Saturday, February 23, 2008

To a Kingdom We Once Parted From...

Stan Brakhage, The Garden of Earthly Delights

The history of paradise is perhaps not a fable: looking, speaking must have been born when one ceased to exist completely in the world ... the world of flowers and snowflakes on flowers.

~ Philippe Jaccottet, Truinas, Le 21 avril 2001

At night when the small orchestras travel home,
tall trees stand along the streets like gates
of soundlessness, like high candelabras
before a universe we do not grasp.

For soon all the sounds in the world will go home and sleep
and all the colors will get tired of coloring
and travel away from us to unknown places
and everything will be rubbed by soft cloths
as now, tonight, by powdered-silver rain
to a kingdom we once parted from
and the silence will break out
in all the trees.

~ Rolf Jacobsen

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Spires, In Wreaths...

{Fox Talbot, Erica Mutabilis, 1839, photogenic drawing, a present for Sir John Herschel}

{Fox Talbot, Melancholy Gentleman, 1838, photogenic drawing}

Leaves take all kinds of strange shapes, as if to invite us to examine them. Star-shaped, heart-shaped, spear-shaped, arrow-shaped, fretted, fringed, cleft, furrowed, serrated, sinuated; in whorls, in tufts, in spires, in wreaths endlessly expressive, deceptive, fantastic, never the same from footstalk to blossom; they seem perpetually to tempt our watchfulness, and take delight in outstripping our wonder.

~ John Ruskin

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Long Gaze....

The Garden of Earthly Delights (film still), Stan Brakhage

Almost like legends were the clickers or marbles we played with [...] They were Arabian stones, ringed with red or green, sometimes with stars, even with miniaturized lands; these were carried in our pockets. But it was at six in the evening, out on the field, I hear the bells ringing in the clock tower. I was gathering pebbles from the Rhine; as I looked right at them in the dusk and the clock struck, the little men were moving there fleet as shadows...


Eight years, and the most remarkable thing was the sewing box in a shop window on the way to school; it stood between skeins and mats, embroidered by feminine hands... on the box was an illustration with many dots or flecks of color on the smooth paper, as though the paint had run. It showed a hut and much snow; the moon was high and yellow in the blue winter sky; in the windows of the hut burned a red light. Below the little image stood "Moon Landscape," and at first I believed it was a landscape on the moon...


In short, there was almost no everyday in those times beyond school; everything was amplified, or became completely still in first love, by the fountains of the rococo gardens, in the intoxication of the first speculative looks. We felt ourselves drawn, to the point of pain, into the beauty of trees, clouds, the night sky, with a sorrow of muteness before it all that drove us almost to hallucinations.


The "same" had become magical; a long gaze would transport us into that constellation.


~ Ernst Bloch, excerpts from Spirit Still Taking Shape, an essay in Traces...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Like Tiniest Bells on the Garment of Silence....

"But now it had the charm for her which any broken ground, any mimic rock and ravine, have for the eyes that rest habitually on the level; especially in summer, when she could sit on a grassy hollow under the shadow of a branching ash, stooping aslant from the steep above her, and listen to the hum of insects, like tiniest bells on the garment of Silence…"

~ From The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ribbons Resemble Lullabies....

I wind, I wind these ribbons
over my beloved’s eyes, over her soul
With brown, almost faded ink
I will write in my linen ribbons
secret signs
and I will wind them like a lullaby
around my beloved’s soul –
O never exuded balms
O narrow ribbons
wound in layer on layer of artful braid!
Don’t you already seem like the pupa of a butterfly
as it hangs on the rose bush!
You with the great eyes I gave you!
You with the immaculate face!

~ Arsinoƫ by Gunnar Ekelof

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Florilegium....

Otto Marseus, Forest Floor......

Albrecht Durer, Orpine and Bugle
Albrecht Durer, Daffodils and Other Flowers ....

Dawson Turner, Fucus Digitatus, 1808 (Sea Flower)

Anselm Kiefer, For Robert Fludd, book pp. 19-20, 2003

Anslem Kiefer, Johannisnacht, 1987-1991

John Blakemore, Chimerical Landscapes 3, from Inscape
Basilius Besler's Book of Plants, Peony & Adder's Tongue

Suddenly, softly, as if a breath breathed
On the pale wall, a magical apparition,
The shadow of the jasmine, branch and blossom!

It was not there, it is there, in a perfect image;
And all is changed. It is like a memory lost
Returning without a reason into the mind...

And it seems to me that the beauty of the shadow
Is more beautiful than the flower; a strange beauty,
Pencilled and silently deepening to distinctness.

As a memory stealing out of the mind's slumber,
A memory floating up from a dark water,
Can be more beautiful than the thing remembered.

~ Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Albumen print photogram, circa mid-1900s