Thursday, February 23, 2023

Tree Talk

"Whether we can somehow listen in on tree talk is a subject that was recently addressed in the specialized literature. Korean scientists have been tracking older women as they walk through forests and urban areas. The result? When the women were walking in the forest, their blood pressure, their lung capacity, and the elasticity of their arteries improved, whereas an excursion into town showed none of these changes. It's possible that phytoncides have a beneficial effect on our immune systems as well as the trees' health, because they kill germs. Personally, however, I think the swirling cocktail of tree talk is the reason we enjoy being out in the forest so much. At least when we are out in undisturbed forests.

Walkers who visit one of the ancient deciduous preserves in the forest I manage always report that their heart feels lighter and they feel right at home. If they walk instead through coniferous forests, which in Central Europe are mostly planted and are, therefore, more fragile, artificial places, they don't experience such feelings. Possibly it's because in ancient beech forests, fewer "alarm calls" go out, and therefore, most messages exchanged between trees are contented ones, and these messages reach our brains as well, via our noses. I am convinced that we intuitively register the forest's health."

- Peter Wohlleben (1964 - )
The Hidden Life of Trees

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Another World

[There is a...] "...long shamanic tradition wherein the shaman-storyteller himself is transformed, no longer storyteller but a character, an animal, a god, a goddess, or a natural force that is not his everyday identity. And these moments, when the characters come alive and the author disappears, take us into another world."

- Hal Zina Bennett (1936 - )
Spirit Circle: A Story of Adventure & Shamanic Revelation

Monday, February 20, 2023

Bound by Time-Space

"To look is important. We look to immediate things and out of immediate necessities to the future, coloured by the past. Our seeing is very limited and our eyes are accustomed to near things. Our look is as bound by time-space as our brain. We never look, we never see beyond this limitation; we do not know how to look through and beyond these fragmentary frontiers. But the eyes have to see beyond them, penetrating deeply and widely, without choosing, without shelter; they have to wander beyond man-made frontiers of ideas and values and to feel beyond love. Then there is a benediction which no god can give."

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

Friday, February 17, 2023

Memory is strange

"Memory is strange. Scientifically, it is not a mechanical means of repeating something. I can think a thousand times about when I broke my leg at the age of ten, but it is never the same thing which comes to mind when I think about it. My memory of this event has never been, in reality, anything except the memory of my last memory of that event. This is why I use the image of a palimpsest - something written over something partially erased - that is what memory is for me. It's not a film you play back in exactly the same way. It's like theater, with characters who appear from time to time."

 - Gore Vidal (1925 - 2012)

Thursday, February 16, 2023

What's a Photographer to Do Without a 'Real' Camera?

"The best camera is the one that's with you."
- Chase Jarvis (1971 - )

As I wrote about in my last blog post, my wife and I recently visited our youngest son in college. Since the trip was only for a few days (cross-country, no less: we live in northern Virginia, but our son's college is in California), and our ostensible purpose was to attend "Parent's Day," I reasoned - foolishly, as it turns out - that there would be zero time for "real photography" (meaning: photography with what I call my "real" camera). Note that I intend no disrespect either to my iPhone (which I always have with me) or to anyone who's "real camera" is an iPhone. The iPhone is a great photographic tool and is more than capable of capturing wonderful images! I use this phraseology only to convey a truth of my own reality: if I am without the camera(s) that I am usually armed with when I go on my photo safaris I somehow feel less than whole - disarmed, as it were - photographically speaking (which in hindsight of course is, again, rather foolish). Which is not to say that my "eye" is not constantly searching for something to photograph (even as the brain behind the eye laments not having my "real camera"). 

The (abstract) triptych above is an assembly of a few miscellaneous "shots" I took with my iPhone while waiting to board one of our planes. A few other "quick grabs" I managed to take during the trip included: (1) a shot of the ceiling at an American Airlines' Admirals Club (the "upside down" view of which I much prefer over the "straight" version) ...

(2) a shot of a chandelier at LAX ...

(3) a series of "fire abstracts" (captured while waiting for our dinner to arrive at a restaurant close to our son's college) ...

... and (4) - my personal favorite - a Wynn-Bullock-like "abstract energy-field" (that is really just a part of the tree ring structure I found in an old stump while hiking with my son in a local park):

So, what is a photographer to do without a "real" camera? Exactly what the photographer would have done with a real camera: look for pictures and capture them as best as possible given whatever camera happens to be with you 😊

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Infinitely Visible World

"Close your eyes, prick your ears, and from the softest sound to the wildest noise, from the simplest tone to the highest harmony, from the most violent, passionate scream to the gentlest words of sweet reason, it is by Nature who speaks, revealing her being, her power, her life, and her relatedness so that a blind person, to whom the infinitely visible world is denied, can grasp an infinite vitality in what can be heard."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

Postscript. The picture above is of our youngest, Josh (the photographer), with whom my wife and I just had a brief weekend visit at his college in California. It was our first trip to his neck of the woods since dropping him off last August (although we did enjoy a few weeks together in our home in Virginia over the winter break). Since the book I was reading on the plane (well, re-reading for the second time) was Andrea Wulf's magisterial biography of Alexander von Humboldt, Goethe's quote that Wulf uses to set the stage for her book seems apropos. While Josh spent a fair amount of time happily composing away on a beach in Malibu, I managed to capture him contemplating the siren call of the "infinitely visible world" unfolding before his gaze, and enfolding him in its mystery. Not to be outdone, my wife captured me "capturing Josh contemplating the 'infinitely visible world'" 😊

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

One Model of Reality

"The world in which you were
born is just one model of reality.
Other cultures are not failed
attempts at being you; they
are unique manifestations
of the human spirit."

- Wade Davis (1953 - )