Beauty in Fall DecayFriday, November 02, 2018
-Aún queda el fuego en la chimenea. Si arrojamos esta rosa a las brasas, creerías que ha sido consumida y que la ceniza es verdadera. Te digo que la rosa es eterna y que solo su apariencia puede cambiar.
La Rosa de Paracelso – Jorge Luís Borges
The wood still burns in the grate. If
you cast the rose on those embers, you
will believe that it has been consumed,
and that the ash is all. I tell you the rose
is eternal: and only its appearance can
change. The Rose of Paracelsus – Jorge Luís Borges
|Rosa 'Benjamin Britten' & Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii' Ocotber 11 2018|
Years ago when I photographed Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors she told me that I should do nothing to soften the age in her face. She told me something like, “This is my face and I am proud of it.”
A few weeks ago I looked her up on the web and found that she had died on October 25 1995 when she was 75. This can be sobering when I note to myself that I am now 76. Many of my Vancouver friends have gone at an earlier age and others are struggling with life threatening diseases.
As a little boy and even as a young man the only people who won the lottery or died lived across the street.
Rosemary and I are putting our Kitsilano deck garden to sleep for the winter. Many of the plants do not look at all like they did in their prime. And yet I see lots of beauty in the decay. Unlike humans of my age these perennials will go into a deep sleep called dormancy and emerge in the spring pristine.
At about this time in our garden some of my roses have buds that will not open and get spots from rain damage. I see beauty in them.
In our society men and women are given different standards on their appearance as they age. Men have character lines. Women don’t. I find this unfair. My Rosemary (and her husband) does not look much like she did when I first saw her in Mexico City in 1968. But I am attracted to her now (and I will not use that offensive adverb still). I am attracted to her in the same way that I learn to adjust to a brand new car that ages comfortably. That car can never be as they say in my native Buenos Aires, “cero kilómetro”. Nothing is new for long.
But as I have observed above humans and perennial plants differ in that we cannot renew ourselves except perhaps upstairs in our brain.
For years I had the ambition to go up to a woman of a certain age and say to her, “I want to photograph you. I want to photograph you undraped just as you are now. I see in you the beautiful fall colours of my plants as they begin to disappear and only my memory will remind me what they looked like then.”
If I even approached such a woman and use the word decay or the drooping of a body being affected inexorably by gravity, I would be slapped, or ignored.
|Rosa 'Benjamin Britten' November 2 2018|
I am happy to report that I have found such a woman. I photographed her when she was 22. She is now 61.
I have been having bouts of insomnia as I think of techniques to be considered. In this insomnia there is also the consideration of how lucky I am and how I can look forward to a project that Viveca Lindfors would approve of. As she said to her interviewer, John Lekich and this photographer, “Actors act, writers write and photographers photograph.”