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.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Iron in the Soul

This a detail from a Grand Canal lock near Mespil Road and Baggot Street. I wondered how to organise the depth of field but went for this one. I am not quite sure it works. I associate these locks with the nineteenth century but they are much older. They were used in the Song Dynasty in China around 960-1200. It was vital to encourage public confidence in such structures, so a robust appearance was nearly as important as strength. We believe the bolts won't loosen! Iron is associated with durability, hardness and inflexibility - iron in the soul, iron maiden and so on. In many traditions, it regarded as being sacred, possibly because of the inner composition of the planet. But it's not always positive since it can represent the destructive elements of war. Water and iron together is one to think about. But the canal is a channel and a means of transport. So if you dream of canal locks, consider the changes in levels of the land being overcome to allow the barge to use the channel. Are you anticipating some life change that requires special attention?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Staple it Together (and call it Bad Weather)

When I was adjusting the photograph, the Jack Johnson song of the title, was playing on the radio. The album is called In between dreams - very applicable to a Jungian, wouldn't you agree? Phone boxes seem to be a thing of the past now that cell phones are in practically in every pocket (even if many don't have any credit on their cards). It's too easy somehow to say everyone has one though. Nonetheless, this phone box is as disused as the closed-down snack bar across the road. And look what happens - small adverts appear in quite a colourful way to decorate these otherwise barren looking spaces. The phone number strips dance in the wind and although they have a provisional look, they say "something is happening". There are many technical things I would have preferred in this picture but the fact is that the street was deserted and I quickly took the opportunity presented by the only person that was coming - otherwise the shot would be somehow partial. Try covering up man who appears to be carried along on a random gust of wind. The wind is a kind of communication although largely bluster. It blows randomly - this way and that. Like many a phone conversation? Yet symbolically the wind is also breath and brings life.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rabbit Dreams

I couldn't resist the rabbit in the window of a toy shop in Dawson Street. It's not the first I've featured. Somehow, the display is always interesting there. The rabbit is a creature of the moon and can represent a deep dream state. Allies of the earth mother, plants and water they are truly mythological creatures, appearing and disappearing at will. The rabbits are heroes of popular and ancient culture and surely there are few traditions where rabbits do not feature prominently. In Egyptian, Chinese, Celtic and native American cultures and traditions, rabbits are central. Aztec farmers told not of one rabbit god but of four hundred, and since they hop to one side or another at will, they are also depicted as idle drunkards. The rabbit is the symbol of elemental life, both positive and negative.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trial, Error and Dream Interpretation

In the city, window reflections can be very entertaining, especially where words superimpose themselves on the buildings opposite. The inside of a video hire shop is of necessity, quite busy. So there is a lot going on. The wide angle lens was involved of course and it was held at waist height pointing upwards. No viewfinder available then, so it's trial and error. This is the best of half a dozen tries. I think a polarising filter on the lens itself would have been useful, but that is another project! I choose here to talk about dreams because they often have what Jung describes as a classical dramatic structure. The Lexicon of Jungian Terminology explains: There is an exposition (place, time and characters), showing the initial situation of the dreamer. A development (usually action) in the plot takes place. Next, the climax in which a decisive event occurs. The final phase is lysis, the result or solution (if any) of dream action. But Jung himself is very clear - " a dream is a theatre in which the dreamer is himself the scene, the player, the prompter, the producer, the author, the public, and the critic." [General Aspects of Dream Psychology, ibid., par. 509.]. Often, dreamers might have a series of dreams together representing the classic structure. So another perspective to adopt on your dream is to consider it as movie. If it is unresolved you can also think about what the action and resolution might have been like. Then ask yourself how that feels for you. Rules in dream interpretation are not so hard and fast - unlike many Hollywood films, which are so encumbered with their own rules that they might as well never have happened.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weather, Depression and the Psyche

I think I have mentioned in the past that I set out to find this kind of shot easy. It never works like that. Maybe because I was standing with rain dripping down the back of my neck or perhaps because the bubbles are moving quite quickly with the wind - and they are not going to last long! Today, the rain will not let up and although every day might be a good day, many people find this weather depressing. I just made a picture of the consequences look pretty but certainly a lack of light can affect mood. For Jungians, depression can present an opportunity though, because it regresses and stirs up unconscious material. If the memories that are activated in this process are acknowledged, they can be integrated into consciousness. To do that we have to consciously regress with the depressive tendency. Jung felt that depression often presaged a creative change in a person's life. So this picture is my representation of depression - some kind of dynamic that moves energy around the psyche, taking what it needs, but compensating elsewhere.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Life and Death Cycle

I spotted this thistle in its seeding stage not far from the picture of my previous blog a few days ago. In a kind of brightly lit shade, it was lying in a small sliver of land on Raglan Road that has never been used or claimed for anything. Someone owns it, of that we can be sure. A little wider and a narrow apartment block would certainly have replaced it. Yet that tiny parcel of land provides a constant flow of wildness throughout the seasons. There is very little left in the neighborhood that is truly wild - although the urban foxes seem to find enough! Symbolically, the seed of plants represents the cycle of life and death - that same cycle from which Buddhists would have us free ourselves. The thistle has no worries - it proliferates at speed. Something that I dd not know is that in TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is regarded as girding the heart and fortifying the body. It confers longevity doubtless because when it is dried it keeps rather better than most dried plants. I don't know why thistles are regarded as unattractive because I think they look stunning at any stage of their cycle. When plants decay, they go back to the earth. In this case, earth is a destructive force - she produces, then demands nourishment from the bodies of her own dead.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

True Love Ways

Of course I was drawn to the juxtaposition of the graffito and the cola can. It's a good combination too, because there are many people who, lacking subjectivity, are reassured by familiar sights such as that most recognisable can. I was reminded of two concepts. The first is participation mystique where a person identifies so much with the "object" (usually but not exclusively a person) that they feel a kind of psychic fusion. The other concept is the notion of "normotic", a disorder where feeling "normal" is the defining feature of an individual's life. In the latter case, any other person that falls outside their perception of the normal range can regarded as bad, wicked or even evil. Jung argues for the primacy of the individual and so rejects the true love fusion that some young people feel with their partner. For Jung, that is participation mystique and, since based on projections operating at an usnconscious level, is primitive. Jung's epigone, Maria Von Franz, was nevertheless right to completely reject notions such as true love as of little account. An unconscious love affair with iconic brands can be dangerous for your psychic health - and your pocket.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just a Street Scene

What do you feel about the word "just" as in "just a street scene". Just always comes loaded doesn't it? There is no "just" about anything. But I thought this was interesting, although not particularly pretty as a photograph. More a recording of a moment. So no National Geographic award for me. Just a 1/250th of a second smash and grab in this case. But there was so much going on that I wanted to give it some time. Firstly I liked all the different reds. Then I liked the fact that everyone was doing something different: a man on the phone, a woman eating and a mother and baby looking for something. There is mention of keys, an ice cream advertisement on a dustbin - and there is a pretty windmill of the type I favour. Baggot Street, Dublin at lunchtime always, always throws up something interesting. Modern town planning tries to separate all of us - from shops, from traffic and sometimes from each other. I like the old fashioned streets that are a mixture of happenings. But Robert Bresson points to the limits of photography. "Photography is descriptive, neat image confined to description"