Friday, February 28, 2014

Bundles preserve the Roof.

This is a technical depth of field picture and deliberately so. It's relatively close up and at the very end of a long lens, so very little has any depth - except at the very centre. This is part of a beach roof and it's a kind of thatch. It reminded me of a young unemployed man in London a few years ago. I asked him what trade he would like to go into and he answered "thatching". We were all amused of course, but there are quite a few thatched buildings in England and relatively few thatchers. He might have been onto a good thing. This kind of thatch is composed of bundles rather than being weaved. It's waterproof and can be repaired easily enough. A bundle is heavily symbolic, especially in Christianity. The Bundle of Life is a place where life is preserved and represents salvation. A bundle is like an inventory, a kind of accounting - putting coins in a purse is "bundling". It goes without saying that I have to mention the fasces (from Latin fascis, bundle). Originally Etruscan, the term  passed to the Romans and it became a military and magisterial symbol. Although it suggested a unity that couldn't be broken, the fasces rod was also about the power of life and death over the citizen. Yet somehow the fasces avoided its modern association with fascism and bundles are on coats of arms everywhere - even on a door in the Oval Office. If you dream of such a bundle, it's likely your dream has some connection with preservation. There's something about yourself that you feel needs to be preserved.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Narrow Sky and Heaven.

It was just chance that made me look up and notice the geometry of the buildings and the sky. This kind of shot doesn't always work and so I was pleased. It didn't need adjusting and when I tried to improve the contrast, the photograph lost its charm. This is a very small back street in Rome, near a restaurant district. It can be quite a pain getting along this type of road because there are always people that insist on driving cars there, and it's hardly worthwhile in such a narrow space. But the buildings give a nice sense of enclosure that makes the sky look like a floating pond. In symbolism, skies are invariably about the heavens. I like to think of heaven as being the upper bit and we are down here in the lower bit. There was supposed to be a link between the two, but mostly that is symbolically broken. Some cultures have many heavens - as many as nine - and heroes could fly between them like eagles. but there's something by Blake that keeps coming into my head. A Heaven could be built on earth that would destroy the "dark Satanic Mills". Generally, heaven is felt to act upon the earth, but this entails the formation of a new heaven and a new earth, a concept that derives from the Book of Revelations. You can't change one without the other.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Eagle-eyed and Pure of Heart

I was at the Pet Show last year and an eagle took my interest - or maybe I took his. He was with a handler who was most keen to tell me all about eagles and his eagle would perch on heads in what seemed like an amiable fashion. But with eagles you never know and I tried various photo shots without luck. Finally, my eagle was calm for a time, and this allowed me to get this shot of his splendid head feathers! In general, birds of prey glance behind them before swooping on prey, but not the eagle. The eagle is king of the birds and indeed the collective father-figure extraordinaire. In Roman antiquity, Christianity and in Asian and Amer-Indian myth, the eagle reigns supreme. Eagles always had a symbolic connection with fire and the eagle is said to be able to stare into the sun because its heart is pure. This suggests a contemplative mental enlightenment so in general if you dream of an eagle, it is most likely to have a positive meaning. But there is a dark side too. An eagle may carry off victims to an inaccessible eyrie from which there is no escape. That kind of dream may indicate an overwhelming thirst for power. But if you dream of a descending eagle with two outstretched wings like lightning flashes, it is all about illumination. An eagle may dive out of the sun with nary a backwards glance, so make sure you're also pure of heart (and not in its path).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Niceness of the Spiral Staircase

This is just a staircase in a shop, probably in Grafton Street.  It may even be from the recently demised HMV store. I collect these for collage purposes but occasionally they offer a nice geometry. I use the word "nice" as mathematicians do when they want to describe something elegant, useful or even easy to work with. According to Abhijit Mehta, "nice" describes a way in which a mathematical function feels. In this photograph I feel I know the way the lines are moving and I know I can work with this picture to produce something ... well, nice! The word nice was one that was subject to amelioration - it was upgraded from the Middle English meaning of foolish or absurd. Delving back to 3500BC it could have its origins in the Proto Indo-European "skei", meaning split or divided. This moved through Latin to its current form. The spiral itself is universal in all cultures and describes a single movement which is both in equilibrium and disequilibrium. Maybe you can feel that when ascending a spiral staircase - it's not for nothing that the spiral became a motif of animated films in portraying an altered state such as dizziness or drunkenness. To walk on a spiral staircase in a dream involves something of a journey. It does have a predetermined start and finish, but how does it feel to be on that path? Many ancient societies believed that was the journey of the soul - unknown but preordained.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Circle and the Square

This picture is rather late but we still have the murky weather. It was taken in Turin at New Year, decorations were still around and something about the January light and the ball made me set my compact on telephoto and brace myself against a wall. Then I forgot all about it. Many people assume Italy is always light and sunny and more often than not, it is. But Turin is near the Alps and it gets cold and grey. That light with a lack of colour makes us more aware of the geometry - it's the squares in the picture that I like. With shutters and blinds, all the windows seem a little different too. Quadrangular forms are common in the city and often the city is of the same form. But whereas the circle is eternal the square is somewhat temporary. I'm sure these buildings will give way to something else, although certainly they're comparatively recent. The relationship between the square and the circle is complicated because the square is the perfection of the heavenly circle, but on an earthly plane. So there's a kind of connection between the apartments and the decorative sphere and perhaps I was  unconsciously aware of that when I became interested enough to compose the shot. Dreaming of apartment blocks can mean many things. castles, passageways, windows and doors. But this real life construction offers the viewer the circle and the square together - and trying to square the circle is an impossible mathematical task

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rough Sculpture in Wood

The structures were on a back lot at Cinecittà Roma. I'm not sure what they're for exactly. This is basic carpentry for something temporary and the bits look sturdy enough. Wood is quite a fascinating material, because although it may not last as long as stone or bronze, it's closer to a living thing. Malleable and lightweight, wood remains the choice for much building. Symbolically it has always been associated with life and renewal. Lyle, an Ancient Greek word meaning wood, implies primordial matter. It's certainly versatile. I've seen a car made from wood and recall that Second World War Mosquito fighter planes were made mostly from wood. It was lightweight, which gave extra speed to the craft If you dream of wood, you are in good company. Regarded as a source of regeneration, wood often featured in the dreams of ancient Romans. Supposing you were to have a dream about this stack of wooden supports. Are you looking at it or in you inside it? Do you feel anything concerning the stability of the structure? Are you happy to be there or do you feel anxious? And of course if you were keen on Do it Yourself, you might add another layer of meaning to your interpretation!
[Photo: Camilla Galli da Bino Pentax Q]

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whisky Galore - The Word and the Name

This is another shot from the archives. A few years ago, I took a trip to Islay for New Year and since Laphroaig is one of my favourite whiskies, a visit to the distillery was top of my list. On the day I visited, there were no tours, but it was possible to wander around on a crisp winter's day and take in the scene. It's hard to ignore the giant letters of the name on the wall. Letters can make up a word or a name, but they descend from the Word. The Word is about law, but the name is something else entirely. The ancient Egyptians felt that the name was much more than identification. It was an essential part of a person. There is a primitive belief that to know someone's name is to have power over the person and in ancient China, naming a person was to exercise control over them. I'm not certain about having power over a whisky. Some do and some don't. But if whisky has power over you, then it ceases to be what it is - an enjoyable drink. Yet if drunkenness ensues, that may also be a symbolic state. Drunken states were once considered spiritual and constituted a renewal of the life force. Uisge beatha is the water of life, aqua vītae in Medieval Latin. Group drinking filled in gaps between calendar years, a tradition carried on at Scottish Hogmanay. And for this good reason, the 2nd of January is also a public holiday in Scotland!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Intersection of the Constellation

I was passing a station entrance in Rome and I liked the angles and stripes. Then somehow I lost track of the photograph but although I couldn't locate it, I remembered the image. It's in a shopping district not far from the Vatican, but you wouldn't ordinarily pass it unless you had an appointment there for something or other! Geomancy was something of a long serving cosmological tradition - the art of shapes and locations. Design on the ground was supposed to be in a relationship with the positions of stars in the sky and the shapes here reminded me of exactly that. It's a linking of earth, space and heaven. Bachelard thought that "The Zodiac is the Rorschach Test of mankind in his infancy." (1943) Humans projected their stories onto cosmic structures where object shapes were part of the stories - and somehow the shape in the photograph reminded me of the constellation Aquila, the eagle. Constellation is a term much used in psychoanalysis and it means roughly the same as in astronomy. Psychological factors constellate to form a complex, just like stars cluster in a group within a galaxy. In building terms we have something of a complex in the photo. So what might be constellating here, amongst the lines and stripes and shapes? And in a dream what might it mean to stand on that point of intersection?