In the situation in which many of us find ourselves, a world in which unbridled greed and constant grabs for more power are valued the most and seem increasingly to dominate, I find it difficult to match what my religious sources and aesthetics sources tell/show me. Beauty and love, silence, solitude and contemplation sometimes seem not only naive and ineffective, but escapist at best. And yet . . . I think about the desert fathers and mothers, and about Christian and Buddhist monastics (among so many others) who also live(d) in times that must have seemed just as despairing. How does one negotiate a world which grows emotionally and spiritually colder (while—which may come to much the same thing—more heated in atmospheric temperatures)? Of course, one can say (hope?) that every act, no matter how limited, that demonstrates kindness and appreciation of what is matters because it reveals another way. But is anyone really listening . . .? Can such voices even be heard over the babble which fills the air and the air waves?
This view of the Tetons reminds me of Gary Snyder's writing about Dogen's "Mountains and Rivers Sutra." Snyder tells us "the compound 'mountains and waters' . . . is the straightforward term for landscape. Landscape painting is 'mountains and waters pictures' . . . One does not need to be a specialist to observe that landforms are a play of stream-cutting and ridge-resistance and that waters and hills interpenetrate in endlessly branching rhythms. The Chinese feel for land has always incorporated this sense of a dialectic of rock and water, of downward flow and rocky uplift, and of the dynamism and 'slow flowing' of earth-forms." This may be why Dogen also wrote that "the mountains are constantly walking." These words make sense to me when I look at the Tetons . . .
Grand Prismatic Spring
Peter Matthiessen: "It helps to pay minute attention to details—a shard of rose quartz, a cinnamon fern with spores . . . When one pays attention to the present, there is great pleasure in awareness of small things . . . "
David Bailey: "You have to keep looking until you see."
Both of these offer good advice for photographers and indeed everyone; they are even a small antidote against the politics of day.
This (I think) pine stands near the approach to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It is, for me, a premonition or icon of the beauty one finds in that great canyon carved out by the Yellowstone River . . .
Cascade Canyon, Tetons
When I arrived in Jackson, stepping off the plane (there are no covered pathways into the airport), suddenly right there rising out of the plain, were the Tetons. It was an impressive beginning, certainly for someone like me who has lived where it is flat most of his life. The Tetons are unusual in that they have no foothills, they just erupt out of the meadows, thrusting themselves into view.
As I said yesterday, Facebook has apparently decided to eliminate many if not most of my posts. I don't know if this one will show up or not; in any case, anyone who is interested in seeing them can always go to my blog at www.nabesphotos.com and click on "Blog."
Grand Prismatic Spring is one of those "obligatory" places to visit—and photograph—in Yellowstone. It was cold and crowded and the spring exuded sulfuric fumes when I was there, but it is richly colorful . . .
Yellowstone Lake, 7:30 AM
John Berger: "We live our daily lives in a constant exchange with the set of daily appearances surrounding us—often they are familiar, sometimes they are unexpected and new . . . Yet it can happen, suddenly, unexpectedly, and most frequently in the half-light-of-glimpses, that we catch sight of another visible order which intersects with ours and has nothing to do with it . . . We come upon a part of the visible which wasn't destined for us, Perhaps it was destined for night-birds, reindeer, ferrets, eels, whales . . ." Or perhaps for bears, elk, bison, wolves . . .
So, I have returned from a long, exhausting week in Wyoming. More on that later. This is West Geyser Basin in Yellowstone at dawn. To compare this to my usual haunt of Florida is like entering a wonderland—or a surreal world (parts of Yellowstone).