Hello again everyone. As many of you know I have a preoccupation with the subject of rust in my photos. More than a few of my photos feature rust in some form. Today is no different. I’ve been thinking about why I find rust to be such a dynamic subject. Part of it is (as I’ve written on my previous blog) the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic; Finding beauty in the imperfect, the flawed and discarded. But it also goes beyond that. I think rust has many lessons to teach us. No only about the inevitable end of all things but also how we can come to terms with the inevitable end. Rust is strong. It’s strength does not lie in speed, or the forceful blow to its subject. Rust is gentle. It does not seek to hide – it is visible in its destruction. Rust takes it’s time; the object of its affection is coaxed into its corrosive embrace.
You and me like all things must end. It is the nature of things. We are mortal. That means we will not live forever no matter how hard we try to extend the time we have. I don’t care how fit you are, how free of disease you have been, your physical fitness, or your emotional health. You will die. In fact, you might say you are already dying. And that’s okay. There is beauty in the process. What? Yes, there is beauty in the process of dying = it’s all in how you look at it. You can approach it with grace and appreciation for the time you have and the inevitable end or you can fight it every single step of the way. I once heard a woman say, “I do not plan to grow old gracefully, I plan to fight it every step of the way”. I’ve always found that viewpoint rather tragic. But that is the prevailing viewpoint in western society. In fact the exception in western culture is that you must fight it and with medical and technological advances you can fight aging, disease etc. But that is all a delusion. In the west we have become masters of delusion and self-deception.
Why do we find Autumn to be one of the most beautiful times of the year? Autumn is the season of dying. The leaves on trees are the most colorful just before they die and fall to the ground. And this change seems to happen rather fast but the change actually started at the point the leaf first came out and reached maturity on its branch back in the Spring. Our lives are the same way. It’s not just the newborn and young that are beautiful. Beauty is enhanced through experiences that are both good and bad. Rust is like that; it is one of those experiences that may seem to hasten the demise of something but it does not know that. It just is. It is a part of nature. A part of life experience just like disease, physical and emotional discomfort. Those things exist to add to our beauty.
You find me
Slowly you Change my life
I love you
I feel your presence
your corrosion adds beauty
glory of Autumn
Your rough embrace
Enhances my life through change
I welcome you
The color of love
Textures the smooth beauty of life
Open arms tremble
Sing a song of rust
A slow ballad of decay
Autumns dying love
Sound of slow scraping
Crippled dry dusty fingers
Illusions of age
You teach strength through weakness
Beauty in Frailty
Your music moment provided by a band I recently discovered and had to buy all their albums – Do Make Say Think – A TENDER HISTORY IN RUST from their album You, You’re A History In Rust.
****Hey! if you have short form poem or haiku about rust and the ideas I’ve written about, please feel free to post in your comment. 😉
I once read something that got me thinking about how I photograph different subjects. I’ve started becoming more interested – not in just photographing a subject but actually photographing in a way that may allow people to look beyond the subject. How do we frame a subject?
Is the frame to be ignored for the subject?
Investigate the setting. Investigate the frame.
Can you see behind? What is hidden by the subject? What is revealed by the frame?
How does framing a subject tell us more about the subject than the subject itself?
For many in our image conscious culture life beyond the frame is frequently unthinkable. I think the opposite is true. Looking beyond the subject can deepen my appreciation and understanding. It inspires more questions on the journey that can propel the viewer further into the world of the image.
If you’ve followed me for some time then you know that I am a big fan of abstraction. And so often my images have been composed only of the subject itself. I haven’t changed As one friend told me “you actually think in abstract.” Maybe I’m just starting to expand my view to include a larger world and larger context in which the subject appears and that – for me – is just as interesting as the subject itself. That’s why I love images like the ones I’m posting here where the subject almost seems like a void – a vast emptiness that nearly fills the frame of the image but is framed by its surroundings.
I like the contrast between being and nothingness (as Sartre would phrase it). I find the tension between two opposite things utterly compelling. Existential imaging?
SHOW ME EVERYTHING – by Tindersticks from the album The Something Rain
Halloween. What a perfect time to talk about suffering. The two images today are part of a series titled “All Our Efforts Are Futile”. In the long view, everything we make seems to fall apart. No matter how much effort and how good it seems when it was first created our work, over time, will deteriorate. It’s just a fact of life. It’s a constant reminder of our own impermanence.
The foundation of all mental illness
is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.
~ Carl Jung
It seems to me that we spend most of our life trying to avoid suffering. But just like our own impermanence and the inevitable decay of all we build, suffering is a part of our life experience. But what is “legitimate suffering?”
Is it the suffering that comes as a result of the actions of others? Is it the suffering that comes from our own actions?
I once saw a mental health advertisement on a city bus: it was a quote from a Newsweek magazine article from 2014 that had the headline “One In Five Adults Suffers From Mental Illness Each Year”. Those are not very good odds by any standard. If you look around you every 5th person you see may be suffering from some mental illness. Now mental illness takes many forms and that descriptor is not exclusive to the more elaborate/newsworthy like a sociopath. But can be something as common as depression or melancholia. I wonder if it is wise to describe these conditions as mental illness because everyone experiences them at some point in their life it is part of life experience and any number of things can spark that fire. But mental illness is just one type of suffering. There is also the suffering from physical illness.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a couple of things. One is that life is filled with suffering; but that suffering changes and metamorphoses over time. In my younger years the suffering was more emotional but as I’ve gotten older the suffering has changed and become more physical just due to the natural aging of the body. A constant reminder of impermanence. I’ve also noticed something in my youth I did almost anything to avoid suffering. I ignored it, I joked about it, I lied about it, I would participate in activities that would temporarily subdue it. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to accept suffering much as one would accept a constant companion. I don’t enjoy it but I do accept it and try to give it the space it needs. I have found that this more nurturing approach actually eases the suffering and helps me understand it – including how my actions may have brought it on.
“Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”
~ Yoda (from Star Wars)
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret — it leads only to evil.” ~ Psalm 37:8 (NIV)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. ” ~ James 1: 2-4 (NIV)
I have found this last quote to be especially true. We should consider it a joy to undergo suffering when it produces so many good things such as perseverance, maturity and a sense of completeness. We should not take the “consider it a joy” phrase as a directive to seek out suffering nor should we use it to justify causing suffering in others. Suffering will come automatically – usually when we least expect it, when it is unplanned and inconvenient. So when it comes welcome it. It’s okay and if you see someone suffering sometimes the best thing to do is not trying to ease their suffering (although many will argue that is what we should do) but to just be there with them in their suffering. Suffering is made more bearable when we are not alone. But be careful of being too empathetic so that you suffer along with them. Being with them does not require you to suffer because they suffer. Remember you are the supporter in that scenario.
I found tons of videos on YouTube that deal with escaping suffering including many well meaning gurus, religious leaders, teachers, philosophers and songs. It is so darn hard to find one deals with enduring suffering. In a world of escapism, quick fixes, and good vibrations have we forgotten the role of suffering in our lives and therefore put our own mental health at risk?
I sometimes wonder if we are not under some mass delusion that good health is normal.
All around us, the world is in decay. In fact the human body is in decay the moment it is born. It only lasts as long as it does through maintenance – proper eating, hygiene, exercise etc. But ultimately it will become diseased and die. Disease is lives up to its name because it can be so damned uncomfortable but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it – that’s just the nature of the beast. Disease is the norm. Bacteria and virus live with us 24 hrs a day, 7 days of the week and 365 days of the year. There is not a single second that we go without. Even after you shower there are still bacteria on your skin. It is impossible to be “clean”. Yet we delude ourselves constantly.
There is also mental and emotional states of decay. We just now give them fancy clinical names that give us the delusion that we can control and eliminate them. But any controls are only temporary. In the end they always come back and the mind itself dies.
Maybe that’s what spooked the horses. We just need to “deal with it”.
Zoviet*France – Something Spooked The Horses
Just when you think you know what a lily pad looks like I come along to shatter your preconceptions…. LOL
This was quite a massive pad whose center had become filled with water. For me I can imagine this being something viewed from outer space. A massive landscape seen from above with the center shrinking and expanding in a constant pulse letting pass only so much light and material from one world to another. I would love to wander thru a landscape like this. I almost feel I could get sucked into the center of this as though passing into some other realm. A realm unexplained, unexplored and unpredictable. Enjoy the journey. Let your imagination go…..