Sunday, October 26, 2008

the strange case of the vanishing lookout

how often are we willing to throw our identity up in the air, to scatter the cards, let them fall where they may? it's not really easy to do. one has to be mad, or careless, desperate, or in high spirits. if i can't play with who i am, i am not doing very well.

in a place and time long, long ago, i realized people give up being artists for basically two reasons: 1. they don't want to spend so much time alone. 2. they don't want to reveal themselves.

since we're primates, we tend to hang out with others. freud, in his later years, decided the strongest human urge was to be part of a small group. and way, way back, as soon as a tribe got too large, they split in two. we see this happen yet today, everyday.

yet, can a creative thought emerge without lots of dreamy time in isolation? if we're trying too hard to solve our problems, we wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. without letting go into the land of illogic we can't even rest. many have said we die alone. perhaps eternal peace requires it.

as for revealing ourselves, it's part of the same plight. to be too odd is to be cast out into exile. luckily, these days, we can fit in somewhere. anything seems registered on the web. for example, you have a fetish for steam-pipe fittings. google it and you're no longer alone. around the world, out of six-billion plus people at least a dozen have a passion for crawling through passages underground, despite the claustrophobia and the heat.

in fact, it's almost impossible to be completely alone these days. even the mad have their many friends. and hermits tune into the internet without even knowing it. once you've been acclimatized, it's damned difficult to drop out of the human weather.

still, from time to time we try. two nights ago i ran around attempting to take pictures of my own ghost, dividing into multiple characters. they look like me, but... was i simply bored with thinking i'm always the same, that i know myself better than i should?

buddha said we live in a world of illusion. well, our world couldn't be more buddhist, more 'virtual.' trying to escape ourselves, we find ourselves. seeking ourselves, we run out of gas in a dali desert.

these pictures are a typical case: during a few moments last summer, after reading six books on francis bacon, i decided to find out what the bacon persona existed of. is that me i see? good gravy, it's a shame, but i can really allow myself only to distort myself. i'm too conscious of hurting other people (most of the time) to do the same to them. even bacon painted from photographs of friends, knowing how disturbing they'd find his images of them to be.

a final note: c.g. jung felt much of our energy a prisoner of our 'shadow' side. that darkness might hide goodness or evil, whatever we personally dare not express. perhaps you get energy from being swept along with the crowd. on the other hand, maybe there's merely a limpness and distance in you which allows this to happen.

certainly, if you show the sides nobody knows, you risk ending up alone, cast out of the tribe. these days you may not die, but it still doesn't necessarily feel great. even the unibomber sent out destructive messages in order to connect with the weird world he envisioned.

you can find more new summer photos at

the forecast is for snow on friday, six days away. i'm pretty much packed up, though today is warm and cloudless. see some winter lookouts from the air at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

life's a gamble

that's the way i felt wandering around reno last week. here are a few pictures

the center of town around the casinos has always been seedy. the new indian casinos in california have drawn away the crowds. gradually these old casinos have begun to close.

i've always liked reno. when i worked the lookouts at lake tahoe, i'd drive down for the day, wander the university campus, lose a few coins. compared to the gambling at the lake, it felt more real.

my first season over the water i worked at zephyr cove. very fancy homes were being built across the street. not what you'd expect at a lookout. as i circumnavigated the lake last week, i passed under zephyr and could barely see it for the houses!

stateline lookout no longer exists. my brother and sister-in-law visited the site and say it's a very nice park. fair enough. it's a great place for weddings, and i had a lot of them, one with a string quartet. being right above casinos, i could practically hear the slot-machines. i'd go inside and look in amazement at the people pulling the uprights of the one-armed bandits. for better or worse, i limited my personal participation.

but i did think a lot about the nature of luck. and since my whole life's been a gamble, i guess dropping coins in the slot not necessary. here's one meditation on the subject, written at the northshore:

and thoughts of turning lead into gold seemed to go with the place:

even this last week, i had fantasies of walking into a joint, plopping down a nickel, and walking out with five thousand dollars. that's the way they make suckers of people like me.

let's see, what would make a good aphorism? gamble with your life, but not with your money? oscar wilde would like that.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

learning to live in spaceships

i've been accused of having way too many theories! theories about men and women, theater and politics, even about the nature of reality (does it really exist?). these accusations made me finally give up writing. what's the point if nobody's listening? i call this 'the cassandra complex'.

however, despite my desire to take pictures and not talk, i can't help myself. partly this is due to mortality. now, i'm sure nobody wants to hear what the sum of their efforts, anxieties, and pleasures will be! this isn't the middle ages, after all, though one writer on photography feels we're heading for a pre-renaissance period where we begin to think and act in terms of symbols and magic.

perhaps this is part of the 'seals on the beach' syndrome, everybody constantly talking on cell-phones and rubbing up against each other in subways, a primitive way of tribalism where individuality doesn't exist. suddenly we've lost our hard-won external self. and as always, the survival of the species is at the heart of it.

so, spaceships? yes, learning to live in little cubicles on artificial food, with electric light and recycled water. in this way those who leave an unlivable and desecrated planet will be able to adjust to encapsulated conditions until they, hopefully, reach another sphere in which they , hopefully, will do a better job.

since nothing can be proven or dis-proven about the existence or non-existence after our personal death, i feel we can believe whatever we want, as long as we don't force that belief on others. for myself, repeated lifetimes makes a nice paradigm. thus, next time, i'll be a doctor on a spaceship, for which i am presently preparing myself. medicine is evolving rapidly and it will be much more of a pleasure to practice it a hundred years from now.

i'm continuing my with a new series:

yes, the body, how we fail, how we heal.

this is not all for the future life. i'd like to figure out the aging process for myself, now, what can i do to preserve myself in a healthy state for awhile longer. each time i went to my storage space last week, i thought of my friend roger dying in the keeper's house, surrounded by his family. and of course, he'd ask for the oxygen to be turned off so he could have a cigarette. and two weeks ago, my friend dave, who took care of this lookout, retired and the next day found out his cancer had re-occured after eighteen years. all people are mortal. wayne is a person. therefore...

these two courses have been extremely helpful (not finished with them yet):

maybe it's time to pay a little more attention to science!

but back to poetry. here are two pieces, one long and one short, where i broach the subject of life after life on earth.

and i've posted new summer photos at: