Watery Windows

Once there was a hermit who had watery windows in her home.  Whatever she looked at through those windows had ripples flowing around it that told her everything she thought she needed to know.  The watery windows magnified anything small or far that she wished to see.   

One day, the hermit wondered if it was only she who saw the ripples in her watery windows, feared that it might be a curse forbidding her from leaving her home, and so she invited some people over.  But when she opened her door to let them in, there were no people at all, but a raging sea, instead, with treacherous currents and ominous waves. 

Her home was a ship and her sea legs wobbled at the realization that she had been out to sea so long that she was seeing ripples around everything. 

Back in her warm cabin, she pulled the shades over the windows. She made a pot of tea. And formed a cave with a blanket for her cat to purr in. Soon her mind came to a rest. And she became the calm in the eye of her storm.

The Immensity of Randomness

The hoodoos left behind in this amphitheater of erosion wear the costumes and masks that disguise randomness as they sing the chorus about the illusion of essence with labels of purpose so easily shifted by angle and light.

These curtains of erosion hide the absurdity behind them, for I raise my camera and point the lens at what it pretends to capture: eternal formations defining my mortal position more than the immensity of randomness.

This curse of the fixed image (and labels) and its fate as a screen made me think of this interesting observation made by Albert Camus: “In Italian museums are sometimes found little painted screens that the priest used to hold in front of the face of condemned men to hide the scaffolding.  The leap in all its forms, rushing into the divine or the eternal, surrendering to the illusions of the everyday or of the idea – all those screens hide the absurd.” -Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (p. 91)

Toy, Caca, Magic

Once there was a queen who visited a village known for three kinds of art.  And she went in order to choose one to lend her support.

First, the queen was taken to a studio which was also a toy store where an old man made the most incredibly inventive toys.  His craft was unparalleled and his toys intricate and full of tricks. He also made silly toys and stupid toys for whoever played with such things.  None of the toys elicited from the Queen more than slight amusement for there was nothing in it but craft. This was fine but not interesting enough to be deemed art in her mind because the toy maker had nothing meaningful to say about his work.

So the Queen went to the second studio.  And it was a barn. And in the barn there were mounds of dung.  And the artist explained many things about the mounds that he called natural sculptures in the barn that he called his studio and gallery all the same.  The queen watched others, a sampling of some common folk from the village, as they stared at the poop. And never had she heard someone speak so artfully about such common waste.  He said weird things like all excrement has been excreted before so best not to utilize anything else but that which already was and never will be anymore except as fertilizer for the mental terrain.  It was plain to see that the others didn’t get what he was talking about at all, partially because of the smell of his work was so strong.

The queen visited the third studio.  It was small and meager and in the back of a hotel where the artist also had to work.  She was dressed in plain clothes and painted miracles of vision and wonder and talked to the queen and the others about the nature of seeing and showed them another way of looking that felt enriching to them.  As the queen left through the hotel, she saw her paintings everywhere with people blabbing and stuffing their faces while paying not a lick of attention to the amazing work hanging right over their heads.

The queen went back to her castle and mulled it over.  The toymaker was great but it was mere craft and not art.  And clearly the painter made the best work of all and really opened her eyes to how the artistic process can be an investigation.  It was magic.

But she chose the dung maker or poop proliferator or whatever it twas that he called himself simply because anything could be said about his work and the common folk who cherish what little wealth comes their way could never develop such a taste for his style of caca.  It was clearly the most elite of all because of the power it let her keep.  

And the winner gave his speech at the ceremony where he said that kids play with caca, and artists are kids, so artists need to only concern themselves with the emptiness of the most fundamental movements.  The audience looked at him in utter confusion but they saw the queen nod with approval, so they applauded the new standard of what could be called the art of the kingdom.

Tower of Mirrors

Once I got lost in a labyrinth of mirrors whose scale was magnified by the coldest of ambitions. The exterior was the interior. The slick surfaces provided no place to rest. Only in the movies is it as simple as smashing mirrors. These labyrinthine mirrors were more like glassy volcanic rock that had oozed and solidified from a molten core.

Curtains of watery reflections stall by inspiring a strange sense of wonder at how this labyrinth came into existence. At every glance, it tried to convince me that I was staring at myself and asked me to ignore the way it hacked everything up while it distorted the past so I could not keep track of where I had been.

How could anyone find beauty here? Only a great deceiver could have built this. It was under everyone’s nose in this place, but it had already taken them in – to the degree that they did not see how lost they were in it. The confusion became normalized. Some people even wanted to live here because it had lured them in through the fascism of what they found beautiful. But it also trapped people whose idea of beauty sharply contrasted with it. In a sense, this labyrinth was like a black hole behind the empty mirror image sucking everyone in to worship or blaspheme at its altar of power over truth.

Aperture of a Transcendental Moment

A geyser forms a camera obscura with its steam. In a pocket of time, I fell behind the scenes of what I was chasing after. The aperture of my camera pointed at the pinhole of sunlight and its reflection. What I had been chasing disappeared and I found myself somewhere aside from desire and circumstance – somewhere reflecting the smallness of purpose while magnifying the greatness of existence. As the image slipped away from the steam, only a trace fixed the reference to a memory. What shined through the pinhole illuminated the positioning of the subject and shed light on the futile condition of catching what cannot really be caught. And then the moment unfolded into an object-less arena. A reflexive space formed into a fractal pocket. As if I were in a glass ball within others. Looking at a loose iteration of my activity in another sphere. Inside my camera and outside of my body, floating through a hole in the sky.