Monday, November 30, 2009

Saint Andrew's Pots

The thirtieth of November is St Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day. This is usually celebrated quietly enough, with a supper. There would be haggis and other traditional dishes like herring in oatmeal. In all likelihood, a Scottish trifle, which is an extravagance borrowed from the French, would be on the menu. No supper would be complete without a piper and, as on Burns night, the haggis would be led into the hall by a piper. The main dish is simple peasant fare and none the worse for that. But it takes many pots to make it - as you can see. St Andrew, the apostle, was a fisherman and he is believed to have been crucified in Greece. Some years after AD300, for safekeeping, most of his bones were later moved to Scotland - because to King Constantine this was "at the ends of the earth". From there, some remains were taken to Amalfi in Italy but some fragments were returned to Scotland in 1879 and yet more recently in 1969. As a fisherman, Saint Andrew would certainly have been familiar with herring in oatmeal. So here's wishing everyone in the old country a very pleasant evening of food and poetry in the Year of Homecoming.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hey Ho, the wind and the rain

The rain rained nearly all day, very much the Sunday to stay inside. Feste's bleak song "When that I was and a Tiny Little Boy" is the close of the comedy, Twelfth Night and a stanza is sung also, if I recall, by the fool. In Shakespeare, only a few types gets to speak the truth, however unpalatable. Fools, drunkards and wordly rude mechanicals may speak the bitter truth. Comedy is not real life. A great while away the world began/With hey ho the wind and the rain,/But that's all one, our play is done/and we'll strive to please you every day. Feste tries unsuccessfully to send the audience away happy with this bitter song. It was hard to please you on a day such as this. I had little hope of that when venturing out when the rain stopped. Like the song in the play, this image is a last minute bid for applause on a bleak winter's afternoon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Deep Blue Science

I took this shot some years ago on a visit to Knightsbridge or "museum land" as I like to call it. It's in the Blue Cafe of the Science Museum, which I have featured before. Well worth a visit on its own, it has its own beer (in a deep blue bottle, naturally). This shot was taken at a very low shutter speed so the subjects have moved a little, giving themselves a lovely halo. I'd like to say it was intentional. But I never paid the image much attention until I took a second look recently and cropped the picture a bit. The mother and daughter are looking intently at something and I cannot remember what this was. But there is some kind of dynamic between the two. In mythology, Demeter and Persephone were the mother and daughter of Eleusian mysteries. Persephone was Demeter's daughter by Zeus and the bond was so strong that when Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter made the whole world barren. She searched and searched for her daughter and when she discovered her, she did a deal with Hades allowing Persephone to stay some time in the underworld and the rest with her mother. Kerenyi (Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter) argues that this is part of woman's search for completion and for all people's search for identity. It's a few years on now for my two subjects. I can't help wondering how they are.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Otherworld Sunset

The immortal sun descends nightly to the kingdom of the dead ... his throne is like the fiery flame and his wheels as burning fire. Not at all original but at least the combination is mine. The latter is from the Aramaic Zohar and the first is from Mircea Elieade Patterns In Comparative Religion. The sun guides souls through the lower regions and brings them back to light. This photograph is from my archives and was taken on one of a number of return trips to the city I called home for nearly a quarter of a century. When you see this kind of shot emerging there is no time to lose - the sun falls fast on its journey at this stage. It was a Central American belief that the sun passes through the kingdom below unharmed. Effectively for the dead, it's only visiting. Shamans endow the eagle with these solar properties. Feeding the Eagle with sacrificial offerings was apparently a way in which to nourish the sun. So perhaps when I ran out to take this photograph I was feeding the eagle, nourishing the sun so that it would return the morrow's morn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red Dog Hello

The dog looks like it's saying "Hello!" Blackrock Shopping Centre is a place I return to regularly although some of it's charms have disappeared over the years. Not this one though. I appreciate the fact that children still like to go on these rides and it reminds me that we all need to play sometimes. I am also advised that Jarvis Cocker finds it easy to find the child within, it's the adult within that's the problem. So he says anyway. Here, the dog is playful and faithful, unlike the terrifying dogs of mythology. Cerberus was the many-headed dog on guard at the entrance to Hades. In one story Orpheus put Cerberus to sleep and Hercules managed to capture him without weapons. Dogs are very special to us so I propose to call this dog Cerby. Next time you're in Blackrock, pop in and say hello to Cerby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bollard Art

This is on Mespil Road, just round the corner from the Guinness Gallery. That's why I granted the ordinary street object the status of art. I passed a lot of cafe tables that day, all with small droplets of rain - and they did look pretty. But somehow the bollard appealed. The drops looked like small creatures on the black surface. Strange to think that no matter how pretty, they are responsible for the peeling paint and the emerging rust on the metal surface. In Christian and Jewish symbolism, water is the beginning of creation. If we did not have this rain, the land would be barren. Water symbolises life itself and these creatures are the materia prima, no more so than because the rain changes and fertilises wherever it touches. Fortunately, we have no shortage of rain in Ireland!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Picnic Sight

This a very spectacular scene on the Mull of Galloway. It's in a very small spot called Port Logan, where there is a small Inn with a good range of lunchtime food. Not the time of year for picnic tables though. I can imagine it in the sun - wouldn't it be pleasant? This is the Year of Homecoming for all Scots abroad and I was pleased to make my visit home (and get my certificate - very nice to have). So this was the Voyage Home and I travelled around, met friendly people, ate good food and had a pleasant trip, all in all. It's an old adage that it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive. In this case , it was true. The south of Scotland is often neglected by tourists in favour of the Highlands, but the Southern Uplands are very scenic. "There's a certain peace of mind/Bonnie lassies there ye'll find/Men so strong and men so kind/ Among the hills of the Borders". So sings Matt McGinn. Yes, that's it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eats and leaves

Just by Eddie Rockets in Baggot Street, a large pile of leaves had gathered. I decided I would get down to their level and I did get some dramatic shots with a wide angle lens. This shot however was the one I picked. There are people in the shot - even if the children probably thought I was rather strange sitting on the pavement. I dare say they were headed to Eddie's place for a bite! What do you think? Down at street level it was interesting to see the way the leaves responded to the wind, as if they had some kind of collective energy. Sometimes they formed themselves into animal shapes - dragons with heads and tails, dancing with the air currents. Autumn is the season of dramatic change and even at this late stage the leaves continue to dominate the streets. Change is the stock and trade of the psychotherapy profession so this season, more than any other, is meaningful to me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Men with Bags

Clearly there is some significance to the number of images containing three men. Perhaps it's the three amigos series? What I liked were the bags and the coats. The longish coats and general disposition seemed to conjure up a previous time. But of course, shoulder bags for men are comparatively recent. This is near the Mespil Hotel, in Mespil Road, so perhaps these three amigos are at some conference or other. I am thinking here that clothes are the external symbol of the self and in many case denote a membership of some group with certain duties. They also form an external expression of the essence of the human being. The bag is a container, so what do the bags contain? I think the bags contain meeting or conference papers in great number - agendas, working papers, lists of participants and promotional hotel pens.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hiding in the Rain

It was raining again and I felt that no shot would introduce itself to me today. An opportunity duly appeared but just as I was about to snap the shutter, the umbrellas came down - whether by accident or design I will never know. But when I put the shot up on the screen what do you know? A nice picture that needed black and white treatment. Pembroke Lane is a jolly place for people photographs isn't it? Singing in the Rain is one of these all-time great songs from a musical so I silently willed these guys to go and stand under the spray from a dodgy rain pipe and be moved on by a grumpy Garda. No such luck, as they headed to their office. What about dreams? The rain and the wind together can denote fickleness, but the wind alone could denote an impending change. Dreaming of men with umbrellas in the wind and rain would need a lot of exploration - maybe a couple or three sessions!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pecking Order

There are many photographs of pigeons in cities and usually I tend to ignore them unless they are doing something completely unusual. But I liked these two for some reason - and they were tucking in. In the city they are very much a link between heaven and earth - and anyone who has had to take a suit to the dry cleaners because of birds may wryly smile. Symbolically, in the East birds are regarded with suspicion whereas in Celtic tradition it's all very nice. Birds can raise the dead from their sleep by singing so sweetly and so on. In my case, my photographic foray was interrupted by what my American friends call a "wise guy". Very annoyingly he put his feet closer and closer to the munching pigeons until they flew in the air. On his departure they immediately came back for the food and tucked in. So here's that shot!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leaves in Danger

The Pembroke Road provided me with colour today in the shape of a wagon collecting leaves. So I was pleased to see that the wagon was accompanied by a man with a brush who swept the leaves into piles and then shovelled them into the truck. Is this not the way to deal with leaves - rather than those who pretend to have a moped and deliver mayhem to our environment? What have they got against the leaves, I thought, that they must be chased around so much? Perhaps Shelley has the idea when he speaks of them as "pestilent multitudes". Shelley of course was witness to some major social upheavals and this surfaces in his poetry. Perhaps the multitudes can only be pushed around so much. In any case the autumn colours of Ballsbridge are very nice this year, I must say. The foliage of some of the trees is very nearly red.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the Wall

I couldn't resist the pipe, near Dunne and Crescenzi on South Frederick Street. Most certainly it was the wadge of white paper wedged behind it, that did the trick. But there are many shades of green moss too, which increases the visual interest. And surely the orange shade of the bricks is most typically Dublin? Plumbing has an interesting history. Pipes first originated in urban settlements in the Indus valley in 2700BC and were further developed in the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese and Indian civilisations. Between the Romans and the nineteenth century not much happened! By the looks of this pipe, nothing much happened after that either. I guess its not rocket science, as they say these days. But I can see an abbreviation on the pipe - 3RW. I know RWB is rain water basin, so could it be the obvious? Pipes are conduits, so if you dream of pipes you need to look closely at what they are for, where they are coming from and going to. What are they carrying, and what does that mean to you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Something Xtra

Xtra-vision has been on this Baggot Street-Waterloo Road corner site for quite a few years now, but in my memory, the corner site belonged to AIB and was disused. In these days, the local video rental shop was called Metropolis. It was above where Tesco is now and was a treasure trove of back catalogue material. I have been trying to track down the origins of the use of "X". There are various theories but the letter chi (pronounced kai) is the 22nd letter of the the Greek alphabet and it is thought that this gave rise to Christ being represented as x, as in Xmas. There are, as usual, many arguments, but when X is fused with the Greek letter Rho, the resulting figure (like a cross, superimposed on a "P") is known as the labarum, which came to symbolise crucifixion. Much used in ecclesiastical celebration, it can't be traced much before Constantine in AD312. Again, we are a long way from Xtravision and the way in which X is used - such as the X factor. But Xmas approaches.

Bute Harbour Haven

This shot is taken from a hotel window and necessarily at a high ASA - hand held available light, as I'm fond of saying. The Victoria Hotel in Rothesay is an institution on the Isle of Bute and it has excellent views over the harbour and bay. The picture is noisy but I put it through a filter called "edgy" and was quite pleased. These are ships rather than boats and symbolise strength, control and the journey. The ship voyages in safety under human control. Here, the Bute ferry is plying past a cargo ship that is, in all likelihood, waiting on instructions. In a recession, global trade drops and so do voyages. Ships are laid up or even "mothballed" during these times and very often the West of Scotland provides fair haven for the vessels within its many fjords. Maybe some of the crew of the cargo ship are in the "The Vic", with glasses of malt whisky?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gastro Pub Menu

The menu in the Colintraive Hotel was so ... baroque, I had to take a picture.. It's interesting if you click on the image and have a look at all the varied information, including the person who caught the fish, checked the spelling, etc. It's a bit like some descriptive CD insert. I think this is all about the Word, which is necessarily about the father and instruction. In all this we can see what's what and when you can have it. Sometimes things are taken away. In Christian terms, the Word existed before the world - in God. Before the World is made, it's vested with wisdom and hidden design. Greek philosophers called it Logos - intellect, ideas and thought itself. But I like the Dogon, who conceived of moist and dry words. Dry words exist at the level of a primeval lack of awareness - undifferentiated but with potential, the unconscious in other words. The moist comprises words given to man and it is creative and fecund - the world comes into being. So this menu is moist - creative, promising and inviting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Northern Lights

At the southernmost tip of Scotland, on the Mull of Galloway, lies this lighthouse. I visited it on a rainy November day, when probably it is at its best. It is very similar to Lands End down in Cornwall (without the exhibition, though!). All lighthouses are said to be modelled on the Alexandria lighthouse built on the Island of Pharos in 280 AD by the Greek architect, Sostratus. Famed for its technical excellence it was one of the Seven Wonders of the world. The king, Ptolemy, forbade Sostratus from inscribing his great work, but he went ahead and did it anyway. Ptolemy was not pleased and covered the inscription with his own words. But as time passed this fell off, to reveal the signature of the architect. Such was the durability of the lighthouse that Pharos became the origin for lighthouse in many languages - phare (French) farol (Portuguese) faros (Spanish), faro (Italian) and Catalan (far).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Highland Truck

You can take a short cut to the Highlands by taking the Wemyss Bay Ferry to Rothesay and then the ferry from Rhubodach to Colintraive. This is the latter. It has a kind of a timetable, takes about five minutes and is worth every penny of the fare. On the Colintraive side there's a very nice hotel which does an excellent lunch. This part of Scotland relies very much on its ferries so I will desist to speak of Kharon, the ferryman who conducts souls to the Underworld - because he is generally portayed as a dirty, unkempt kind of fellow! The red fuel truck is my object and the driver is there in the mirror ... Here's the Slogan, always use Brogan. I forgive you your slogan, Mr Brogan, because I rather like your truck. In a dream, a truck loaded with useful cargo implies positive contents of the psyche. But if you are stuck behind one or perhaps being pushed by one from behind, like the film, Duel, then that's another matter entirely.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Change means Loss

The weather changed and suddenly there was sunlight in Ettrick Bay, so I rushed out of the cafe to take advantage of the sky. This scene is quite poignant for me because when I was a child, I used to come here on holiday or for a day out by the sea. There were many holidaymakers here, milling around with swimming togs and beach balls. On this wee playground, there used to be a funfair with a Ferris wheel! I am quite sure the funfair was much smaller than I now imagine it, yet it seems a little sad that this scenic spot is so quiet. Change means loss - so said my group supervisor during my training. I doubt if trams will ever again take holidaymakers from Rothesay, the island's main town, to this beautiful spot. But it is somewhere I always return to with enormous pleasure. Memories are important in psychotherapy, but in order to call them up, I need to recognise my old experiences. Perhaps the colours of this over painted swing did that for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flying Chips

Here's something else that's just for fun - the third in the Ettrick Bay series. This cafe on the edge of the sea is decorated in a lovely blue colour. I was just taking a shot of the tables and chairs when the waitress brought my lunch - prawns in a wrap and a plate of curly-wurly chips. They appeared in the shot and I decided it looked just fine! Very tasty they were too. These two colours appearing together would normally represent a sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth. I'll leave it there for now and remember how satisfying the food was on a cold November's day.

Too Early Snow

This view looks like snow on fields but I did use a filter which made the scene into black and white - it's almost a change to negative.. I rather liked the fence. Did you ever run a stick along a fence and make a terrible racket? Piaget tells us us that this is a search for regularity, which is a normal part of child development. The repetitive sound is is reassuring to the child. I think that what caught my attention was indeed the regularity of the fence. Of course when you look at it closely, it has some pieces missing and it's not as regular as I thought! Fences are boundaries, which can be looked at from both sides and this one appositely contains a children's playground. On the other side lies grazing pastures. The Isle of Bute has the advantage of the Gulf Stream, so snow is relatively uncommon, but just for fun I'm keeping my processed shot the way it is at present.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two Bike Path

The scene is in Scotland on the Isle of Bute. This path calls for adventure does it not? What is around the corner? What lies at the end? We need the words of Gaston Bachelard here. In the Poetics of Space he comments that psychoanalysis generally sets the human body in motion. Our unconscious is familiar if we are at home and at at rest.Yet psychoanalysis calls us to enter into life's adventures and we are encouraged outside of ourselves. "What a dynamic handsome object is a path!", he says. George Sand wrote "What is more beautiful than a road? It is the symbol and the image of an active varied life." So it's worthwhile for everyone to speak of their paths, roads, hedges and fields - of the horses, sheep, goats and cows they invariably encounter along their route. Emmenez-moi, chemins!