The Monk Inside the Jester



The above picture is me. I imagine that is obvious to most people, even though I’m not exactly dressed up for the red carpet.

The shot is about a month old or so. Despite its overall rough look, I got to think not long after I took it (on a lark) that it is one of my favorite pictures of me from the last few years.


For one, I am looking at “you,” but clearly ensconced somewhat by the hoodie. Withdrawn, if only by a few inches of cloth, into a world, and awareness that is my own, away from the world.

Far from clean-shaven, I had been in the shower earlier in the day. My hair tends to only curl in the front like that after a recent shampoo. I’m going for comfort on a cold day, but still aware of some social aspects of being “presentable.”

I’m not smiling, though I am just messing around with the camera on my phone, mostly.

And it is from messing around, and not trying (too hard) that a higher quality image comes about. Believe me I could have spent an hour trying to manufacture this picture, and not come close.

And, because it is a selfie, I did it by myself. I was alone. And yet, here I share it on my blog. This website may not be as viewed by as many as I would have hoped, but it’s quite public.

Finally, as is the case with so many black and white photos, a fuller, deeper range of my “aura” my “persona” comes into focus because of, and not in spite of the lack of color in the shot.

In short, this photo is in many ways representative of so many dichotomies within me. The introvert out in the world. The Autistic among the neuro-typical. The monk within the jester. My novels and plays as well as my sensitive skin issues and obvious lack of fashion concern…all here.

There is zero bullshit in this photo of me, in other words. Into every life, every day, there is a little bullshit, just to get by. And for someone like me, there is a lot more than average, what with masks and expectations and such. I don’t lie to the world, but I have to be a bear that dances for it every once in a while in order to move forward. Sprinkling of bullshit. Exhausting.

Yet, for a change, not in this shot. It’snot a headshot, or a goof-around selfie, or a pic snapped at a party. It is, more than even many good photos, the most authentic image of Ty Unglebower captured in quite a while.


  1. alinehan

    This is a compelling photo of you. And I enjoyed reading your interpretation of it. A very introverted thing to do. 😉

  2. Thank you. And yes, quite introverted. Perhaps the definitive introverted photo of me thus far!

  3. Shelly

    Hi Ty! Just leaving my two cent observations here…I think this is a great photo of you. Because I like that you are not smiling, you have a neutral gaze. As someone who may be in a similar, closely related “neuro tribe” as yourself, I see the resting serious face as like, the “normal” face of a normal, neutral emotional state of a person (as opposed to a happy, positive, “switched on”, forward moving, etc. state). Its almost like your are like the Mona Lisa, but instead of that slightly upturned smirk she has, you have the slightly downturned, maybe ever-so-skeptical expression – like Mona Lisa but flipped from left-brain to right-brain. In a mirror, so to speak. I don’t know if that makes sense. Lol and if it doesn’t make sense, I am ok with that! 🙂

    • Thanks, Shelly. I almost made this my social media profile picture more than once, so accurate did it seem. (as this post explains.) But, I figured, the least I could do in the name of professionalism was to be clean shaven in my “official” portraits. =)


  1. A Thousand Words Plus | Ty Unglebower

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