green apple, hidden
face, green scarf around the neck
of a headless man,
green jacket, eyes shadowed by
the brim of a cap
On a street in Vancouver's Victorian Gastown, I pass a storefront window that appears to be a gold-framed painting of a man in a bowler hat with a green apple hovering in front of his face, a large reproduction of a famous self-portrait by René Magritte. Between the portrait and the glass window, a headless mannequin in a blue suit with a green scarf around its neck appears to float in front of Magritte's shoulder. Outside the "painting," a man in blue jeans and a green jacket leans against the gold "frame" smoking a cigarette, his eyes shadowed by the brim of a cap.
Green apple, green scarf, green jacket. Hidden headless, shadowed. Mysterious synchrony.
Like Magritte's painting, cryptically entitled The Son of Man. Perhaps the surrealist painter was simply referring to humanity in general, or he may have been alluding to Jesus, who is frequently referred to as the Son of man, or it could be an allusion to the apple from the Tree of Knowledge that Satan uses to tempt Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, thus ending their innocence, and causing them to hide their nakedness and flee from the Garden of Eden. But there's more subtle meaning in this painting.
In a 1965 radio interview, Magritte had this to say about Le fils de l'homme:
At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It's something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.
Magritte, wherever you are, can you see this wonderful serendipity of the visible that is present and the visible that is hidden?