Thoughts, Dabbles & Finely-tuned Prisms

 by Barnaby Furnas

“The unconscious mind is a rolling sea of buried memories, primordial drives and unthinkable desires.” (Freud)—“The Imagination is never wrong, since it does not have to confront an image with an objective reality.” (Bachelard)

Muscling through a warm Autumn, I hope that this winter brings snowflakes to my eyelashes, but I certainly won’t be giving “cold stares.”

On Collaborations—one problem that tends to arise (or has arose in the past) is when models (or potential models) batter me with the dreaded “WHY?”-question (in reference to what I am looking to accomplish visually). Rarely have I ever been deeply “on the same page” with another photographer or potential model, and at times it can be staggeringly-frustrating. This “lowering of the boom” tends to stem from being at a kind of “crossroads” with varying perspectives, etc. (I reference this solely in regards to the Art Form, and not one’s objective or one’s attitude [whether full of fish-hooks or not]), or even one’s objet d’art (which is a totally different matter in itself). To touch upon a familiar saying, what people often do not understand, they question. Questioning an artist’s vision(s) typically makes the artist not want to work with the person that is doing the questioning—what purpose does it serve? It certainly isn’t to exploit the artist’s foibles. (Interesting that, as a Collagist, the paper acts as ‘types’ of ‘models’, yet how satisfying the silence is, which is deafening! [as a collagist, I suppose instead of being “Tangled in Blue,” I’m Tangled in Glue]) … I’m spoiled, really. I’ve been spoiled the majority of my life with a special-effects makeup artist, kindred-spirit uncle, and our seemingly rewarding relationship that stems from “being on the same page,” and full of many parallels. This is more than Phenomenology, perhaps; it’s akin to building the impossible dream, or living it. My dear uncle is like a father to me. There have been many instances where we have disagreed on certain subjects as pertaining to the creative process, but the respect/love is so starscapingly deep that the disagreements are outweighed. Disagreements can be built upon, fed from, and therefore ‘used’ for different purposes, if one doesn’t let their pride take over, which “goes before a fall” (which is such a ruinous pathos!). I have immense respect for everyone’s vision, whether or not their vision interests me. Rarely does one discover another kindred-spirit, without all of the lucrative appeal that can stem from the creative processes—the sample-size is slim and narrow is that road (“the artist is an isolated agent,” and as Sherlock Holmes would say from The Red Headed League, “Sometimes I think my whole life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence”). Those that have the sensibilities to create “for art’s sake” (whatever that truly means), that truly yearns and identifies with the emotional impetus for the creative process—and the ideas themselves—has been something of a strange sophistication for me. However, this isn’t to say that I have not had beautiful experiences, because there have indeed been many that I have discovered as being lively, free-wheeling that merely flow like a roaring river (and, at times, the latitude and longitude-types that could come unglued at any given moment!), etc. Questioning The Artist is like questioning The Gardener’s love for planting seeds, or questioning The Painter why he/she paints with their particular style. Again, rare is the kindred-spirit or friend that are genuinely supportive/appreciative of each individual vision. It’s akin to the bird with a broken wing that gets discovered by someone that nurses its wing back to health—the feeling of seeing that bird take off into the sky again is beyond description. A vision is a vision—why question it? To be pierced by such blades of questions, why don’t I just go ahead and walk the plank?

George Stanley: “Now the words tell of something so obvious / as to see the air in front of you / but not to have known it was something / to see.”

Let’s go into the darkroom and shed some light on the subject.

In regards to Surrealism—what I particularly love about surrealism, which fascinates me more than just about anything, is the fact that the possibilities of surrealism are endless and that it tends to break the barriers of perception (from the viewer’s standpoint): it generates within a mind the familiar acquaintance of the Oneiric landscapes, woven during sleep, where ‘opposites’ are free, corrosion and the expressionless navigations are uncontrolled, and the vast landscapes that shape (and undoubtedly never end) our mental dialectics are familiarly-unfamiliar, like the soft veil that gently lays over the subconscious, that yearns to be removed. I can also identify nearly incredibly perfectly to Rene Magritte’s interests for “the search for certain strange relationships between objects or between people and objects.” This “process of re-birth” with objects or between people and objects is mysteriously enchanting and connects with me very well. What may seem “far-fetched” or “absurd” to some may be quite beautiful and romantic to others. The Powers of Observation are that of which not everyone has, but it’s primarily a product of not caring—this attitude fits logically with most, I’ve noticed. I recognize myself in Magritte’s outlooks, as well in other artists, poets, photographers, etc. Certain ideas evolve and then one thing leads to another. In surrealism, the Imagination seems far more dominant. The Imagination often creates mental-images of things observed earlier or of things unexperienced or even non-existent, and it’s also the primary flame of which abstracts/obscures/distorts these images of things through comparisons, or perhaps merely combines them all together in new ways. Coleridge once said: “Poetry is the direct and natural medium of the mind’s activity.” The altering of images on the basis of Resemblance (i.e., Perception of Simultaneous Relationships) is the dream I seek to re-create visually/physically (even though Andre Breton believes [and I mostly agree] that no artist has completed control—conscious control—over his or her work, and that the unconscious is a prime arbiter of subject matter and style. Similarly, Odilon Redon once said that “nothing in art is achieved by will alone,” but rather “everything is done by docilely submitting to the unconscious”). 

The Surreal is For Real. 

Being “mindful.” I renew my own world daily simply by moving my face. Simply ‘paying attention’ to something is like having an inward magnifying glass. Light the flame, or light the flume. Sometimes the Laws of Attraction pains me; it’s like a bolt of pangs right through the soul.

“Arriving at a knowledge of things by continuous comparison” strikes my heart right. The Pre-Historic is burning in my body. All hidden objects are fossilized. Do objects exist only when our eyes fixate upon them? Pondering the idea of an illusion of an illusion. The ear of any experience listens for a future day before a catastrophe envelopes, and therefore prior to a casket lowering. This world often seems unsure of itself, because of increasing contradictions. I’m over-sensitive to all things. I’m obviously keenly aware of my daily evaporations. I ponder the enchanting idea of all uninhabited space being cradled and rocked like a baby, and to then bring this uninhabited space into a resonate existence with surrounding recognition, perhaps choked in mirth. A ‘something’ so often looked upon as grotesque or not beautiful is just the start of the process for coming to the realization that one may be wrong, similar perhaps to the way one may look at a mole upon a beautiful woman’s cheek, or under her lip, or anywhere on her face, which is considered a “beauty spot,” or like a “lewd little star”—to see this often ‘gross’ object as ‘beautiful’ because of the beautiful landscape that it inhabits is like watching a river of sewage washing upon streets of gold.

The singing of invisible birds, all-around. So many things can happen in a glance: the flickering of the lights turn off as a leaf falls to the ground through a window—blue-yellow road covered by night-light naturalism. I see the “unordinary” in the ordinary.

My sleep sharpens me like a pencil; dreams are curly shreddings falling; they meet me as I wake, and when my feet touch the floor as I rise from my bed, the shreddings instantaneously wrap themselves around my ankles. My dreams seem to be teetering on the lip of a casket; the garment of my inner-earth encloses on images, and with a tender smile smolders my existence. When we shut our eyes to sleep, the light within us moves backwards (perhaps only for poets?). Are my dreams mere spectators? With vigor, do they somehow carry out “instructions”? The graphics in dreams are unmatched by any other ‘conscious’ manifestation/creation/reality.

Margritte: “I think the best title for a painting is a poetic title. In other words, a poetic title compatible with the more or less lively emotion which we feel when looking at a painting. I imagine it requires inspiration which tells one, for instance, the name of a town whose panorama the painting represents or the symbolic role attributed to a painted figure. A title which has this indicative function does not require any inspiration in order to be given to a painting. The poetic title has nothing to teach us: instead it should surprise and enchant us.”

Photographing figure models is another way of “studying abroad” (‘a broad’).

Ludwig Borne suggested that to foster creativity you should “write down, without any falsification or hypocrisy, everything that comes into your head.”

Before the discovery of fire, everyone had fire in their eyes.

Jean Fisher: “The shadow does not belong to the world of objects, it is but an interruption in the path of light—a fragile imprint—that occupies an in-between or ‘other’ status to objective reality.”

I truly love it when I have one frame left on a roll of film. I tend to leave it there, sometimes for weeks, knowing that it’s waiting to be exposed, to materialize into a “something,” to cut through that dark void, waiting for the muscles to come alive in my index finger to press the shutter-button, to open the eye/throat of the camera. One frame left. It is like having one more minute left with a good friend before having to say goodbye, but knowing that the next time you see that person, there will be more treasures to be had, which is what happens after the one frame has been touched by ancient light. The roll is developed and then comes new constellations for your eyes, no matter the outcome.

Photography should be the first detected sunrays that illuminate the earth. 

Artists are lying when they say that they have "never been influenced." The superego, a la Freud's rivulets, seem to be manifesting. 

Since vampires cannot see themselves in mirrors, they must have to play guesswork when they shave. Perhaps they shave when they are showering? My uncle said, “Good thought.”

Interesting tid-bit: Dark Shadows’ Dennis Patrick played the first-ever vampire on television, which was on “Stage 13” which lasted but 1 season in 1950.

Uncle T.H.: “I don’t want my wonderings to cease, nor do I always want my wonderings to be answered. I guess that’s a good reason not to have the internet; then it would cure all of my wonderings.”

My uncle told me recently that possums “playing possum” is a myth. They never really “play”—instead they actually faint from fear. I never knew that until a few weeks ago.

This poem ‘came to me’ after seeing a dead squirrel in the road:

Dead squirrel in the road—
its fluffy tail, still alive,
blowing in the autumn wind.


Joy Harjo: “I’ve always had a theory that some of us are born with nerve endings longer than our bodies.” … Possibly “air bodies” . . . or as D’Annunzio said: “The richest events occur in us long before the soul perceives them, and when we begin to open our eyes to the visible, we have long since committed ourselves to the invisible.”

Robert Romanyshyn: “Regard the world with soft eyes in the spirit of loving wonderment.”

“Violence is the last refuge of the defeated”—“Life is nothing but waiting, we’re all waiting to die; some of us must wait longer than others” (I heard these quotes on a classic episode of “Whirlybirds”) . . . and quotes from elsewhere: “and they will execute the executioner” . . . “that’s the tombstone I’m erecting over him”

Shape, rattle and roll.

If only people would genuinely get to know another person, one would discover many celestial galaxies and worlds within their hearts, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

A couple of weeks ago, I took self-portraits in my grandfather’s bathroom one morning during my visit there. I could smell the piercing aroma of his hair tonic penetrating my senses, which were already running amuck. Later that day, I asked my uncle if he would simply tell me something enchanting. He immediately responded: “Her eyes are like two pools of desire.” I asked him if he ever “fed his bliss” and as I expected he said “yes.” I asked, “What’s that like?” and he said, “Blissful.”

Uncle T.H.: “I don’t like gorilla movies much—the gorillas look like what they are: men in bad gorilla suits.”

Is there any such thing as “over-pondering”? Thoughts such as … Why is the film called “House on Haunted Hill,” when it’s really merely a house on a haunted hill? Is the house haunted because the hill is haunted, or is the hill haunted because of the house? Or are they both one haunting in-accord? … I feed on the flickering flames of ponderingness; I’m easily amused, for that matter. That typically explains everything.

A change of plans, or change of planets.

Me: I wish I still had my childhood rocking-horse.
Uncle: Me, too.
Me: I’d probably be on it right now.
Uncle: Me, too.

“Time is a crook” said Peter Lorre in Beat the Devil (1954) (which was widely recognized as the “first camp movie.” Off-beat deliciousness. Bogie apparently hated it. I must be a phony, because he said afterwards that “only phonies like it.”)


Worth it:

Anything by Gaston Bachelard (especially The Poetics of Space - free PDF Here)

Max Picard’s World of Silence

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and The Invisible 

Charles Rycroft, The Innocence of Dreams


Plethora of Photographers Here

Interesting photographs by Sohee Kim Here


Eliot Porter: “Photography is nature, and so critics have thought it was not art. But if these photographs did not show you what they did, you would never have been able to discover it. The golden age of the child’s omnipotence is succeeded by the Jovian world of adults and of art. Adults classify, generalize and ignore. But the ability to distinguish comes first. Can we as adults be sure that we see more deeply, through art, than the photographer who pretends to do nothing but pay the closest possible attention to everything? He distinguishes endlessly and he dares not ignore. What does love come from if not just this scrupulous respect and close attention? The trouble with art is that, in choosing, the artist ignores. The trouble with the realistic artist is that he is indirect, and between himself and his experience he puts concepts: a steely equality of detail, conceptualistic anatomy, or the métier of the old masters. The non-objective artist is closer to the photographer in his reliance on direct experience. But, because he is not interested in objective nature he tends to lose his contact with concrete variety. The trouble with this is that it leads to a loss of a feeling for pluralism, as though all experience were becoming one experience, the experience of everything.”


Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow
--T.S. Eliot, from ‘The Hollow Men’

Joyce Carol Oates tweets: Tweets are the flitting shadows of actual life unglimpsed in actual life and then: A tweet is a synaptic leap with no neuron awaiting.

Recently overheard: “If I color my hair, I can go anywhere” (after being told by someone [I am assuming a friend] that certain towns in Mexico are dangerous, and that, if the townsfolk of that certain town do not recognize you, then “you will return looking worse than you did when you went there”). 

One weekend night, when I was 16, as my friend and I were sitting outside of our camping tent, we both simultaneously saw a white spectre floatingly-glide in-between two buildings. I asked him, “Did you see that?!” and he said, “Yeah! I did!” We both ran towards the space where we saw the entity. Later, as we were "looking for something," we ended up in the middle of a dark highway that was opposite of a large field, and as we stood there, off in the distance we saw a geometrical miracle of aerial radiancy which would be inexplicit to describe. It looked like a semi-clear, whitish lace-like figure that was hovering slightly above the highway, pulsating and slowly moving at a clockwise pace. A few seconds later, it vanished (as if moving backward into darkness, like seeing a vehicles tail-lights disappear into the night).


Robert Champigny: “Air is breathing rather than what a body breathes.”

Thomas Nashe: “Brightness falls from the air”

Jindrich Styrsky


Intimate Spaces, Homes, Other Thoughts

by Viktor Pivovarov

W.C. Williams: “Though the eye / turns inward, the mind / has spread its embrace—in / a wind that / roughs the stiff petals—”

Dreaming. Daydreaming. Obscurity: My mind often harmoniously quakes at the thought of disappearing, re-appearing, in our own “intimate spaces” “the cosmos” of our physical spaces, the most intimate comfort zones like a house, an apartment; one’s “home.” I think that my photography has a comfort zone of its own, beyond the “audience” “viewer” “voyeur” “escapist” &c. It isn’t necessary for anyone to “understand” my photographs, as long as they are understood by me. (The same can be said for Poetics.) “Meaning” often gets lost amidst the “Act.” Should one attempt to Understand something solely by imagining that one has created it? The reader, as Wallace Stevens once framed, always reads poetry with one’s nerves. How correct he was to state that reading a poem should be an experience, like experiencing an act. Photography can be echoed in the same light. This brings me to the idea of how certain people only go places when something is on one’s mind, but in truth, “we” (the individual) are always at “some place,” whether physically or psychologically, and the daydreamer has no choice. I wrote a poem that is similar; the past, present, future (or the possibility of imagining the future, leaving it open for questioning) that (abstract or not) is a memory where I still ‘reside’ at in my mind, that goes like this:
Your face boiled
like a bright diamond
when we parted
with innocent weeping;
the glow, flaming
to a zenith.

Behind our heads,
each our own golden sky,
as strong as naked rejoicing.

You & I,
the glass of the window;
our Past,
once a sweet & gentle vision
that became our Future,
terrible & invisible,
wolves of our own domains.

And so, between us,
what we all relate:
The Villain of Parting,
nearly unearthly, on one leg
it limped,
do you not remember?

The physical appearance of an Imagination would be either catastrophic or enchanting.

Poems evoke various associations, hence reading a memory. Letters, words, sentences: the invisible spaces upon a page? Our “souls” and “spirits” are invisible. ‘We’ essentially live in a “shell,” which is our Body, which in essence is our “house.” Mary Oliver says that whatever a house is to the heart and a body of man—refuge, comfort, luxury—surely it is as much or more to the spirit. She concludes, “Think how often our dreams take place inside the houses of our imaginations!” The Physical, our bodies, are the only ‘truths’ of our existence to other human beings. The spirit, which is The Real Person, is invisible (the physical being temporal and the unseen being invisible). In the Hebrew, “house” בַּיִת refers to both the “dwelling habitation,” “shelter or abode of animals,” or an “abode of light and darkness” translates as what we refer to in a Physical sense. The same term, however, applied figuratively as “bodies,” and metaphorically as “inwards” (Inward Dwelling of the Holy Spirit). In Matthew 12:25, Jesus Christ said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or HOUSE divided against itself shall not stand…” If, as Mary Oliver says, our dreams take place inside the houses (more than one, in her view) of our imaginations, then if we, The Real Person (the spirit/soul) lives inside of our “house” (Body), then we, as Invisible Eternal creations, have houses within a house, which could therefore be consolidated down to “rooms.” Each room, our imaginations and memories exist; a combination like that of gail-force winds within the psyche’, dispersed as “floods of thought.” I sit and ‘probe’ the depths of my mind, “going in” as deeply as possible, yet what, if anything, brings forth the first memory that I ‘see’ and recall? The memory, as ungovernable, existing in its own fury. How poised, at times, is the Mind!

Jung used a multi-storied house as an analogy for the human psyche: “We have to describe and to explain a building, the upper story of which was erected in the nineteenth century; the ground-floor dates from the sixteenth century, and a careful examination of the masonry discloses the fact that it was reconstructed from a dwelling-tower of the eleventh century. In the cellar we discover Roman foundation walls, and under the cellar a filled-in cave, in the floor of which stone tools are found and remnants of glacial fauna in the layers below. That would be a sort of picture of our mental structure.” As Alton Conley notes: “Painted with a broad brush, this image opens our imagination to both the complexities of the human mind and the potentially rich associations of houses.”

In another essay Jung credits a dream, containing an image of a house, with one of his important psychoanalytic discoveries: “One [dream] in particular was important to me, for it led me for the first time to the concept of the collective unconscious . . . This was the dream. I was in a house I did not know, which had two stories. It was my house.” Our houses, in the physical sense, are as Conley again notes, “the protected environments that we dream in, and through our dreams find evidence of ourselves.” Bachelard said that “all really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home,” where the imagination “comfort[s] itself with the illusion of protection.”

In another section from Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, this is a perfect example of my own emotions/thoughts about former childhood homes:

“If we have retained an element of dream in our memories, if we have gone beyond merely assembling exact recollections, bit by bit the house that was lost in the mists of time will appear from out the shadow. We do nothing to reorganize it; with intimacy it recovers its entity, in the mellowness and imprecision of the inner life. It is as though something fluid had collected our memories and we ourselves were dissolved in this fluid of the past. Rilke, who experienced this intimacy of fusion, speaks of the fusion of being with the lost house: ‘I never saw this strange dwelling again. Indeed, as I see it now, the way it appeared to my child's eye, it is not a building, but is quite dissolved and distributed inside me: here one room, there another, and here a bit of corridor which, however, does not connect the two rooms, but is conserved in me in fragmentary form. Thus the whole thing is scattered about inside me, the rooms, the stairs that descended with such ceremonious slowness, others, narrow cages that mounted in a spiral movement, in the darkness of which we advanced like the blood in our veins.’”

The Body σμα (“soma”), again, is our “house” that we, as spirit beings, live in. The Physical. In Matthew 6:22, Christ says, “The light of the BODY is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” The eye-gates are important in what we ‘let in’ our bodies, which gets down into the spirit, which produces fruits, depending on what one has allowed to enter one’s eye-gates. The ear-gate has the same effect. Edmond Jabes once said that, at times, an individual is reduced to the ear and the eye, like one sitting in a theater watching a film. Or, “Through the ear, we shall enter the invisibility of things.” In a rebuttal, I say that the individual cannot be reduced to the ear and the eye, if one understands that The Real Person is living inside of a body (“house”), therefore to “reduce” an Individual would be to reduce Creation, which therefore would reduce God, the Ultimate Maestro.


Barthes: “I may know better a photograph I remember, than a photograph I am looking at, as if direct vision oriented its language wrongly, engaging it in an effort of description which will always miss its point of effect, the punctum. Ultimately—or at the limit—in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes. 'The necessary condition for an image is sight,' Janouch told Kafka; and Kafka smiled and replied: 'We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.'”

I think that the photographer should have a brain in each eye.

 Deserving looks:


I heard the sleet outside of the window, and then a poem came:

Sleet falling, ticking
like a clock
on the crispy leaves.

Jean Echenoz: “A bird goes by . . . I follow it. This enables me to go wherever I like in the narrative.”

In a dream, the front door was rotting away (metamorphing/slowly disappearing?). The bottom half was all but gone, save for a few soft spots that clung by a thread. The door was large and had “insides.” I was looking through the door and could see the outside. I felt very worried. Thoughts of locking the door at night came rapidly. Even though the door would be locked at night, someone could easily reach upward and unlock the door, or easily break through and enter. I stood in front of the door, gazing at the door for a long period of time; many thoughts rushing through my head. Worried thoughts. The light on the outside was bright. I thought to myself that the door needed to be replaced. As I looked closer, I noticed that on the inside of the door at the bottom, there were many books perfectly placed, side-by-side, in similar fashion as they would be positioned on a shelf in a library.

In another dream, I was standing in a murderously bright white hospital, a fusillade of blinking whiteness, and in a specific room was an unspecified 3,000 year-old man, on his “death bed,” the final furrow. I was hovering around the room, as if like a guardian angel, floating/walking around the room and all about the hallways and spaces of the hospital, but all with no individuality of movement.


The eye/s in our dreams are like retinal circuses. Always the feeling of pre-sensations, pre-awareness, pre-knowingness--being told what is and what isn’t before coming to a conclusion, but running into them, truths, contradictions, a circular horizon, a feeling of unfeeling, but beyond feeling. The metaphor that “the body doesn’t do what the mind tells it to do” (this reference, often to an ageing body) is often what occurs in a dream, and at times vice-versa.

by Viktor Pivovarov


Senses and Nerve-endings

Victor Oliva, The Absinthe Drinker, 1890, Cafe' Slavia in Prague

Nothing to say, or avoiding inaccuracy? —Brancusi: “I am far from myself, I am no longer a part of my own person. I am within the essence of things themselves” —is what I think that some people think that I am thinking when Silence beats to its own drum, rather than beating around the bush, as if Silence took its little coins and left. Loyalty. My friend, L.M., says that I am quite the Loyalist, perhaps one of the most loyal persons he has ever known, and for this I am very thankful. Some subjects are too rosy to overlook, words just slipping out, but often times as deceiving as Appearance. Silence: an apple-core for your thoughts? And...?

Gass: “‘And’ is produced initially with an open mouth, the breath flowing out, but then that breath is driven up against the roof, toward the nose, even invading it before the sound is stoppered by the tongue against the teeth.” 

Pondering the Whiteness of a Wall, I think then of someone coming along and painting the wall, and then that bright white wall feels disguised; now, a mask of color, a masquerade of emptiness inside the mask with air-holes to breathe through, save for those that have been termite-inated, all within the inner ear of the wall. And the heartbeat of a home? Those that reside within the walls or the walls themselves? Technically speaking, the walls. Sentimentally, or perhaps living within walls of a home and keeping it alive takes at least one human being? An apartment has many hearts; the connection is like that of a gathering of nerves, a consistent beating (a lack of privacy?).  The Old goes on, without invention, indeed, the same heartbeat being carved by naturesque enveloping or the whiteness of walls. The whiteness of walls not strong enough to hold color? yet strong enough to weaken families?

Philip Whalen:  “A poem is a picture or graph of the mind moving” or: “A continuous fabric (nerve movie?) exactly as wide as these lines”

I often feel shrouded in a mutilated layer of shadows, like undiscovered speech traveling through a drain-pipe. It sounds brutal, but the so-called “best parts” are hardly considered. WINTER, why are you not sporting what you regularly attract? Unseasonably mild winter, as if saying, “So long,” but it's all in the teaser, in the drain-pipe? (being silent is an active verb), and soon, how I long for a colder-than-normal winter season, where a sky and snow are all aglow in a self-generated winter light like some astral body, immobile in the broad scope of the gaping universe. Swoon of snow appearing like dreams behind the eyelids, maneuvers, sweepers appearing, frozen: inside and out; frosted glass in access parading across the visuals, across the brain, dazzling with its chilled vibrancy.

From THE FIFTH NEED OF A MAN, writes J.R. Platt (written in 1960):

The needs of man, if life is to survive, are usually said to be four: air, water, food, and, in the severe climates, protection. But it is becoming clear today that the human organism has another absolute necessity. It is one that has not been emphasized in the past, for we have not often been entirely deprived of it or compelled to appreciate the subtle and numerous ways in which it contributes to our well-being. This fifth need is the need for noveltythe need, throughout our waking life, for continuous variety in the external stimulation of our eyes, ears, organs, and all our nervous network. 
In a general way it has always been known that men need change. Put a man in a box and he goes crazy. But recent laboratory experiments on sensory deprivation has nevertheless been rather startling in their revelation of just how this happens.
Volunteers with softly bandaged heads and hands were put in isolation rooms or were floated in warm swimming pools were they could touch nothing and could only see dimness and hear only a low hum. It was not a vacation, as some might think! The men used for the experiments found they lost the sense of time, could not remember things or concentrate, had wild hallucinations, and finally, could never add or subtract. These were healthy, normal men, comfortable, and with no alcohol or drugs, yet they saw little yellow demons marching across the desert carrying enormous sacks. If the loudspeaker in the room finally asked a question or made a statement, it was the happiest of sounds. Yes, of course, two and two make seven, if the loudspeaker thought so. There was deeper truth in that, touching all philosophy.
After a few days of this every one of the man came staggering out, having thought about nothing they had planned to think about, unable to answer simple questions, and refusing to go back at any price. Stir crazy. And four hours after the bandages were removed, the walls seemed to weave in and out. Dreams were strange and it was days before perception and problem-solving returned to normal.
These experiments seem to prove, if proof is needed, that our bodies are not made to operate in a vacuum. Our brains organize, and exist in order to organize, a great variety of incoming sensory messages every waking second, and can become not only emotionally upset but seriously deranged if these messages cease or even if they cease to be new. The fifth need of man is the need for what can be called--in a mathematical sense“information,” for a continuous, novel, unpredictable, nonredundant, and surprising flow of stimuli. I do not mean just a series of flickering lights or a madmans chatter. This might be infinitely surprising but it would not interest us for long. Our sense impressions obviously must be organized into meaningful patterns if they are to bring us much information. But the most important pattern of all is the pattern of change.
In many ways the demand for novelty is like the demand for food. There can be a level of starvation and a level of gluttony. At the jail level, men wolf down their bread or soup, but they sometimes sacrifice even a little of that for a glimpse of the sky or a crumb of gossip. At higher and more normal levels of information flow, the need is relaxed and we can afford discrimination and rich creative enjoyment, becoming gourmets of mental fare. It is no accident that we speak of intellectual preferences as “taste.” And, as with food, we may also overload our networks with stimulation until we get mental bellyaches and can absorb no more.
But to call this a need for informationIs this not just dressing up the obvious in fashionable pedantry? Information theory, so-called, has been developed during the past decade from work in the mathematics of communication by Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, and others; and the term has taken on the technical overtones which it does not have in common usage. Yet even in this sense, information as Warren Weaver defines it, is “a measure of one's freedom of choice when one selects a message. . . . Thus greater freedom of choice, greater uncertainty, greater information go hand in hand.” The ideas of novelty and of intelligible information are bound up, and it is surprising what a bright light the motion of our need for them throws into many strange corners of human behavior. It brings out the nature of boredom, and of humor, of gambling and of learning, of our aesthetic judgments and of creative behavior in art and music, and of the driving force behind social revolutions.
Take aesthetic criticism. My colleague Professor Leonard Meyer of the Department of Music at the University of Chicago has recently a book entitled Emotion and Meaning in Music, in which he puts forward the theory that music or any other symbolic art may have two kinds of “meaning” for the hearer or the observer. One is its denotative meaning, where the music refers to some experience outside itself, either by obvious imitation or by accepted convention. The Domestic Symphony amuses us because of its household noises, and minor keys are thought to be poignant in the Western world because we sing sad songs to them. But formal music is dominated by an inherent meaningthat is, by a meaning which is a purely musical one; and this is what his theory is concerned with.
We all know that we can and do enjoy certain sequences of quite abstract sounds, patterns of pulsations of the air that are almost devoid of human content. What makes them enjoyable? Meyer says that when we listen to music “We are, in a sense, constantly expecting. Under certain conditions, we expect change, under others continuity, and under still others repetition; until finally, we expect the conclusion of the piece. Thus in a very general way expectation is always ahead of the music, creating a background of diffuse tension against which particularly delays articulate the affective curve and create meaning. Formal expectation is constantly active on several architectonic levels as a sort of generalized aesthetic tension which is shaped and particularized in the course of listening.”
Meyer suggests that the inherent musical meaning, the emotional as well as the intellectual satisfaction, lies just in this expectation and in the composers manipulation of our tensions, by turns subtly thwarted or subtly satisfied as the music develops.

The sense of freshness, apparently, with old and new objects? (as Coleridge once said).


 by Rogelio Manzo


Beyond the Brocken spectre: thoughts, jots, dots.

 Ern Malley, by Sidney Nolan

I have learned, over plenty of useful and non-useful time (time is time is time, no?), that my uncle views certain images—particularly photographs—as How-did-the-artist-do-it? rather than as a “document” or “moment in time”—being it is what it is, the stoppage of time itself, like a fragment of a memory, or the fullest memory frozen in the mind, &c. My uncle is a brilliant, creative individual, of whom I admire in more ways than I could ever express, but it beckons to be expressed in more ways than a tongue could flap in the mouth during hot weather; for granted, he has always been a father-figure to me, a best friend. Dare I critique him? This is not of the sort, but a simple explanation of a Thought; an emotional kind of thing, where the matrix of my ponderance at this hour flows deeply, drifts far out into some humming mountain, the world’s caterer, a kind of Carpathian Mountains beauty (+ we began reading Dracula together during the Christmas holidays, all the way through chapter VI, so I must make it known, this connection to the Carpathian lands). This thought, mind you, should be thought of as nothing more than a statement, for the lack of a better term. My uncle has always had a knack for visually expressing himself, which stems back to his elementary school days. Upon seeing an abstract painting once, he said, “I thought of the painting as a sequence of ‘movements’,” and then a comment or two about the sounds of music, particularly space music, he states that he ‘sees things’ (like the idea of “hovering over a name”), in a sense akin to a lava lamp (thinking upon the rhine of surrealism—a mind so full of energy it seeps from the ears, the tongue full of silence, null and patient). As Baudelaire once reverberated: “The arts aspire, if not to complement one another, at least to lend one another new energies”—! Emily Dickinson: “Myself the only Kangaroo among the Beauty.” My uncle and I jump around from subject to subject, even about sounds. He says, “We should write a book on Sound Theory.” Speaking in such thoughts as Cage’s theories, I add: “Each sound, no matter what it is, the loudest or the most minute, is a song in itself.”

I stumped my toe earlier and realized that it’s winter—unable to feel the pain is like being alive in a different body. Instilling something much brighter—it seems to never cease (James 1:8: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”) “Blank, like a name left blank.”

Richard Wurmbrand On Atheism: In prison, the political officer asked me harshly, “How long will you continue to keep your stupid religion?” I said to him, “I have seen innumerable atheists regretting on their deathbeds that they have been godless; they called on Christ. Can you imagine that a Christian could regret, when death is near, that he has been a Christian and call on Marx or Lenin to rescue him from his faith?” The officer laughed, “A clever answer.” I continued, “When an engineer has built a bridge, the fact that a cat can pass over the bridge is no proof that the bridge is good. A train must pass over it to prove its strength. The fact that you can be an atheist when everything goes well does not prove the truth of atheism. It does not hold up in moments of great crisis.” I used Lenin’s books to prove to him that, even after becoming prime minister of the Soviet Union, Lenin himself prayed when things went wrong.

Rilke: “These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.”

Walking outside: that means that I’m literally           the weather”?

Take pictures, love people. Take pictures, love people. Love people, take pictures. Love people, love people. Take pictures, take pictures. Films, films, films.

What I love about certain things is not about what they consist of, but instead what they are lacking.

A child crying because of strange weather? It’s like trying to ignore a giant.

George Stanley: “Writing — to see what turns up, or to keep going.” “Now the words tell of something so obvious / as to see the air in front of you / but not to have known it was something / to see.”

After reading Henri Michaux’s MISERABLE MIRACLE, the French poet/artist’s first book about his experimentation with Mescaline, a powerful hallucinogenic drug that has an “elongating propensity,” it’s easily one of more fascinating reads that I’ve ever encountered (right up there, with say, texts by Edmond Jabès—whether I disagree with some of them or not matters in the least). It’s a curious thought that, if the devastation of Michaux’s wife’s death after accidentally setting her nightgown on fire had not of happened, if his experimentation would have even began. Andre Gide said, “Michaux excels in making us feel the strangeness of natural things and the naturalness of strange things.” This rings true. Quotes like “a shiver in the workshop of the brain” describes it well, but one quote that sticks in mind is Michaux’s “language center” interacting with a knife that turns into a “thousand knives” and then:

Suddenly a thousand knives, suddenly a thousand dazzling scythes of light, scythes set in flashes of lightning, enormous, made to cut down whole forests, start furiously splitting space open from top to bottom with gigantic strokes, miraculously swift strokes, which I am forced to accompany internally...

Words become other words; colors like green are really red, and other colors by name aren’t their true identities, etc. “An enemy of colors? No longer colors at all. Yet they are not really absent either.” He describes certain visions as a “fussilade of colors.” Beautiful, makes me think of a blinking rainbow directly in front of your face. The mention of “whiteness” often is interesting too. One quote: “A whiteness appears, a whiteness to blind you, dazzling, like molten metal pouring out of a Bessemer converter.” Also: “Absolute white. White whiter than all whiteness. White of the advent of white.” White “riddling the eyeball.” Michaux writes also of being “hollowed out”—the “sensation of a fissure.” One quote that I found beautiful, “I hide my head in my scarf in order to know, to recognize my surroundings.”

Artistic, beautiful, poetic and comical (but that’s likely because I’m easily amused). 

I always feel like every photograph I make is like a film still, always leading to something else...

Some things are so beautiful that their presence alone could make me disappear from the face of the globe. One look, and slowly the invisible metamorphosis begins. Another look and I’m blinking out of view. One final look, and I’m the ‘real’ Invisible Man...

Solar plexus flaring up, as if on the wings of a meteor...

 Autoportrait au large con dégagé, by Ibrahim Shahda