Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Radical Thesis

I have been working on a series of photographs I call Metaphors for our Times.Here are two of my digital images with brief descriptions. followed by an explanation of what they represent to me.

Here’s an image of a skull I found at the dump with an artificial flower stuck in its eye. I photographed it in the snow, while shining light into its flowering eye socket. I call it “Dark Night of the Soul Transformation.”

 The image above is a 6-foot weed, pulled from the edge of my garden. It reminds me of Giacometti’s haunting later works, depicting tall, emaciated bodies, evoking the suffering of WWII and horrors of the Holocaust. Each spring, since the dawn of time, this dead weed has resurrected itself into new life, an eternal return. 
But for how much longer?

Many are turned off by my images, finding them too bleak. Yet I see hope in them and in the future of humankind, despite living in these apocalyptic times. Part of the reason why is because I consider myself a hope merchant, by inclination and by trade.

I am a psychotherapist, who has been successful, in no small part, because I have always had faith and trust in my patients, believing in my heart that every one of them, at some point, no matter how dire the circumstances, will turn the corner, unload some of their burdens, morph more into their higher selves, and move forward lighter and freer.

And I’ve seldom been disappointed.

On the collective level of society, I also have hope despite looming Armageddon events like the rising risk of nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. But I don’t pretend to be Pollyanna. What I see as hope may strike most people as dismal and hopeless Yet it’s difficult to promise that a flawless rose garden can grow from our present toxic waste dump of greed and valueless sludge.

The problem, up to this point in time, is simple: we humans have not suffered enough to change our ways, By the time we have seen the light, it is likely our advanced” civilization will be burned to a crisp like ponderosa pines in California’s ever more frequent, forest fires or washed away like the imminent fate of folks living in low-lying. Polynesian Island states.

But sooner or later, it will have to happen: we will come to our senses, even if civilization, as we know it, is gone –­ burned, radiated, starved, and abstracted to death – and, the few of us who are left, will live in small, scattered tribes inhabiting what is left of Mother Earth. 

That may not sound like hope to most people but it does to me because at least we survived to continue our long-term, romance with Planet Earth. We escaped the worst by not going extinct or turning into a race of mindless, Amazon robots. Most important, we learned how to live simply and sustainably in concert with all our fellow sentient beings – or at least those who survived. 

In other words, after suffering through an interminable dark night of the soul, we were able to walk away from Twitter, Facebook, and Uber driverless cars to start living once again as indigenous people have always lived, present in what is really real: our bodies, nature and a deeply rooted sense of place.

My feelings about indigenous people coincide with what Jason Farago wrote about Giacometti’s haunting sculptures:

“Funny that existentialism doesn’t seem such a downer anymore: When all of us are trailed by inescapable terabytes of data, we can almost envy Giacometti’s slender bronze wraiths: stripped to the bone but still human, stripped of their names but still free.”[i]


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Metaphors for what I feel

With nuclear annihilation ever more probable
 under the unhinged reign of Tyranus Trump 

And climate change like cancer unchecked, 
relentlessly eating away Earth’s bounty

words fail me…

Instead I submit two photos
metaphors for what I feel 

Abandoned bikes in China looking like vast blossoming tulip fields.
Photographer, Mathias Guillin, took this photo with his drone

A Tikuna mask designed by Jean-Baptiste Debret
during the French Artistic Mission (1816-31)
(missing and probably destroyed in the
recent fire at Brazil National Museum)