Wednesday, December 29, 2010

These Legs are made for Dreaming

I am uncertain what was on the road that made the cobbles and puddle this orange colour. But it certainly caught my attention. The owners of the legs hurried past, kindly trying not to spoil my photograph. In so doing, they somehow made the shot. Sometimes the most extraordinary things can be seen in the most ordinary of circumstances. It’s quite a dreamy image, so naturally dreams come to mind! I was reminded of the film industry term, “legs”. If a film “has legs”, then it is considered to be a work that will last commercially. The film is likely to play in theatrical venues for longer than would normally be the case. The cult film “The Blues Brothers” was not initially a box office success. Yet it achieved a status that gave it “legs” and it remains popular some thirty years after its release. So if you dream of legs it might signify that something you are doing might be a lasting achievement. Are they your legs or someone elses? Where are you walking? Take all these things into consideration, but remember that legs are primarily for getting around. What is your path and where are the legs taking you?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stop and think about the tree, the sky and yourself

It's not difficult to take this kind of shot, but you need to keep an eye on the exposure. At this time of year, these opportunities abound - but having the camera with you when the light is changing is most advantageous. And of course, you need to be able to stop and give it some time. Stopping and giving things time seems very difficult in these times. Everyone rushes around, filling in their day with many tasks. It takes a conscious effort to stop and pay attention to something that needs care. Many clients report being so pressurised at work, they "hardly have time to think". But everyone needs time to think and thinking about oneself is an unheard of luxury for many. Perhaps it easier for some people not to stop and think. Filling the day with tasks can be a defence against the needs, demands and requirements of the self. So here's an exercise. Stop what you are doing and look at the picture. What's the first thing that strikes you about the tree? Then think about yourself. What's the first thing that strikes you about your self?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Concrete Temple

This structure has always been in the neighbourhood for as long as I have - although for a while I think it was removed for the building of new offices. It has no inscription, so I do not know how it came about. Perhaps a reader will know and will write to me. I like the formulation of Chevalier and Gheerbrant. Temples are earthly copies of heavenly archetypes - the human spirit is evident even though the works are usually dedicated to the Gods. Indeed, temples are the earthly dwelling of the Gods. They are both cosmic and human and so the temple-going individual's position is between the spiritual and the concrete. It is concrete in the sense of the actual because this curiously-sited small building is made from concrete. Even so, its dimensions are rather pleasing, probably because temples are designed to have a symbolic geometry. "The quadrangular ground plan, the squaring up of the temple is obtained by means of a circle radiating from the pins of a dial, which casts the shadow, which determines the four points of the compass - setting the bounds of space and time." (Chevalier and Gheerbrant, Penguin, 1996). Largely surrounded by call centres, this small temple is worth examination, if only because it somehow challenges its surroundings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Iced to the Pavement

Every year this happens to a certain extent and I do like it. I take many shots like this because when the snow is gone and the residue it leaves behind is iced to the pavement, it does remind me of a laboratory specimen - like a cross section of what was before. The shot itself is a bit of luck. I had failed to reset a previously high ASA and the result was much better than other shots at the "correct" ASA. It looks very much like the cold weather is here to stay for a while so perhaps there will be more sights like this. Just when i feel I have used all the photographic potential of the neighbourhood, the weather changes and with it the light. Things are always changing but we don't really recognise it until something dramatic happens. The change can be imperceptible. In psychotherapy we try to observe these small changes and we will draw attention to them. otherwise they become lost to awareness.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Still Missing

Apologies to readers because there haven't been many blogs for a while. This is because of broadband difficulties, now resolved. I know readers do check in, so it was becoming worrisome to me. When I was out in the street this evening, I was reminded of a far more important absence. Some ten years ago, a young man went missing in my neighbourhood. Since then, there has been no trace of Trevor Deely. But his family and friends have never given up their search. I am periodically reminded he was never found and, perhaps because of the committed local campaign to find Trevor, I feel some kind of loss for someone I have not met. Loss is difficult to deal with. In the case of bereavement we know the person has departed and we have rituals and ceremonies to help us accept permanent absence. But when we do not know what has happened, it is perhaps harder to bear the pain of separation. Yet in these cases, hope also remains. This is a quote from the Facebook page "The (family) still keep up hope that he is alive, and although there is a service for Trevor Deely every year in a Naas church, they do not call it a memorial service." I hope it is established what happened to Trevor.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Signals in the Snow

It was not expected for the snow to stay this long. It's not normally the way. We always expect things to go on "normally as normal" and we get frustrated if they don't. We are also unprepared for events that are outside this "normal" zone. So when the snow comes in Ireland, especially in November, we are surprised. I was emerging from a book shop in Dawson Street and the snow had started to get heavy. As I rounded the corner onto Kildare Street, it had begun to cause difficulties, which the police officer was trying to sort out. There was much skidding and lack of traction. Buses couldn't deal with the inclines and came to a halt. Naturally, the world didn't come to an end, although the snow did cause inconvenience. Unexpected difficulties are part and parcel of a psychotherapist's work. But it's more about the client's capacity to deal with difficulties - because there will always be difficulties of some kind. The police officer is dealing with the difficulties by "getting on with things". We all have the capacity to do this, if only we but realised it. Sometimes we need a helping hand to mobilise what we already possess within ourselves.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ground Level Projections

I think it was Walter Benjamin that drew my attention to aesthetics and the landscape. He argued that the notion of the picturesque only became available to the collective after the means to physically cross the particular landscape had been established.The sight of a mountain in your path may be pretty, but not if you are obliged to escape the territory and this entails crossing the obstacle. The snow is pretty when it first arrives and everyone is enthralled - but inside a week the novelty wears off and we are left with obstruction. This kind of shot is a matter of practice. The wide angle lens will usually take care of the focus, but the knack is in keeping the camera level when it is held so low that the viewfinder isn't really available to the user. Onlookers may think you are acting strangely of course but is that so bad? We spend a lot of time worrying about others and wondering what they are thinking about us. That is projection and belongs to you for the most part. A woman who was watching me and who who was clearly annoyed about local services exclaimed ".. and you should send these photos to the council .. !"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Marina: In Memoriam

Death of a much loved friend is very difficult to accept for all of us. It is of course a symbol and like most symbols, ambivalent. I have to acknowledge the permanent conclusion of a very positive thing, in this case, a person who meant a lot to me. I like to think of Death as the Daughter of the Night and the Sister of Sleep. For the person who has lived a good life, Death unlocks the Gates and admits them to the realm of light which is everlasting. That is Death as a symbol - and surely refers to cycles and regeneration. At the same time I am forced to accept that as a human being I am perishable and impermanent. The pain of the loss of my friend can only be endured. No talk of regeneration makes that any better for me. But I am here and I can try to move forward with the values and qualities I admired in my friend Marina.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow Patrol

The snow makes life a little difficult for photography since exposures are likely to be altered. You have to over expose for subjects in any shots which are predominantly snow. The camera meter adjusts for the light reflected by all that white surface and you may certainly forget any thoughts of using automatic. There is a lot of nonsense talked in Internet digital photo tutorials so beware. If you want your subject correctly exposed, increase the exposure or take a reflected spot reading and always, always use manual. Sometimes the snow goes a bit blue so make sure. Either it's a white balance error - or it really is a bit blue in the shadows. Remember that soap manufacturers sometimes add a little blue to make washing seem "really white". OK now that's out of the way, I liked the way the snow had clung to the bark of the tree so I opted to capture the moment. I wanted to fill the background slightly so it was opportune to press the shutter when I heard a car coming my way. It was making a swishing sound in the snow and it occurred to me that we are used to sound the way it is "normally". But snow seems to have a muting effect on sounds. Things go quiet. So here's a little experiment you can try out for now. Stop for a minute and just listen. What sounds can you hear? Are they a bit muffled? Anything different? You may find "just listening" rather soothing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sullied snow

When we think of snow it's always virgin white. This kind of notional snow does not last very long and we can really see how dirty the city streets are when the snow merges with dirt. This is what remains after last night's strange lightning storm was followed by a cascade of icy snow pellets. It doesn't take very long for the sun to melt this down to slush, and then it seems to hang around footpaths and gutters. Now snow is water, and the two share the same symbolism - it's all about the unconscious. But there is a view that snow symbolically represents the "white" stage of the anima during individuation, where the female aspect of the soul is being "purified". So suggests Jung in his analysis of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And we have to remember that no two snowflakes are alike. It's the principle that counts, but I can't help wondering what is represented by our city's combination of snow and grime. What does it say about the city? When the snow and grime coalesce we walk cautiously over the mixture, holding ourselves in a peculiar fashion as if somehow that will prevent us falling. Try to have a look the next time the weather turns the street into an obstacle course - or maybe you can catch yourself holding this posture.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Naturally I could not resist the opportunity to take a photograph of this van. Here it's interesting that dreams are the object of sleep and since the manufacturer has associated the bed with dreams, I suppose they are assumed to be pleasant. We all know of course, that dreams can take many different forms. For Jung, dreams are spontaneous and symbolic auto-representations of the current state of the dreamer's unconscious. But at a deep level, I think we are aware that dreams are a kind of speculation. There is material in the unconscious that the dreamer, having temporarily suspended reality, tries to assemble in a more or less dramatic form. We believe that it something that requires attention. Psychoanalysts differ a little in approach but most are prepared to give time to any dreams their clients bring to sessions. The key reason I feel, is that dreams are uncensored - they are not consciously assembled and are likely to be free from any defence structures or armouring we might have put in place. But we do wish each other sweet dreams, possibly inferring happy endings. We don't wish each other anxiety dreams or nightmares. What would constitute a ""sweet dream" for you? Might it be the fulfillment of a wish? Now we are in Freudian territory, so I'll leave it for your consideration.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Of Gods, Pigs and Beer

I had been promising myself that I would take some night shots close by - near the Balls Bridge over the River Dodder. Now the technique for a successful night shot is not to wait until it's very dark. It is more successful if you proceed as the night is falling. Dusk is the better proposition so if you look at the top left hand of the picture you'll see the sky isn't that black. All the same, I was reminded about how difficult it was to get night exposures right. So for the technically minded, its f5.6 at 1/20th of a second. That's slow - but I rested the camera on a wall! The symbol for today is beer of course. I'll stick to Ireland and the Celts initially, because Queen Maebh was well known and admired for her drunkenness. It was mead that was reserved for the priestly caste, not beer. Beer was the preferred drink of warriors. But it was Welsh King Berwyn who had some bother when brewing up a concoction of mead, honey and flowers. He was horrified when a wild boar foamed a bit and dribbled into his mixture. This duly fermented and the result was beer. So you see, the pig isn't half bad when you think about it. And despite the bad press in my last blog, the pig does seem to have been adopted by Celtic Gauls - who had their very own pig God, Moccus. Perhaps it was he!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fruits of the Forest

The dish has gathered these various times for some time now and has stuck around, changing as years go by. Occasionally something looks a little the worse for wear and is removed. But new things arrive periodically. The dish looked pretty in the light one day and I decided to take some photographs. I took many but this was the very first attempt! Chestnuts were thin on the ground this year and it was very noticeable, because usually the streets around the neighbourhood are covered in them. Many years ago, children who played conkers would have walked miles and fought tooth and nail to get to them first. Now it appears as if no one is interested in the old customs and "conkers" are left to decay. Always the symbol of abundance and plenty, fruits are the positive side of the forest. The forest can also be seen by psychoanalysis as the unconscious and hence a container of the shadow, yet it remains a feminine symbol - the great mother, because it is also a symbol of rebirth and the cycle of life. There are many people who acknowledge they are unable to understand their parents. This is common enough and no cause for particular concern! But when I hear it, I am drawn to think of the psyche as the deep and impenetrable forest - and the meetings of the unconscious in close relationships.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forgotten Pig

This shot was in my archives - I had forgotten about it, I really don't know why. Perhaps because it seems a little sad? There was a promotion at the Shopping Centre and the display was being dismantled. I remember that I was quite sorry to miss whatever it was! Maybe a reader will remember. If so please write. The symbolism of pigs is very consistent across cultures. No matter where you are, the pig symbolises gluttony, greed, excess - even ignorance. They can be dirty, selfish, wicked and depraved. That's a lot of baggage for a pig to carry all on its own - even if it does like to roll around - as St Clement of Alexandria points out - in "filth and dung". I believe they are quite intelligent creatures, so I am pleased that the Vietnamese regard the sow with her large litters as a symbol of plenty. The renowned sorceress Circe (daughter of (Helios and Perse) was given to changing her guests into animals. But she reserved for her suitors, the privilege of being turned into swine. She bore a son to Odysseus, who stayed for a while and somehow managed to survive the fate of her other guests! There was a point though. Through touching the guests with her wand, she would change them into an animal that was in line with their character. So best to be a good person if you dined with her.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Unpleasantness of Mess

I invite my readers to share with me in finding this quite revolting. In reality it is merely an ice lolly, jettisoned for whatever reason. We would like to both literally and psychically project our mess elsewhere. Mess and waste matter of any kind is even too indecorous for the many books on symbols. Only Freud I feel, really makes an attempt to grapple with waste. In these troubled economic times, we would all like to imagine that mess was created somewhere else by other people. It was never ourselves, we didn't participate. Bart Simpson typically excuses himself after creating a disaster by exclaiming "It was like that when I got here!" He has no intention of taking responsibility. In psychotherapy, we begin to take responsibility for our own mess and in that way we can make a start on sorting something out. That entails a change in our balance or equilibrium, and so we begin at the individual level. We all find ourselves in messy situations at some point. But when we enter the psychotherapeutic space we are discouraged from pointing the finger somewhere else. That stuff "over there" is much more difficult to "fix" than the mess that legitimately belongs to ourselves. All the same I can't help wondering what happened to this ice lolly. Was it found to be too messy and thrown away? Did some poor child drop it with much wailing and moaning? Or did it just taste horrid? I leave my readers to make their own projections.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why a Duck?

A very traditional shot, this one - and none the worse for that, I suppose. I did like the blue of the pond and naturally the duck wouldn't come any closer due to the lack of bread question! The pond was a thick, soupy confection that I hope I managed to catch. Ducks are not quoted in Celtic mythology whatsoever and they seem to be treated in the same way as swans. There is little evidence to the contrary and despite the existence of duck shapes in art, the pictorial evidence seems to conflate duck, goose and swan. In the East however, things are very different. because the duck and drake go around together (I nearly said "swan around"). Ducks are the symbol of marriage and ultimately the life force. I do recall that "duckie "is a popular term for an intimate aquaintance in the North of England. American Indians are also rather keen on ducks because they are very happy on the water and in the air. Ducks are regarded as guides, and their feathers are also used in their religious ceremonies. Cliched or not, I rather like my duck.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Strollers in The Garden of Eden

I usually stay away from park photography. This is because when I had documentary work, helpful residents would guide me to a place where I could take "nice" photographs. This was usually the local park and indeed the park was usually very nice. People like their local park. and so they should. But if my task was the built environment, parks weren't for me - even if they are constructions. Is it perhaps because there is more of an effort to deconstruct the park and its relationships? So how does one or another subject perceive the park? Certainly not in the same way - as I appear to be demonstrating. I rather doubt that my strollers were sharing similar perceptions to me. Parks are always symbolically attached to the Garden of Eden - they are paradises on earth with lakes, fountains and cupolas. They seem to hark back to notions of original nature - somehow innocent and pure, despite my critique. But look, these were farmlands gifted by the Earl of Pembroke for the Irish International Exhibition in 1907. The park was constructed thereafter, so the strollers are walking through what remains of that original site.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shoe, symbolically stripped

If you place your shoe on the territory of another, you take possession. So says both Christianity and Islam. This is why shoes are disallowed in a mosque - because the holy house does not belong to any individual or group of persons. Hermes who was the God of Boundaries was the rightful owner of all lands on which he set foot. But this lost baby's shoe has been placed on the fence and it was clearly placed there to be found. It is not a claim on the boundary or the territory. If it was an adult shoe we could regard it as something different and in all likelihood, no-one would bother to help out. Would we automatically pick up a lost adult shoe? The child is symbolically innocent and regarded as spontaneous and simple. So the child's shoe signifies something else - a starting point perhaps, a setting out on life's journey. The child is seen as having no forethought and therefore can bear no malice. This shoe is stripped of the symbolism applied to adults and the fence on this occasion is no more than a convenient place to display a lost object.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Street Furniture

I shot this image as an antidote to yesterday's shot. The weather changed but not the built environment. Although it looks nice and green, there isn't much here that is ""natural". Even the trees are carefully selected and nurtured for the urban environment. The street furniture, parking meters, lampposts and parking signs are all part and parcel of what we expect to find in the city. They are usually couched in terms of dos and dont's - interdictions that we must obey to comply with the space. As such, the spaces are a long way from old open ones, which were marked by directions. These served to allow us to better cross the territory. But this is the territory and these are the rules by which we engage with the space. I deliberately placed the human subject amongst the various pillars between which he appears restricted. It is almost as if this neighbourhood space decides what shall happen to the human being, rather than the opposite. The space has been produced and then human subjects must live within its rather repressive limitations. What seems like a pleasant enough scene comprises mostly verticals that work to produce merely tedium. It is as if yesterday's shot is more lifelike and real than this one.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Donnybrook Autumn

The photograph hasn't been cropped much. I left the image wide because it gave an idea of "empty" space. I also rejected other images of the same space with more vehicles. The image is bleak because of the "emptiness". A person might be daunted to traverse this space. but in what sense can it be considered empty? There are road surfaces, boundary hedges, trees, railings, street signs and a truck. The image is really quite full of stuff to which I have a relationship. I can't get out of that. And empty or full, welcoming or unwelcoming, pleasurable or painful, that is all so much about the Ego. But this space seems to have left the body behind - even though people with bodies made the lot - surfaced the road, planted the trees and hedges, painted lines and erected signs. All the signs of people have been stripped away in a world where manufactured things are taken for granted. This urban space is repetitive and most of the things in it are made through repetitive actions. This in itself is not far from the repetitiveness of our daily lives - work, speech, newspapers, television. and the unconscious reproduction of ourselves and our relationships. This space and society try to convince us they aren't repetitive, but seem to fail in the process.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Elektra's Fuse

This old fashioned fuse box was lying in a pile of debris in a driveway on Wellington Road. These fuses have long been superseded by circuit breakers and associated switchgear, but they are reassuringly chunky. This one looks quite old, since it has exposed circuitry - no longer regarded as safe. The word electricity has only the vaguest connection with Elektra, the mythological counterpart of Oedipus. But why should I let that stop me? It was Jung that coined the term Elektra Complex, whereas Freud was not enthusiastic at all and spoke of negative Oedipus. But in my opinion it was Jung who had the edge in psychiatric hospital practice and had clearly witnessed the daughterly sexual attachment to the father and envy of the mother. Elektra organised her brother into killing her mother Clytemnestra in vengeance for her mother's own treacherous murder of her father Agamemnon. So it's not quite the same as Oedipus and not terribly electric really! But maybe electric enough was another version where Zeus is rejected by Elektra and hurls down the Palladium (where Elektra had sought aid) from heaven in a terrible rage. That is electric. Maybe Elektra is all about rejection?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shadow Dancing

It could have been "dancing in the rain", the title for this shot. Well, I do like this photographic effort, but as usual there was an element of fortuna about it. Every day is a good day perhaps, but when you are returning from work this sudden turn in the weather is unwelcome. On the other hand, it's a pleasure then, to get back to the comfort of home, heating and warm, dry clothes. I have mentioned Jung's shadow concept as consisting of the dark areas of the unconscious, unrecognised and unintegrated. But the shadow concept varies from culture to culture. The shadow consists of "unpremeditated actions" says Chinese philosopher Li Tzu, and has no independent existence. Yet one of the most interesting traditions is that selling your soul to the devil relieves you of any shadow at all. The person stops existing, has no soul and casts no shadow whatsoever. I think this fits well with the Jungian hypothesis that 90% of the shadow is pure gold for the self (if recognised and integrated). But look - if you trade with the devil there is no gold, merely a transmutation. Perhaps that's gold to lead - but the major question of transmutation to what, I will leave with the reader. My shadow-casting subjects in the photo are in no trouble at all. I love the spectacle of their silhouettes and shadow dance in the car headlights.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Happiness of the Red Plant

Of the Autumn colours I think this is one my favourite. The red of this bush gets very prominent in the neighbourhood and then goes through quite a transition. When it's as vibrant as this, the stalk and leaves look happy. I think any kind of fiery coloured bush is associated with the Burning Bush of the Old Testament and hence the presence of God. But symbols are ambivalent. The idea that such bushes hold a treasure inside was associated in medieval times with passionate love. Plants also suck up the strength from the ground and attract solar energy - fire from two sources. So these dazzling reds are both stimulating and irresistible. The colour of fire and blood. Dreaming of particular colours is quite common. Someone once told me he had dreamt a new colour, although it was quite impossible for him to communicate what it looked like! Archetypically, the shade of red might be important. Bright red is often the colour of flags and social movements whilst dark red may be associated with warnings - like the red of traffic signals, or more mysteriously, of libido and sexuality. So if the colour red appears in a dream, it could be a good starting point to first determine the shade, then the associations to that particular red. In the meantime I will think of the red in the photograph, the plant's vibrant red of life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dreaming of Pegasus

On such a fine sunny day as it was yesterday, it seems strange to think of Pegasus bringing the rain. The fabulous winged horse (one of my favourite mythological characters) is associated with fecundity, rain and fountains. And wherever his hooves strike earth, a spring appears. He is the bearer of thunderstorms and lightning. He had a bit of a tumultuous history did this particular horse. Born from the decapitated Medusa, he overcame the Chimaera although losing his rider, Bellerophon in the process. But the winged horse is always about creativity, should by any chance you dream of being mounted on Pegasus. Maybe you feel inspired. In this case, the symbolism of wings and the fountains take intellectual precedence over the instincts we normally associate with horses. But with all dream interpretation, also take account of personal associations. For example, as a child, I had a favourite toy which featured a picture of Pegasus. So does the mythological significance of Pegasus outweigh our personal associations with their rich complex of attachments? It is for the dreamer to decide.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bikes, bikes, bikes and the Dream World

These bikes are a common sight around Dublin these days. What is really interesting though is the process by which they are used and then brought back to a bike station on a lorry. So these bikes are on the back of a lorry, ready to be re-sited. Bicycles are quite common in dreams and this is usually positive because the bicycle is always powered by the individual - it's all about the effort of the rider, since no extra power is involved. The cyclist is independent and uses his or her own efforts. If the bike is out of control and going down a hill, then that might signify something either in the dreamer's life that is out of control or perhaps a part of the psyche is is not truly under control or integrated. I am taking the Jungian view here, that even inanimate objects in dreams signify a fragment of the dreamer's psyche. If the dream concerned the wheel then that is a different matter. The wheel is a universal symbol representing the world, where the hub is at the centre and the spokes radiate out to the edge. The wheel turning around represents renewal. All the parts of the bicycle can be interpreted symbolically, from the handlebars to the luggage rack. In interpreting your dream, try to assess the feeling tone. Was the bicycle ride exhilarating or was there something unsettling? Were you trying to carry a passenger on the bike? Leave no stone unturned when it comes to dream interpretation!

Letter Box in the Gate

I guess we are still in the autumn series with all these vegetation pictures, leaves gradually turning brown as the seasons move towards winter. I liked this "hidden gate", which is not really hidden of course, although it looks like it might eventually get that way. The letter box was rather fascinating and very rural for such an urban area. I took several versions of this shot but I did use a filter to increase the saturation on the browns of the gate and the ivy vines. Gates generally signify an opening to enlightenment and to the universe. It looms large in Christianity - the gates of righteousness of Psalms (118 19-20) for example. "Open to me the gates of righteousness and I will go into them ... this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous will enter." When we go through the symbolic gate we pass from one state to another. Does the gate invite us to cross the threshold? I suppose it does.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bottle Shot

This discarded bottle might have quickly vanished in the days when there was more home brewing and wine-making. I noticed it by some dustbins and shot it just as it was - but from the top. Known as a top-shot in film, this effect is OK if used sparingly. Perhaps I use it more than that! The symbolism of bottles can vary depending on what is in the bottle, rather than its shape. What does the shape matter when the contents are more important? Well, the contents are gone, so we have to rely on the shape. This is a larger than usual vessel, more of a jar or pot. For some cultures, vessels are related to the womb, and are always feminine. And very often they symbolise immortality because they are a sign of plenty. The top shot is also a way of looking at things (and people) and in general this signifies power. If you are looking down on anything, you are in an elevated position. A top shot can easily induce a feeling of discomfort, because of the effect of "overlooking" or carrying out surveillance. So if you have a dream where you are looking down on something, it may be worth thinking about whether you feel superior to the observed person or to something related to the object - in this case what it might have contained.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prelude to Hallowe'en

Readers of this blog will know my views on photos of traffic lights. These images seldom work. Either they are over-exposed and the colours look wishy-washy, or the lights change just as you click the shutter. I liked this shot though and frankly it was well under-exposed. Then I did a bit of work to spook it up. We do approach Hallowe'en and the shops are full of colourful decorations and spooky confectionery, so it is time to consider the fun side of what Jung would call the shadow. Here is one place during the year when "the shadow", our unintegrated dark side, can come out and play. Of course all this takes place in a good container and the rites and customs of Halloween are quite old and rather formal. The children are encouraged to dress up in frightening costumes and often they demand confectionery with menaces. This differs from country to country and probably derives from the Celtic Samhain. But the word Hallowe'en is recent and can be traced back to All-Hallows-Even, (evening). That is said to be a Scottish variant of the Old English for All Hallows, ealra hálȝena mæssedæȝ, which can only be attested around 1556. Nonetheless the word for the celebration should really be spelled with that apostrophe for the missing letter "v"! And it does seem that these ghosts in the white sheets are derived from the Scottish custom of dressing young men in white with blackened faces or masks. Boo!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dreams of an Artificial Tree.

I was deliberately going for a dream-like quality in taking this shot. I made several attempts both in shooting and in editing. In the end, this was the dreamiest version. Occasionally, clients report only recalling a fragment of a dream. Often that is the most valuable. The shot reminded me of a fragment, in the sense that there seems to be something more to say. I feel that the simplicity of the dream fragment encourages imagination and prompts the dreamer's own interpretation. This is one of the key differences between Freudian and Jungian dream analysis. Freud is rather strict about what makes of a "proper dream", whereas Jung argued for including even the post-dream reflective material. But there is no right or wrong method. In the image, a very artificial tree sits in the street. Its only purpose is decoration. It isn't a real tree but it is a real artificial tree. Supposing the dreamer dreams of an artificial tree. We could track down all the symbolism of trees, but it might not take us very far. What did the dreamer feel about its artificiality? Jung (and Gestalt theorists) felt that even Inanimate objects in dreams could represent parts of the dreamer. Perhaps there is something in the dreamer's self that is perceived as inauthentic. Perhaps the dreamer knows unconsciously that he or she is projecting a false self. So there is something more to say that goes beyond "tree".

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grafton Fire Dreams

I do not know what alarm had prompted the fire brigade to call in on Grafton Street. But the fire engine itself made an imposing presence. We are naturally afraid of the consuming properties of fire and take due precautions - including employing firefighters, surely the most popular heroes of the public services. The fire engine is also enduring and should surely be a recognised symbol because it subsumes many symbols. From the engine's deep red colour to the helmets of the firefighters and the deeply symbolic, pressurised water hoses, the fire engine carries a whole host of meanings. Not to mention the ladders, pumps, the giant wheels and the visible and audible warning systems. Almost all of the elements are thus represented - fire, water, earth and air. A full examination would take more than one blog. But if you dream of fire engines, think of what purpose is being served in the dream narrative. Is the ladder being used to ascend? Or are the water hoses being employed to put out a fire. And where are you in relation to these actions? Were you active or passive? What was the feeling tone of the dream - was there anxiety or elation? Finally, what do firemen mean to you? That said, I was rather pleased with this photograph and the fact that I was noticed and a fireman gave me a cheery wave. Thank you.

Shadows of the Objects

In the morning the light is quite warm and today for a few minutes it picked out this interesting shadow on the wall. I dug out the camera and tried a low shutter speed shot. Not only Jungians talk about the shadow. Indeed, Christopher Bollas published an interesting book entitled The shadow of the object. Many analysts, including Freud, recognised this aspect of the self. The ego, the centre of the self, finds it difficult to either recognise or integrate certain parts of the unconscious. We would rather reject or disown these parts and throw them outwards onto others in a process known as projection. Yet that does allow for recognition. We can learn to become aware of those unconscious parts of the self thrown outwards. But like the shadow on the wall, our own shadow may be beguiling and illusory since, being a projection, it has little in the way of concrete substance. The shadow in the photograph cannot be physically grasped. Nonetheless, even lacking a direct reality the projection's consequences can be very real indeed. If you project unwanted bits of yourself onto others and allow that to determine how you act towards them, what does one say about one's self?

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I think the autumn leaves caught my attention because of their position, silhouetted against the houses. There was a finality about the process of the life cycle as far as they were concerned. They are very much in their decaying period but continuing or even prolonging their attachment. They just don't want to give up the connection to the tree, the mother and life giver. Yet eventually they will end up on the ground and disintegrate. In the rough bit of land underneath, they will inevitably feed the tree and bushes with nutrients. A perfect cycle. But this put me in mind of attachment theory, John Bowlby and of course, Carl Jung. Jungians are very accepting, even admiring of object relations theorists and Bowlby could be considered as belonging to that discipline. Generally attachment is a motivational system that influences aspects of sexuality like drive, cognition and behaviour. But unlike Freud. Bowlby held that the importance of attachment lay not in sex but in security. So consider our leaves metaphor. Do the leaves achieve security in refusing to detach from the tree? What of young adults who are reluctant to leave home. They refuse to give up the parent archetype. And what of the parents who refuse to give up the child archetype and cling to their children. So perhaps it's the tree that is clinging to the leaves and not the other way around.

Solitary Rose

The blog is still in its celebration of autumn. I found this very close by and was struck by the way the rose had hung on to a single bloom. Most of its leaves had gone and all that remained was this nice pink flower. As a flower, the rose is unparalleled in symbolism and denotes life, the soul, heart and love. In India it is the cosmic triparasundari and represents the beauty of the Divine Mother. In the Muslim world, the rose garden is the place of contemplation and in classical Greece roses were scattered on graves as a symbol of regeneration. They called this ritual, the Rosalia. The Christan world adopted the rose around the 7th century. Despite the distinction between white and red roses - the sacred and the profane, purity and passion - roses became the symbol of of a love that was pure. But I rather like the fact that it was a favourite of the alchemists - the Rosary of the Philosophers. In their work, their objectives were characterised by colour. The objective of the first stage was linked to white stone and white roses whilst the red was that of the red stone or red roses. The blue rose symbolically denoted the impossible!

Leaf Street Virtues

The changing seasons bring an environmental diversity that isn't often acknowledged because we are familiar with summer giving way to autumn. In countries where there are only two seasons, wet and dry, there is often a longing for that deft change we take for granted. Symbolically, autumn can be symbolised by the Horn of Plenty or by a hare. I couldn't find a hare for the moment, but there is more than enough to say about life cycles. Stages of development are very important in psychology especially where children are growing up but also in adult life. The cycle of the seasons is much like our progression through life - birth, growth, maturity and decline - a process in which we have little choice but to adapt and progress. Psychotherapist, Erik Erikson presented an analysis of this process, which necessarily encompasses the bleak side as well as the hopeful. Looking at virtues, we start with hope, and move through willpower, direction and competence. As we get older in middle age we exercise fidelity, love, devotion and care. Finally as elders we reach wisdom - the wise old man archetype of Carl Jung. These all have their opposites, which Erikson calls maladaptations. But we try to aim for the virtues.

Good enough shot, good enough plant

Oh yes, the October sky was just like this. The shot is polarised a bit, to pick up the deep hue. When I saw the plant, I just snapped quickly and knew that, for preference, the lens could have been different - or could it? Yet in the end, the shot was "good enough". When psychotherapists talk about good enough, they mean that it is adequate to the job. It is neither supreme excellence, nor in any way dreadful. If this blog aimed for technical brilliance every time, probably the project would fail. Other things would suffer - regularity being one. Some analysts argue that the use of the term "excellence" in current times, compromises what is good about things. Child psychotherapist and object relations theorist, Donald Winnicott argued for the "good enough parent". We cannot demand excellent parenting. What would we mean anyway, or want? Parents are real people with positive and negative attributes. All that we can ask from them, and indeed expect, is "good enough". This rogue plant fighting to live on a stone wall is good enough. The photograph is good enough. And what we should expect from a psychotherapist is that he or she is good enough.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flags and Brand Loyalty

The display had been up for a while but it drew my attention from the other side of the road. Now I think this is a Guinness promotion for Arthur's Day, which was a success last year. There should be a blog entry! The Irish Party poster is always there at the Lansdowne Hotel, but the triangular display of pennants is recent. Flags, pennants or banners are all symbolically linked and even though this is a commercial promotion, it matters not. The principle is the same. The flag and its insignia protects the organisation. So it can be a nation, lord, general or even a saint for that matter. All these are what Jung calls collectives of one sort or another, since the king, lord or saint stands in for a greater number. In this case it is a corporation - more or less an association of shareholders who have become incorporated. The corporation also attempts to include the consumer of the product under its banner and there, whether we like it or not, is the art. The flag is designed to flutter in the breeze and that is not an accident. Air is associated with movement. Spirit is aroused and moves heavenwards. When customers go out to celebrate Arthur's Day they will be gathering under the flag and insignia, proclaiming some sort of loyalty to the brand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunny Baggot Street

Oh I do like this shot, simply because it's kind of an old fashioned snapshot and there is, of course, a story attached. I was further down the street and noticed that there was potential for a colourful shot with the school girls passing on the pavement. I hurried ahead to the nearest pub, sat in the corner and waited. But they saw me and posed. The group crouched in for the usual snapshot but I had a wide angle lens. I ushered them closer but the second shot wasn't half as good as the first! It's a real sunny October, good-natured shot. Now the sun is a symbol of substance because it makes things apparent by distributing rays of light. Maybe because of the school connection, I am thinking of the rays of light as intellectual knowledge. Heliopolis is the City of the Sun, a name given to primal spiritual centres. That is cosmic intellect, the faculty of knowing. Both Vishnu and the Buddha have the sun as an emblem. And in some countries the sun is regarded as female because there, the female principle is the active one - the Sun Goddess in Japan and in South Vietnam. Because of illumination, psychoanalysis may also view the sun as the symbol of enlightenment, shedding light on the unconscious, or bringing unconscious contents into the light. My thanks to the young women for the shot.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cross at the Church Gates

I don't normally venture this way but the light was so good for mid-September that I had to try something different. This is the gate of Haddington Road Church School and I'm afraid I surprised one or two walkers since I was lurking behind the gate trying to get the shot right. The scene was extremely contrasty and I did my best (That's the Hibernian Hotel that lies behind on the corner). As I was taking the shot, I was thinking about what Carl Jung says concerning the difference between a sign and a symbol. The cross on the gateway is technically a sign. It points the way to the church of which one might be a member. The cross on the altar is quite different argues Jung. That, he says, is an ineffable symbol denoting the sacred and holy. As a symbol, the cross dates back to the 15th Century BC and is the third of four basic symbols, others being the centre, the circle and the square. It creates a totality - in fact I rather like Soustelle's notion following his study of Mexico, that it is the symbol of the world in its totality. But there is much more to say about the cross.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I patronise this store quite often and buy the occasional ... gadget. So when the monitor went wrong I couldn't resist an affectionate shot. The word gadget is mostly defined as an small mechanical or electronic contrivance, often unnecessary. I like gadgets and look for useful ones, so I disagree. The etymology of the word is also doubtful with many rival explanations. Some years ago my own psychotherapist said to me "You do like your gadgets don't you?" It was a statement not a question and perfectly accurate. The important quality of the gadget is that it performs a set of operations which bring some quality closer to our needs or desires. It should function independently and be relatively easy to install. That lets programmable radio clocks out I guess. So consider what is your favourite gadget and why? What useful service does it perfom in your life and could you do without it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Paper and Stars

At the cash desk in the toy shop, I looked down and saw this interesting assembly. With a wide angle lens, I sometimes have to be careful that there are no feet in the shot! Wrapping paper is so nice, yet it's usually discarded following the unwrapping of a gift. Some thrifty individuals open wrapped gifts with care, then save and reuse the paper. Others tear open the paper covering with abandon! The symbolism of paper relates to either the texture or to whatever is written or illustrated on the surface. And the way the paper is folded can be magical as in Japan. But since paper is so fragile, it is said to be, at best, a mere representation of some other reality. The Chinese term, paper tiger, is a good example. That is something like the English saying, its bark is worse than its bite. Yet one reality refers to another, so it's best to remember that there is a bark. A bit like a gift, paper is not entirely harmless.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chain Gang

These chains wer being used to hoist a marquee framework into place in preparation for tomorrow's match celebrations. Baggot Street was agog because we never see a structure like this in this location. They are usually down at the Lansdowne Hotel which caters for the rugby crowd. It took up the whole pavement so that you could hardly miss it. I thought the chains were interesting and went for a formal shot with angles. In so doing, I sacrificed much of the detail for that structure. Chains are a powerful symbol, all the more so because in some way it's about connecting heaven and earth. But on the more social side, since we are in Baggot Street with the collective, chains symbolise the need for social adaptation. This can be the hardest part of personal development. We need to recognise that our relationships - bonds if you will - are indispensable. Certainly some people appear to feel this part of life as a heavy weight - a burden rather than a joy. Really, it's so much better if bonds are genuinely experienced and accepted. Otherwise these chains can weigh and tie an individual down like the most massive and unwanted anchor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Donnybrook Corner

It's nice to see old shops hanging on in areas severely affected by poor planning decisions and the recession. Just near here, the Donnybrook village has lost two banks, a video shop, a convenience store, a gym, a pharmacy and the rather well-known Madigans pub. So this remaining establishment - Fox's Grocers - is what we might in older times have called a continental grocer or even delicatessen. It sells otherwise difficult-to-get items, so if you are unenthusiastic about ersatz supermarket pasta, you may find something genuine and indeed more appetising here. Or if you are missing a vital ingredient for a Chinese dish, Fox's is likely to have it in stock. Fruit as a symbol is always about abundance and vegetables (or rather vegetation) usually represents oneness and the inevitable cycle of life. So lets hope this end of Donnybrook can survive the rigours of the economic climes - it usually does.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Strictly wide angle

I have been eyeing the pillars for some time, especially the line towards Donnybrook. So today, I set the wide angle at 10mm in full knowledge that the edges would be distorted. The two young women wandered into the frame and I saw my chance. It was good luck that one looked towards me, probably wondering what on earth I was doing. The symbol for today is column, since these street pillars are regarded as columns for our purposes. Here, they make a boundary and are intended to stop cars from parking at the edge of what is quite a wide pavement, but near traffic lights. In the Ibero-Celtic tradition, the Pillars of Herakles were in all likelihood a boundary and did not hold anything up! They were a demarcation of where territory changed. "If you go beyond this boundary, the Gods may not be able to protect you." At this point, yesterday evening's recent Discovery Channel documentary on Hercules can for all purposes (except entertainment), be safely ignored! Herakles supposedly raised the Pillars of Herakles (Hercules) at the end of his North African journey and immediately following his dispatching of various horrible monsters. This was a boundary which was to prevent the ingress of said monsters. It constituted a warning, as indeed our pillars do outside the ATM on the right. Do not park your chariot here!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leaf Pool

I tried many combinations of this shot but in the end I pretty much left it as it was. There were strange combinations of leaves and seed-like things in the pools left in the church car park. I nearly selected a black and white version because there is something a little bit creepy about this image. Is it something to do with decay and organic substances returning to the earth? The seeds certainly looked like some kind of spawn. There was much flare in the lens and I cannot explain why, except that the lens is at 10mm and there must have a lot of light bouncing around. It made a nice effect though, and I rejected all filters that eliminated it. Finally I left it as it was. As far as psychoanalysis is concerned this image is loaded. So what do you make of it? How does it make you feel? The still and temporary waters after heavy rain contain all these things. Vague, layered depth. Fascinating.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Proper sort of Canopy

I love the trees at this time of year. You have to look directly up and then it's possible to get the measure of the glorious spread of some of the colourful trees in Ballsbridge. I may have taken a photograph like this before but not with this particular wide angle lens. The plentiful nature of leaves always suggests the lunar - the fruitful and bountiful mother. But Jung always argues for the hermaphroditic tree since a particular tree may feature a phallic thrusting towards the heavens and another the bearing of foliage and fruit. One tree can be male and the other female. I like the intricate spider web of branches and twigs that make up a kind of fabric. The original estate was designed to include a tree canopy arching over the pavement - this kept the pavement cool in summer and provided a protective cover for pedestrians on days like today, when the heavens opened. Over the years, this was disrupted but for the most part there is still a bit of a canopy in place. The canopy itself is a symbol of protection for all those beneath it so the next time you are able to shelter from the rain in such an environment, consider yourself honoured!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Path more or less Imagined

The path ought to be an enduring symbol, but for the most part it is not recognised as such. Philosopher, Gaston Bachelard was a great man for the idea of the path and there can be few counselling skills trainees who have not suffered constant reminders of "the path less trodden". No-one likes a cliche, no matter how true so maybe that's why the path lacks the ineffable nature of a symbol. Yet we all beat out some kind of path in life and it is a moot point whether a person makes his or her own - perhaps it's the other way around. Too many seem to carry the recognisable mark of their path with them. It isn't as if it can be changed and therefore can only be brought into awareness and integrated. One exercise in psychotherapy is to encourage the client to recapitulate their path, to consciously reassess their story. What is your conception of your path so far? That's somewhere between phenomenology and psychoanalysis, but none the worse for that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Salt and Water

The combination of salt and water is quite appropriate since salt is derived from the evaporation of sea water. It's ambivalent though since its both a purifying agent and also corrosive. Christ's apostles were described by Mathew as the "salt of the earth" and in Christianity, salt is generally positive. The Ancient Romans are said to have sprinkled salt on the cities they had razed, to make the land barren. The Japanese have a very active approach to salt and it is common to see Sumo wrestlers scatter salt in the ring as a purification ritual and a sign that there are rules that should not be broken. In the Japanese household, salt might be scattered throughout, following the departure of a hated guest! Certainly salt also has healing properties since dentists invariably advise rinsing in salt water following an extraction. In the case of my photograph, the salt was going to get wet. Heavy downpours of rain seem to have become the hallmark of September and I am recalling one of the first blogs on this site from two years ago.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

For all Seasons

I like the changing of the seasons and no more so that when it is autumn. The transatlantic manner of calling the autumn "the fall" is perfectly appropriate. The seasons are represented in different ways and the hare is popular for the autumn. Sometimes it's a horn of plenty with much fruit. As far as Gods go, it's Dionysus that is assigned to autumn - or maybe autumn is assigned to him? Dionysus was the God of Wine and indeed it is now the wine harvest in Italy. I saw a piece on RAI Uno last night that reminded me that farmers were bringing in the grapes and celebrations were taking place. We hope it's a good year. Today, I saw that Weirs had changed its display and returned that way for a picture. There was a tree to kneel beside and I used the wide angle method - no viewfinder, 10mm lens setting, highish shutter speed (not high enough in fact) , camera low and slightly tilted. Then I waited for a person. This nice woman obliged me and there was only need for one shot. I love the way my subject is striding along the wide pavement that borders the shops. Would I have got a better shot had I waited the entirety of lunchtime? Probably!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Passive Boundaries

These railings have been sitting on the corner for some time. This area hosts many embassies and embassies are one of the prime sites for public democratic expression. So the railings take up a permanent residence, ready to be moved out to one or another demonstration. Railings are really movable walls - that is, they are for the enforcement of boundaries. They are not very high and wouldn't stop a determined person from mounting them, so their presence is symbolic. We may not pass the points demarcated by the railings and they help to defend buildings. In turn, they restrict the area that they enclose. In other words, they can both protect and stifle. We just need to look at the boundaries marked out between peoples and tribes, or between governments and those that they represent. So symbolically fences are related to the womb, the ultimate protection that we have all experienced. They do not denote an active principle - rather the opposite. Fences defend, not attack.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Way down Underground

This is another location which has been on my list. I had a different idea for it but I got tired of waiting for the moment. So this is the straight location with the application of a double infra red filter. The car park proper looks out onto Baggot Street from a gap in the terrace, but over the shops. So out in the lit area, one is across from the terrace on the other side of the road. looking from the entrance, the place itself has a Stygian feel to it. It certainly ain't pretty but what car park is? My father liked to refer to some places as Stygian and I used to wonder what he meant. It is related to the River Styx from Greek mythology (stugein: hate) and is the place where Charon ferried the souls of the dead to the underworld. Ancient Greeks were inclined to swear by it, but I doubt if we are going to swear by a car park! Various other rivers wind around Hades - woe, lamentation, fire and forgetfulness but the Styx goes around Hades nine times. Styx has no single place of its own in Greek mythology, but is mentioned in many other stories - so much so that we are all aware of the name.