Tuesday, June 23, 2009

how do you end a perfect day?

i mean, nothing happened! o, there was a little fire on the southern part of the forest, which i couldn't see. and the forest law guy stopped by, after having an abandoned truck towed from the lake. and i had a new lens for my infrared dslr, so i snapped pictures all day and took a walk in the evening.

yet none of this explains my blissful feeling. i woke up with difficulty, returning from my days off last nite. i thought, o god, i'm going to be dragging during this one.

but it didn't happen. and i think it might have been the weather, the clear sky, the warm east wind, and the absolutely perfect temperature. yes, there's a thermometer reading which puts me in heaven, a dry heat. i'm ecstatic, glad to be alive, nothing else needed.

maybe i lay in the womb at exactly these degrees, yet my mother had an apendectomy while i was inside her, the scar huge across her belly for the rest of her life. i can't imagine that invasive procedure didn't affect me. i wonder what drugs they gave her? maybe my love of daydreaming started then. i zoned out under those conditions and felt it in the air passing across the lookout today.

i do think a companion consideration might be in order.

leaving town, i stopped at barnes and noble for a cup of tea. now, i know traveling eased enormously by a book on tape. i'd listen to the stories of artemisia brunelleschi, the concentration camp saga of elie weisel, and another of a painter getting his delicious revenge on a critic in 'the portrait', as i traveled back and forth from the dental school in san francisco last spring.

and on the way to baja years ago with friends, we listened to 'west with the night' , all about flights across africa. i remember that story better than anything else on the trip!

i bought 'the castle' by franz kafka and listened to the first two disks on the way back into the mountains. i remember nothing but the story. and it reminded me so much of my favorite books, the alice stories of lewis caroll. no wonder i loved kafka, adapting his 'metamorphosis' for the stage years ago and playing the cockroach myself.

you see, it's the dreamlike, outrageous actions and humor that put me in a good mood. our everyday life depresses me, i might as well admit it (as if you didn't know already). true, i did nothing but lie around my house-sitting job this past weekend, enjoying the sense of having a home. within an hour i'd spread cameras, clothes, computer, grocieries, throughout the whole house. and for four days i enjoyed myself in lassitude, though i did take pictures and you can see them here:

breaking the rather dire story i'd been experiencing the week before at the lookout:

this still begs the question, how do i end the day? ah, yes, making out with the beautiful german art student, underneath the stars and a giant oak outside the youth hostel once the home of mussolini's mistress, florence, 1965, that's how i'd like it to be, perfect as the memory, high on wine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

sometimes you need words

why is that? today i od'eed on images. finally, they couldn't tell me what i needed to know. i had to open a book of poetry 'the ink dark moon' and read:

Even when a river of tears

courses through

this body,

the flame of love

cannot be quenched.

theoretically, one of my books on photographing nudes could express this very thought, a body twisted in passion, blue on a dark background, light streaming from behind an almost closed door.

yet too much is left open for interpretation. she could be fearing an intruder, dreaming of an empty hallway experienced in childhood. the mystery of images remains just that, something we can only filter through our present mood.

but the flame of love cannot be quenched, that gets specific, right to the point. even if we don't know what love is - as la rochefoucauld said we would never experience love if so much hadn't been written about it - we imagine passion as though it existed. at least there is longing, and that is something we've all felt.

love is a disaster, i read that somewhere, and love is a misunderstanding between two people or i suppose it could be between more, like in a family.

i'm not defaming the great desire of us all, however it seems pretty questionable. even the love of a parent for a child depends upon (usually) being able to brag about them. still, this weekend, standing in line at the post-office, i watched a mother give her down's syndrome son a loving and affectionate kiss. could i take it at face value? of course not! i've known too many divorced mothers who ended up enjoying only the attachment to their sons.

gosh, this sounds awful. have i felt love? often i've wondered if it isn't simply an abstraction. is it my desire for survival i love? do i really miss people, need them? i've probably already quoted one of my mother's last revelations to me: 'you played so much alone as a child, i never thought you'd have much to do with people.' she thought i'd done pretty well to have any friends at all!

i'm sometimes convinced love is the desire for a return to childhood, even if we had a miserable one. there's something about the ache for protection, the feeling we'll be supported when we stumble, the source of all religions. however, with dependence comes the limitations of someone else paying the bills. 'the price of freedom is loneliness', i once read that on a men's room wall in berkeley, california. (where else?) but i'm not sure this is right. being alone can be a great delight, as along as we feel we'll land on our feet, no matter what happens.

who was the psychologist who said, 'the child gains confidence simply knowing the mother is there?' i can't imagine how children who grow up in orphanages survive.

ah, we've come full circle. perhaps we thrive when we accept the earth as our mother, from whom we come and to whom we shall return.

this message may have been the through-line of the latest 'fresh ink' at the blue room theater:

be sure to see the show:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

am i too late?

that was the question she asked me.

no, it wasn't about buying an ironing -board on special, or entering the museum of natural history, relatively unimportant events. and she didn't mean something much more significant like 'is it too late for us to make love?' though i wished she had asked that question!

what she meant was 'am i too late with my life?' had everything she wanted to do been done, the artistic work with voice and theater? had her potential contribution been cancelled by time as null and void?

of course, i tried to come up with a re-assuring answer. you know, like, 'it has to be done again, renewed, every generation.' or, 'you can do it with a different twist, a different tone of voice.' yet we've experienced that already with marcel duchamp and andy warhol. around 1950 imitation and replication became the rule rather than the exception. in some sense, tv announced the end of western civilization.

timing is everything, both my mother and shakespeare said it. these days, doing photography, i'm all-too-well-informed of its history. i browse new books on the subject practically every day. and yes, those given the greatest honors those who did something first, who took pics off tall buildings (rodchenko), who shot from the hip in gritty black and white in gritty cafes (robert frank), who introduced geometry into reportage (henri cartier-bresson). even these days with digital it appears the reservoirs of invention have been exhausted.

alas, the only recourse seems to be to do it better. say you're shakespeare having a beer with these other playwright clowns, ben jonson, edward marlowe, and they talk about ghosts. okay, they've done them, but i can one-up them and steal the box-office. (sounds like hollywood today, doesn't it?) and so willy goes off to dig up hamlet's father and banquo's spooky spirit.

most of us do feel like changelings, i surmise, born out of our time. there's the pedant in venezuela who reads only the novels of balzac. there's the aficionado who believes no one except bette davis ever made a movie. or there's myself, one of the lost generation who's truly lost since i didn't arrive with hemingway and the paris photographers of the fifties. i even came on the tail-end of the beatniks. truly, i'm the last of them though never one of them.

now, even as we weep for what we missed, the wheel of fortune remains round and spinning. it resurrects fads and fantasies. maybe you will be lucky and the taste for lace will come back, or a passion for absinthe and madness. you too can be the baudelaire of pasadena. chance likes to trip up all human expectations. maybe one day she will really say, 'are we too late for sex and a steamboat up the nile?' one can only hope.

here are the first photos from a return season in the most archaic of occupations. after all, people stood on towers looking for the fires announcing the fall of troy four thousand years ago.