Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sort... of...

I decided to update my website by creating different series of photographs, based more on basic themes, instead of bulking everything into four folders, to avoid having 300 thumbnails to be forced to choose from in the Soul folder, which is simply nudes... the best of, over the last ten years.  Even in the "best of" folder, I still included a lot of photos that shouldn't really be in there, to create the illusion of an accomplished body of work, but now, in trying to create a series based on a kind of theme, I'm wanting to include photos that wouldn't even make it into the best of folder, so...

Now I'm knee deep in every photo that I have treated in the last decade and am completely overwhelmed.  I've spent all day sorting the folders on my website, which I haven't done in years, and I haven't even gotten to the unsorted folder yet.  The only one that is for sure complete is the Teru Teru Bozu page, which is only done because it was already a series.  I'm not only swimming in my treated photos, but I'm wanting to go back and look at all the ones I didn't treat, and even retreat the ones I've done.  It's nice to completely overhaul everything every couple years, but this is insanity.  Just the thousands of photographs I've taken of my wife in the last three years is daunting enough.  I don't have much time off to do this stuff, and when I do I don't know where to start.

I'm having a hard time stomaching Whitman.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Song of Myself

"I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content."
~ WW

Song of Myself was... long.  That's about all I got.   I didn't note much, and the notes all struck me in different ways, so I can hardly construct an entire post out of it.

"All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier."

 "There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
and will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now."

A lot of the passages are very open and spiritual, but a lot are also very rigidly religious, and I don't know him well enough to know whether he is simply citing what the people know, or if he was actually a very Christian man, which baffles me.
 One thing that has really bothered me about his writing is the connection of body and soul, as if they are the same thing.  I have never know anyone with half a brain to think that, unless they are referring to the body, and care of, being a reflection of the soul.  I guess I am still taking this voice in.  On the whole, though, my note for this work would be of the same tone as the Emperor's note to Mozart, as one who truly does not understand the work: there are too many notes.  This was just one 1,346 line poem of 84 works I've read thus far, but it was one that I was excited about, which might explain my mild disappointment.
"Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth?

If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred..."
~ I Sing the Body Electric

We met some folks on our empty beach this time.



Thursday, June 21, 2018

XLI

 I am a heavy soul, easily wounded and quick to withdraw.  My mind and heart are perpetually occupied with accomplishing something, though my hands are often held.  I think and I think and I think and nothing changes, but how I see the world and myself.  How I am perceived remains the same, though different from soul to soul, place to place, heart to heart.  My attention and drive remain a hinderance to most, as does my overbearing ego.  I am apparently difficult to "deal" with.  Today is quiet, but my head is bustling with the traffic of thoughts needing a destination.  On this, the longest "day" of the year, there are not enough hours in the day, or days in the year, or years in this waning existence.

One thing that hit me hard yesterday, sitting naked on a random boat that washed up on my last-day-of-spring beach, Facing West from California's Shores, was a kind of stubbornness of self.  I am who I am, and there is not much of me left, yet most invest a lot of their time and energy into telling me that I'm wrong, implicating a need to change.  I like who I am; I worked pretty hard to be me, this me, and I have wasted too much of my life trying to be what others want me to be.

Can you just appreciate who I am, and who I am not?

Can you accept that I'm not who you want me to be?

Can I read anything without taking on the voice of the author?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

At Paumanok


"...And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and can be none in the future,
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn'd to beautiful results,
And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death,
And I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are compact,
And that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as profound as any."

~ Walter Whitman

Not much of this text is really clicking with me.  I've always been a bit masculinely challenged, regardless of how much I fought to play the character that I felt was required of me to tell a better story.  My nature was never that of a "man," by terms of societal expectation, but I did play a nihilistic rebel well enough to be excluded from activities in which I would have to prove my manhood.  Anyone who took the time to get to know me found me to be more of a rascal that a rebel: Skeezix; the secret passion project that I knew wouldn't get me anywhere, but I dreamed and dreamed until I woke up in my thirties with a body of work that I could never show anyone, and a not very promising future.
Whitman was clearly a Man, living a manly life, focused on manly things, with a bit of a heart in there somewhere.  I never had to learn to do manly things; I was always celebrated for the heart things, like acting and music.  So, you could say that I was always a Heart, living a feeling life, focused on feeling things, with a bit of a man in there somewhere.  All this talk of war and duty and country and fighting and man man man, falls distant second to the talk of equality and beauty and soul and the universal aspect of all, which he doesn't touch on much in the earlier "chicken arms" feeling of scrappy youth, though he was mid thirties when he first published Leaves of Grass, and really spent the rest of his life "fixing" it, the first work is always a bit of the accumulation of life thus far, and it plays accordingly.  I could have kept reading this morning, but stopped at the lengthy Song of Myself, which I feel is worth more attention than I was capable of investing.

Does my little mountain town in Southern California compare to PauMANok?

Monday, June 11, 2018

O Captain! My Captain!

We had a much needed escape to our beach yesterday.  The burn is real, but so is the pale white area on the left of my torso, which was occupied by my recently soaked in sun screen daughter as I carried her to the water.  I'm like a walking advertisement for the effectiveness of this sunscreen.

I finally had a chance to read some Whitman, beyond the intros.  It is a whole lot of macho, man stuff, so far.  I skipped ahead to read O Captain! My Captain! for obvious reasons.  I had no idea it was so grim.  It starts off all inspirational, then, just like that, O Captain is laying in a pool of blood.  What the fuck?  We spent a good four hours toasting in the San O haze, then ate way too much sushi and floated home.  Up early this morning for work, where we managed to manually fill 21 kegs in about 45 minutes with a new little set up.  Then I moved about 4000lbs of beer, 166 pounds at a time.  With the sunburn, minus the white patch, that leaves me a bit tired.

Here is Willa at said beach.  I didn't pull out my camera yesterday; just enjoyed it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Momentary Stay Against Confusion

My boss recently mentioned that I have nothing to write about because I have nothing to complain about, then went on to correct my use of who/whom, like a fucking English teacher, which he is… was. He is quite possibly the best boss I could be stuck with, day in and day out, because of his knowledge and history with most of the subject matter I focus on, especially with a job like this, where I’m sure it is difficult to carry on a conversation with superiors and not have something about beer come up. He does a pretty good job of not critiquing my work, though I obviously need it. There are still very basic “English” technicalities that I was never forced to wrap my head around, with my fancy private school education (I know fucking plenty about the fucking biblĂ© [sic erat scriptum{used incorrectly for humor}], that’s for damn sure). I am not really a great writer, id est: a great writer has degrees in English or literature; great story-tellers have great editors.

The only real note he’s ever given me was about the mood of my writing voice, which was a hard pill to swallow (because he focused on that), and inspired me to write less, as if the required attention of a partner and kids didn’t do that enough. Though I do get a lot accomplished creatively, I still feel as though my creative life is something I had to give up to have a family. This is absurd, obviously; my creative life is still there, it has simply evolved into including a family, which I am clearly still working on truly defining… because I’m an idiot.

I am an idiot who (?), not only has no degrees in anything, but avoided classes like English, creative writing, or literature, because they required writing shit I had zero interest in writing, or reading shit that I didn’t want to read (at the time)…on a deadline…for a grade…*middle fingers*. I always demanded to do things on my terms, which is ironically why I can’t ever be a professional anything; I see the same attitude in my daughter and it’s fucking depressing. I don’t even consider myself literate, not literally, as in well-read, because my sizable collection of creative fuel is severely limited to a number of factors, especially with the ancients: reduced not only to the selections in a specific, pre-arranged library (which Sally Mann's husband read as a child, a la Hold Still), but also to a 1952 translation, which I never really understood the significance of until I got to Aeschylus, and it suddenly struck me how many lines rhymed… like….. what are the chances that the original Greek/Latin mutation (“Ancient Greek”) writing happens to rhyme in English, and what’s getting lost in the translation… because they shouldn’t?

This limited selection of creative and intellectual expansion, so very late in life, is why I never really read Whitman…well, that and I have an irrational hatred for poetry. I didn’t even really understand his timeline; I thought he was 1900s. The only complete poem I had ever read of his was Songs of the Open Road (only because my wife had a poorly typed copy of it framed in her house when I met her), which reads like an anthem for the 60s and 70s counter-culture attitude. Lo and behold, he was 8 when Beethoven died, and the mood of his work was forever altered by the Civil War. In my defense, please refer to my work ethic (avoidance) in school.

 Wait… we need to go back…”nothing to complain about?” There is clearly a poke here, and joke, but we both have a tendency to point out the obvious, often referred to as complaining by those incapable of seeing the obvious or glazed-over enough to not be affected by it, so I didn’t really see that one coming, in the wee hours of the morning before a double brew day.

Au contraire... I am tired, and I am especially tired of pointing out the obvious to deaf ears (because ears are required for reading?), while trying to distance myself from the “mood” of my voice, which, at this point, could very well just be my personality, which has existed since I have, seemingly outside of any control or choice of mine (my personality and existing). I am fully aware of my short-comings, and have done a pretty good job of keeping my mouth shut, just in general, aside from the recent embarrassment of my frustration and misunderstood sense of humor. I’m tired. My brain hurts.  Children, I believe, have something to do with it. I love my kids, but my days off used to be a bit less stressful because they follow mom around, which sucks for her, but…”mom”…honestly; I’m just dad.

I’m just dad dealing with the “ego” of not being able to support my family comfortably, and she’s Mom…dealing with the “ego” of wanting to contribute, so she now works on the days we would normally have off together, which means these beautiful little souls are now following me around needing me to entertain them (which I am sure entertains her). I am so very grateful to have another chance to have a family, but I am yet to cultivate the emotional capacity to perpetually mediate the bickering of siblings, or…children in general. We go on, staring blankly at the wall.

 The title of this post is a Frost reference from the Whitman intro, which I find to be incredibly ironic, because, let’s face it, most poetry is absolute confusion of metaphor and allegory and symbol and meaning and blah. 

TEACHER
What does the poem mean?
ME
I DON'T CARE.

Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground toward a real heroic man? 
Have you no thought O dreamer that it may be all maya, illusion? 

lAvaNyamaya - consisting entirely of beauty... or the illusion of beauty?

Existence is relationship.

John Greenleaf Whittier (namesake of the city from whence I grew), upon receiving Whitman's Leaves of Grass, sent by Whitman himself in an attempt to self promote, promptly tossed it into the fire.

Why is “ignorant” the only antonym for “well read” on the google? I have met an embarrassing (for humanity) number of people who were very well read and also the very definition of ignorant.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Poetry...

I hate it.  I always have.  Aside from the clichĂ© obsession with Poe in my youth, poetry was about as useful to me as a child's finger-painting, which, in all reality, some currently sell for millions by convincing stupid people that it's brilliant.  I have zero use for poetry, but Whitman's poetry interests me like Thoreau's prose disgusts me.  I just purchased his complete works.  This shall be an interesting journey.

More of Sienna coming soon, too.  I'm just fumbling to think of something substantial to ramble on about.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Actual Hall of Horrors

"Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back."

~ Marcus Aurelius


I mentioned the fact that I didn't find what I was looking for when I scouted this location; truth is I did see what looked like a sizable fissure up in one of the stacks of rocks, but didn't have the energy to climb up and check it out, in Joshua Tree June heat carrying a 1.5 year old.  I checked it out in the wee hours of the morning with Sienna today, and it was, in fact, what I was looking for.  I almost called this location because I didn't want to shoot another pile of rocks, but I trusted my gut and stressed my decision all day yesterday.  We got some great stuff, and the lens issue wasn't that big of an issue... aaand my beautiful little family basically had Indian Cove all to ourselves whilst camping the night before.  We've got a lot of wins here.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Hall of Horrors

“Ma flesche (asseure toy) n’espargnera personne
Vous danserez trestout ce balet, que je sonnne”


....... unless my lens won't focus properly.  Then my arrow may miss drastically, which is what I will have to deal with on Monday.



This was one spot in Joshua Tree that I always drive by and never stop, usually because there is a specific spot I'm going, but mostly because there are always at least a half a dozen cars there, and I don't like dealing with people.  This is a spot like Hemingway: gorgeous, but right on the highway so it's a lazy tourist and climber hot spot.  Last time we went through, Hemingway was empty, but we only got a good 15 minutes before a car full of Canon Rebels pulled up.  When I checked out this spot today there were the usual dozen or so cars, but I spent almost my entire scout alone, well, aside from mini-me, whom I had to carry most the way because it's starting to get pretty hot out here.  I did not find any grand fissures, like I would assume a place called Hall of Horrors would have (more like stacked rocks of horrors), but I found a bunch of little caves.  The rocks here look like some giant being just dropped a bunch of rocks in little piles, and they fell where they fell.  There is one obvious problem here, though: the previously mentioned focusing problems with the 24mm.

ALL of these little spaces require a wide lens, otherwise I might as well be shooting the model by ANY rock in open shade.  I tested closing down the ap to see if the fogging is isolated to it being wide open.  The clear photos were in much sharper focus with a greater DOF, but the clear ones were still few and far between.  Not to mention I had the shutter pushed to 60, at 2pm on a clear day, and I'll be shooting at 6 in the morning, so these caves will have no light.  I can try to push the ISO, but it really looks like I'll be making the most of my 50mm.  Being able to shoot 1.2 is better than having to check focus on every single frame to see if my lens shit itself or not.  Plus, checking focus on a 5dMKii is also a crap shoot, so I won't really even know until I get home.  This will be an expensive experiment, and it will likely end with me throwing a Canon 24mm/2.8 as far of the highest cliff that I can find, which I will also document.  You're welcome.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Penia

Poverty.

Plotinus' aforementioned tractate on Love mentioned that it was well known that Eros was the child of Aphrodite, even with Plato, but then went on the mention a line in Symposium that revealed Eros to not be the son of Aphrodite, but born on her birthday, child of Penia and Poros (possession or wealth).  This, in my mind, would make love the child of have and have not, which would make Eros the basic human condition of wanting what you don't have, and reducing something that (in terms of the "Eros, Philos, and Agape" of loves) was passionate love, to something material.  Unless, being the child of poverty and wealth, he would want not because he has both, and thus simply be free to just love, without distraction from silly things like possession or lack thereof.  That would, of course, mean that true, passionate love amongst us mortals is dependent upon this material distraction, and the only way to truly achieve and appreciate this aspect of love is to successfully want not.  Then you have to insert the Western mind, which defines passionate love as wanting something, instead of simply appreciating the beauty that exists in something, and reducing it to the uselessness of a possession.

This seems to be completely contradictory of Greek philosophy, from which the Western mind evolved.  How did something so absolutely beautiful evolve into something so disgustingly shallow in the same chain of though?  There is one thing that changed the landscape of mankind's mind and attitude dramatically over the last 2500 years, and only one thing: religion.  I don't much like it when people refer to the Greeks as "Western" philosophy, because they weren't nearly as severely Patriarchal as what the Romans and Religion did to the world, the aftermath of which we are still suffering.  In fact, I have found all the Greek literature that I've read to be incredibly spiritual and beautiful, even downright Zen, especially with the Stoics.  Religion destroyed that mind and philosophy.


Monday is Sienna, in my neck of the woods (Joshua Tree sunrise), and I am embarrassingly emotionally unprepared.  I've been so knee deep in work lately that this completely snuck up on me, as did June, in general.  Everything will be beautiful, because that's how everything turns out, but it dawned on me that... this is it.  The season of a little bit of extra money for models is over, as of now.  Who really knows what this summer will bring, or life itself for that matter?  Right now, however, we are back to making ends meet, which is depressingly beautiful in its own right.  Just keep breathing, Penia.  Just keep breathing.