I Think The Longest Hour
Saturday, March 15, 2014
I think the longest Hour of all
I think the longest Hour of all
Is when the Cars have come—
And we are waiting for the Coach—
It seems as though the Time
Indignant—that the Joy was come—
Did block the Gilded Hands—
And would not let the Seconds by—
But slowest instant—ends—
The Pendulum begins to count—
Like little Scholars—loud—
The steps grow thicker—in the Hall—
The Heart begins to crowd—
Then I—my timid service done—
Tho' service 'twas, of Love—
Take up my little Violin—
And further North—remove.
The Snapshot - La Instantánea
Friday, March 14, 2014
|Harvey Lee Oswald|
Multiple events in my life last Sunday
conspired to make it difficult for me to sit at my desk and write as I am
Sunday came first with the snipping of the
tip of my middle finger (left hand) with my rose clippers. It has been
difficult to write with only one hand. The bleeding came with an ancillary bad
back that had me not being able to go up or down the stairs of our bedroom. A
respiratory infection, brought about my highfalutin arthritis medicines and
arthritic pain, in spite of my miracle drugs, all kept me out of commission
during the day. Insomnia kept me awake at night.
Relief seems to be almost here as I hunt
and peck with the left hand (the finger, a smaller one now, is healing just
This last week I have been thinking about photographs
and as many synonyms of the word as I could. I have enclosed here two scans of
reference to those words as in my Roget’s International Thesaurus – Fourth
Edition (1984). My thesaurus is much too old to include selfie or capture which
are words of this century.
In that last century when I attempted to
parade about town as a an artist who displayed photographs in galleries I
absolutely despised art lingo and what I thought was the pretension of calling
one’s photographs images.
Now with selfie and capture, plus, of
course Instagram, image doesn’t sound so terrible. But I do prefer photograph
and with tongue slightly in cheek I sometimes call myself a scanographer and my
rose scan giclées (another new Word)
Spanish, rich in words
most of the time does not always do justice to the words of my English
vocabulary. I thought there was no equivalent to snapshot or snap but I was
wrong. In Spanish we call such a photograph an instantánea. You get the idea.
photography provided me with a comfortable income in the 80s and 90s there was
a constant see-saw between the slick, well exposed photographs and the more
edgy ones of avant-garde fashion world. Fashion art directors liked to use a
word (I loathe it) in this fashion, “I need some edgy photographs with lots of
attitude.” I was never able to figure out what they meant by attitude.
In the several
assignments I obtained from the on again and off again Saturday Night I was
asked to take pictures like the ones in Vanity Fair or pictures (with no
styling or lights) as if I were a fly-on-the-wall.
Many times that snap
look could be achieved with a Polaroid or with the blast of flash on the
All that, is long gone
and dead. The camera phone and all those devices that capture everything except
perhaps our souls.
There is a new
movement by a younger generation tired of digital perfection. That diffuse glow
is now tarnished. With plastic cameras, plastic lenses, badly expose film and
or re-manufactured Polaroid they are attempting to bring back surprise. That it
can also bring failure is considered an asset.
I would like here to
expose those reading this to a quick little personal story of the snapshot.
For me the first one has
to be the picture of Lee Harvey Oswald. This is a snap. My guess his wife
Marina may have taken it.
Second there is this
picture of yours truly with his father and mother taken in the Argentine
shrine, Nuestra Señora de Luján. I have no idea who took the picture but I am
sure it was one of those box cameras with an uncertain viewer.
The third shot of two
sisters who happen to be twins, I took in the 80s. I was told by the art
director to make it look like a snapshot. I took it in the kitchen; I fully lit
it and used a big camera. It does not look like a snapshot.
Then there is this picture
which I took last week. Is it a snapshot?
Before you decide there are these two photographs which I took with my Fuji X-E1
Lisa, my subject was sitting on the left of the second photograph. On the right hand side there is a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD shoting through a Profoto ring flash that I adapted some years ago to be charged by a Norman 200B pack. Not seen in the picture is the fact that my camera lens is swung to one side so that when I took the picture the camera would see the edge of the flash.
Most important, mounted behind the camera is my old Polaroid back. For the snap you see of Lisa I used the-not-quite-yet discontinued Fuji FP-100C Instant Colour Film.
The resulting picture, which I planned with a lot of thought looks like a snapshot. Is it?
The Spirit Lasts
Thursday, March 13, 2014
The Spirit lasts—but
in what mode—
The Spirit lasts—but
in what mode—
Below, the Body
But as the Spirit
Apart, it never talks—
The Music in the
Does not emerge alone
But Arm in Arm with
Touch, yet Touch
Alone—is not a Tune—
The Spirit lurks
within the Flesh
Like Tides within the
That make the Water
What would the Either
Does that know—now—or
does it cease—
That which to this is
Resuming at a mutual
With every future one?
Instinct pursues the
Exacting this Reply—
Adversity if it may
The Rumor’s Gate was
shut so tight
Before my Mind was
Not even a
Could make a Dent
Smelling Roses & Eros On A Linoleum-tiled Floor
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
It is spring but my roses are only now
beginning to bud. I know that sometime in May I will have roses to not only
look at but also smell.
I have been thinking that 14 years ago,
seem not too long ago but time has passed in a way that I am reminded that 14
years (I am 71) from now statistically speaking I will be dead. So little time,
but time enough to remember and contemplate.
Getting out of the tub is now a chore that
I must accomplish with great care. I know that tons of old ladies fall in the
bathroom, break their hip and go to the hospital. Most always never return
home. Now I am not a little old lady but… and going up and down the stairs is another painful activity. I am sure that if I filmed a week’s goings up and
down I would notice that incremental slowing down.
Food is not so important. The idea of
food is, but like the smell of coffee and sex, perhaps, the actual consumption
of it does not match up to expectations. It could be that I am losing, little
by little my ability to taste. I over-pepper my food with no appreciable
But smell, the smell of roses, is a sense
that was hyper good for me last year. I cannot understand that if smell and
taste are intimately related, why the divorce now?
By now many reading this will have left
suspecting I will go on a rant about getting old. A pity for them because this
is not a rant.
My eldest daughter, the one that lives and
teaches in Lillooet told my Rosemary a few days ago, “Now that you are retired
you can do all that.” My wife had complained that lately she had been sleeping
in and doing little. To this I can add that sometimes (hey sometimes I feel I
am cutting edge) I must stare at my iPhone 3G to find out what day of the week
Retirement if one does not park incessantly
in front of a TV can give one time to reflect, think, invent, plan, compare. It
seems that my wife’s complaint of inaction can be easily converted into
something quite transitive in a verb/grammatical sense. René Descartes would approve.
If food is not as pleasant as it used to be
and a large, very hot and very strong mug of good tea now pales to my former
idea of it, I must latch on to other events of my existence that might give me
pleasure. Reading is one of them an since I stopped buying books some three
years ago my VPL has provided me with lots of reading material as well as some
of the best old or uncommercial movie DVDs.
They say that eating and its opposite are
two almost supreme (superior to skiing they say) pleasures. Of the latter I can attest that I have no problem
and I enjoy in the process reading Pauline Kael’s 5001 Nights at the Movies and
The New York Times The Best DVDs You’ve Never Seen, Just Missed or Almost
Forgotten Edited by Peter M. Nichols and with an Introduction by A.O. Scott.
At age 71, as I may have hinted above, the
idea of sex like the smell of coffees is supreme.
I sort of know just about everything I need
to know about the sex act and I am not in the least naïve about it.
And so I can now get to the reason (justification?)
for inserting the pictures you see here. I will be perfectly honest. I looked
at them in a file in my computer and I asked myself how I could write about
them so that I could put them up and perhaps begin to fill some of those blog
vacancies of the last few weeks. The slicing off (rose clippers) of the tip of
my middle finger rendered my ability to type in a most limited way. It is
better so here we are.
The justification? When I looked at these
photographs I could remember the smell of the tiles of my old studio on Robson
and Granville. I do not want to reveal here the identity of the two women but
they were and are my friends. I especially appreciate their sense of trust and
their understanding of what I was trying to achieve. I remember their laughter and the smell of those Doc Martens. The stocking did rustle.
In this age of pornography, of unsubtle
pornography, of banal pornography, of boring pornography, of unimaginative
pornography, of lurid pornography, these images do more to erase years from the
age of my imagination that I feel young again. I feel young enough to look
forward to smelling my roses this May. Now where would I find women, in this
age of facebook (not that it must be written in lower case) willing to trust
this dirty (?) old man?
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Omphaloskepsis is contemplation of one's
navel as an aid to meditation. The word comes from Greek omphalos (navel) +
skepsis (act of looking, examination). Actual use of the practice as an aid to
contemplation of basic principles of the cosmos and human nature is found in
the practice of yoga of Hinduism and sometimes in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some
consider the navel to be "a powerful chakra of the body". However, phrases such as
"contemplating one's navel" or "navel-gazing" are
frequently used, usually in jocular fashion, to refer to self-absorbed
In English we generally call the navel with
a far most unromantic name, belly button. In Spanish we call it ombligo. My
on-line Dictionary of the Spanish Language (RAE) defines it as:
ombligo. (Del lat.
Cicatriz redonda que queda en medio del vientre, después de romperse y secarse
el cordón umbilical.
Juan Marsé, the
renowned Catalonian writer who writes in Spanish has often lambasted what he
calls the literature of the ombligo or metaliterature. He says this
narcissistic writing leaves him cold.
For me el ombligo is
one of the most beautiful parts of the human body. It occurred to me today
that a blog that would glorify the female belly button (I leave it to others to
document the male navel) would be a good thing. When I shoot portraits I am careful in showing hands and when my subjects are undraped as the ones I shot below, I try to show when possible el ombligo.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sometimes I wonder how I had time to do some
of the stuff I find that I have forgotten that I had ever taken. These shots of Kimberley Klass are especially haunting for me as she died in 2009. I find it
almost impossible to take this sort of photographs. My studio’s bare walls
challenged me to shoot stuff in a different way. Now without my studio my home
is much too busy and distracting. And as an old man it has become almost
impossible to find women to pose for me. They seem to be too busy and or tell
me that there are many other photographers nagging them.