Combustible swarms of potential energy possess the warm winds who scream for a sacrificial bonfire! Their anticipation whips up into a frenzy for the cyclical conflagration that will return the nutrients back to the charred soil. All we can do is await the spectacle to come and loathe its smokey purge of the flora and fauna we hold dear. What soft flesh is this that beholds such a sublime terror that marches forward so slowly then suddenly? That we know is coming yet arrives without warning?
From the sea’s memory whose immensity I cannot encompass, she takes a mass of limestone and with one tool – a drop of water – she brings forth a sculpture of all she has ingested and turned inside out in a new formation. Seamounts and guyots miniaturized. Carcinomorphic legs dangle within the stalactites. She carves in with trilobite strokes across the pregnant columns. She freezes in time the way she gushed over countless rocks with flowstone. Amid an astroidal firmament, batoids swirl on the vaulted ceiling whose cetaceous slabs dive down into the abyss. Textures from ancient reefs and sponges crawl under the floor. Cambrian plants rise again in stone. Burrows memorialized in soda straws. The whole chamber curling into a giant nautilus. In the darkest crevices, mimoids gestate. And she finishes it with the simple drip that fills the hollow of her new instrument. The sound of one drop into her fathomless memory. A sound she makes across innumerable planets. Her cephalopodous existence stretches over the galaxies that emerge from her womb.
The geologist sees rock formations atop plates drift on the rolling currents deep in the Earth’s mantle, Those rocks crack and open up from the processes of erosion to hollow out a cave. Where the deposits from dissolved minerals collect to form a myriad of shapes called speleothems.
The spelunker puts on a carbide lamp equipped helmet, kneepads to prevent hamburger knee, and carries piton spikes to drive into cracks as needed to belay into the glistening underground space that upon first sight appears as if it were made to appear that way. It’s a brilliant display of mysterious intention by something far greater than any human achievement. Yet it is the dizzying reminder of how random the visual state of terrain actually is. The hand of erosion carves and sculpts without regard for the spelunker’s eyes met with such a vision on an immense scale of time.
The philosopher enters the cavern through the mind. Sees the cave dwellers who only see shadows as reality. Witnesses the journey back into the darkness after seeing the outside world and experiencing its glaring truth. The light so strong that it cannot be forgotten by its witness imbues the cavern’s folds with the philosopher’s thoughts.
Last week I tried to explain – in the bombastic style of Romanticism – the enthralling experience of trying to photograph a scene that goes well beyond one’s ability to capture that experience in gargoyles ascend a cathedral. This week is all about post. The equally daunting task of figuring out how to represent that memory with a set of images. The scene remembered changes over time from the direct experience. Now these cliffs seem taller than could ever be captured in any adequate way. Thus, the diptych format seemed to address this perceived impossibility with the cut of the line between the two juxtaposed images. A rift of artifice acknowledges what cannot be overcome by a mere image compared to the experience. The disjointedness left in place as an acknowledgement of a medium’s limits.
Strange thing is last week I lost a family member. My uncle had spent his life on ships. He lived on oceans. When I look upon these images after his passing, they have turned into some kind of funerary objects. A solemnity has seeped into the crevices. A mournful song creaks out of the waves. The cut of the line between the two images severs memory from experience and omits the forgotten of what was in between. So I dedicate this post to him, my sea dog. And since it was his wish to not have any service I will not end this with an image of him for that seems far too personal for his stoic spirit. Rather, I will end this post with something I used to collect, a cabinet card. A photo from the 19th century that I found rummaging at a flea market once has always stuck with me. An image of a bouquet of funerary flowers arranged in the shape of an anchor. It always made me wonder about the fate of the seaman it was intended for. It strikes me as the most tender of objects for such a rough calling. And now it has found its home for me as an offering to the one I’ve lost.
RIP Bob, here is a Welsh traditional verse from the 17th century for you:
The End of the Day
With the night the house grows dark, with the night comes candle light, with the night comes the end of play, and with the night comes Daddy home.
My legs push back against the precipice. My arms wearily hold the instrument as my eye peeps through the lens and my finger trembles to press the button on feelings exceeding a single frame. I could not survive out here. I am but a wanderer passing along this winding, perilous path. Blinking and glimpsing at something too powerful and raw to live beside with any of the comforts required to establish a productive way of life. Yet this is their home, their pattern, their habit, and their comfort. These dream-like forms, others simply call cormorants, gird the steepest drop back into the crashing swirl of sleep. Above the unfathomable chasm and below the infinite dome, a brood scratches its way along these stone faces of bulky severity. What wild ideas am I witnessing that can claw into such an impregnable form? Am I to believe that these are just cormorants stringing along the rocks whose random patterns of erosion drain into this dark sea? Just another iteration of genetic code replicating itself in this random display of meaninglessness? While they are scaling the deepest interior of my dreams and emerging as the shadowy forms from the deepest slumber? Even when this sublime scene awakens with a fervor of gargoyles ascending a cathedral in my mind’s eye?
The wilderness has a mysterious tongue Which teaches awful doubt, or faith so mild, So solemn, so serene, that man may be But for such faith with nature reconciled; Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood By all, but which the wise and great, and good Interpret, or make felt, or deeply feel. From Mont Blanc by Percy Bysshe Shelley
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The fabric of the cosmos is woven with quantum foam. Tap into the deep connection that everyone’s consciousness is a part. Warning: staring at this image can result in less worry and more love.
Disclaimer: staring at this image for too long may result in the ability to levitate. Lightness of being can produce euphoric effects. Use with caution.
Life is random. So is the process of these brain melting images. Be careful to not look at them too long or else who knows what might emerge in your mind’s third eye! Use at your own risk.
Randomness abounds! Stare at your own risk. Brain melting may occur.
Skating on the astral plane is a necessary requirement if one is concerned with getting to the next level of existence.
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