Friday, January 31, 2014

Free Mountain Sheep

I took this photograph rather a long time ago, probably in 1989. So I guess this denizen of the hillside is long gone. I came across the photo in my archives and it took me a while to recall what project had taken me to a valley in South Wales. I do like the sheep though - it seems quite stalwart and is clearly going somewhere. The symbolism of the sheep does not differ from that of the lamb. It is a sacrificial victim, killed to ensure its own salvation. In suffering the sacrifice, the Lamb ensures its own renewal - overcoming death and the powers of evil, a  pre-Christan symbolism now shared by Christians and Muslims alike. The Lamb was once portrayed on the Cross, flanked by the sun and moon but this changed in 692 in Constantinople and it was ordered that Christ as man should be on the cross. I wanted to draw a parallel here. I was surprised to learn recently that across the globe, 2 out of every 3 farm animals are factory-farmed and never see the light of day. This is an appalling statistic from many points of view. In mistreating our animals we are mistreating ourselves. Livestock farming has been around since 5000BC but never have farm animals been so dreadfully abused. Poor animal husbandry has become the rule not the exception. An organisation called Compassion in World Farming is campaigning against this and I stand with its members. What a fortunate creature that sheep was, to be out in the open, wandering at will.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Disturbed Trams and Red Red Lights


Here's the story. I was paying a lightning trip to Milan just after New Year and was trying to get a picture of a tram. So I braced the compact against a lamppost and waited. But a police car came for a closer look at what I was doing and I fumbled the shutter. So the police car left a red light trail across the shot, which was pleasing enough. The rule in this kind of shot is that movement can be blurred, but not anything else - like the buildings. Lots of symbols here - lights, crossings, junctions and three forms of transport. Red stands out because it is the colour of fire and blood and as a symbol it has considerable power. External lights on a car, boat or plane signify danger. They are the warning of an object ahead and akin to the traffic lights, port lights or a red sign barring the road.  In the poem "Sir Patrick Spens", the Captain Spens is called to captain the King's ship. "The king sat in Dunfermline town/ Drinking of the blood red wine/ "Where can I get a good sea captain/To sail this mighty ship of mine?" Spens takes the job, but alas a mermaid appears and the ship is sunk. Thus the drinking of the blood red wine foreshadowed the tragedy. It was a warning and so Spens was always doomed. When blood red is hidden, it suggests life but when exposed, it means entirely the opposite.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wheels, Power and Change


The wheel suggests perfection but I always feel it's about power. A wheel's turn refers to energy and in the case of "not having done a wheel's turn", you produced little of significance in an allotted period. This is part of an old power station in Rome. When decommissioned, it lay abandoned for a while, until it was adapted as museum that also houses Roman antiquities. There are so many of the latter in Rome, no-one knows where to put them. Wheels are also about movement. But here movement is driven by steam and that's really displaced movement from somewhere else. Movement of electrons makes the steam, but I'll spare you an explanation  of steam turbines for now. I was interested in the name Brown Boveri, on the housing. It is a Swiss company founded in 1891, many of who's subsidiaries became larger than the parent company. It's still going. When the power station was built, the company making the diesel unit was late and so two steam turbines were provided quickly by Brown Boveri.That's industrial movement!  I processed the original photo in black and white because it reminded me of working in a shipyard in the sixties and it showed the detail well. So if you dream of something like this, consider your relationship with machinery. Perhaps you need to transfer your energy elsewhere or use your power in a different way. Is the wheel moving? If it is, it could be about change.
[Photograph by Camilla Galli da Bino on Pentax Q]

Friday, January 17, 2014

Facing Artifice - the Periscope and Dreams

Well of course I thought it looked like a face with little arms. It's a submarine periscope viewer in its housing and it belongs to CinecittĂ  Roma Studios. It's part of a submarine set available to film makers that sits in a cradle so that it can be rocked, as if at sea. I did a bit of ferreting. This sub was used in Jonathon Mostow's second world war film, U-571 (2000). I liked the periscope viewer so much that I wanted to give it a name. So the face's name is Perry. Of itself, the face is quite a symbol and if you're looking for the sign of the ego, look at the face. The face means so much more than merely the housing for the senses. In China "loss of face"is a serious business. It's often forbidden to look at the face of a deity, because it is divine. Danger lies there too. No-one can look on the face of God without damage (... for there shall no man see my face and live: Exodus 33:20). But we can look at Perry, he's just metal and optics. And if we do we can see above water without being seen ourselves. That's the stuff of dreams. A submarine is a boat - it's a U-boat not a U-ship - and the boat voyages around, often in the underworld. If you dream of being in a submarine, it could be part of a voyage of discovery, a transition perhaps. But the vessel itself is womb-like with the sonar pings standing in for the heartbeat of the mother - or maybe you just watched "The Hunt for Red October".

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rome on a Good Day

Can there be a bad day in Rome? Oh yes. There can be a bad day anywhere. But it's hard to beat Rome for views like this. Again, this is taken with the Canon compact camera and it's at the end of the zoom lens. It's an optical zoom all the way - and for a camera that size, it does a creditable job. This is a view from halfway up Gianicolo Hill. You can climb a series of steps from the Ospedale Chiostri di Santo Spirito In Sassia and there's a nice church to see on the way. Once regarded as the centre of the the empire and the known world, Rome is a city of contrasts. In psychoanalysis the city is a symbol of mother and just as the city contains inhabitants, a mother contains her children. But despite her beauty and centrality to Christians, Rome was, for the Book of Revelations, Babylon the Great. Depicted as the mother of harlots she was regarded as the opposite of heaven. But Rome transforms and survives and despite later turmoil, much of antiquity remains. On a clear, crisp day like this Rome bathes in the light. It lends it a heavenly appearance. So of you dream of Rome, it just might be that you dream of the city, mother and survival.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Rabbit the Pig and the Dog

I spotted these three in an exhibition on painter, Modigliani. They were hiding out in the gallery bookshop and with these colours, I couldn't resist a quick shot on the compact camera. It occurred to me that someone might have a dream about a rabbit a dog a pig, and I wondered how it could be interpreted. Now there are plenty of dream interpretation dictionaries and web sites but frankly they're hopeless. There is no standard interpretation for a dream. If only life was that simple. The dreamer might live in the countryside where these animals would mean something different from a city dweller. A person interested in animal rights would have different associations. All these would be worked through in dream interpretation. So is there any certainty in the symbolic? The dog is one of man's greatest allies, yet always associated with the underworld and death. The much maligned pig is allocated gluttony, greed and filth. The rabbit is a mysterious lunar creature who can appear and disappear at will. It is fecund and so connected with plenty and fertility. But any symbolic certainties are modified by the experiences and psychological life of the individual. Colours have symbolic meaning but what meaning for the dreamer? So in dream analysis, we move psychically inwards and outwards, considering not only archetypes and folk tales, but the dreamer's associations and life experiences. It's a long process and in theory nothing should be neglected. There is one certainty however. In the analysis of any dream, only the dreamer can really know if an interpretation is correct.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sweet for the sweet

I used to do more shots like this. It's kind of art trouvé and the simplicity appeals. It was a tray of confectionery outside a small artisan shop in Rome. I'm not claiming to be either Picasso or Duchamp, who were masters of that sort of thing. But found objects have their own charm and I like to think I can spot them. Symbolically, sweets (or candy in the US) represent food, despite the damage to the teeth! They can also represent favours. But in this case they seem to be a collective of somewhat differentiated objects. It could therefore be a sign of partial individuation, especially since each sweet is wrapped in its own container. In individuation we stress that the individual achieves distinctiveness and wholeness through a psychological process of transformation. Unconscious material is bought into consciousness and acknowledged. I rather doubt the sweets are going to make it, but human beings can always try. It's a life-long process that can be expensive in many ways and it's not the easiest of paths. Yet I have never met anyone who had made the attempt and came to regret the hard work. We're all different shapes and colours and sometimes living in society can make us feel that we compromised the individual attributes and qualities of our being. But it's what we mean to ourselves that is probably the most important thing to recognise.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Of Canals and Kids

I'm uncertain how many times this Dublin picture may have been taken. It's certainly a pleasant view and there are worse places to look at. It's a shame the canal isn't used a little more. I recall in my childhood that safety issues that led to the Forth and Clyde Canal being rendered unnavigable. There were always worries that children might fall in and drown. This is a shadow concern of course, because there is danger everywhere and it can't be controlled. This nursery rhyme sums it up:

Three children sliding on the ice,
All on a summer's day,
As it fell out, they all fell in,
The rest they ran away.

Now, had these children been at home,
Or sliding on dry ground,
Ten thousand pounds to one penny,
They had not all been drowned.

You parents all that children have,
And you that have got none,
If you would have them safe abroad,
Pray keep them safe at home.
 
The lesson is that parents have to give up the child archetype and the child has to give up the parent archetype. Otherwise the kids might be in prams until they're 30. Children are in training to be functioning adults and have to be allowed to explore.