Sunday, May 31, 2015

In the age of the Sixth Great Extinction

Headless Heron, Lamprey River 5/30/15
CC Jean Stimmell
Seeking salvation 
the headless heron
springs  from the  
 shimmering  marsh

And dead trees
ignite in the light
Lamprey River 5/30/15
CC Jean Stimmell

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The best part of our mind is a mystery and will remain forever so

Bald Cypress in Congaree National Park
CC Jean Stimmell: March 2015
The best part of our mind is a mystery and will remain forever so. This I truly believe and that's why I like the following quotes from a recent New York Times book review.

Cynthia Ozicks recently reviewed Harold Blooms new book, The Daemon Knows. So what is the daemon, she asks, and what does he know? 

According to Bloom,"the daemon is an incarnation of an intuition beyond ordinary apperception... To ask the question concerning the daemon is to seek an origin of inspiration.”

Bloom then goes on to cite Emerson: “This is that which the strong genius works upon; the region of destiny, of aspiration, of the unknown. . . . Far the best part, I repeat, of every mind is not that which he knows, but that which hovers in gleams, suggestions, tantalizing unpossessed before him.”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Deja Vu of War

Photograph in the Concord Monitor (5/22/15) of a patrol of U.S. troops during WWII
picking its way through the blasted ruins of St. Lo, France,
yet another casualty of war.
I found myself mesmerized by this photograph and, under its spell – in a process almost like automatic writing – scrawling out the first draft of the following essay on a pad of paper. I guess this is my gut response to what Memorial Day means to me.

Deja Vu of War
Such a poignant photograph in Friday’s Concord Monitor, showing St. Lo, a town in France, reduced to rubble after a battle during World War II. Tears flow down my cheeks for the writer of this piece whose uncle died in that battle.

More tears flow for all of us who have lost brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, and, beyond that, all our loved ones who have perished back through our family trees in the innumerable armed conflicts we have engaged in since our republic was founded.

Tears flow, too, for our enemy who we have killed, who also died fighting a cause, members of caring families just like ours. Tears flow especially for the countless millions of civilians who have died, innocent men, woman, and children.

Somehow, around the world, countries all take time to honor their dead but are blind to the bigger picture: the madness of it all.

In my war alone in Vietnam, 58,000 of my brothers and sisters were killed.  But that’s only the tip of my sorrow and moral guilt: the British Medical Journal estimates that, in total, during the Vietnam war, 3.8 million human beings were killed, most of them innocent men, women, and children.

So it is in war, as the Monitor photograph so graphically depicts. It can all be summed up by a U.S. officer’s explanation after allied forces bombed the city of Ben Tre, a cultural landmark in Vietnam, reducing it to rubble with heavy civilian casualties: 'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.'

Yes, that says it all. 

This year we will spend 640 billion on the military, not counting veteran benefits and off-budget blackholes. Because of our lopsided priorities, weapons of death have become our hammer – the only tool we have – and, as a consequence, all international problems become just more nails to be pounded.

Strange how denial works.

We arrest our fellow citizens for committing domestic abuse but glorify war, a much bigger crime. I cry for all of us: When will we ever learn.
Desolation Dreamscape
CC Jean Stimmell: Vietnam 1966

Monday, May 18, 2015

Creating a Waking Dream: Springtime in Hades

Springtime Solarized in Hades
CC Jean Stimmell: May 18.2018
Two years ago, I had a dream of recoiling from a roiling, blood-red river which felt to me like the River Styz. Two nights ago I had a very different underworld dream scenario: I found myself standing on the edge of (or was I standing in) an absolutely still and silent expanse of silvery translucent water criss-crossed by the dark shadows of standing-dead trees.

So this is what Hades is like, I thought. The dream felt important. The feeling tone was somber but, at the same time, somehow uplifting. 

During the dream or as the dream was ending and I was floating back up toward everyday consciousness, it suddenly dawned on me that I knew exactly where this dreamscape was: A beaver pond wetland near my home! I vowed to go there that very day (which was yesterday) and photograph my dream.

And so it came to be… as the above image attests.

This morning, after I edited my wetland photographs and then – stylized and solarized the one that most resonated with that of my dream image – I glanced at an incoming email from an art site I subscribe to. My eye gravitated to the artist-of-the-day: Angela Bacon-Kidwell, her photographs and, even more so, her mission statement:

“My work is a journey and surrender with known and unexplained emotions. Using contradictory symbols that are personal and multilayered, an image can simultaneously represent what I am questioning and what I have answered…These fleeting associations replay themselves in my dreams. The random moments combine to form sleep stories that are rich narratives, ripe with symbolism…In essence, I attempt to create a waking dream.”⁠1

Is that synchronicity or what?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Canaanite goddess beseeches us to stop the suffering

Figure of Seated Goddess
Late Bronze Age: 14th.-13th century B.C.
Syria-Levant Culture: Canaanite*

The goddess's anguish, brings tears to my eyes.
She is reaching out to us over eons of time from the cradle of our civilization, beseeching us to stop the terrible suffering in the Middle East set in motion by the boot of Western colonialism.

* Image on which I found at

Friday, May 15, 2015

We Have Offended Our Mother

The Great Spirit of Pawtuckaway
Giant 20 foot high boulder
CC Jean Stimmell: 5/15/15

We've committed crimes against nature and humanity for the sake of more and more energy, more destructive capacity. We've taken too much out of the sea and put back into it toxic wastes and mercury and oil spills. These come back in the fish we eat and poison us. The majority of humanity has lost its connection to the sacred, the numinous and the mysteries. There is a loss of awe and gratitude to the spirit of the earth. We're soiling our own nest, the earth's spirit responds with earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, cyclones and tsunamis. Every way she can slap us about, wake us up, remind us we are not gods. The earth is not our servant and not our resource. She is our only home.
– Quote by Naomi Lowinsky in Psychological Perspectives

Spring: From Dark to Light when everyone emerges from hibernation

Turtles at Demon's Pond
CC Jean Stimmell: 5/11/15

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Staircase to the dark mysteries

Stylized Staircase of Destiny: 5/7/15 Long Sands, York ME
CC Jean Stimmell
Clumsy rocks like words tossed about 
haphazardly on the beach by the tide:
Crude approximations of reality.

Leaving stony words and convention behind,
I descend downward toward my destiny:
Kneeling in the surf to taste the salty waves.

Gaining strength, I wade into the depths,
immersing myself in the waters of life,
 the dark mysteries of the unconscious,
Knower of all things

Although we are always being lulled into complacency by denial and the sameness of our everyday routine, the Buddhists are right: life is change. As I grow older – I will be 70-years-old this year – I am increasingly reminded of this immutable fact by all the things I can no longer do.

On top of that, I’ve already had two major surgeries for Melanoma cancer. While Melanoma appears to be in remission now, her ever-present reality focuses the mind. Then, last week, I found out that I have prostate cancer – and not the wait-and-watch type.

I’m not reaching out for sympathy. Just telling you how I have learned to cope from first-hand experience. By being forced to deal with issues of sickness, old age and death, I am learning to progressively detach myself from conventional appearances and the overwhelming materiality of our everyday world. Thanks to Buddhism and Carl Jung, I have been able to move away from the world of appearance toward what I feel is a deeper, more fundamental reality – one I am learning to access through reverie and dreams; writing, doing art and meditating.

The idea for this blog came together for me when I took a photograph of a staircase that appears to go nowhere. However – being the eternal outlier – it appeared to me a sacred portal to what is really real.

My image and poem above is my humble attempt to make this sacred portal come alive to my readers.

Friday, May 8, 2015

When the end comes, all you want is someone to be there for you, holding your hand

Photo shot by passerby: Shanghai, China: 5/2/14*
Two firemen hold hands as they fall to their deaths*

“The pair were on the 13th floor of the apartment building in Shanghai, China, battling a vicious blaze when a strong heat wave knocked them from their feet and out of the window.
"One of the men attempted to save the life of his comrade by grabbing his hand as the pulse sent them flying.
"But the force of the fire was so strong that they were both thrown out, and fell to their death holding each other's hands.”*

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Spring beauty contest

Beauty Contest
CC Jean Stimmell: 5/6/15

A Spring Beauty contest between the chain
of pearly ruminant teeth on the deer jaw,
a treasure our dog dragged home...

And the dainty chains like budding teeth
blooming on the Mountain Andromeda
beside my office