Wednesday, 31 August 2011

End of Summer

An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.

End of Summer a poem by Stanley Kunitz from The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Monday, 22 August 2011


He asked her, “Tell me what is your most priced possession?” He meant, of course, an object– a thing. Spring came by and went away. The blooms of summer are turning to dust. Autumn is primed for its grand entrance. Winter is starting to prepare its brooms of steel*. The earth shifts on its axis, as it has done time and again, and still her answer remains nothing.
She sends her quotes in the mail. “We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust”**. And she sends her poems.

She sends essays on Parmenides, Sartre’s être-en-soi (the brute existence of things) and être-pour-soi (consciousness), and Śūnyatā: Phenomena are śûnya or unreal because no phenomenon when taken by itself is thinkable: they are all interdependent and have no separate existence of their own***. She quotes conversations between Ananda and Buddha, “It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?" The Buddha replied, "Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.”

She sends her all this and more. In reply she gets nothing.
She runs her fingers through sheaves of paper, clicking back and forth through tabs, Google searching her name; there are figurines in gold and silver on the bookshelves. There are no diamonds in the mine. “What have I got to show for it all?” she slowly mouths the words. The reply is heavy in silence. It sounds like nothing.
My mother dislikes the dark, not because of the things she can’t see but because of the things she can. My mother likes to be left alone. She is happy when there is nothing.
He looks at himself in the mirror and tries to frame the question again. What do you want? What are you looking for? Every question begs something in reply. He looks in the mirror again. This time he imagines the vast blue sky. Someone far away seems to be saying, “Was there anything you wanted to ask?” He can come up with nothing.

*from a poem by Emily Dickinson:
Like Brooms of Steel
The Snow and Wind
Had swept the Winter Street –

*** Eliot, Charles (1993; author); Sansom, G. B. (edited & completed). Japanese Buddhism.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


And I am an unhappy stranger
grooking in the streets of San Francisco–
My friends have died on me...

If I get drunk I get thirsty
–if I walk my foot breaks down
–if I smile my masks a farce
–if I cry I'm just a child
–if I remember I'm a liar
–if I write the writing's done
–if I die the dying's over–
–if I live the dying's just begun–

–if I wait the waiting's longer
–if I go the going's gone–
if I sleep the bliss is heavy–
the bliss is heavy on my lids–

–if I go to cheap movies
    the bedbugs get me–
Expensive movies I cant afford

–if I do nothing
    nothing does

*From Mexican Loneliness a poem by Jack Kerouac. You can listen to Matt Dillon perform it here (It is one of the best poetry readings ever.) Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness is a must listen/buy for anyone whose mind has been "blown away" by Kerouac.
The first three photographs are of Jack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Who art thou?

Mystic shadow, bending near me,
Who art thou?
Whence come ye?
And – tell me – is it fair
Or is the truth bitter as eaten fire?

Tell me!
Fear not that I should quaver.
For I dare – I dare.
Then, tell me!
Mystic shadow, bending near me a poem by Stephen Crane.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Or on seeing one too many cell phone photograph with burnt-out pixilated skies and yellowy clouds.
Or the camera may or may not be the issue, but your photography just sucks. Period.
Or "Don't do it. There are way too many photographers."*

I’ve heard there is a (not so) secret code
That Bresson, Capa, Adams put on record
But you don’t really care for photography, do you?
It goes like this
You gotto take your pick
40 fans on Facebook
Or 40 hours (or years) to get to that place, that light, that look–
There’s no other way, that’s how it’ll be for ya.

Baby, others have been here before
Felt the same way, gone through all this before.
Photography is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself,
not of proving or asserting one's own originality.**
It’s not that “awesome!” or that “like”
It’s not as if you’ll get any real insight.
True photographs can’t be explained or contained in words***
I just wanted to be the one to tell ya.

Maybe Photoshop is your saviour and God above.
But all I’ve learnt and seen in the real world,
If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough****
And no God can then ever hope to save yea.
You may post it on Facebook, or tweet it all night
200 comments on Flickr but you do know the next line:
It doesn’t mean a thing, if the photograph isn’t good.
That’s all there is to say to ya.

I tried my best to tell you what I know
Even though my words are always easy to ignore
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And I know it will all go wrong
The seduction of the "likes" on your Wall
The ego lift, the inevitable (painful and lonely) fall.
You’ll stand alone before the mirror one day
And then whom will you look up to, to save ya.

After Hallelujah a song by Leonard Cohen with apologies.
*Nan Goldin in Guardian– Don't do it. There are way too many photographers. Try to draw or get politically involved in something that matters. And unless you need to make art to stay alive, you shouldn't be making art. Read the rest here.
**Photography is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one's own originality. It's a way of life. – Henri Cartier-Bresson
***A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. – Ansel Adams
**** If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough. – Robert Capa