Leaning Towards Irrelevancy
Saturday, February 11, 2017
|Essay by Richard Thompson Ford|
For some 18 years now, my Rosemary and I have enjoyed a
daily breakfast in bed. We have a nice wicker tray we purchased at Eaton’s. Our
breakfast fare is different but now 18 years later we have a couple of little
dishes with our countless pills that reflect that we are old.
But the pleasure of reading our newspapers is the high point
of the day. We have subscriptions to the NY Times and the Vancouver Sun. The
protocol is that she starts with the NY Times while I immediately go to Rex
Morgan in my Vancouver Sun.
Saturday is the day with the thinnest NY Times and the
thickest Vancouver Sun. The NY Times compensates with the fact that we get the
heavy Sunday edition on Saturday night. The usual conundrum, “Do we start it on
Saturday night (in bed) or leave it to Sunday?”
Today it became patently obvious that our Vancouver Sun
is steadily moving in the direction of irrelevancy. At 9AM there was no paper
on the doorstep. Rosemary and I shared the thin NY Times. She started the first
section with the scrumptious editorials, and me with the business and arts
By the time I got to the editorial I found this fabulously
illustrated essay on the Trump tie. Strangely the on-line version does not
reproduce it and opts for a photograph of Trump with his trademark long red
tie. The essay itself is a sartorial delight.
As my life fades into the irrelevancy of old age, I wonder
who is going to go first? Will it be me
or my Vancouver Sun?
El Reloj de Arena - The Hour Glass - Jorge Luís Borges
Thursday, February 09, 2017
|Rosemary Elizabeth Waterhouse-Hayward - 1968|
One day after our 49th wedding anniversary - Un día después de nuestro aniversario de bodas
The Hourglass, by Jorge Luis Borges (la poesía de Borges en castellano a continuación)
It is appropriate that time be measured
by the stark shadow cast by a stake in summer
or by the flow of water in the river
where Heraclitus saw time’s ironies
since, seen as time and fate, they are alike:
the movement of the mindless daytime shadow
and the irrevocable running on
of river water following its flow.
Just so, but time discovered in the deserts
another substance, smooth and of some weight,
that seemed to have been specifically imagined
for measuring out the ages of the dead.
And so appears this instrument of legend
in the engravings in the dictionary,
an object graying antiquarians
will banish to a dusty underworld
of things— a single chessman, a broadsword,
now lifeless, and a clouded telescope,
sandalwood worn away by opium,
a world of dust, of chance, of nothingness.
Who has not hesitated, seeing that hourglass,
severe and sombre, in the god’s right hand,
accompanying the scythe he also handles,
the image Dürer copied in his drawing?
Through a top opening, the inverted cone
slowly lets fall the wary grains of sand,
a gradual gold that, loosening, fills up
the concave crystal of its universe.
Pleasure there is in watching how the sand
slowly slithers up and makes a slope
then, just about to fall, piles up again
with an insistence that appears quite human.
The sand of every cycle is the same
and infinite is the history of sand;
so, underlying your fortunes and your sorrows,
yawns an invulnerable eternity.
It never stops, the spilling of the sand.
I am the one who weakens, not the glass.
The rite of the falling sand is infinite
and, with the sand, our lives are leaving us.
In the timing of the sand, I seem to feel
a cosmic time: all the long history
that memory keeps sealed up in its mirrors
or that has been dissolved by magic Lethe.
All these: the pillar of smoke, the pillar of fire,
Carthage, Rome, and their constricting wars,
Simon Magus, the seven feet of earth
the Saxon offers the Norwegian King—
all are obliterated, all brought down
by the tireless trickle of the endless sand.
I do not have to save myself— I too
am a whim of time, that shifty element.
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
de arena numerosa.
No he de
salvarme yo, fortuita cosa
tiempo, que es materia deleznable.
el ayelmado tripolio que ademenos es de satén rosa
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
|el ayelmado tripolio que ademenos es de satén rosa|
Inmiscusión Terrupta De Julio Cortázar
inmiscusión terrupta es un pequeño cuento extraído del libro "Último
Round",1969 de Julio Cortázar. Éste es un texto muy peculiar ya que casi todas
las palabras son inventadas, es difícil de entender pero vale la pena leerlo.
Como no le melga nada que la contradigan, la
señora Fifa se acerca a la Tota y ahí nomás le flamenca la cara de un rotundo
mofo. Pero la Tota no es inane y de vuelta le arremulga tal acario en pleno
tripolio que se lo ladea hasta el copo.
– ¡Asquerosa! – brama la señora Fifa, tratando
de sonsonarse el ayelmado tripolio que ademenos es de satén rosa. Revoleando
una mazoca más bien prolapsa, contracarga a la crimea y consigue marivorearle
un suño a la Tota que se desporrona en diagonía y por un momento horadra el
raire con sus abrocojantes bocinomias. Por segunda vez se le arrumba un mofo
sin merma a flamencarle las mecochas, pero nadie le ha desmunido el encuadre a
la Tota sin tener que alanchufarse su contragofia, y así pasa que la señora
Fifa contrae una plica de miercolamas a media resma y cuatro peticuras de esas
que no te dan tiempo al vocifugio, y en eso están arremulgandose de ida y de
vuelta cuando se ve precivenir al doctor Feta que se inmoluye inclótumo entre
– ¡Payahás, payahás! – crona el elegantiorum,
sujetirando de las desmecrenzas empebufantes. No ha terminado de halar cuando
ya le están manocrujiendo el fano, las colotas, el rijo enjuto y las nalcunias,
mofo que arriba y suño al medio y dos miercolanas que para qué.
– ¿Te das cuenta? – sinterrunge la señora Fifa.
– ¡El muy cornaputo! – vociflama la Tota.
Y ahí nomás se recompalmean y fraternulian como
si no se hubieran estado polichantando más de cuatro cafotos en plena
tetamancia; son así las tofitas y las fitotas, mejor es no terruptarlas porque
te desmunen el persiglotio y se quedan tan plopas.
Julio Cortázar lee su Inmiscusión Terrupta
Monday, February 06, 2017
In 1958 I bought my second camera, a very good one for
the time. It was a single lens reflex Pentacon-F
when people were still arguing
of the advantage of an SLR over the more common rangefinder cameras.
The paradox about being a photographer is that we (or at
least this one) is conservative and likes stuff to stay the same while being
excited about new stuff
and experimenting with it. A photographer who does not do personal stuff, is dead in the water.
I taught high school in Mexico until 1975 when my
Canadian wife told me (she was an early feminist) that all of us including our
two Mexican-born daughters were moving to Vancouver.
By 1977 I was shooting for several magazines including Vancouver Magazine
and several business magazines.
It was at Vancouver Magazine
where I met up with two art
directors, Richard Staehling and Chris Dahl who forced me to push my
boundaries. They asked me do photographs with some effect they had seen in art
For those reading this now is when I want to press the
point that the advent of photography had a small audience as these photographs
(ambrotypes, Daguerreotypes, Talbot Types, etc could not be reproduced in the
newspapers of the 19th century until the late 1870s when the half-tone process
was invented. The previous method, the photogravure
, while beautiful was much too
expensive for everyday use.
What this means really is that the newspapers by the end
of the 19th century and the magazines of the 20th had the money to compete for
excellence and they all vied for originality. These publications wanted unique
images. It was not uncommon to send photographers to circle the globe to shoot
and to be paid royal wages. It was Bert Stern
who in the 1950s convinced
Smirnoff that Americans would only believe that a dry vodka martini was dry if
it was photographed by the Egyptian pyramids. The company paid for all the
hangers on, the plush hotels, the drugs and the booze. It was Stern who became
the poster man that proclaimed the free-lance photographers got rich, could get
boys and women of their choice plus all the drugs.
This excellence in magazine competition just about ended
by the end of th 20th century with the advent of the internet.
Why pay Stern to send him to the pyramids when they could
be Photoshopped in a studio shot?
In my view the Holy Grail of photography has always been
the readily identifiable style of the photographer. You know it’s a Penn, an
Avedon, a Leibovitz
, Newton, Stern, Eugene Smith, Burke-White, etc when you see
I believe that if Cartier-Bresson where to come to
Vancouver (if he happened to be alive) he would be on employment insurance
within a month. His photography and that of, as an example Robert Frank’s The
Americans were fabulous precursors of the street photography we see today. Now
it is just about impossible to note the style of the modern street shooters.
One wonderful exception was Mary Ellen Mark. Her photograph of couple of
teenagers with a gun taken with an extreme wide angle, really close has the
impact of a photographer who did not sneak to take her pictures and was fearless.
Thus the 21st century as it is now is a difficult time
for the photographer. Someone with insight may have to push forward with some
unheard (now) style and method) in this era of fake news where we look at
pictures and do not believe their apparent authenticity. I notice that few photographers use lighting except the one made available by nature. Shooting rock concerts is another situation where the photographer is powerless in injecting style. Camera ads parade the idea that with a Nikon or Canon wonder in your hand you can do everything and anything.
For me the breakthrough came in two paths. One path was
to choose to shoot in a studio or on location with a big light. I rapidly
graduated from umbrellas to softboxes, to Hollywood spotlights, grid spots,
ring flashe and beauty dishes. The light that made it all possible was the
venerable Norman 200-B.
The second path was to buy a Mamiya RB-67
when most photographers who shot medium format went for the more expensive
Hasselblads. What they did not understand (and the art directors I worked for
did) was that the 6x7 cm format (the camera back can be flipped for vertical or
horizontal shots) worked well for magazine covers, full bleed vertical pages
and two-page spreads with copy on part of one page.’
My photographs were never cropped by art directors (I
shot everything vertical and horizontal, just in case). Hasselblad shooters
with their square format may have made money with album covers!
Another, and to me a more important path to success was
to research my subjects before I photographed them. The idea when you have just
a few minutes to photograph someone is to shoot three or four useable shots
taken perhaps in seconds after spending more time connecting verbally.
I share with Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luís Borges
the idea that soaking in a hot bathroom tub is the place to come up with
concepts. The same goes for middle-of-the-night insomnia. They provide ripe
time for innovation and imagination.
And lastly photography for magazines is like fishing. You
can never talk (and get away) with pointing out the large fish that got away.
When folks asked me for a formula of success for people magazine photography I
always wrote this:
1. Make your appointment with your subject politely and
2. Show up on time. This precludes going on a previous
day to explore the area you will be shooting in.
3. Take two of everything. Failure of equipment is not to
be tolerated. I have always had backup in a very good support staff.
4. Give the art director one useable image – one that did
not get away.
Number 4 and number 3 were dependant on the fact that in
the magazine and newspaper era before scanners, original photographs had to be
taken with colour slides
or larger transparencies. Slides always had poor
allowance for exposure error (it is called film latitude). There was one
advantage, the art director was always looking at an original without the
possibility (rare) of any photographer manipulating its veracity of color, etc.
Now images look different on different monitors. Digital in many respects has
made it more difficult to determine the photographer’s intention.