Sunday, June 28, 2015

Needless to say, I call him Orton

CC Jean Stimmell: created 6/28/15
Recently, in my waking, everyday life, I have been experimenting with a new photographic technique call the Orton Effect.*  Last night I had a dream about it.

In my dream, I am using the Orton to create a photographic dreamscape.  While going through the steps of the process – to my amazement – this personage comes to life, jumping right up out of the image: a Native American who is like a double-agent: a provocateur who follows his own rules – sometimes breaking them – working undercover to get things done by hook or by crook. The bottom line is that he gets the job done, one way or an other.

In my dream – like rubbing Aladdin’s Lamp– by preforming this magical ritual, I can bring him to life whenever I want. Needless to say, I call him Orton.

* Kudos to Sher for turning me on to this technique!

The plunge of clear water into a pool

Rainbow Falls, Plymouth NH
CC Jean Stimmell: 6/24/15
"I am pleased enough with surfaces – in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child’s hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of friend or lover, the silk of a girl’s thigh, the sunlight on rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind – what else is there? What else do we need?" – Edward Abbey

Friday, June 19, 2015

Face to face with a snake

CC Jean Stimmell

A dream from 5/25/15

As I am walking through the woods, something, like a flash of light, zips across my path. I stop to investigate and find a very large snake stretched out on the ground. She looks like a garter snake because of her markings and irregular yellow stripe down her side, except that she is absolutely huge.

I call her Snake.

I follow Snake who starts down a ledge. I start to circle around the ledge to get ahead of her. When she sees me coming, she rushes straight at me, rears up, and stares intently at my face, but not in an unfriendly way.

Is she my guide, offering to initiate me into the Earth's dark and moist mysteries?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Something is always born of excess,

Hampton Beach: 4/13/15
CC Jean Stimmell

‘’Something is always born of excess,’ Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in June of 1945 as she contemplated the value of emotional excess, adding: ‘Great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”1

This quote really resonates with me. 

Not only did Anaïs Nin write this the year I was born, she could well have been writing about me. Not about me as great art, of course, but how much of my life has been consumed with great excesses. In a sign of the times, as a teenager – like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, James Dean…all members of what became known as the Beat Generation, I, too, was a rebel without a cause who defied authority, wrote nihilistic poems, crashed cars, and drank to excess. 

It all stemmed from an unfulfilled, throbbing yearning, I couldn’t express at the time: feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

The 1960s became a time when we were able to rise against all we hated about the plastic, oppressively conservative decade of the 1950s. I was a committed social activist but, at the same time, seamlessly morphed into all the excesses of the 1960s, drugs, rock and roll and sex – with the added dividend of spending over a year in Vietnam. 

Reading Anais Nin’s words today has given me a valuable new lens through which to view my life. I can see now why it felt so liberating to act out with such excess and crazy zeal: An excessive reaction was psychologically necessary in order to balance out my “great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities.”  

To wit: The great terrors of living in a meaningless world facing nuclear annihilation, The great loneliness of growing up in an outer directed society, as part of what David Riesman called the “Lonely Crowd.” The great inhibitions of living in a fear-based, emotionally repressed society. And the great instability of living ones whole life in a climate of fear starting with the godless threat of communism and now mutating into our endless war on terrorism.

Meanwhile, the only war we are winning is the war against Mother Nature – and we all know how that is going to end up.

[1]This quote came from Maria Popova’s Brainpickings today,  6/14/15

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shaman Hut

CC Jean Stimmell: 6/10/15

It's amazing what you can discover in the woods 
less than 5 miles from your home!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The power of negative thinking

CC Jean Stimmell: 6/6/15
Call security!
A dangerous invader,
a sinister black worm
is attacking our pepper plants.

False alarm!
Take a deep breath...

What we mistook for an intruder
 is a ravishing frilly feather,
an original work of art,
gifted to us by a passing bird.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Crossing over to the other side

CC Jean Stimmell: 6/2/15
This is an image from a recent vivid dream :

As I wade across a small, insignificant stream,
it suddenly transforms into a raging river
with an irresistible current
trying to suck me under.

Resisting with all my might, I escape to the other side
to a world of utter stillness on a shimmering ice sheet
extending to infinity where I find myself –
utterly and terrifyingly – all alone.