Category Archives: Art

With an eye made quiet

Wherever you are  Anne Corr

The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task — when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God’s love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in love when lovers feel fused. – David Brooks

This passage from David Brook’s excellent book came to mind this morning, as I lose myself in the playfulness of adjusting photographs mainly captured by my husband , and turning them into images with digital tools.  I hope to enhance the power of the image by using a variety of techniques, but most probably the best image is the one that is left alone.  It really doesn’t matter, because what I am getting from the process is something Brooks terms as limerence.  And I have sought it all my life. I am full of gladness that I have the privilege of time to use pursuing it. I was a young teen probably when I first became conscious of those moments of transcendence – it may have been earlier but my memory of my young childhood is barely apparent. What I do remember is making my way through a local park, violin in hand on the way to my lesson when I suddenly became aware of the smallest area of grass at my feet, and the overwhelming feeling of delightedness and joy.  It felt as though I had been in touch with magic, and for some time , years , I assumed it to be quasi religious.  That moment made me connect to a universe in a way that I wanted to do again and again.  What I didn’t know then was that those moments can’t be sought, they are of their own time, outside of any control by me. There have been others, but few and too far between – but the upshot of me feeling that moment was that it informed me about my choices, and it informs me still.

And that is why I love the opportunity to practice my craft – I only wish I could create the same peacefulness and abandon in the kitchen, but sadly not.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal — that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
Henry David Thoreau in Walden

 

Into the Mystic

Into the Mystic

Into the Mystic

Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Poem by Alice Walker

Illustration my own – please do not use without permission.

Lost

trees

 

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike;
Eat I must, and sleep I will,—and would that night were here!
But ah!—to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike!
Would that it were day again!—with twilight near!

Love has gone and left me and I don’t know what to do;
This or that or what you will is all the same to me;
But all the things that I begin I leave before I’m through,—
There’s little use in anything as far as I can see.

Love has gone and left me,—and the neighbors knock and borrow,
And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse,—
And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow
There’s this little street and this little house.

-Edna St Millay

 

Celebrations of man and nature

 

 

 

 

 

I’m celebrating today, that we have today to celebrate with.  Firstly, a photograph taken by my husband of part of a statue that stands in St Pancras station, London.  An evocative piece which displays the struggle and the ingenuity of man over environment.  The second, a beautiful piece of poetry celebrating something quite different – the choice to leave some parts of life and of  the planet untouched by man.
IMG_0023

 

 

Inversnaid

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew,
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Cosmic orphans

the creation James Tissot 1836 -1902 Teh Jewish Museum

 

Nearly beginning a new year , and that seems to me to be a good time for some reflection in the company of a reknown anthropologist Loren Eiseley.  He wrote a piece to introduce part of the fifteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and I have included two small quotes to whet your appetite.

It appears to me that what the author is suggesting , is that the human condition is significantly different to that of other species because of the size of our brain which has adapted to intellectual capacities which we ourselves  do not understand or always put to good use.  The future of mankind has often in our history appeared to be either dangerously under threat, or at some sort of crossroads that changes how we live.  These are times we live in too, technology is driving change at a rate that once could not have been dreamt of.  We have threats of climate change which are not inconsiderable.  Everyday living makes demands on all of us that we forget to question, and decisions are multiplied exponentially across the globe which continuously aggravates the existing problems of consumption and availablility of food, water, resources.

Sometimes reflection is necessary, to stop and consider how best we can lead our lives individually and as societies.  Loren narrates how his father explained some of the deeper questions to him as a youngster, after he had come across a turtle that had been riddled with shot.  In that story, LOren’s father describes mankind as a cosmic orphan, struggling to find his way in a difficult, challenging world.

Because man was truly an orphan and confined to no single way of life, he was, in essence a prison breaker. But in ignorance his very knowledge sometimes led from one terrible prison to another. Was the final problem then, to escape himself, or, if not that, to reconcile his devastating intellect with his heart? All of the knowledge set down in great books directly or indirectly affects this problem. It is the problem of every man, for even the indifferent man is making, unknown to himself, his own callous judgment.

I love the power of his storytelling and the insight he displays in his writing, a poetic sensibility which enhances his anthropology.

 “None there be, can rehearse the whole tale.” That phrase, too, contains the warning that man is an orphan of uncertain beginnings and an indefinite ending. All that the archaeological and anthropological sciences can do is to place a somewhat flawed crystal before man and say: This is the way you came, these are your present dangers; somewhere, seen dimly beyond, lies your destiny. God help you, you are a cosmic orphan, a symbol-shifting magician, mostly immature and inattentive without humility of heart. This the old ones knew long ago in the great deserts under the stars. This they sought to learn and pass on. It is the only hope of men.

The whole article can be found here

 http://library.eb.co.uk/original?content_id=1325&pager.offset=0

Image is Tissot  The Creation

Happy New Year to everyone!

 

 

 

Visions and revisions with Alfred J. Prufrock.

Today I am concentrating on ‘The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock’, a poem I have mused upon  for a while now.  It embodies the melancholy I appear to have been born with, a vague blast of icy air that swirls around my life.  I love my life, but simultaneously have deep feelings of despair at the human condition, at the vagaries of existence and the inability for me to hold a meaning behind it for any continuous body of time.  All is indeed paradox. But back to T.S. Eliot and his intriguing expression of modern life, containing this human experience of being, feeling, understanding conflicting abstractions, the confusion of being alone in a crowd.

My endeavour is fitting visual imagery to complement the text, and so far I have come up with some ideas that make sense to me.

What always interests me is how other people interpret the same content , and whether my interpretation manages to resonate with anyone.  I choose an intuitive response to his poem, and have avoided reading analyses because I find it muddies my own thinking.  After I have finished, I may go and discover what other readers have encountered in reading it, but I want to be ‘clean’ of influence. It may not be a scholarly approach! ts  main image An advanced dressing station in France Henry Tonks 1918

ert

 

image   The Brown Tunnel Henry Moore

Mind over matter.

tom thumb

 

I am researching folk tales at the moment, and finding the history of  story telling fascinating.  These images are taken from magic lantern slides from the 19th century and are so utterly delightful and beguiling.  The story this one tells is Tom Thumb, and was itself retold by Charles Perrault in 1697, which at the time was published under his son’s name, as he was far too erudite a thinker , belonging to the Academie Francaise. I wonder what he would think about his long lasting legacy being those Tales from Mother Goose?   The tale itself is interesting, recalling different narratives within it.  Tom Thumb is the scrawniest of a bunch of boys born to a faggot farmer and his wife,  and the boys are abandoned by their parents who are too poor to keep them.  Tom keeps his brother safe from wolves in the forest, and leads them back to their home where the parents have had a change of fortune  and are delighted to see their children.  Soon poverty strikes again, and once more the parents turn the children out into the depths of the forest. It is the scrawny yet implacable Tom that keeps the brothers safe until they reach  a house in a clearing. Again there are hints here of Hansel and Gretel, but the occupant is no witch, but an ogre who plans to fatten tehm up overnight and eat them for breakfast.  Once again inscrutable Tom outwits the ogre and tricks him into killing his own daughters having mistaken them for the sleeping boys.  The brothers escape the ogre, who on discovering the trickery puts on his seven league boots  and hotfoots after them .  After some time the ogre has to rest, and after taking off his boots, settles into a deep sleep. Tom , hearing his snores, steals his boots which have magical qualities so they now fit the diminutive lad, and proceeds to the ogre’s wife. He convinces her that the ogre has been held captive and she must hand over the ogre’s wealth in order that he can pay a ransom.  This she does, and Tom returns in triumph.  Clearly the moral is not to underestimate the runt in the litter. Perhaps Perrault was telling the tale to the adults, as a warning not to neglect their children. Perhaps the tale should be retold today.

Perrault was retelling these stories himself, but the test of time has proved how successfully he did that, with wit and humour that continues to entertain today.  Just as the magic lantern slides.

Magic lantern images are here:  http://www.laternamagica.fr/page.php?id=1

Silently saying.

architecture

 

Silence
by Marianne Moore

My father used to say,
“Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow’s grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat—
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse’s limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth—
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint.”
Nor was he insincere in saying, “Make my house your inn.”
Inns are not residences.

The Stoics Manifesto Part One

 

eudaimonia Anne corr

I love the Stoics – their attempt to master the meaning of life resonates still.  Let’s not make life difficult by talking about airy fairy concepts like happiness, let’s bring some structure to the existentialist questions that haunt us all, whether we pay attention to them or not.  Ultimately we all face the same challenges of living and dying – just got to pay attention as to how we decide to do it.