Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Christmas Tree Message

The tree was part of a Christmas Market near the Vatican and I liked the simplicity. It looked like a frozen fountain of light. In this blog I've already said enough about trees and fountains and light. But here's all three at once. Rebirth, life and death - and of course, eternal youth. What better to celebrate at this time of year but light, especially around the time of the winter solstice? The days will get longer and we will move progressively towards Spring. "If winter comes can spring be far behind?" asked Shelley. Percy Bysshe was generally regarded as a great poet who wrote about nice things like leaves and skylarks. But he was a revolutionary and he held scant regard from those who profited from poverty and exploitation. The "pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed." These were not leaves but the downtrodden poor who created wealth but did not profit from their labour. He pointed to  rebirth and change that would come in the Spring and bring with it emancipation and justice. It seems to have taken longer than he hoped. But the matter is far from over. That is what the tree symbolises for me. Old and venerable, the tree is about all of us and the potential we have within to create equality. Will we shirk the task and disappear into the void of the brave new world to which Huxley sarcastically referred? To bring the undeveloped world up to our wasteful way of living we need three more planets like this one. There lies barbarism. So how shall we proceed?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Red Bordello Glasses

I was at a social to raise money for animal welfare at Lillies Bordello, a famous and long standing Dublin nightclub. Perched at the bar, I noticed the red bordello lighting on the glasses and so out came the compact camera. Now there wasn't much light and flash would have ruined the picture. This is 1/8th of a second at 1600 ASA so it may be a bit noisy. But perhaps that made the photo. I know these are whisky glasses but symbolically they are chalices. The chalice is the vessel of plenty and a sign of immortality. It holds blood, like the Holy Grail. A psychotherapy tutor once told me there was no Holy Grail and thereby royally missed the point. So where are we between the real, the imaginary and the symbolic? There's no argument because the blood containing vessel is the principle of life. Lillies Bordello is mostly red as brothels should be. But symbolically prostitution means something quite sacred and that's far from the mundane house of dubious pleasure that a brothel represents. In the temple, union with a prostitute was being at one with the God or Goddess and the energy of that God would be then be shared. I can't find any details about the history of the Lilly's Bordello venue. Maybe someone can write and tell me. In the mean time, you can always drop in to symbolically partake of a blood filled chalice!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shadows arrive and leave

I was complaining to myself that Raglan Road seldom throws up any good images these days. At one time there were many but I suppose all streets have their boring periods. I was passing one evening and a bush cast interesting shadows in the sodium lighting. Workmen had recently repaved and the leaves stood out against the texture of the concrete. I had to wait for some time, because immediately I took the camera out of its bag, a wind blew up and the leaves swayed frantically. This phenomenon is something photographers know well. The fleeting shadow images are the opposite of light. but they are often conceived as representing the whole and sometimes God. "For in and out, above, about, below/ 'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show/ Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun/ Round which we Phantom Figures come and go." The Jungian concept of shadow is deceptive and rather complex. It refers to the unintegrated aspects of the psyche. The shadow is often a projection of these, usually onto other people. If you find yourself disliking someone for no particular reason, the chances are you are projecting parts of yourself that you do not like. That is an unconscious phenomenon it is good to think about. Jung said that recognising one's shadow is so worthwhile that it's ninety per cent pure gold. The other ten per cent - well, that really is darkness at noon.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wood, trains and journeys

Wooden seats may not be as comfortable as padded ones, but don't these look inviting? Wood is regarded in many cultures as omnipotent. Recent scientific research in Italy is developing wood as a replacement for bone. It's an amazing substance that can be bent, cut or shaped and we grow 10 billion tons of it per year. In ancient Greek, hyle is the word for primordial matter but it also means wood. This is part of a Turin rack railway. It climbs a steep slope from Sasse to Superga where a lovely basilica looks out over Turin. We often dream of stations in dreams and this coach is in on the departure platform. In the unconscious this may indicate a new venture or a range of possibilities but few people dream of arrival platforms! Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour." (Virginibus Puerisque, 1881:) The journey is the thing, because when I make this trip I usually meet someone of interest and I always learn something. I take photographs on the way, but they come out differently each trip. Plastic and synthetic fabrics may be easier to maintain, but for preference, I like to make this journey on wood.