Saturday, February 22, 2014


Dead oak leaf blowing in the wind
 near Sewells Falls in Concord
CC Jean Stimmell: 2/22/14

Twisting in the wind
like a dead leaf on a stub
Stuck on our preconceptions 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cabin Fever: Trapped, Frozen in Time

Back in February of 2012, I wrote in my blog about the unseasonable warm weather, calling it "the winter that wasn't." As you can see below, for some deluded reason, I thought I was suffering from cabin fever: 
February 7th of 2012 from our N.H. winter that wasn't
The ice is unseasonably thawing at the edge of Jenness Pond
re-freezing each night only to be pushed up the next day
from the heat of the sun and expansion of the ice pack
forming shifting structures that look like
turtles run over by a 10-wheeler
or houses after an earthquake
to my cabin-fevered mind.

Unfortunately, two years later, in February of 2014, we have all been rudely reintroduced  to what cabin fever really is!!!  In the first 20 days of February '14 alone, we have been hit with 8 storms, dumping three feet of snow on us, on top of what we already had.

This photo I took on snowshoes of the back of our house two days ago, during yet another storm, expresses the true essence of cabin fever: the monotone melancholy and sense of being trapped, frozen in time:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

When the Earth Screams

Mostly frozen Merrimack River at Sunset: Valentine's Day 2014
CC Jean Stimmell

A flush of anguish and despair settled over me while photographing this sunset. I felt like I was at Jesus’ crucifixion writ large: witnessing the spilling of the blood of Mother Earth.

My mind flew back to a passage from When the Earth Screams[1]a science fiction piece written by Deleuse and Guattari almost 30 years ago. The lead character is a scientist named Challenger who is intended by the authors to be a caricature of modern science, but who unfortunately is, in a metaphorical sense, uncannily spot on.

The plot is well summarized by the translators: “Challenger argues that the Earth is an organism, much like a sea-urchin, hard on the outside but soft inside. Human beings are a fungal growth of which the planet is completely unaware. Surrounded by skeptics, he proposes to prove his point by vigorously stimulating the creature’s sensory cortex, that is, driving a shaft into the centre of the Earth, thereby gaining its attention…”[2]

After a brief lecture to a restless audience, Challenger presses the ‘electric button’ that sends an enormous iron dart into ‘the nerve ganglion of old Mother Earth’:

There erupts “the most horrible yell that ever was heard…a howl in which pain, anger, menace, and the outraged majesty of Nature all blended into one hideous shriek. For a full minute it lasted, a thousand sirens in one, paralyzing all the great multitude with its fierce insistence…No sound in history has every equaled the cry of the injured Earth.[3]

This science fiction story of 30 years ago feels too damned real to me today and, coupled with the blood red sunset, appear to be apt metaphors of our future, triggerings questions that still feverishly bubble in my brain:

Is my sunset the blood of my Mother pierced by the “enormous steel dart” of fracking?

Is the unprecedented rise in my Mother’s temperature, a sign of Her raging fever?

Is that whimper I hear faintly on the winter wind the Final Solution: my Mother choking on green house gases, the last gasp of yet another Holocaust victim murdered in this giant gas chamber built by men?

You might also be interested in my previous blog entry on Guattari: 

3 Ecologies: combating monstrous and mutant algae

[1] Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix (1988) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia II
[2] Guattari, Felix (1989) The Three Ecologies. Translator’s Introduction, p. 2.
[3] Ibed. p. 2

Monday, February 10, 2014

An image of the sublime

Image of the Sublime
CC Jean Stimmell

A broken shell on Wallis Sands Beach 
photographed by me yesterday
irridescent in the receding tide.

Lifted off the sand with Photoshop
and mounted in its proper domain:
the infinite and the sublime.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Beatles: Rosetta Stone to the Sixties

Original photograph by Pete Yeung, used with permission under CC license
The above image has been modified by this writer in Photoshop
Reminiscing about the Beatles
 on the anniversary of the Beatles 1st trip to America in 1964
(a version of these memories was published today in the Monitor)

The Beatles arrived in America in 1964 as fellow mates, brothers from overseas, all of us goofy and naive teenagers, rebounding from the oppressive angst of the 1950s to swoon over carefree refrains like I Want to Hold Your Hand
Over time, however, like many baby boomers, the Beatles matured into innovative, multifaceted adults who explored new ideas, became political active against the Vietnam war, exposed social and gender injustice, brought sex and drugs out of the closet, and, at their best, became spiritual visionaries imagining a brighter future for all of us:
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one.

Indeed, what Aaron Copland once said is certainly true: “When people ask to re-create the mood of the ‘60s, they will play Beatles music
Yeah, I was on of those callow, pimple-faced kids in 1964, a stranger in a strange land, a freshman at Columbia in the middle of New York City, moaning my recently slain young president along with his vision of Camelot, grinding away in my dorm room cramming to catch up on all the classics my prep-school cohorts had long ago read when, one day, I had to come up for air and took a walk downtown toward Times Square when I heard this singular tune for the first time, the refrain from I Want to Hold Your Hand, wafting out onto the street from all the little record store doors along the way.
Somehow this sweet melody salved my soul like the first warm breeze of spring. I just knew in my heart it was the beginning of something good.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Apocalypse, Melancholia, and Transcendence

CC Jean Stimmell
Last Friday evening, on what happened to be the Chinese New Year, we watched Melancholia directed by the controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier and starring Kirsten Dunst. The movie had a profound effect on me not only while I was watching it but afterward: I had vivid dreams about it that night, waking up the next morning still in dream reality, feeling like Justine, the heroine of the movie, enveloped in melancholia, barely able to move because of rapidly growing vines that were wrapping themselves around her body and legs. The sensation was so disturbing and like nothing I had ever felt that I told Russet I though I might be having some sort of medical emergency.

But my emergency wasn’t medical: it was a spiritual!

While some might attempt to interpret this movie more in terms of a cosmic apocalypse resulting in the physical destruction of the Planet Earth, the movie is more of a metaphor about a woman suffering from melancholia (major depression) who has a spiritual transformation – something that could be describes as a personal apocalypse.

There is supporting evidence for my view.

The word ‘apocalypse’ has not always mean destruction, damnation, and the end of the world. Originally in Greek, it meant “lifting of the veil" or "revelation"... A disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception.2

Jungian analysts consider the process of ‘apocalypse’ very important, viewing the phenomenon as a fundamental pattern or archetype underlying all human behavior; Jungians retain aspects of both definitions mentioned above, each of which is perfectly expressed in the movie:
• The coming together of energies in a momentous event that moves us toward growth and increased consciousness
• The shattering of the world as it has been, followed by its reconstitution3

In fact, the renowned Jungian analyst, Edward  Edinger, considered the advent of apocalypse to be a necessary ingredient to successful treatment with his patients: “Every depth analysis is a mini-apocalypse.”Certainly, Melancholia was a mini-apocalypse for me.

Melancholia initially affected me in a highly-charged, schizophrenic sort of way, tearing me apart with conflicting emotions of ecstasy (the hypnotic beauty of the blue rogue planet looming closer and closer but then not crashing into the earth with an explosion of annihilation but with a gentle erotic merging like two cells replicating) while – at the same time – of absolute terror (the shattering of my world as I had always known it).

The effect on my state of being and emotions was similar in many ways to my first reaction to viewing Hannah Yata’s painting, Monarch. As I wrote at the time:

 "This painting by Hanna Yata shocks my sensibilities, conjuring up in my imagination bipolar images of the best of times and the worse, of being and nothingness, of the beginning and the end.

"The Monarch strikes me as an entrancing fantasy of stunning, evocative, erotic beauty and, at the same time, an apocalyptic nightmare of our planet’s last gasp, a final brilliant flash of orgasmic pyrotechnics as all life on earth – each species exquisite and irreplaceable – fades into extinction never to be seen again..."5

These wrenching emotions have subsided over the last week. Now the transformational aspects of Melancholia’s apocalypse are settling into my marrow, replacing the rushing adrenaline of fear and ecstasy with a renewed sense of peace and existential faith.

I feel like Justine, the heroine of the movie, is a role model in how she overcomes her inertia and finds the faith to take charge as the blue rogue planet hurtles closer and closer to Earth. She is not only able to dissuade her loved ones from giving up or killing themselves but shows them how to build a magic teepee and find safe refuge inside.

And that, strange as it may seem, is the core source of my renewed sense of peace and faith: the magic teepee.

Despite what science or religion may claim, the best refuge of last resort – and ultimately the only one that works – is  a sacred canopy each of us must weave from our own imagination, a symbolic ritual that gives our life – especially in the face of death – meaning.

1 The central theme of Stanislav Grof’s book Spiritual Emergency, is “the idea that some of the dramatic experiences and unusual states of mind that traditional psychiatry disguises and treats as mental diseases are actually crises of personal transformation, or ‘spiritual emergencies.’”
3 Edinger, Archetype of the Apocalypse; also as discussed in the live Webinar on1/18/14, At the Brink: What we fear and why
4 Edinger, Archetype of the Apocalypse