Saturday
Jan202018

In the Omnibus (1891)

Steve Barbaro


 

                                                                                                     —Mary Cassatt

1 of the legs of the disk-shaped, knee-perched, surface-suffused baby's bunchy
 body seems like it's somewhat tail-like, I mean the baby's right leg's so sternly
  dangly, yet the same leg's also niched in its holder's legs with a strangely loose
   fixity, plus 1 of the baby's hands is unseen, or else just hinted at kinda brashly,
    if brashly-lazily, & via the faintest curves of would-be fingers finagling the very
     clothing the fingers escape . . .

 

                                                      yet it's odd how the clothing's rotundity's never
    not de-accentuating the shape of the 1 same child the clothing's all the while en-
     capsulating, & whose circular sort of density—the baby's, that is—is perched
      very very near the print's center-space, which makes for a startling effect, what
       with the way the rest of the non-baby horse-driven carriage, in whose interior
        the print is transpiring, itself seems so commodious, so outdoorsy, so almost pla-
         tonically functional, & yet also somehow so inconspicuous in its motionings
          as to make its very functionality (if not functionality itself!) seem just about
           the most bleh earthly thing . . .

                                                              at the same time though, it's forcefully am- 
          biguous whether the holder of the baby, of the 2 adults in the print, is the
           baby's nurse, next to whom it might then be the mother sitting & sporting
            a sleepy sort of gaze, or else if the holder is the mother, showing off her off-
             spring, & in the process boring not only her maybe-friend—or else boring
              her older sister, perhaps, or her distant, almost obligatory relative, herself
               only in town for 1 or maybe 2 weeks—but also boring the very baby on
                display, so that what the print's showing most is a failed spectacle of, well,
                 showing, which is to say, Cassatt's print makes an event of the non-event
                  where 1 person's happening to ogle 1 person in spite of the omnibus's
                   passing scenery, even though not only the person being shown the baby,
                    but also the very baby put on view, evinces a pretty palpable preference
                     for everything happening necessarily outside of the selfsame scene they
                      are all the while, don't you know, constituting . . .