Einstein: "I live in that solitude which is painful in youth,
but delicious in the years of maturity."
Zion National Park
This morning a lead article in our paper concerned a shill for the oil industry who claimed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill wasn't that bad, so drilling in the eastern Gulf should be allowed. Often when I read the morning paper, I am reminded of a line from Fitzgerald: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . . ." To me, that's an apt description of and a warning for our time . . .
Looking at yesterday's image and comparing it to the one above, I'm reminded of what David Abram wrote in Becoming Animal: "each land has its own psyche, its own style of sentience, and hence to travel from Rome to Paris, or from Barcelona to Berlin, is to voyage from one state of mind to another, very different, state of mind. Even to journey by train from Manhattan to Boston, or simply to walk from one New England town to another, is to transform one's state of awareness. Traveling on foot makes these variations most evident, as the topography gradually alters, mountains giving way to foothills, and foothills becoming plains, as the accents of the local shopkeepers transform in tandem with the shifting terrain. The texture of the air changes as the moisture-laden atmosphere of the highlands, instilled with the breath of cool, granite caves and the exhalations of roots and matted needles, opens onto the dry wind whirling across the flatlands, blending the accents of upturned soil with hints of exhaust from the highway . . ." And he also wrote: "Of course, I can hardly be instilled by this intelligence if I only touch down, briefly, on my way to elsewhere. Only by living for many moons in one region, my peripheral senses tracking seasonal changes in the local plants while the scents of the soil steadily seep in through my pores—only over time can the intelligence of a place lay claim upon the person."
Abram is trying to remind us (call us back to) an awareness of our being animal—live creatures in a live environment. This is what is lost (among numerous other reasons) by living our lives while looking down at a cell phone. This awareness is in grave danger I think now, and will be in more danger unless more of us go out walking, taking time and paying close attention to look, smell, listen to, touch the world around us. Our approach to Descartes' descriptions of us as machines will be finally realized as we continue our march toward becoming robots . . .
I've been working with some software which includes a filter the makers named "Noir." I like its effects, and they do remind me of what the makers must have been after: something that looks like an old film noir movie. Many of those movies had a certain look and feel to them: strange perspectives (from above, or below or at a skewed angle); high contrast (called chiaroscuro in painting and sculpture); looking through a railing or, as here, a window; and often with a mysterious or even threatening feel to them. As I said I like the way it makes my images look; hope you like it too . . .
Paul Strand: "That kind of life which has its being in the extension and projection of knowledge through the syntheses of intuitive spiritual activity, and its concomitant the vita contemplativa, is seen to be and no doubt is, a menace to a society built upon what has become the religious concept of possessiveness. It is natural therefore that the artist finds himself looked upon with a new sort of hostility which expresses itself . . . in the form of indifference or contempt."
St John River and the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
Peter Matthiessen: "Already the not-looking-forward, the without hope-ness takes on a subtle attraction . . . With the past evaporated, the future pointless, and all expectation worn away, I begin to experience that now that is spoken of by the great teachers . . . There is no hope anywhere but in this moment . . . This very day is an aspect of nirvana, which is not different from samsara but, rather, a subtle alchemy, the transformation of dark mud into the pure white blossom of the lotus . . . perhaps . . . the journey . . . step by step and day by day, is the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus, the Tao, the Way, the Path . . ."