Friday, August 31, 2007

merely being

one day i was out walking through my neighbourhood - a typical suburban neighbourhood in many ways - nice lawns, nice cars, fairly big houses, and interspersed between the gotta have this, gotta do that humdrum live wonderfully nice people. truly nice people who don’t entirely fit the mold of suburban dwellers. i rounded a corner and noticed something lying in the rain gutter at the side of the road. i bent down and picked it up and it was a cone. from what kind of tree? ha! well i’d automatically;;y say a pine tree but there are several varieties i expect and i love nature but i don’t know all of its names. so i took the cone home, cleaned it - it had a little bit of what looked to be a white mouldy substance on some of its “petals” (what are those things really called anyway?) which i picked off, and then for whatever reason i stuck it in the middle of my dining table in a water bottle that still had a little water in it. serendipitously i decided to take a picture of it from above and the image here is the result. this is one of my all time fave pictures that i have taken. i love the shine of the scales (see i just went and looked it up on the net) and i love the blue glow which i can’t figure out as the bottle was clear, the water was clear . . .who knows?
as i write this, i am listening to david sylvian’s “when loud weather buffeted naoshima”. the ensemble for this is a powerful who’s who of deconstructed sound - christian fennesz, akira rabelais, arve henriksen, clive bell, and of course david sylvian. as i listen to this piece of music - this is my second listen - i notice more detail and more emotional referents. it’s also more visual this time around. the first time i was alternately shocked and then comforted by the wide range of sonic textures. i am also reflecting right now on how brave david sylvian is to release music like this given his other work which is largely in the commercial end of highly creative music. to be honest, this disc is at times very lovely and at times difficult listening - not something i could play or share with anyone i know. it’s a collage of bits and pieces of found sound and has a sort of flow but one that i impose on it myself. i have tried to connect the title to the conglomeration of sounds thinking that perhaps there’s some sort of meteorological connection to the snippets and shards of electronics, voice, and bits and pieces. it’s interesting to me that i feel compelled to have to ground or connect something that’s about sound to something with a purpose or a narrative. to contextualize it. i would have loved to be there for the planning, the creation and assembly of the various elements, and especially for the gathering of the musicians when the piece was finally played as a whole. but then i think that about a lot of what enters my life - anything that is created: furniture, food products, art, music.
it’s something that i think is missing in any created work - the “product” or object, sits at the juncture of the hourglass beginning with its inception and “ending” with its being watched or listened to by someone else. the person - viewer or audient or consumer - has no real sense of the richness of decision making, the internal and external discourse that underpinned the negotiations behind the decision making, the many corners turned that revealed nothing and then the one corner turned revealing something lying there that when placed in the right context suddenly becomes infinitely more beautiful through happenstance more than design. and of course it’s entirely possible that the creator of the piece had no real sense of the whys and wherefores of the process in the same way as i have n o real sense of why i took a photograph of a pinecone sitting in a plastic water bottle. it just works and adds some beauty or grace or even a quality of presence implicit in its merely being.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

the sky last night

this has been a summer where my eyes have wandered skywards at the end of many days. i don’t know if there’s any good reason for that other than i’m noticing just how beautiful the skies are. so many colours and shapes and textures and it’s especially rewarding to watch the sky in the last hour or so of dusk as the angle of the sun changes and so do the shades, tints, and colours of the sky and clouds. i’ve always wished that i could paint skies exactly as i see them. i really would love to be able to paint them with the crispness of say salvador dali or christopher pratt, both of whom nail skies in different ways. pratt’s skies almost look airbrushed in their huge fields of diminishing tone while dali’s skies have a more detailed and considered approach. so for now i settle for digital photography. there’s still some art involved in the framing of the shot and the cleaning up afterwards. the two pictures here were actually taken a couple of days ago. i find that for every good image i select, i take anywhere from ten to twenty images from which i pick my choice shots.
anyhow skies. i was wondering for a while if it had anything to do with being sudenly a fifty year old man and contemplating my inevitable skyward journey!! ha!! but i think that it’s more to do with my love of colour and beauty and of the natural world i live inside.
now for those of you with time who are thinking that perhaps the skies in their own neighbourhood are sort of boring, you should go here:
this is an absolutely beautiful site filled with images from all over the world of skies and clouds and it tells you about the different kinds of clouds. amazing!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


the middle of the week!
time flies by.
i read recently that time flows differently for children than it does for adults because children experience greater degrees of novelty in their lives than older people. the thinking i guess is that learning about new experiences and dealing with them causes time to "slow down". if you think about how there are so many elements of our adult days that are so the same and how as children there are more elements that require problem solving and learning about, then i suppose there could be some truth in that. maybe that's why so many musicians and artists and dancers live so long.
here's some draft writing by musician robert fripp:
" Each world has its own kind of time. The material world knows time as linear, as measured and measurable. Our bodies are born, move through a period of years, and then die. We become familiar with the experience of sequential time. Were we to suddenly experience eternity in terms of our everyday linear experiencing, for example, we may experience this as an unbearable acceleration of information. The acceleration of the associational mind, throwing up an encyclopaedia of spreading information flows in response to every particular thought, might drive us mad if we were unable to unplug."
rocks appeal to me and to my children equally. in part because they are (like people) each so individual and unique and then also because each carries its own beauty - sometimes in its whole form and sometimes in part. the feature that we overlook - and maybe that's not entirely fair - but the feature that is often passed over in our experiencing of the beauty of rocks is their age. millions, hundreds of millions, billions of years old and we are able to hold them in our hands and wonder at their formation and then their eventual dissolution into smaller rocks, sand, dust. there's something of the eternal in rocks that is reminding of our own eternal selves.
todays' picture was taken in the gatineau hills northeast of ottawa at a friend's cottage. the rock is at the point where a small stream about five metres across empties into a little lake. my friend has placed rocks at an angle across the mouth of the stream to divert the flow of water. he has made several corrections to the design that have actually worked in clearing away the weeds and silt from the underwater area by the little beach. it's not novel or amazing but i am mesmerized by it each time i visit.

i know that we can measure natural processes and put an age on objects as old as the world we live on but somehow watching nature, i lose all sense of time and when that happens i also feel my physical presence become unimportant even unnecessary. i become more a part of the wholeness of it all and then, i simply am.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

starry child of earth

today's post might be wobbly because i am dribbling uncontrollably,unfocussed and tired through having stayed up late wandering the house, listening to music, reading and searching through heaps of stuff - mostly junk - for an old piece of paper. i've been cleaning up a lot of the past physically and metaphorically, and in the process have stirred up some really old stuff that was sort of forgotten and then i've also been experiencing that "oh yeahhhh" thing when something that I'd "forgotten but not really forgotten" peers out of the murky haze of old spider webs and dust bunnies and says "hey look at me, read me, listen to me, feel me again". for example. a few years ago i collected together some of my favourite poems - none by me by the way - and stuck them all together into a sort of pretty collection. last night on my meanderings i came across the collection and it's got some lovely writing and pictures in it. today i'll share a deconstruction of a pablo neruda poem. what i did was take apart the phrases in the poem that excited me or that i thought connected together - pablo neruda - ha! if he knew that i was doing this he'd probably not be too happy!!! so anyhow, when i reassembled the pieces i had no one person in mind but i did have an idea that goes back a long way in my life to the sort of people i would wish to fill my day.

starry child
of earth,
as lascivious velvet,
and full of wonder;
spring dress
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
a song is born,
as light
illuminates the senses;
a chorus of discipline,
an abundance of flowers.

(Pablo Neruda deconstruction)

the fossil fish image is here because there's a sort of fish theme in the beginning of this blog and i'll carry it for as long as it needs. fossil fish appeal to me simply because they keep their form to a greater degree than other fossilized remains. i like the little details that are still visible like the mouth, the tiny bones, the fins, the tail. it amazes me that there is a stony record of something as fragile as a fish from so very long ago. to me that's magic.

Monday, August 27, 2007

sacred fish

this image came to me in 1993. it is a combination of water colour, pencil, and acrylic paint. i gave the fish the colour of my eyes because i felt as i painted that it was like a self-portrait - in the use of the word "self" that i prefer which does not necessarily refer to my body but rather to the spiritual energy that i carry within my body. i love the way the scales are carved into little sections - all different in shape and colour - much like the manner in which we garner bits and pieces of experiences from an infinite number of sources, cull and reassemble them all into something that is symmetrical or synchronous or resonant with our perception of ourselves and call it our "personality" or who we are as we wish to know ourselves or more commonly - how we wish to have others know ourselves.
this summer i have been making a copy of the painting, tracing its shape and then adding in details as time and energy have permitted. i'd really like to see this image on a long-sleeved black t-shirt, on a set of dinner plates, and much enlarged into an acrylic painting. stained glass is also in the back of my mind.

origin of the golden fish

this begins where everything else left off to allow me to write this and so i'll be drawn to whatever comes my way in the way of thinking - right now i'm thinking about the golden fish - the painting by paul klee that this blog takes its name from and i'll tell you the story of why i chose those three words to stand/ hide behind.
grade 10 - a new school for me - me: a not very well-to-do boy - at a very-well-to-do-school serving kids who had grown up together knowing success and happiness and money and all that that triumvirate - the holiest of holies in western culture - brings to a person. i was an automatic outsider and so began my life of privacy, untempered insularity, thinking, and especially of seeking out the obscure or different or forgotten or simply overlooked. i discovered that at the centre of the school was a large octagonal shaped library. a treasure trove in and of itself but most amazingly, filled with catalogues from which students could independently order books, cassettes, films, records and audio visual equipment for their own use in the library. i skipped school completely for more than two months - well completely might not be fair because i was actually at school the entire time, but i didn't attend classes. incredibly enough, i wasn't caught! as a teacher myself i find this amazing but there you go - clearly it was intended to be! so, i ordered books and music and all sorts of stuff about the great architects, great writers, thinkers, artists, musicians . . . . . it was the most wonderful existence!!! i literally spent my day in a study carrol waiting for shipments to come in from the school board's head office. the librarian who handled all the orders and shipments said nothing!!
it's from this intense two months of self-education that a lot of what i know and from which so much of what i still pursue originates. it was as if i was being given the tools or the knowledge to begin to understand what i might be here for and what i might be able to do with my time and gifts. the knowing that the difference i perceived in my self was actually alright - it had a broader context was huge as i finally came to see that while i didn't fit into the school or world of which i was a part at that time, i would find a place or pass through other worlds in which i would be recognized and would recognize others like me and perhaps most importantly i would be able to share the difference - and lets call it creative energy - that flowed through me like a river. my "crime" was eventually discovered of course, and there was an awkward meeting with the principal and my parents but the damage or as i now prefer to see it, the great care and love that the creative universe poured into me in those two months was done. the golden fish? well i was looking through a beautiful book on "modern art" and came across the painting by klee entitled "the golden fish". it resonated deeply within me then as it does now. artistic representations of fish have always resonated within me and i can't say i understand why. i am aware of their symbology and yet none of the various meanings of the fish or uses of the fish as a symbol have ever actually spoken as "the one" that i can ascribe my self to. i have had many dreams of my self as a fish but that's for another post.