Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stars and blossoming fruit trees: Utter permanence and extreme fragility give an equal sense of eternity.


~ Image: Arbor cognationis spiritualis (Spiritual tree of bonds), 14th century; from L'arbre: Histoire naturelle et symbolique de l'arbre

~ Text: Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

Sunday, August 7, 2011

If I knew how this leaf had sprung from its sprig,
I would keep silent: there is knowledge enough.

~ Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Epigrams

He saw his world as an arena where das Gleitende - a gliding, swirling - held sway, and he eventually constructed his art as one that tried not to fix but to blend, and he did so not by imposing law, but by revealing the hidden forms in which the parts of life are bound to each other. This harmony was, in Hofmannsthal's own words, "the ceremony of the whole."


~ Text: From the introduction to The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal

~ Images: Jules Girard, sprigs of a fir tree magnified,1868; Peter Lackerbauer, crystallization, 1868

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The notes were like mysterious symbols on the large stiff sheets, some of them only half-filled, and the little black rounds sat on the thin lines like tiny birds on telegraph wires.


~ Text: Joseph Roth, The Blind Mirror

~ Image: Score for Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, in Bach's hand

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An Emblem of Heaven...

I have lived by this. It is the lingering emblem of the Heaven I once dreamed.


~ Text: Emily Dickinson, Letters

~ Images: A Cottage on Dartmoor, 1929, Anthony Asquith

For Herbert

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Thousand Delicate Voices...

High up in the heavens, the larks sang ceaselessly; one seemed not to hear them at all until the rare moments when their music paused for the length of a single breath


~ Text and title: The Rider on the White Storm, Theodor Storm, 1888

~ Image: Wounded Stag, Ralph Albert Blakelock, 1880

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Sound of Thy Heartsearching Way...

She received her songs as gold letters that hung from the ceiling of her darkened room.


~ Images and text from Heavenly Visions: Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs: a sacred sheet and short hymn composed by Eunice Wythe, 1815

~ Post title from Eunice Wythe's hymn

For Diane

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In the Folds of Things...

He seeks life where it is to be found: in all that is most delicate, in the folds of things.


~ Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Andreas, 1932

~ Images from Sergei Parajanov's Hakob Hovnatanyan

Monday, May 31, 2010

Around Her A Trembling...

In her clashed the dreams
Of low stone walls,

Sea shimmers,
Herds on the moors.

Around her a trembling
Like the lichen
On the dolmens and menhirs.


~ Text fragments from Eugene Guillevic's poem "Carnac," 1961.

~ Image: Woman and menhirs in Carnac, Britanny, n.d.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Incantation of This Whiteness...

Cornice Channel, Wilhelm Archipelago, Antarctica

"uncharted dangers", Prime Head, The Mouth of the Antarctic Sound, Antarctica

The Eastern Entry, King Frederik IX Land, Greenland

The Drake Passage, Island of Horn, Antartica Chilena

The Greenland Sea, Kap Patrick Brooke, Shannon Island, Greenland

The Arctic Ocean, Sea Ice, Looking North

Smith Sound, Kap Alexander, Greenland

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul...

Suddenly the waters around them slowly swelled in broad circles; then quickly upheaved, as if sideways sliding from a submerged berg of ice, swiftly rising to the surface. A low rumbling sound was heard; a subterraneous hum; and then all held their breaths...


~ Text fragments from Herman Melville's Moby Dick

~ Images from Thomas Joshua Cooper, True, Haunch of Venison, London, 2009

Friday, April 2, 2010

After Which They Vanished...


~ Images: Cloud chamber photographs originally invented by Charles Thomas Wilson for studying cloud formation and optical phenomena in the moist air. Inspired by sightings of the Broken Spectre while working on the summit of Ben Nevis, Scottish Highlands, in 1894, The New Landscape in Art and Science, 1956, Gyorgy Kepes

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Forest for Ships and Masts...

We look at a forest and say:

Here is a forest for ships and masts,

Red pines,

Free to the tops of their shaggy burden,

To creak in the storm

In the furious forestless air


~ Texts: Osip Mandelshtam, Whoever Finds a Horseshoe, 1923

~ Images from Street Angel, directed by Frank Borzage

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Into an Orchard Brown....

Lully, lully, lully, lully!

The fawcon hath born my make away!

He bare hym up, he bare hym down,

He bare hym into an orchard brown.

In that orchard there was an halle

That was hangid with purpill and pall.

And yn that hall there was a bede,

Hit was hangid with gold so rede.

And yn that bed there lythe a knyght,

His woundis bledyng day and nyght.

By that bedeside kneleth a may,

And she wepeth both nyght and day.

And by that bedeside there stondith a ston,

'Corpus Christi' wretyn thereon.

Lully, lully, lully, lully!

The fawcon hath born my make away!


~ The Falcon, Anonymous, England, thirteenth century song

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Few Flowers Upon the Ground...

Photomicrograph of a flower's stem by I.W. Bailey, Harvard University. Structure in Art and Science, Gyorgy Kepes, Braziller, 1969

Cathedral New Norcia (looking up through the vaulted and transparent roof), Pier Luigi Nervi, Australia, 1959-1961. Structure in Art and Science, Gyorgy Kepes, 1969

The [Bishop's] day was not complete if cold weather or rain stopped him from passing an hour or two every night, after the two women had retired, in his garden before he went to bed. It seemed as though this was a kind of rite with him, a way of preparing for sleep by meditating in full view of the great spectacle of the night sky [...] He would muse about the greatness and the living presence of God; about the strange mystery of the eternal future; about the even stranger mystery of the eternal past; about all the infinities streaming in every direction before his very eyes; and, without trying to comprehend the incomprehensible, he saw it [...] He considered the magnificent collisions of the atoms that produce what we see of matter, showing the forces at work by observing them, creating individuality within unity, proportion within extension, the numberless within the infinite, and producing beauty through light. Such collisions are constantly taking shape, bringing things together and pulling them apart; it is a matter of life and death [...] Isn't that all there is? Indeed, what more could you want? A little garden to amble about in, and infinite space to dream in. At his feet, whatever could be grown and gathered; over his head, whatever could be studied and meditated upon; a few flowers on the ground and all the stars in the sky.


~ Text: Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Monday, January 11, 2010

Such Signals Sometimes Sound...

Listen to this voice...
Like two people whose paths seem to cross and then they don't...
There is some neutrality here. No, I wouldn't call it neutrality ... but a need to concentrate on each sound, so that every blade of grass would be as important as a flower...
It could be like a break on the radio. Such signals sometimes sound as if they lasted an entire life.
Of future, or past, and outside time...


~ Text: Arvo Pärt playing and speaking of "Für Alina" in Arvo Pärt: 24 Preludes for a Fugue

~ Image: Kirilian photograph of field grasses by T. Lightowler

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Among the Radiant Constellation...

Unidentified Festival of Song and Light after dusk

Festival of Song and Light, Central Park, New York, 1916


~ Images: Tableaux for sound, light screens, lanterns, and song designed by Claude Bragdon, Crystal and Arabesque by Jonathan Massey.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Subtle Sea Musics...

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful, and varied. For it is a mistake to talk of the monotone of ocean or of the monotonous nature of its sound ... Every mood of the wind, every change in the day's weather, every phase of the tide - all these have subtle sea musics all their own ... the continuousness of it, sound of endless charging, endless incoming and gathering, endless fulfillment and dissolution...Above the tumult, like birds, fly wisps of watery noise, splashes and counter splashes, whispers, and seethings...

The seas are the heart's blood of the earth. Plucked up and kneaded by the sun and the moon, the tides are systole and diastole of the earth's veins ... Consider the marvel of what we see. Somewhere in the ocean, perhaps a thousand miles and more from this beach, the pulse beat of earth liberates a vibration, an ocean wave. Is the original force circular, I wonder? and do ocean waves ring out from the creative beat as they do on a quiet surface broken by a stone? Are there, perhaps, ocean circles so great and so intricate that they are unperceived?


Text ~ Excerpts from
Henry Beston's The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod, originally published in 1928, in which he devotes an entire chapter to the sounds of the Great Beach

Images ~ Film stills from the storm scene at Slea Head, Ireland, in
Ryan's Daughter, directed by David lean and photographed by Freddie Young. Lean and Young had to wait a year at Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula before a great storm appeared.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When Words Become Thresholds ...

... and The Secret History of the Dividing Line
The Enjoyment of Reading, Lost and Found (2001): book as strata
The Enjoyment of Reading, Lost and Found: circles of confusion
The Enjoyment of Reading, Lost and Found: sonnet by Michael Drayton
The Great Art of Knowing (2004): William Byrd bookplate
Moxon's Mechanick Exercises (1999): bible pages
Secret History of the Dividing Line (2002): film splices as landscapes
Secret History of the Dividing Line: film splices as landscapes

Like a moving panorama [the library] has passed from before many eyes, and is now slowly flitting from before my own.

~ George MacDonald, Lillith


Stills from David Gatten's beautiful cycle of films, The Secret History of the Dividing Line: A True Account in Nine Parts, inspired by William Byrd's (1674-1744) library and writings. A gentle and enduring glance at both visible traces of demarcation in the forms of cartographical dividing lines, 16mm cement splices, and shadows of text lifted from their very foundation, as well as the less visible traces of demarcation that exist in translation, invisible fissures, sudden breaches, and unseen boundaries...


{All images from Scott MacDonald's "Gentle Iconoclast: An Interview with David Gatten," in Film Quarterly, Winter 2007, Vol. 61.}