Portraits: filling in what's missingWriting and painting, descriptive undertakings both, rise and fall on the same ground. The basic mistake of either is to orchestrate too much. If the great insight of Close’s work has been to make portraiture vivid by removing detail, forcing viewers to contribute their own perception to the process, what I have noticed as a reader and writer is that a similar principle applies. The best you can do is provide a constellation of individual points, just enough to let the reader form an opinion of her own. This can be challenging when the writer has something certain in mind to say, but it becomes all the more difficult when there is nothing certain to say at all. A written portrait of a portrait painter is recursive from the start, but when you’re trying to get a fix on the identity of an identity fixer whose own identity is coming unfixed, the whole thing goes uroboric.