Narcissus and Echo
"Ontological exploration is centred on physicality. The body and with it, aesthetics, is disruptive and transgressing of organised social systems. As such, art has the capacity to challenge order, reason and collective ideals."
One then witnesses an erotic scene between Narcissus and his double, all woven with impossible embraces, missed kisses, deluded contacts. With the eye, the mouth is the main organ of amorous longing, like the skin that is frustrated by a "thin film of water" that keeps them apart.
At last the moment of understanding is at hand. After many frustrations, Narcissus gathers that he is, actually, in a world of "signs": "You nod and beckon when I do, your lips, it seems, answer when I am talking though what you say I cannot hear." The exertion for deciphering leads him to knowledge, to self- knowledge. "He is myself! I feel it, I know myself now."
We have reached the crux of the drama: "What shall I do?... What I want is with me, my riches make me poor. If I could only escape from my own body!"
The tragedy reaches a higher level when Narcissus, at the moment when his tears disturb the pool, realizes not only that the loved image is his own, but furthermore that it can disappear -- as if he had thought that, for want of touching, he could nevertheless be satisfied with contemplation alone ("let me keep looking at you always"), which has henceforth also become impossible. In desperation he "beat his bare breast with hands as pale as marble"; and so Narcissus dies at the edge of his image and Ovid adds, "Even in Hell he found a pool to gaze in, watching his image in the Stygian waters;" When mourners, whose lamentations Echo repeats, prepare the funeral pile and seek his body, "they found nothing." Through a strange resurrection, the narcissus flower has taken his place.
Burt Barelds, From the Making of Waterhouse, 2010