Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Up the (Partick) Thistle!

The purpose of the title is to persuade Partick Thistle supporters that I come in peace! The thistle is a prickly devil that served as Scotland's emblem of choice for some time. On the perimeter of the Scottish camp, the enemy stepped on one on battle's eve and let out a mighty cry. The battle was duly won for Scotland and lost to the invader. So the story goes, anyway. Certainly if anyone stood on one of these, they would be permitted to emit a small cry. This fine specimen was spotted in the Pembroke Road and I am pleased that I saw it just at the right time for a photograph with limited depth of field. The thistle is related to the asparagus, which one can certainly see from this photograph - and the asparagus thistle is used to make certain kinds of cheese. It's a coagulant that substitutes well like rennet apparently. I am not sure what kind of thistle this is - a milk thistle, bull thistle or another of the common varieties. But probably it wasn't planted for decoration. They are notoriously difficult to get rid of so I like to see this growing subversively in the city. Persistence and staying power - that's the thistle. There you are Partick Thistle, I said something nice about you!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Change always means Loss

I had been sizing this up for a shot for some time. When I finally got organised, I found that there were too many telephone cables in the way for what I had intended. So I went a little closer. The house chimney would be that of an old railway cottage, in all likelihood, now owned by a rather more affluent citizen. The building behind is probably part of a complex that houses insurance companies and the like. There is always change in the city and, as I am fond of pointing out, change always means loss of some kind. There is no way of avoiding this kind of change because buildings, with some notable exceptions, don't last that long .The newer building isn't that new - because it's design has merely a little of the current obsession with weightlessness. Medieval architecture had some of the same concerns so nothing is completely new!. But this scene can still surprise me even if I pass it every day. The contrast grabs the atttention.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Earth Moving Model no. 8265

Children's projects are much too much fun to be left to children alone. This is one of the larger Lego kits and there are many pieces - so when it was finally constructed, I felt compelled to make a photographic record. There are electric remote control motors available for this one and I am assured that it can make many movements. Because it is a complex structure, there are a mass of symbols associated with the construction of the model (I hesitate to call it a toy) because building such an object is modelled on real life processes - cognition, manual dexterity, hand- eye coordination and planning for example. And of course since this will be a likely purchase by or for older children, cooperation between siblings or parents and children may be vital! A lot of energy is needed for completion of the task and of course, the "wholeness" of the model is predetermined. There are plans and schematics - but sometimes there is a need to be inventive, especially if bits get lost. Pieces are perfectly sized for escaping and ending up in the vacuum cleaner. So that brings me to the last and most difficult of skills to be learned in building this superb model - care!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Water Table

I gave the picture this name because it reminded me of a map of some kind. The brown is the colour of a pub table outside the Waterloo in Baggot Street, but there I go again - breaking that rule about explaining the picture! It looks like a kind of a map and that is very much that. The weather has been typical of the place - rain and sunshine on the same day and sometimes at the same time. There's no one to complain to about the weather fortunately, or there would be mayhem. The table reminds us of the Round Table and communal eating. The Round Table of the Knights of the Grail is a kind of spiritual centre as is the table around which the 12 apostles met. There is no status around this kind of table - or any other kind it could be argued. So the next time you perch at a small table outside the pub, perhaps in drier weather, consider the role of the table in bringing people together. In a real water table, water would be locked up underground and that's where much of the earth's potable water is stored. That kind of table isn't flat and might correspond with the contours of the land. But without it, we would most certainly suffer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


After a spell of lovely sunshine it suddenly rained hard and then dried up again just a quickly. The light that remained was quite piercing (very, according to the light meter) and everything was contrasty. The man in the shot is a bit of a reprise of a similar one from some months ago. On that occasion a woman was walking the opposite way in the same fashion. I felt as if I had redressed the gender balance - literally. But it occurred to me that pedestrians in the Pembroke Road never saunter or linger, preferring to stride purposefully along. Perhaps because there are no shops or maybe because it's a very definite strip, they adopt a certain gait suited to the urban terrain. The leg is very much about social relationships - in order to physically meet with another the leg is vital. Yet the leg is employed in different ways - running, loping, or just walking - not to mention ambling. Shakespeare even speaks of children creeping unwillingly to school! This person is striding and there is something measured about this kind of walk. The person takes temporary ownership of the path as he passes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Hole Underneath

These days, most of us don't know what under the car looks like. How many car owners do their own repairs? This car has seen good service but continues to run - it's just that now and then old age takes over and it needs urgent attention. Due to the hole in the exhaust, the car sounded like it was racing round Mondello Park, but such a hole causes a loss in power. What is symbolic about a hole you might ask? Well, holes are symbolically very funky indeed. They represent a mysterious threshold to something that is hidden. New ideas might seem to come from some hole or other (rather than the void) and are literally pregnant with potential. They can represent fertility at one level and transcendence at another. No one is quite certain what happens in a black hole, and so it is very mysterious indeed! But for the automobile, the hole lets the unused combustion gases escape but will also change the pressure in the pipe, leading to less than optimal performance. I was thinking of this in an object relations kind of way. Sometimes we need to vent off some kind of combustion gas in our system and if we haven't a safe way of doing it, stress may result. So maybe the psychoanalytic space provides us with a safe container in which to vent feelings. Rather than coming to social grief at work or in the family, (the equivalent of the hole in the exhaust), feelings are channeled in an optimal state. And rather than unanticipated leaks leading to a loss in power, the psychodynamic state of the individual becomes balanced.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hotel de Luxe

Just for the record, this is a hotel that has been modeled from what used to be the Theatre De Luxe in Camden Street, Dublin. It has been many things over the years but you might remember it from the popular Alan Parker film, The Commitments. It set me thinking - not about hotels, hostelries and inns, but about journeys. If we journey we inevitably end up in a hotel of some sort at some stage. Can there be anything more welcoming when journeying on a dark and windy night, than the sight of one's lodgings? Jung reckons that journeys are purging some dissatisfaction and seeking the lost mother inside. There are those who argue the opposite is the case - it is about getting away from mother! Probably Jung is right. Baudelaire feels that there are those who set out, just for the sake of setting out. Unsatisfied, they seek an unknown something, whilst running away from something in themselves. Certainly, running away means you have to take yourself with you. So running from the self is futile. Even if there is a nice hotel room waiting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peace and Fruitfulness

The basil was plentiful and something had to be done! It was of a delicate type which grows a large leaf and has a strong aniseed flavour, so the decision was made that it should be placed in oil to make a pleasant flavour. No mystery about this - merely wash and dry the leaves and place in a bottle of oil. The Berio Oil is a good enough commercial olive oil, but importantly, it may be obtained in a half bottle size - ideal for such a venture. The result was a huge success and was all the more pleasurable since the basil was home grown. Olive oil is highly regarded throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East since it gives both food and light - and it is therefore symbol of both. Oiling the plough shares before cutting the first furrow was once common. Furthermore, it is of course a divine blessing to anoint with oil. The Shinto believe oil to be elemental and it features in Alchemy too, where it is regarded as cleansing and protective. Apparently in some tribes, men drink it to increase their procreation powers! I can assure all that merely drizzled on a piece of bread, it is just delicious.

Friday, August 6, 2010


This photograph was taken using much the same technique as described in the previous blog. This time I put the camera on the ground and tilted it up. The image isn't cropped - it's pretty much as it was, apart from being in black and white! I'm not sure what the containers were designed to contain - although they are near the old fish shop in Baggot Street that closed recently, alas. Boxes, like bottles are secret and enclosing and a box is said to represent the unconscious with all its potential for good or bad. That is why Pandora's Box is such a nice story. Against the instructions of Zeus, Pandora opens the box. The contents are scattered and various ills are unleashed upon the world. One thing - Hope - remains protected at the bottom of the box. In folk tales, boxes often come in three - a bit like the stacks in the photograph. The first two are fortunate and the third is unfortunate. To open a box is always to take a risk but there lies Hope. So which stack would you choose?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Up there

When I saw the opportunity I drew back a little because I wondered what the painter would make of it if he saw me. But he was much too occupied with his task. The techniques here is to use the wide angle lens and selecting a suitable aperture so that there focus all the way through the picture. The camera is held away from the body, not using the viewfinder (the photographer knows whats going to be in the shot already!). A pleasing result shows the feet of the painter. Now the foot is a symbol worth talking about because we tend to talk about keeping feet on the ground, a kind of mantra that can get irritating if used to excess. He is "very down to earth" we might say. I am not sure it's always a compliment. But it does leave its mark, the foot. And for the most part, where we walk is of our own free will. Some argue that the path leaves its mark on the foot, which might be more the case than the other way around. Our feet, standing in for the soul in my formulation, bear the marks that correspond to the path which we ourselves chose. In Blake's hymn, Jerusalem, we sing ".. and did these feet in ancient times".

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On the Bottles

This is down the side alley at the Baggot Inn on Lower Baggot Street - nearly at St Stephen's Green. Why was I there, in that lonely alley way? Well, it was Bank Holiday Monday and I had set off for the centre with the camera bag. I wanted to try a shot at the front door of the Baggot Inn and somehow the alley beckoned with its myriad of bottles. The wide angle lens then made mincemeat of the crates and the colour! Bottles hold all manner of stuff. Alcohol, elixirs or energy drinks, they all contain a secret of some kind - or something to be revealed. Even for the ubiquitous Coca Cola or Sprite, what is the secret ingredient contained therein? And sometimes of course, bottles hold genies or spirits to be unleashed when you uncork the vessel. Truth to tell, I do still dream of Jeannie from that old sitcom. Bottles have been around for a while and the first is said to date from around 1500BC., but the symbolism is clear. Bottles are vessels that carry secret knowledge and like the Ark, bring peace and salvation. Message in a bottle?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Watering Drama

The shot was taken when gardening and it was bright sunlight. It's easy enough to get this effect but I liked this image particularly because of the small droplets and the streaks of watery light on the left hand side of the picture. It was perfectly acceptable in colour, but monochrome rendered it dramatic! Water, which we readily take for granted is a potent symbol. But when it is sprayed it is like the rain - life-giving for the most part. It is comical though, when a hose pipe is used in the garden. There's always the chance the water will will be turned playfully on the other, a source of much slapstick comedy! In the summer, many a garden fete is enlivened for the children by the arrival of the fire brigade equipped with high power hoses and good humour. Watering the garden aids plants to live and is always about nature. Psychoanalytically, a spray of water offers maternal resources to the mother earth. There is security too, in fresh water. It seems able to take on as many organic metaphors as we can offer - purity, freshness and youth are happily compatible with liquidity.