What should it mean? 

Long Story Short

Back in high school, my German teacher had us memorize Heinrich Heine's 24-line poem "Die Lorelei." A classic of German literature, it tells the story of the Lorelei, a Rhine River siren who drew men to the hazardous part of the river — a real maritime peril — capsizing their boats.

Today, only the first two lines have stayed with me: Ich weiß nicht was soll es bedeuten/daß ich so traurig bin.

They have no smooth English translation, but basically read, "I don't know what it should mean/Why I am so sad." Heine is reflecting upon the established German legend, and touched by it as if it were true. (Which is pretty meta, when you think about it: Absorbed in this tale, Heine is thus inspired to pen his own.)

That same vague sense of longing, and hurt, is what drew me to Lorelei Beckstrom's new work. Her paintings of stuffed animals stepping in for characters of Greek mythology — Narcissus, Icarus — pinpricked me. Those toys were like those I played with as a child.

They're from another life, far removed from the circles and interests I enjoy today. Of course, it's only natural that they'd have lost their appeal over the years. But to so acutely remind me of the draw "my guys" once held is quite a feat by Beckstrom (whom we interview here).

It makes me wonder how different I am from that girl years ago, which makes me sad. And, well, I don't know what that should mean.


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