abyme," October #5 (Summer 1978): 81. Owens says: "Reduplication has at times been identified with the etymologically parallel figure anadiplosis (ana, again + diploun, to double) in which the final word of a phrase is repeated at the beginning of the next. Anadiplosis thus establishes a mirror relationship between two segments of text . . . " (ibid., 81).

21. George Steiner, After Babel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981): 67. Obviously, the portrait is ripe with symbology constellating around the eye, sight, and knowledge; photography is, in part, a science and the word "science" derives from the Latin verb scire, to see and hence to know.

22. Huxley, 66-67.

23. George Gilbert, Photography: The Early Years (New York: Harper and Row, 1980): 96.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid., 101.

26. Thomas Merton, "The Rain and the Rhinoceros," Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions, 1966).

27. Such logic problematizes hierarchy, to show that what had previously been thought marginal is in fact central, leading to the subversion of the distinctions between essential and inessential, central and marginal.

28. Paglia, 405.

29. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971): 86.

30. Paglia, 404-405.

31. Bachelard, 69.

32. In many cultures for a woman to look a man directly in the eye is considered "cheeky," even belligerent; yet the divergent gaze is in many societies at once the mark of a chaste woman and of an alluring siren (Huxley, 26).

33. Both eyes and testicles are with the "apple of the eye" (a term of endearment often employed towards children, i.e., a daughter may be the apple of her father's eye); moreover, both eye and testicles are associated with "light" (the eyes take in and throw light on, eyes "see the light"; the testicles provide the light of life, they emit fluids of seminal light, and both claim an association with "truthfulness": the "eyewitness" is one who bears testimony based on his/her own observation. "Testicle" is derivative of the Latin Testis, or witness and is thus related to "testimony" and "testify", both referring to the provision of evidence or demonstration of proof, that which the camera was supposed to provide: testimony to Winnoa's (ambiguous, skewed) presence before Paxton's camera (see Berkeley Kaite, "The Pornographic Body Double: Transgression is the Law," Body Invaders: Panic Sex in America (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987): 154.

34. Huxley, 68.

35. Ibid., 80.