Rose is a rose is a rose is a roseTuesday, June 09, 2020
|English Rose, Rosa 'Buttercup' & Clematis 'Bijou' - 09 June 2020|
During the months of May and June and even after to the last days of fall I walk into our garden to cut roses and other flowers to scan. It is a relaxing pastime that I started in 2001 and after so many years I have gotten the knack on how to do this well.
My relationship with roses did not begin well. Sometime in 1987 my Rosemary dragged to a monthly meeting of the Vancouver Rose Society at the Floral Hall of VanDusen Botanical Garden. I immediately noticed how uncomfortable hard the folding chairs. I had to suffer that while over 100 bad slides (mostly closeups) of roses were projected.
But Rosemary, as always, was right and I became a keen grower of mostly English Roses and Old Roses that eventually competed with my very large hosta collection.
From Vancouver Magazine art directors Richard Staehling and Chris Dahl I learned lots. They pushed me into realizing that there was always a way of making a cliché photograph fresh again. They argued that there was an alternative to any photograph that could be an improvement.
|Rosa 'Reine Victoria' - Summer 2001 - My first plant scan|
I soon learned that photographs of roses made me yawn. Some were badly taken, others using macro or close-focusing lenses showed the roses in isolation much like specimen roses in a rose show.
It was in 2001 that in boredom I scanned Rosa ‘Reine Victoria’ and experienced a wonderful beginner’s luck. Since then have done hundreds of scans of every rose (and many other plants) that died or survived my garden machinations.
Some of these roses like Reine Victoria are now impossible to find anywhere. Somehow having a faithful (accurate) scan of it gives me some comfort.
I have always believed that the quickest cure to a dead cat is a brand new one. We have followed that dictum for years. It has to do with the fact that a new live cat somehow has that essence (a Platonic Essence) of catness and we can discern in that new cat the memories of our old dead cats.
Could roses also have that Platonic Essence? As Gertrude Stein wrote and in this Wikipedia citation:
The sentence "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." was written by Gertrude Stein as part of the 1913 poem "Sacred Emily", which appeared in the 1922 book Geography and Plays. In that poem, the first "Rose" is the name of a person. Stein later used variations on the sentence in other writings, and "A rose is a rose is a rose" is among her most famous quotations, often interpreted as meaning "things are what they are", a statement of the law of identity, "A is A". In Stein's view, the sentence expresses the fact that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it, an idea also intensively discussed in the problem of universals debate where Peter Abelard and others used the rose as an example concept. As the quotation diffused through her own writing, and the culture at large, Stein once remarked, "Now listen! I'm no fool. I know that in daily life we don't go around saying 'is a ... is a ... is a ...' Yes, I'm no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years." (Four in America).
She herself said to an audience at Oxford University that the statement referred to the fact that when the Romantics used the word "rose", it had a direct relationship to an actual rose. For later periods in literature this would no longer be true. The eras following Romanticism, notably the modern era, use the word rose to refer to the actual rose, yet they also imply, through the use of the word, the archetypical elements of the romantic era.
The quality of rose photographs thanks to the advent of better cameras and phones has improved. But these make me yawn and the projection of 100 of them would make me uncomfortable even if I were sitting on an easy chair.