Shadows and Reflections

Margaret’s post last week made me the think of shadows and reflections. The shadow of the creative leap is the terrifying fall. The reflection of being stubborn is persevering. We struggle to keep the light and dark in balance.
This week I will shadow her post, adding a few light reflections, digressions and pictures.

Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg




shadow cartoon


In her book The Language of the Night Ursula LeGuin wrote an essay about The Shadow, by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen’s story is about a man who becomes separated from his shadow and then overtaken by it.

Honor Appleton's 1932 illustration for Andersen's The Shadow

Honor Appleton’s 1932 illustration for Andersen’s The Shadow

LeGuin reads the story as an allegory about creativity: creativity comes from acceptance of and cooperation with the dark side of the soul. The shadow is dangerous without the soul, and the soul is weightless and empty without the shadow. The shadow is the guide to the journey of self knowledge and to the collective unconscious.

Edward Gorey is an artist who accessed his dark (and light) side with wit and style. He drew this shadow, and this non-reflecting bicycle.

gorey shadow

Gorey unreflecting bicycle

In this photograph is the shadow a prison or a release from prison?

I-phone ad

I-phone ad

Suzy Lee made a wonderful wordless picture book called Shadow where the shadows take on a life of their own.

shadow cover
suzy lee shadow1
suzy lee shadow2

suzy lee shadow3
Words as well as pictures can have shadows. The author and critic Gerald Vizenor said that shadows are the silence that inhabit heard stories. Talking about haiku, he said that the dissolved word is replaced with a shadow of the evoked sensation.  I end with this haiku by Ichihara Masanao from the Muki Sajiki.

ichihara masanao haiku



14 responses to “Shadows and Reflections

  1. Wonderful collection of images. Thank you.

    *KIT* ​

  2. Just loved this entry. Especially the thought of our shadows dancing and metamorphosing. Thank you!

    • Julie Paschkis

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve been noticing shadows even more while thinking about this post. I especially like bird shadows on the sides of buildings – they carom around.

  3. Without a shadow of a doubt, this blog is my all time favorite. Light verse … dark reflections …. thoughts spinning in and out of sunlight and shadow. Thank you! Nancy Bo Flood

  4. Lovely post, Julie! The haiku is beautiful, as are the wonderful images. I’ve linked my Poetry Friday post over at The Drift Record ( posted Robert Louis Stevenson’s My Shadow) to this post of yours ( ). When I think of light and shadows, I also think of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem Pied Beauty (“with swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim”….and of Roberto Casati’s wonderful work of non-fiction, Shadows: Unlocking Their Secrets. I’m off now to find that essay by Ursula LeGuin that you’ve recommended!

    • Julie Paschkis

      Now I will go check out the Pied Beauty poem. I love the fragments of it that you quote. Also, in Brainpickings today there is a profile of a book In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki written in 1933. More to explore!

  5. Thank you again Julie.
    Andy Goldsworthy has many pieces in which shadows, not just light shadows, but also rain, snow, frost, and change-differential shadows as well.
    What is
    What isn’t
    What was
    What wasn’t

    • Julie Paschkis

      I hadn’t thought of Goldsworthy (or rain and snow) in terms of shadows, but you’re right. Interesting.

  6. I love Suzy Lee’s work! And your psot reminded me of Mitsumasa Anno’s In Shadowland – I think you’d love it, if you don’t know it already. Sadly it’s out of print but I managed to get hold of a not-too-expensive copy…

  7. Julie Paschkis

    I will look for it. I had not thought of Anno in a while, and I don’t know that book.

  8. Hi, Julie – Took my sweet time stumbling onto this post, but thanks for every bit of it – acknowledging the connections between our shadow sides and our creativity, the delightful art, and of course the haiku! (I need to look for that Mitsumasa Anno book, too.)

  9. Hey there: What an inspiring collection of images! Very well done! 🙂 I thought you might be interested in my graphic novel “The Poet and the Flea” (Volume 1) about the poet-painter William Blake: Please check it out and help spread the word! Thank you so much! —G. E.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s