Thursday, October 25, 2012

aesthetic consciousness

Some walking photos for you this morning, and a short excerpt from a book of conversations with the poet Li-Young Lee.  I've put the book on my 'recommended reading' list above.

The interviewer poses that oft asked question:

"How do you balance the demands of your everyday life with the demands of your art? Making a living, your family, doing your art - is there even a separation for you?"

Li-Young Lee responds:

"My first reaction is, I don't balance it - I'm always out of balance. One moment I feel like I'm not spending enough time with the family; the other moment I feel like I'm not spending enough time thinking about poems. But the older I get, the more I realize that they have something to do with each other. If I allow it, when I'm cooking, aesthetic consciousness becomes part of it, and the meal is better. If I'm playing with my kids, if I get into aesthetic consciousness, the game is better. I really do believe in the yogic quality of art, so that it isn't something you do in that room, and when you come out you're a totally different person. It does go into the life, and the life goes into the studio; they feed each other. It's all yogic. That is, it all links us to our whole mind, our whole being." 

I was thinking about Lee's "aesthetic consciousness" as I was out walking the dog, and while I was making dinner. I like that he says "if I allow it" - because it seems to me that it's engrained in us to block that aesthetic consciousness from the mundane tasks we do, maybe because we fear there's only so much to go around. I think this is part of the beauty of stringing a camera around one's neck, or leaving it out on the kitchen table. (Complete darkness now at dinner time, so no real chance of taking any photos then, but still).  When I walk with the camera, I allow myself to see differently, take in the landscape in a different way. Today I was walking, clicking at this or that, and trying to bring myself into the space I wanted to be in to write. As well, I was adjusting my eyes to the narrowing fall palette, increasingly without colour. And soon to be white, though we've rather miraculously gone without snow that's stayed. Everywhere else in the province seems to be covered, but not yet us.


  1. Oh that blue wire fence with the twining red. . .Wow! And that Ace is so shiny! Nice job on the pix, again, Shawna!

  2. I'm with Lucy, and couldn't say it so well...your pictures are always stunning, but today beyond perfect with that quotation and reflection. Thank you!! And love the one where the yellowed leaves line up, especially.

  3. darn you. Just when I don't want to ramble on and on. Of course, each of these images speaks to me, allows me to enjoy and savour. But then I see that darling Lab of yours and I melt -- like snow, not expecting things to heat up but instead to allow me to absorb the atmosphere. I've done all that, absorbed, swooned over the Lab, and uncontrollably have scrolled back more than once to that single black and white. And there, something begins to melt inside of me.

    I'm never balanced. Never have been. Getting better at it but it's not such an important thing to be balanced. I think being off-balance, keeps us aware and ever observant. Not sure any of this will make sense -- but that's me :)

    1. I love your rambles, Diane. And I think you're quite right. Because as much as I strive to balance - no, it rarely happens. So why not embrace the off-kilter?


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