Monday, September 22, 2014

be drunk on light

Be Drunk

Charles Baudelaire

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

The mornings this weekend were filled with light. There wasn't enough time though, to capture everything I wanted to capture.

It's the morning light that goes on saving me, and the evening light when I can find it.

I ask the bird what time it answers: time to be continually drunk.

Another movie added to my library list this weekend, The Tree, with Charlotte Gainsbourg. I'd taken or almost taken this movie out a few times.

From a review in the NY Times:

Sadness and longing haunt the films of the French director Julie Bertuccelli, whose gorgeous second feature, “The Tree,” is set in Queensland, Australia, on the outskirts of Brisbane. Here, on the edge of the outback, the environment is so luminous that every outdoor shot has an aura of magical realism. 
The title refers to a marvelous, many-limbed tree, a Moreton Bay fig, that rises like a giant, woody mushroom with cradling arms next to the ramshackle farmhouse of the O’Neils, a family of six. Both a protective canopy and an intrusive menace with an aggressive root system, the tree is as much a character in the movie as any of the humans; it is also, of course, a potent, all-purpose metaphor.

So obviously, I knew the film would be about grief, and would be filled with sadness, and I wasn't ready to go there the previous times I took it home from the library. And then, I was. This past weekend. And glad I watched it. There is a bit of a fairytale quality to it, but only a hint. And watching it, you don't have the feeling that the ending is certain in any way at all. Not a Disney fairytale at all. The acting was really fine, but I would have watched it for the tree alone, which is quite magical and real at once.

The garden is very much done now. A few perennials here and there having their last hurrah, but all the annuals have had their day.

One last dahlia, seemed to deserve one last go in the sun.

The burdens this bird has carried....the rain and snow and sun it has seen and weathered. A constant reminder for me.

Friday, September 19, 2014

a poet is a bird

“A poet is a bird of unearthly excellence, who escapes from his celestial realm arrives in this world warbling. If we do not cherish him, he spreads his wings and flies back into his homeland.”

- Khalil Gibran

Speaking of poets of unearthly excellence, it must be time for my yearly posting of this Rilke poem.

Autumn Day

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

- translated by Stephen Mitchell

And this one seems perfect, too. Is it possible, I wonder, to take September straight? Though we should try.

Absolute September

by Mary Jo Salter

How hard it is to take September
straight—not as a harbinger
of something harder.

Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
scrubbed clean of meaning—or innocent
of the cold thing coldly meant.

How hard the heart tugs at the end
of summer, and longs to haul it in
when it flies out of hand

at the prompting of the first mild breeze.
It leaves us by degrees
only, but for one who sees

summer as an absolute,
Pure State of Light and Heat, the height
to which one cannot raise a doubt,

as soon as one leaf's off the tree
no day following can fall free
of the drift of melancholy.


One morning, after the snow and before the big frost, I took endless sunflower photos, again. And because it's the last of them, the last of the garden, really, I'm indulging myself and posting pretty much all of them....

These last two photos taken at about the same time with different settings on the camera.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

low budget movie

it's the damnedest
you've ever
in it -

low budget
4 billion

and the longest
you ever hope


- Charles Bukowski
(excerpt) from Show Biz

Well, I sometimes think of this blog as my low budget movie. And, today, this is the part about living in the suburbs. 

One day I'd like to splice together every single photograph I've posted here and on Flickr and those that I have on Getty images, too. I wonder what they'd all say, together, like that. 

The trees are starting to turn.

This bike has been propped up against the sign in the dry pond for a few days now. Probably stolen, and then abandoned. 

The stand of trees in the utility corridor is beginning to turn as well.

One morning, feeling awful for this reason or that, I went into the little suburban forest nearby. Searching for cups of light. I photographed leaves for about half an hour, and then felt more like myself. 

Most of the photographs were rubbish and I deleted them. But there were a few I don't mind.

I lavished a fair bit of attention on this next leaf. The bottom leaf was spinning around on a thread and the light was catching it beautifully as it spun. It was very small, and moving and the light around us (the dog, myself, the leaf) was quite dim. After many tries, I thought I'd captured something. But when I got back home, the focus wasn't quite right in any of them. And the colour was so jarring. So I ended up cropping the image a fair bit, and going with black and white.

On the walk back home, I shot some photos of a vine that had spilled over someone's fence.

The sky seems extra blue at this time of year.

And lastly, back home, the apple trees in our back yard. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

light is on the edge

"We do not truly see light, we only see slower things lit by it, so that for us light is on the edge - the last thing we know before things become too swift for us." 

- C. S. Lewis

"There need be nothing preternaturally sweet or homespun about the moods embodied in domestic space. These spaces can speak to us of the somber as readily as they can of the gentle. There is no necessary connection between the concepts of home and of prettiness; what we call a home is merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the important truths which the wider world ignores, or which our distracted and irresolute selves have trouble holding on to.

As we write, so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us."

- Alain de Botton
The Architecture of Happiness

That light is always too swift for us.

When I'm trying to capture a certain light that arrives in my kitchen through the morning, I experience how quickly it changes.

Early, the light on the dishes on the sink. 10 minutes later it will have shifted.

Later in the afternoon, this room beside the kitchen becomes light filled and attracts the dog. He usually finds a sunbeam for his nap.

The desk in the kitchen, later in the morning.

I had bought Rob a book on Cy Twombly, titled Paradise. The light on the grapes, the purples on the cover of the book called to me.

The more I seek light in my photography, the truths and mysteries of light, the more difficult I find it to talk about.