I was having some trouble drawing a self-portrait when I asked for some advice from my friend Jimmy Toscano.
“Do you know how a mountain paints its self-portrait?” he asked me.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Well, let me start with something a little simpler. Do you know how a family paints its self-portrait?”
“It delegates one member to do it That person writes a novel or a poem or sings a song and in that song the good listener can hear the mother and father and the very good listener can hear the grandparents.”
“I see. But how does a mountain paint its self portrait?”
“A mountain has a village at the foot of it and in the village is a man who learns to paint and he paints a portrait of the mountain. But he’s part of the mountain. He’s the part the mountain uses to paint it’s self portrait.”
“So are you saying that a small part of me paints a portrait of something else and that’s my self-portrait? Or are you saying that I paint a portrait of whatever I paint a portrait of and it’s something bigger than me using me to paint a portrait of its self.”
But the D train’s doors were closed and Jimmy Toscano was rushing away towards Avenue J, leaving me on the platform, trying to put my question into words.