NARCISSUS by Ben Timpson

Locust, palmetto bug, ink, wax, mesh, okra, resin, rock.

AUDIO READING: The Myth of Narcissus

ARTWORK: The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Dali

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Dali

Dali wrote the following poem as a textual counterpart of this painting from which some of the hints as to the meaning and state of the objects on this painting can be derived.

in his immobility,
absorbed by his reflection with the digestive slowness of carnivorous plants,
becomes invisible.
There remains of him only the hallucinatingly white oval of his head,
his head again more tender,
his head, chrysalis of hidden biological designs,
his head held up by the tips of the water's fingers,
at the tips of the fingers
of the insensate hand,
of the terrible hand,
of the mortal hand
of his own reflection.
When that head slits
when that head splits
when that head bursts,
it will be the flower,
the new Narcissus,
Gala - my Narcissus


ARTWORK: Narcissus by Caravaggio

Narcissus by Caravaggio

THE FLOWER: Narcissus

Narcissus is one of the most popular flowers in the world and the most popular flower in Germany.
Narcissus Jonquila
Narcissus Jonquila
A spring-flowering bulb, Narcissus is the name of a genus which includes flower bulbs like Daffodils, Jonquils, Paperwhites and so forth. Narcissi (plural form of Narcissus) are easily grown from bulbs. The wordNarcissus is derived from the Greek word narke, meaning numbness or stupor. Some attribute the naming of the flower to its narcotic fragrance while others debate that it is associated with the poisonous nature of the Narcissus bulbs. (source:

PSYCHOLOGY: Diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

(Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition DSM-IV)
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

NYC Art Installation: The Narcissus series

The Narcissus series was an art installation at Eyelevel Gallery in New York city during the summer of 2010. The premise of the Narcissus Series is to recreate the conditions of the myth and capture that moment of self-recognition.

VIDEO: Lego Animation of the Myth of Narcissus

PHOTO: The Modern Narcissus

I wanted to see what I would find if I Googled "modern Narcissus", and this is what I found. All the pictures looked pretty similar: a boy peering into the water, sometimes looking love-stricken, other times wishful and contemplative. All good interpretations for a modern view on this ancient myth.This led me to think, just because you're looking at yourself, or care about your appearance, it doesn't make you narcissistic, does it? The definition of "narcissism", as told by, is inordinate fascination with oneself, or excessive self-love. This leads me to understand that while it's okay to take pride in oneself, to be obsessed with yourself is not okay.

uploaded by Courtland S.


Narcissus and Echo by David Revoy

uploaded by Courtland S.

Narcissitic Personality Self-Test

1. A. I have a natural talent for influencing people.
B. I am not good at influencing people.
2. A. Modesty doesn't become me.
B. I am essentially a modest person.
3. A. I would do almost anything on a dare.
B. I tend to be a fairly cautious person.
4. A. When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed.
B. I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.
5. A. The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me.
B. If I ruled the world it would be a better place.
6. A. I can usually talk my way out of anything.
B. I try to accept the consequences of my behavior.
7. A. I prefer to blend in with the crowd.
B. I like to be the center of attention.
8. A. I will be a success.
B. I am not too concerned about success.
9. A. I am no better or worse than most people.
B. I think I am a special person.
10. A. I am not sure if I would make a good leader.
B. I see myself as a good leader.
11. A. I am assertive.
B. I wish I were more assertive.
12. A. I like to have authority over other people.
B. I don't mind following orders.
13. A. I find it easy to manipulate people.
B. I don't like it when I find myself manipulating people.
14. A. I insist upon getting the respect that is due me.
B. I usually get the respect that I deserve.
15. A. I don't particularly like to show off my body.
B. I like to show off my body.
16. A. I can read people like a book.
B. People are sometimes hard to understand.
17. A. If I feel competent I am willing to take responsibility for making decisions.
B. I like to take responsibility for making decisions.
18. A. I just want to be reasonably happy.
B. I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world.
19. A. My body is nothing special.
B. I like to look at my body.
20. A. I try not to be a show off.
B. I will usually show off if I get the chance.
21. A. I always know what I am doing.
B. Sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing.
22. A. I sometimes depend on people to get things done.
B. I rarely depend on anyone else to get things done.
23. A. Sometimes I tell good stories.
B. Everybody likes to hear my stories.
24. A. I expect a great deal from other people.
B. I like to do things for other people.
25. A. I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
B. I take my satisfactions as they come.
26. A. Compliments embarrass me.
B. I like to be complimented.
27. A. I have a strong will to power.
B. Power for its own sake doesn't interest me.
28. A. I don't care about new fads and fashions.
B. I like to start new fads and fashions.
29. A. I like to look at myself in the mirror.
B. I am not particularly interested in looking at myself in the mirror.
30. A. I really like to be the center of attention.
B. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention.
31. A. I can live my life in any way I want to.
B. People can't always live their lives in terms of what they want.
32. A. Being an authority doesn't mean that much to me.
B. People always seem to recognize my authority.
33. A. I would prefer to be a leader.
B. It makes little difference to me whether I am a leader or not.
34. A. I am going to be a great person.
B. I hope I am going to be successful.
35. A. People sometimes believe what I tell them.
B. I can make anybody believe anything I want them to.
36. A. I am a born leader.
B. Leadership is a quality that takes a long time to develop.
37. A. I wish somebody would someday write my biography.
B. I don't like people to pry into my life for any reason.
38. A. I get upset when people don't notice how I look when I go out in public.
B. I don't mind blending into the crowd when I go out in public.
39. A. I am more capable than other people.
B. There is a lot that I can learn from other people.
40. A. I am much like everybody else.
B. I am an extraordinary person.
Assign one point for each response that matches the key.
1, 2 and 3: A
4, 5: B
6: A
7: B
8: A
9, 10: B
11, 12, 13, 14: A
15: B
16: A
17, 18, 19, 20: B
21: A
22, 23: B
24, 25: A
26: B
27: A
28: B
29, 30, 31: A
32: B
33, 34: A
35. B
36, 37, 38, 39: A
40: B
The average score for the general population is 15.3. The average score for celebrities is 17.8. Young says it is important to consider which traits are dominant. For example, an overall score that reflects more points on vanity, entitlement, exhibitionism and exploitiveness is more cause for concern than someone who scores high on authority, self-sufficiency and superiority, he says.
The seven component traits by question:
• Authority: 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 32, 33, 36
• Self-sufficiency: 17, 21, 22, 31, 34, 39
• Superiority: 4, 9, 26, 37, 40
• Exhibitionism: 2, 3, 7, 20, 28, 30, 38
• Exploitativeness: 6, 13, 16, 23, 35
• Vanity: 15, 19, 29
• Entitlement: 5, 14, 18, 24, 25, 27

This shows how much of the population today is narcisstic. The average score is a 15.3, which is a high score. I believe Ben Timpson was really trying to bring up this conflict in modern day society; a society with mirrors around every corner.
Posted By: Libby Zanin

Video: "Black Narcissus"

Because Narcissus maintains an attitude of arrogance towards others and ignores those that find him to be incredibly beautiful, such an attitude does not portray a mood of serenity and purity as I believe this piece does. However, crescendos (gradually rising loudness of the work) and diminuendos (gradually getting softer) create a similar tone as used by the narrator reading the story of Narcissus. The title "Black Narcissus" can also be related to how Narcissus blocks people out around his presence, making it seem as though no one is even there at all resulting in total blackness. His heart being dark and uncaring for his neighboring people. On the contrary, the love of his onlooker, Ananias, is symbolized by the flowing jazz melodies produced by the played piano and saxophone in the video above. For love is depicted as something that is of great passion, a trait needed to play an effective musical score (song), especially through . I also find it to be interesting how Ben Timpson is able to express such a story without words in his artwork, just as a song is able to do the same with music.
Posted By: Joseph Riggs

The Narcissus flowers look like they are looking down, like Narcissus was looking down at his reflection in the water. This could be why the flower was named Narcissus flowers, because they are looking down at their reflection.
Posted By: Louisa Hopkins