El Reloj de Arena - The Hour Glass
Thursday, September 01, 2016
I remember that half a century ago my professor of
philosophy Ramón Xirau first told our class about the pre-Socratic philosopher
Heraclitus and his idea that nothing could be really experience in the same way
twice as like the waters of a flowing river were always changing and time was
the same thing.
While looking at some photographs today of Marli W which
I took around 1978 I noticed one that escaped my scrutiny. That Marli is posing
on sand made me remember that Borges, who was quite obsessed in the philosophy
of Heraclitus had a deep interest in “relojes de arena” or the hourglasses. His
particular interest in them was that sand like water went only in one
Thinking back at these images of Marli I can remember the
heat of summer, the wonderful coarseness of the sand on my bare feet and the
fact that I was most excited at the opportunity to photograph a beautiful woman
without the scourge of clothes.
I do not believe that I could return to that beach with a
new subject and take these photographs all over again. To be precise I also
shot Kodachromes so that would be impossible.
In photography one explores, one discovers, one
innovates, one dares and as soon as all that becomes a formula you move on
de Arena – Jorge Luís Borges
bien que se mida con la dura
que una columna en el estío
con el agua de aquel río
Heráclito vio nuestra locura
tiempo, ya que al tiempo y al destino
parecen los dos: la imponderable
diurna y el curso irrevocable
que prosigue su camino.
bien, pero el tiempo en los desiertos
substancia halló, suave y pesada,
parece haber sido imaginada
medir el tiempo de los muertos.
así el alegórico instrumento
grabados de los diccionarios,
que los grises anticuarios
al mundo ceniciento
alfil desparejo, de la espada
del borroso telescopio,
sándalo mordido por el opio
polvo, del azar y de la nada.
no se ha demorado ante el severo
tétrico instrumento que acompaña
diestra del dios a la guadaña
líneas repitió Durero?
ápice abierto el cono inverso
caer la cautelosa arena,
gradual que se desprende y llena
cóncavo cristal de su universo.
agrado en observar la arcana
que resbala y que declina
punto de caer, se arremolina
prisa que es del todo humana.
de los ciclos es la misma
infinita es la historia de la arena;
bajo tus dichas o tu pena,
invulnerable eternidad se abisma.
detiene nunca la caída
desangro, no el cristal. El rito
decantar la arena es infinito
Y con la
arena se nos va la vida.
minutos de la arena creo
el tiempo cósmico: la historia
encierra en sus espejos la memoria
O que ha
disuelto el mágico Leteo.
de humo y el pilar de fuego,
y Roma y su apretada guerra,
Mago, los siete pies de tierra
rey sajón ofrece al rey noruego,
arrastra y pierde este incansable
sutil de arena numerosa.
No he de
salvarme yo, fortuita cosa
tiempo, que es materia deleznable.
The Hourglass - J. L. Borges
It is well that time can be measured
With the harsh shadow a column in summer
Casts, or the water of that river
In which Heraclitus saw our folly,
Since both to time and destiny
The two seem alike: the unweighable daytime
Shadow, and the irrevocable course
Of water following its own path.
It is well, but time in the desert
Found another substance, smooth and heavy,
That seems to have been imagined
For measuring dead men’s time.
Hence the allegorical instrument
Of the dictionary illustrations,
The thing that gray antiquaries
Will consign to the red-ash world
Of the odd chess-bishop, of the sword
Defenseless, of the telescope bleared,
Of sandalwood eroded by opium,
Of dust, of hazard, of the nada.
Who has not paused before the severe
And sullen instrument accompanying
The scythe in the god’s right hand
Whose outlines Duerer etched?
Through the open apex the inverted cone
Lets the minute sand fall down,
Gradual gold that loosens itself and fills
The concave crystal of its universe.
There is a pleasure in watching the recondite
Sand that slides away and slopes
And, at the falling point, piles up
With an urgency wholly human.
The sand of the cycles is the same,
And infinite, the history of sand;
Thus, deep beneath your joys and pain
Unwoundable eternity is still the abyss.
Never is there a halt in the fall.
It is I lose blood, not the glass. The ceremony
Of drawing off the sand goes on forever
And with the sand our life is leaving us.
In the minutes of the sand I believe
I feel the cosmic time: the history
That memory locks up in its mirrors
Or that magic Lethe has dissolved.
The pillar of smoke and the pillar of fire,
Carthage and Rome and their crushing war,
Simon Magnus, the seven feet of earth
That the Saxon proffered the Norway king,
This tireless subtle thread of unnumbered
Sand degrades all down to loss.
I cannot save myself, a come-by-chance
Of time, being matter that is crumbling.
From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Harold
The Comet 4C - Metal Fatigue & My PC Sync Cord
Monday, August 29, 2016
In 1959 I was getting ready to go back to St. Ed’s High
School in Austin. We were still in Mexico City so my mother decided as a
surprise to book me into a Mexicana de Aviación
flight to San Antonio. From
there I was to take a Greyhound Scenicruiser to Austin. The surprise was that
the airplane in question was a de Havilland Comet 4C
which was the first jet
airliner to come into service. In my mother’s bargain was a brand new US silver
Dollar. The idea was for me to attempt to balance it on my seat tray. Because
the jet had no vibration from piston engines the coin was not supposed to fall.
The story of the de Havilland Comet involves many crashes
from previous models due to the unresolved stresses and perhaps metal fatigue.
I have always wanted to leave this world vaporized in
midflight in an airplane. This would save Rosemary money on a burial and
perhaps a windfall of money care of the airline and my life insurance.
Unfortunately Comets are not in service anymore and flying is pretty safe.
In my years as a magazine photographer I learned very
early the rules of the successful game:
1. Show up on time. This meant casing the joint on
another day so as to avoid surprises.
2. Make appointment with magazine subjects on the phone
without insulting them.
3. Leave with one useable image. This always meant that equipment had to work
and that backup stuff was readily available.
Of all the failures that I almost had or had, but I had
backup ready, the worst offender was the PC cord. This cord connects the camera’s
PC outlet to the flash. The design of the PC cord comes from the first electronic
flashes invented in the 50s. The design was never really modified.
In the picture you see here there is that odd little
brass tool. This tool (almost impossible to find in this century) squeezes the
end of the PC cord so that it will be snug and make a connection that will not
fail. Notice the PC tip has a slit on the side. It has one on the other side.
Nobody has ever bothered to use metal that will not eventually fail due to
metal fatigue. At the end of the slit, eventually you get a tear at a 90 degree
to the slit. No matter how many times you may attempt to reform the tip with my
snazzy brass tool the cord will fail. And you will get that horrible statement
from your subject:
“Your flash did not flash.”
I have two of these PC cords right now and both have
experienced metal fatigue. I wonder if the British make any of these and with
their Comet experience would they work longer?