Tag Archives: andrei tarkovsky


“Passing life’s halfway mark, I lost my way in a dark wood”
– Andrei Tarkovsky, The Mirror (film)


One of my jobs is in a library. I always like to shelve the books first. I’m hidden deep in the stacks, focused intensely on tiny sometimes obscured sequences of numbers, letters, dots and slashes.  I work in the arts and music section, the books are all lovely and tempting…but last Tuesday when I came in I could see there was a DVD shelving emergency underway, so I gave the books a longing look, and got right to work on the towers of DVDs. Still, I have preferences. I always start with the foreign films, then documentaries, and only then attack the regular collection. I find the foreign films more interesting, plus there is a stool on wheels that I can skate around on while running through the alphabet in my head over and over again, which makes it more fun.

Sometimes I don’t shelve them. I put them aside, and when I have a minute I go downstairs and check them out. That’s how I came to watch Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror.

The paradoxical thing about a task like shelving books is that it requires deep but meaningless focus. It’s just numbers and letters. But then there is the actual object in my hand, which can trigger thoughts, memories, and feelings. My shift is two and half hours and it feels very like to what watching The Mirror feels like: somewhat stream of conscious, deep in thought, with memories, words and images coming from all directions creating a quiet, sometimes profound emotional rhythm.

There is no story, really. Not in our minds, and not in The Mirror. But the engrossing drama of  (presumably) Tarkovsky’s childhood memories,  twisted up with his mother’s history; the sequences of Tarkovsky’s father’s poetry, read by the narrator (A. Tarkovsky);  the beautiful cinematography: by random turns, black and white, and then color; the dreams and nightmares, anxieties, regret and hope all converge to express, I think, a visual representation of the deep recesses of our minds in which our foundations, if examined, can be all revealing. Just a glimpse, maybe. But a flickering light in between the letters and numbers of our lives.

*photograph taken by Augustus Accardi



Ode to Tarkovsky (The Sacrifice)


There is only that one, the weak one preserved,
despite all of the talk, cheap and perverse.
The one that loved without reserve,
the one often wasted by a quick reverse.
It seems a gift given at the moment of birth
like fire and water, air and the earth,
a growing knowing of what will usurp
a life fulfilled or a common felt dearth?
That first breath shared, in which we ceased the search
and found in that one, our true sense of mirth.


Who Can Fight the Wind? (TheTao of Augustus)


the wind that bends the bough

“It’s unattractive to be the strongest man in the world.” Augie (age 10)

 This was said in complete literal earnestness by my son as we took an afternoon walk, but it sent my mind into a philosophical eddy.

Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being
Stalker – film by Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979

Stalker is a film that I think of often. It is mesmerizing and thought-provoking. The questions – do I really want what I want? What would happen if I got it? and,  how persistent and “strong” should I be in the face of uncertainty, defeat…bad luck? are constantly lurking about the corners of my mind.

Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen. – Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

Perhaps. But I can not quite get behind the if you only want it enough – want it MORE – the universe will provide… That sort of blame-the-victim-mentality wears my nerves short. However,  if things don’t happen as we think we want, as we were sure they would, then what? Isn’t the ability to bow down and accept things as they are, as they always were despite our misguided sureties, isn’t that a true strength? It’s the vigor of a green twig that will not snap. After all, I’ve battled more of those than I have the strong firm branch.

There are different kinds of wisdom one may use for differing ends. – chorus, Oedipus Tyrannos, Sophocles

Then again perhaps we just console ourselves by forming a philosophy to suit our reality so that we can get out of bed each morning despite the disappointment that dispels our dream-state. It’s a lot easier than fighting it.
And a lot more attractive.