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Under a Glass Bell

Under a Glass Bell

It was a stately house where many lives had accumulated and left their essences.

It was also a house that seemed about to vanish.

The mirrors were framed with white roses made of sea shells. From the ceiling hung enormous glass chandeliers, blue icicle bushes shedding teardrops of blue glass light on the gold furniture. On the mantelpiece, the shepherdesses, the angels, the gods and goddesses of porcelain, all seemed to have been caught while in motion by a secret enchantment and put to sleep with a dust of white sleep like those secret enchantments of nature enclosing the drops of water in dark caves and turning them into stalactite torches, candlesticks, hooded figures. That delicacy of design only created in a void, in great silence and great immobility. No violence here, no tears, no great suffering, no shouting, no destruction, no anarchy. The secret silences, the muted pain brought about by riches, a conspiracy of tranquility to preserve this flowerlike fragility in crystal, wood, and damask. the violins were muted, the hands were gloved, carpets were unrolled forever under the feet, and the gardens cottoned the sound from the world.

The light from the icicle bushes threw a patina over all objects, and turned them into bouquets of still flowers kept under a glass bell. The glass bell covered the flowers, the chairs, the whole room, the panoplied beds, the statues, the butlers, all the people living in the house. The glass bell covered the entire house.

Everyday the silence, the peace, the softness, carved with greater delicacy the glass chandeliers, the furniture, the statuettes and laces, then covered them with glass. Under the giant glass bell the colours looked inaccessible, the shapes strongly beautiful as of something that can never be repeated. Everything had that transparency, the fragility of stalactite created in silence and obscurity and breaking when the caves are opened and the breath of man enters.

-Anais Nin (Under A Glass Bell)

All photos on 35mm film by Audrey Cantwell. Model is Kelsie Hastie.