zen curtains

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966)


curtains are interpreters for the language of the wind

"The other feature of the ornament which accosts the crock reverie lies in its recurrence. It is highly characteristic of the reverie that it tends to present before the smoker objects --particularly small ones-- in series. The endless successions in which the same contrivances, little animals or plant forms suddenly surface in front of the person over and over again depict, so to speak, misshapen, barely formed sketches of a primitive ornament.

Along with the ornament, however, certain other things of the most banal perceptual world [Merkwelt ] appear, whose inherent sense and significance only crock can transmit. Among other things, curtains and lace belong to this category. Curtains are interpreters for the language of the wind. They give its every breath the form and sensuousness of feminine forms. And to the smoker who becomes immersed in their play they allow all the joys to be savored which a consummate dancer can vouchsafe. On the other hand, if the curtain is filigreed it can become the instrument of an even more curious play. For to the smoker, these laces prove themselves to be patterns which he drapes over the landscape in order to transform it in the most peculiar way. The landscape which comes into view behind the lace is subordinated to the pattern in approximately the same way that the plumage of birds or the shapes of flowers are subordinated to the pattern in the arrangement of certain hats. There are old-fashioned postcards where a "Greetings from Bad Ems" partitions the city into pictures of the spa promenade, railroad station, Kaiser Wilhelm monument, school and Caroline Hts., each one circumscribed in its own little frame. Such postcards best convey an idea of how the lace curtains exercise their dominion over the view of the landscape. I tried to trace the flag from out of the curtain, but it eluded me."

Walter Benjamin, from Protocol X

Protocols to the Experiments on Hashish, Opium and Mescaline 1927-1934: Translation and Commentary Scott J. Thompson.

Jean Selz's explanation of the word crock: "The word crock does not exist in German and must have been enigmatic to the reader of the Rexroth edition of 1972. In fact, it is merely a slightly Germanized form of the French 'croc' (hook). Of course, the meaning we gave it had nothing to do with this. It was both an absurd and secret expression for opium."

from here



the forbidden city

curtain portrait

René Magritte by Lothar Wolleh

windows and desire

The complexities opened by Balthus's painting within contemporary discourse concerning art is exemplified by works such as The Room (1952-54). Balthus maintained that he did not attempt to make The Room as an erotic representation. When we assess the picture however we cannot but notice that the young woman in the chair may well be enjoying an ecstatic moment. She may also simply be asleep. The possibility of the latter reading retreats somewhat when we realize that the curtain has only now been thrown open by another figure which exposes the girl's languid figure to the light. Still, this remains an ambiguous painting - quintessentially Balthus. Questions jostle into formation in the viewer's mind: Has the young woman been masturbating? (images of auto-arousal are rare in Western oil painting). Has she been the victim of an attacker? (Does the limpness of her right arm imply harm?); Or, has she merely been resting / sleeping near a curtain which is warmed by the sun? If the later is the case then she may be understood as confident in her body and her sexuality as she makes no effort to hide herself as the curtain is thrust open.(read)

The Window (1933)


towards yearning

The element at bottom is cloth. The element on top was originally two sets of intersecting lines. The combination indicates a long piece of fabric with fine cross-stitches. Scarce and rare are associated meanings, via "fine." Desire is an extended meaning, in the sense of a longstanding desire of a kind rarely obtained.

adds sun/day to suggest the drying out of a cloth by means of exposure to the sun. Thus the meaning dry out.

adds eye to suggest "gaze at a fine, dimly visible object." Yearn for is an associated meaning (yearn for something far off, dimly visible).



shadow on shade in window


A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window

watch John Houston's The Dead, final scene

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

James Joyce, The Dead


uncurtained windows :-)


the fresh widow & the brawl at austerlitz

info on The Fresh Widow and on The Brawl of Austerlitz




(go to 3:30)
Note: if the video is not available in your region please try this version

the oriel window

The Oriel Window, South Gallery, Lacock Abbey (probably 1835)
Photogenic drawing negative by William Henry Fox Talbot



Well summerbreeze is blowing through your window
And summerbreeze is blowing through your hair
And something in your eyes that you cannot disguise
Don't tell me it ain't there

Emiliana Torrini


breakfast of the birds


an empty chair...

an empty chair
before an open window
the curtains flutter
or was it an absent heart


Spring in Gościeradz

Leon Wyczółkowski


Christus: a mystery

I cannot sleep! my fervid brain
Calls up the vanished Past again,
And throws its misty splendors deep
Into the pallid realms of sleep!
A breath from that far-distant shore
Comes freshening ever more and more,
And wafts o'er intervening seas
Sweet odors from the Hesperides!
A wind, that through the corridor
Just stirs the curtain, and no more,
And, touching the aolian strings,
Faints with the burden that it brings!
Come back! ye friendships long departed!
That like o'erflowing streamlets started,
And now are dwindled, one by one,
To stony channels in the sun!
Come back! ye friends, whose lives are ended,
Come back, with all that light attended,
Which seemed to darken and decay
When ye arose and went away!

from The Raven

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door--
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more."


My neighbour's curtain, well I see,
Is moving to and fin.
No doubt she's list'ning eagerly,
If I'm at home or no.
And if the jealous grudge I bore
And openly confess'd,
Is nourish'd by me as before,
Within my inmost breast.
Alas! no fancies such as these
E'er cross'd the dear child's thoughts.
I see 'tis but the ev'ning breeze
That with the curtain sports.


the human condition



A lovely thing to see:
through the paper window's hole,
the Galaxy.


The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

tr. Stephen Mitchell

My own foolishness must be endured-- the window darkened by snowy bamboo.
gu ni taeyo to mado wo kurosu yuki no take

(A boat trip.)
The night is brief-- At Fushimi the doors are closed, at Yodo windows opened.
majikayo ya Fushimi no toboso Yodo no mado


evening wind & night windows & morning sun

Ross Honeysett



the open window


Woman at the Window at Figueres


window at tangier


Ofuku in the round window




kiss by the window


wuthering heights

(go to 4:00)

(go to 7:50)

from Chapter Three:

And what was it that had suggested the tremendous tumult? What had played Jabez's part in the row? Merely the branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice as the blast wailed by, and rattled its dry cones against the panes! I listened doubtingly an instant; detected the disturber, then turned and dozed, and dreamt again: if possible, still more disagreeably than before.

This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten. 'I must stop it, nevertheless!' I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. 'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) - 'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, 'Let me in!' and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear. 'How can I!' I said at length. 'Let me go, if you want me to let you in!' The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer. I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on! 'Begone!' I shouted. 'I'll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.' 'It is twenty years,' mourned the voice: 'twenty years. I've been a waif for twenty years!' Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright. To my confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I sat shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself. At last, he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, 'Is any one here?' I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew Heathcliff's accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels. I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced. Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with a candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the wall behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an electric shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of some feet, and his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly pick it up.

Vilhelm Hammershøi


wind from the sea


the fluttering curtain which has started all

there are gods in everything, i've heard.
i imagine them locked up in their underworlds,
some of them good-natured and big-bellied,
some slumbering away blindly like moles but mostly
vengeful gods, myriads of them, jealous of
everything they cannot see or hear or touch.

jealous of this bed of smooth warm wood
and the rugged carpet on the floor
with something like purple stars on it.

jealous of these sheets with their clean smell
and big, luminous flowers, as a field upon which
death would come like a soft breeze, and smiling.

jealous of this girl's standing naked
and in love in front of the mirror,
oblivious of them and her own beauty,
simply amazed that this can be.

jealous of this small chair,
still wet with the afternoon's rain pouring in
through the open window,
on which a body once sat until dawn,
its shoulders bent, the night like a raven
upon its back, wishing for another body to come
and take it in its arms.

but most of all, jealous of this sudden gust of wind
making the moonlit curtain swirl about the room
like a soul in search of another soul
to flood it with its light.