The narcissistic art of selfie-taking seems such a quintessentially 21st-century art form that, taking it up at last this Christmas I began to think of myself as frightfully modern.
You're a 75-year-old child of your times! I bragged to myself as brandishing my smartphone I posed for selfies (making sure my best side got the limelight) wearing the witty T-shirt (portraits of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart above the legend 'I can hear dead people!') Santa brought me.
But then almost the next day, whisking out of my ego's grasp all the tickets I'd had on myself for my imagined modernity, up in my online reading popped news of a 12th-century selfie.
Is there nothing new under the sun?
In its online storyA Selfie Set In Stone, The Guardian tells how an art historian has found a stonemason's unnoticed-for-centuries selfie high up at the top of a pillar in a dark corner inside a Spanish cathedral.
Dr Jennifer Alexander, a specialist in the architectural history of the great churches and cathedrals of the medieval period, found the small carved figure of a man. Alexander says, ''He's got a nice little smile. He's pleased with himself. He's splendidly carved, with a strongly characterised face.''
She's sure its a self-portrait of a stonemason who worked on the cathedral.
You find this in medieval buildings, she rejoices.
They're usually in dark corners where only another stonemason would find them. This one is in a bit of the building where you'd have to be a stonemason to be up there to see it.
She explains that while medieval stonemasons were often sublimely multi-skilled craftsmen, they worked in anonymity and so sometimes yielded to the sorts of modest expressions of narcissism this mason indulged with his self-portrait.
The story of the discovery bristles with charm and poignancy. So for example we find that he, the immortalised stonemason, has surely from on high and over 900 years been watching tens of millions of visitors to the cathedral (last year alone 350,000 tourists came) while not one of them ever saw him.
For me as well the discovery of the mason's witty but shy, almost self-effacing narcissism takes on a special lustre in these times when the narcissism of Donald Trump has been so displayed and analysed.
Perhaps it is a manifestation of my own wretched, therapy-resistant case of TAD (Trump Anxiety Disorder) that I cannot read enough about Trump's personality. Only this week, with Trump so newsworthily at large in Georgia, there are renewed suggestions that Trump's narcissism is a clinically malignant form of that dysfunction.
Trump's example and the stonemason's story reminds us that there is, really, a narcissism spectrum with umpteen kinds of narcissisms along it.
At one of its extremes (found in the worst potenates of our times) narcissism is malignant, belligerent and ostentatious, a display of bad fireworks.
Somewhere in the middle one finds the mildly egomaniacally majority (it includes those who take flattering selfies and peacock popinjay newspaper columnists who would spit dummies if bylines didn't give them credit for every single piece of wordmasonry they carve). Then at the far end there is the shy, restrained narcissism of the ancient stonemason in the news. Is he, perhaps, a role model for us all?
But then, when (like this shy, modest columnist) one is astonishingly cultured and well read, the notion of narcissism is known to be extremely complex.
So, for example, Oscar Wilde imagined in a poem, The Disciple Poem, that the pool in which Narcissus saw his reflection, falling in love with that reflection, was itself (the pool) a watery narcissist that loved its own reflection in Narcissus's eyes.
Then, the narcissist's relationship with his mirror (Trump is thought to need lots of bathroom mirror-time every day to cosmetically perfect the tangerine suntan that somehow endures right through Washington's famously sunless winters) has nuances galore.
Some of us, poetry-knowledgeable, have had our relationships with our mirrors changed for ever by reading the great Constantine Cavafy's poem The Mirror In The Hall in which the old hallway mirror is a living thing with its own deep emotions. It finds great joy and fulfilment in being able to serve a handsome young man who pauses in front of it.
Perhaps, similarly, Trump's White House bathroom's mirror has powerful feelings (worship? contempt? pity? who can tell?) about the tangerine-tinted man it serves so intimately.