Thursday, December 31, 2009

& now for something completely different

I thought I'd end 2009 with this one from a park sign in Richmond. So it's the end of 2009 ... and now for something completely different? What caught my eye? The boot print I think - but who would kick a sign? It only said Pitch & Put. Maybe the boot owner was angry about golf things or something else in his life. Now traditionally, this is the time for New Year resolutions and we often try to give things up rather than resolve to do new things. Giving up - smoking, drinking, chocolate, unhealthy snacks or even kicking signs - is the order of the day. Sometimes things just seem so awful that we would like to kick something. The technique is used in psychotherapy of course. Some gestalt techniques, such as focused expressive psychotherapy, involve allocating a chair or cushion to represent the person causing the frustration. The client is then encouraged to direct feelings towards the object, allowing repressed feelings to emerge, giving them voice and action and allowing change to occur. The point is that we can acknowledge, recognise and transform feelings through such techniques in a more productive way than kicking a sign. Even if it's briefly satisfying. Now that's about shadow - which is another blog.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

After Xmas Shopping

This shot is taken with the camera sitting on a bit of street furniture. Light was failing and this was the result of a too-low shutter speed and a small aperture. The Xmas lights looked nice but somehow the people looked nicer. The old black and white style of street photography has all but vanished with digital technology and mostly practitioners are stripping the colour from images to get monochrome. But does it retain the tonal quality in the process? I don't really think so. The attempts to recreate it are literally about retro-fitting the technology to salvage tone. The filters I use do something of this with some success. But a more successful photograph might be taken in Kodak Tri-X or Ilford XP2 to provide the range and then the negative could be scanned. To get good results at night there is a small window of opportunity, just about dusk. At that time, there is still enough light for the camera and enough dark to convey that night is here. Can we make use of small windows of opportunity? As with the light, we can very well wait - but it's better to seize opportunities immediately.

Monday, December 28, 2009

In the City

I took this shot near the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road. It’s just to the right of Centre point, an area which appears to be undergoing renovation. When I looked at the result of the shot, I was hardly impressed - but the juxtaposition of buildings was alluring. I put it through a filter and came up with this graphic view of change in the city. The Charing Cross Road was so exciting in the sixties when I first encountered the area with wall-to-wall bookshops, selling all manner of small publications. You could make your own poetry book from a Gestetner and a stapler then get one of the shops to sell it for you. Alas Gestetner is now Ricoh and doesn't make that fabulous, accessible printing machine. That is no more and neither are the bookshops. The city changes all the time, but how do we "read" the change. If modern architects insist on buildings that proclaim their relation to society, what sense do we make of the transition? I like this image because the codes of space in the city are being "processed". Perhaps that's a more interesting space, somewhere in the stitches. Here, things other than the proclamations of architects and developers might be considered. Where we can ask - what is that building for, who will use it? Then we can begin to talk about repressive space, space that daunts and even terrorises.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tree Facade

This is the corner of Waterloo and Pembroke Road. There was something about the skeleton trees that looked interesting against the modernist lines of the building. The fairly ordinary office block which housed Yellow Pages has, since my time in the neighbourhood, had a new facade. It managed to survive the building boom, which entailed pulling some of its (newer) neighbours down. As I am fond of saying, it's not the worst, but I wonder how long it will remain since many plans are outstanding for close-by Baggot Street. I like trees in the winter because you can see the gnarled trunks and branches devoid of vegetation. Although the literature (especially Jungian) privileges the hermaphroditic quality of trees, the trunk rising from the ground is clearly in the realm of the phallus and hence the father. So despite their large root structure, trees always take the upward path. Trees in tales of mystery and imagination seldom have leaves, unless rustling is required of course! Generally bare, they are vested with a sinister appearance. In these times where the ecological balance seems threatened. I acknowledge that it takes only a few minutes with a power saw to cut down a tree that took a hundred years or more to grow. Where we seem to be tipping the balance of climate change through wholesale plundering of the earth, I am reminded that the Hanging Tree is another name for the gallows. I hope that we are not building our own, through economic recklessness.

Rejected Window

Just around the corner, a new building nestles amongst the older ones. As decoration, windows like these were installed with little thought for the urban surroundings. I always think this kind of decorative feature belongs to the seaside where almost anything goes and doesn't look too out of place. I had a look from this angle that you see and somehow the window had something to recommend it - so I used a filter that picked up the browns in the stained glass. Maybe I was looking for something to salvage in an object that is far from pretty, but is something with which you have to co-exist. Jung was very emphatic about the stone that the builders rejected. The stone would eventually be found to be the most useful and have to be incorporated into an important part of the building. So perhaps the things we reject about ourselves are the very parts of ourselves that we need to develop and reintegrate. We cannot throw away the "bad" parts of ourselves. We need to acknowledge, rework and reintegrate them. In the practical world of Ballsbridge space though, I have to live with the window. But I found I managed to make something of it. I just took a different point of view, saw something from a different angle.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lorry or Truck?

Not the sort of thing you see everyday in Elgin Road, Ballsbridge. It's the Mexican Embassy, and didn't appear to be anything more dramatic than a truck bringing tents for a fete arranged in the garden. A truck, you say? Wouldn't that be a lorry? Or since it's army would it be a wagon? Something I did not know was that truck comes from trochos or τροχός, Greek for wheel. It's likely that in the UK and Ireland we would say lorry rather than truck. In other countries it gets very complicated and translation will not do. In Germany, truck is a loanword and is likely to refer to a forklift vehicle. If you dream of a (truck or lorry), then it could refer to a heavy emotional load that has to be transported. As always, your associations are important. What would be your associations be to a vehicle such as the one in the photograph? If you are in or have been in the Army, that would have to be considered. But I can't help thinking of a stupid rhyme from my childhood. They're not lorries/ They are trucks/What is in them?/Cows and ducks. Could it be from the Second World War? Maybe someone could tell me?

Friday, December 18, 2009


Again from St Peter's Square, you could have your pick of people taking photographs. Enough to make one wonder whether people were there for the experience or merely to record their presence. Sometimes we are so busy taking photographs we forget to be "in the now". This must be in my shadow as I am of course in the frame for this one. The shadow in psychoanalysis is an interesting concept and quite delicate - but roughly speaking, if you see someone that you don't know very well and they arouse feelings of enmity, then that is your own projection - part of yourself that is unrecognised and unintegrated. Notice what you notice. The more you recognise, the better. So of course this photograph is about hair. What an admirable symbol is hair! We can usually remember Samuel, shorn of his hair by Delilah - and hence shorn of his strength. Imprisoned by the Philistines, his hair grew again and he brought down their temple with his last act. We consider the hair to be a part of the body even when detached. We keep saints' hair as relics and a lock of the baby's hair as a memento - especially after the first time the baby's hair is cut. The way the hair is styled can denote personality or spiritual status. Do you recall the lyrics for the musical song "Hair"?
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reassuring Buckets

I came across these in Via Gregorio VII, just near the Vatican, The shops were closing and you couldn't miss the colourful buckets. I suppose that the containers had just been cleaned and put there to drain at the end of the working day. What they contained I do not know and I can't remember the shop, but I think it was a caffè or snack bar. I think I've said enough about containers and the like, but this did remind me of various Arabian folk tales like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, where there was much a to-do with oil jars. People hid in them, were drowned in them or even boiled in them. These would of course have been 2 metres high whereas these largish containers are less than one metre in height. So what's under these containers? I doubt if they are hiding anything. Rather, they were a comforting sight on a winter's night - a sign of rhythmic activity and of the day coming to an end. The pavement or sidewalk is a site for reassuring activities, a sign of habitation and of the city. The city is the Mother and so of course are containers such as these. Perhaps that's why the sight is reassuring.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Senatus Populusque

These are everywhere in Rome, but I liked this one in particular because it was wearing smooth around the manufacturers name. The old Roman initialism - I am assured it is an initialism - is on manhole covers in Rome and probably dates from the time of Mussolini, when attempts were made to identify with the Roman Empire. The Rome municipality and many other cities (including Dublin) adopted it from Senatus Populusque Romanus, which itself was everywhere for a while, most famously on the Roman legions' standards. "The Senate and the People of Rome" stood for the government of Rome, which must have been quite early to have its own typescript logo. The Dublin version is SPQH, Senatus Populusque Hibernicus, the Senate and People of Ireland - and is on the City Hall. At roughly the same time, SPQL was adopted for the City of London - Senatus Populusque Londinii. The point is, that all authority derives from the people. So Mussolini wasn't the first to associate with the glories of the Roman Empire. Psychoanalytically, to go climb down under the manhole cover is certainly to sink into the unconscious below and its labyrinthine system of caverns.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Roman Shopping

I very much liked this scene as I was sitting at a caffè in Rome. It's kind of relaxed, somehow, but also full of questions. What is the woman looking at this is so agreeable? What's in the magazine that the men reading, that is so interesting? Are the man and woman at the window related in some way? I will never know. Such is this kind of image. The scene is such a long way from the harshly-lit shopping malls that have become so familiar, less mannered and self conscious. Some photographers strive for a naturalism which they know is beyond their grasp - to show people who are at home in their environment and not self conscious. Is self consciousness any less real? Perhaps it's just different. Lefebvre says that the body reveals its inventiveness and deploys it in space. Maybe the camera does that too, since it's a kind of prosthetic. But this is optical space, not real space at all. For all that, it's a space I briefly inhabited and helped to shape.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Amaro Felsina Ramazzotti

Upstairs in a Rome caffè I came across this objet trouvé. I set out on an investigation into Amaro Felsina Ramazzotti. Amaro, generally drunk prior to or following a meal, is a favourite of mine and I find it aids digestion. You can drink it any time you like though, but it's 30% alcohol, so go easy! Originally from Milan, it was first produced in 1814 by Ausano Ramazzotti who owned a wine, herbs and pharmaceutical store. The factory is now in Canelli, near Asti and belongs to Pernod Ricard. Amaro Ramazzotti is composed of 33 ingredients and has that aromatic, medicinal taste, which can persuade you it's doing you good. The Ramazzotti official web site is aggressively modern, compared to this tableaux but rather good fun - even if you do have to enter your date of birth to see it. I suddenly visualised a scene of teenagers in Temple Bar, completely inebriated with Amaro. We are now in the realm of Dionysos or Bacchus, who psychoanalysts see as representing freedom from inhibition and repression. Dionysos would indeed preside over that Amaro visualisation, should it come to pass. I doubt if it will. Amaro continues to be an aperitif, drunk before or after food and, if served in the establishment featured here, it would never arrive on its own, but accompanied by a hearty snack.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Generation Gap

I was glad to catch this one because it was a surprise. I was focusing on the boy choosing a magazine when the elderly woman hove around the corner and into my field of view. I am always impressed by Italian news stands. First of all, there are many. And are they well stocked? I should say so. There are books, magazines, DVDs, calendars, supplements and part-works of all shapes and sizes. If you have an interest in something you are sure to find it here. What about the years that separate the woman and the child? Very often, this gap is more easily bridged than that between the child and parent. The grandparent, for example, is a little further away, sufficiently distanced to be able to mediate between parent and child when necessary. When the parent is unable to let go of the child archetype and won't allow a son or daughter to negotiate the adult world, the grandparent is well placed to comment about how the parent behaved at a younger age! But what of our two subjects? They hardly noticed each other and certainly they hardly noticed me, in going about their business. So let's fantasise. I think the boy was about to choose a rock star calendar and the old lady was on her way to the cafe round the corner - meeting another old lady for a coffee and a sticky bun.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Smiling Policeman

The policeman was not only pleased to have his photograph taken but appeared to be of an altogether cheerful disposition. I felt confident enough to show him the result. I suppose Sunday guard duty at the Vatican is not the most difficult of duties - but who knows? He had an admiring crowd in any case with that winning smile! As I am always saying, a policeman is a sign of authority and most of us confess to feeling nervous if approached by a policeman, even when we know we have done nothing wrong. Uniforms often daunt civilians. Their clothes mark them out as being in authority, even nurses in hospital. The uniform gives them the symbolic authority of the father. So the Laughing Policeman song is funny because we don't expect the authority figure, the stern father, to laugh.
He laughs upon his duty, he laughs upon his beat
He laughs at everybody when he's walking in the street
He never can stop laughing, he said he'd never tried.
And once he did arrest a man and laughed until he died.
I used to put money in slot machines at the seaside and watch a comical caricature sing this song - and I think this rather proves my point about authority figures. Buona fortuna, il signor policeman!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

St Peter's Eye

There were many people taking pictures in St Peter's Square. You can just make out an image of St Peter's here in the camera monitor, but it showed too little detail for me to improve it. The camera of course approximates to the symbolism of the eye, and a single eye to boot. I am reminded that mythology features a number of creatures with a single eye, not all of them pleasant. I always feel that the camera is slightly predatory so maybe it's a kind of Cyclop since the one-eyed monster in Odysseus is of a rather foul disposition. James Joyce's Ulysses utilises the Cyclops (Episode 12) to present a character, the narrator, who has a very singular viewpoint (the "I"). In this case, that viewpoint is narrow and indeed bigoted. Often, we need a two-eyed point of view. In psychotherapy it is sometimes necessary to consider what is being excluded from the client's script and so perhaps that is a convincing reason for two people to work together on an issue. But the camera is uncompromising in what it excludes from the eye of the person behind the viewfinder. And the longer the lens the more singular and uncompromising is the point of view. So psychotherapy requires a whole bag of lenses - wide-angle, standard, telephoto - and we need to be able to shift focus on this or that part of the whole image. If you dream about looking through a camera viewfinder, you might like to consider what kind of lens is used and its length. Is there good depth of field or is something very particular in focus? It could alert you to an issue at hand.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

St Peter's Balloon

It was an accident that I caught the Pope's Sunday blessing. I strolled to St Peter's Square to see the tall Christmas Tree that was delivered only few days before. Coincidentally I also saw the long truck that delivered it, making its way up Via Gregorio VII. But even with the 200mm lens, Il Papa was still very far away (as you can see). So I focused on one of the balloons that was released by a visitor keen on the family - you can make out the organisation if you turn the picture upside down. It would have been nice to have the image of the balloon set against the hemisphere of St Peter's because technically they are both globes and hence share the symbolism of the circle. In practice, however, the sphere of this balloon is far from the perfection of the sphere - perfect because the distance from the centre to anywhere on the circumference is always the same. The Pope is a father symbol and in the Tarot, he is represented as the Man of Knowledge. As far as the symbolic world is concerned, he is said to be the intercessor between God and the Universe. The Pope is always set in a high position. From there he commands all his disciples to pass on knowledge to all corners of the earth.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Saint Andrew's Pots

The thirtieth of November is St Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day. This is usually celebrated quietly enough, with a supper. There would be haggis and other traditional dishes like herring in oatmeal. In all likelihood, a Scottish trifle, which is an extravagance borrowed from the French, would be on the menu. No supper would be complete without a piper and, as on Burns night, the haggis would be led into the hall by a piper. The main dish is simple peasant fare and none the worse for that. But it takes many pots to make it - as you can see. St Andrew, the apostle, was a fisherman and he is believed to have been crucified in Greece. Some years after AD300, for safekeeping, most of his bones were later moved to Scotland - because to King Constantine this was "at the ends of the earth". From there, some remains were taken to Amalfi in Italy but some fragments were returned to Scotland in 1879 and yet more recently in 1969. As a fisherman, Saint Andrew would certainly have been familiar with herring in oatmeal. So here's wishing everyone in the old country a very pleasant evening of food and poetry in the Year of Homecoming.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hey Ho, the wind and the rain

The rain rained nearly all day, very much the Sunday to stay inside. Feste's bleak song "When that I was and a Tiny Little Boy" is the close of the comedy, Twelfth Night and a stanza is sung also, if I recall, by the fool. In Shakespeare, only a few types gets to speak the truth, however unpalatable. Fools, drunkards and wordly rude mechanicals may speak the bitter truth. Comedy is not real life. A great while away the world began/With hey ho the wind and the rain,/But that's all one, our play is done/and we'll strive to please you every day. Feste tries unsuccessfully to send the audience away happy with this bitter song. It was hard to please you on a day such as this. I had little hope of that when venturing out when the rain stopped. Like the song in the play, this image is a last minute bid for applause on a bleak winter's afternoon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Deep Blue Science

I took this shot some years ago on a visit to Knightsbridge or "museum land" as I like to call it. It's in the Blue Cafe of the Science Museum, which I have featured before. Well worth a visit on its own, it has its own beer (in a deep blue bottle, naturally). This shot was taken at a very low shutter speed so the subjects have moved a little, giving themselves a lovely halo. I'd like to say it was intentional. But I never paid the image much attention until I took a second look recently and cropped the picture a bit. The mother and daughter are looking intently at something and I cannot remember what this was. But there is some kind of dynamic between the two. In mythology, Demeter and Persephone were the mother and daughter of Eleusian mysteries. Persephone was Demeter's daughter by Zeus and the bond was so strong that when Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter made the whole world barren. She searched and searched for her daughter and when she discovered her, she did a deal with Hades allowing Persephone to stay some time in the underworld and the rest with her mother. Kerenyi (Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter) argues that this is part of woman's search for completion and for all people's search for identity. It's a few years on now for my two subjects. I can't help wondering how they are.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Otherworld Sunset

The immortal sun descends nightly to the kingdom of the dead ... his throne is like the fiery flame and his wheels as burning fire. Not at all original but at least the combination is mine. The latter is from the Aramaic Zohar and the first is from Mircea Elieade Patterns In Comparative Religion. The sun guides souls through the lower regions and brings them back to light. This photograph is from my archives and was taken on one of a number of return trips to the city I called home for nearly a quarter of a century. When you see this kind of shot emerging there is no time to lose - the sun falls fast on its journey at this stage. It was a Central American belief that the sun passes through the kingdom below unharmed. Effectively for the dead, it's only visiting. Shamans endow the eagle with these solar properties. Feeding the Eagle with sacrificial offerings was apparently a way in which to nourish the sun. So perhaps when I ran out to take this photograph I was feeding the eagle, nourishing the sun so that it would return the morrow's morn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red Dog Hello

The dog looks like it's saying "Hello!" Blackrock Shopping Centre is a place I return to regularly although some of it's charms have disappeared over the years. Not this one though. I appreciate the fact that children still like to go on these rides and it reminds me that we all need to play sometimes. I am also advised that Jarvis Cocker finds it easy to find the child within, it's the adult within that's the problem. So he says anyway. Here, the dog is playful and faithful, unlike the terrifying dogs of mythology. Cerberus was the many-headed dog on guard at the entrance to Hades. In one story Orpheus put Cerberus to sleep and Hercules managed to capture him without weapons. Dogs are very special to us so I propose to call this dog Cerby. Next time you're in Blackrock, pop in and say hello to Cerby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bollard Art

This is on Mespil Road, just round the corner from the Guinness Gallery. That's why I granted the ordinary street object the status of art. I passed a lot of cafe tables that day, all with small droplets of rain - and they did look pretty. But somehow the bollard appealed. The drops looked like small creatures on the black surface. Strange to think that no matter how pretty, they are responsible for the peeling paint and the emerging rust on the metal surface. In Christian and Jewish symbolism, water is the beginning of creation. If we did not have this rain, the land would be barren. Water symbolises life itself and these creatures are the materia prima, no more so than because the rain changes and fertilises wherever it touches. Fortunately, we have no shortage of rain in Ireland!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Picnic Sight

This a very spectacular scene on the Mull of Galloway. It's in a very small spot called Port Logan, where there is a small Inn with a good range of lunchtime food. Not the time of year for picnic tables though. I can imagine it in the sun - wouldn't it be pleasant? This is the Year of Homecoming for all Scots abroad and I was pleased to make my visit home (and get my certificate - very nice to have). So this was the Voyage Home and I travelled around, met friendly people, ate good food and had a pleasant trip, all in all. It's an old adage that it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive. In this case , it was true. The south of Scotland is often neglected by tourists in favour of the Highlands, but the Southern Uplands are very scenic. "There's a certain peace of mind/Bonnie lassies there ye'll find/Men so strong and men so kind/ Among the hills of the Borders". So sings Matt McGinn. Yes, that's it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eats and leaves

Just by Eddie Rockets in Baggot Street, a large pile of leaves had gathered. I decided I would get down to their level and I did get some dramatic shots with a wide angle lens. This shot however was the one I picked. There are people in the shot - even if the children probably thought I was rather strange sitting on the pavement. I dare say they were headed to Eddie's place for a bite! What do you think? Down at street level it was interesting to see the way the leaves responded to the wind, as if they had some kind of collective energy. Sometimes they formed themselves into animal shapes - dragons with heads and tails, dancing with the air currents. Autumn is the season of dramatic change and even at this late stage the leaves continue to dominate the streets. Change is the stock and trade of the psychotherapy profession so this season, more than any other, is meaningful to me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Men with Bags

Clearly there is some significance to the number of images containing three men. Perhaps it's the three amigos series? What I liked were the bags and the coats. The longish coats and general disposition seemed to conjure up a previous time. But of course, shoulder bags for men are comparatively recent. This is near the Mespil Hotel, in Mespil Road, so perhaps these three amigos are at some conference or other. I am thinking here that clothes are the external symbol of the self and in many case denote a membership of some group with certain duties. They also form an external expression of the essence of the human being. The bag is a container, so what do the bags contain? I think the bags contain meeting or conference papers in great number - agendas, working papers, lists of participants and promotional hotel pens.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hiding in the Rain

It was raining again and I felt that no shot would introduce itself to me today. An opportunity duly appeared but just as I was about to snap the shutter, the umbrellas came down - whether by accident or design I will never know. But when I put the shot up on the screen what do you know? A nice picture that needed black and white treatment. Pembroke Lane is a jolly place for people photographs isn't it? Singing in the Rain is one of these all-time great songs from a musical so I silently willed these guys to go and stand under the spray from a dodgy rain pipe and be moved on by a grumpy Garda. No such luck, as they headed to their office. What about dreams? The rain and the wind together can denote fickleness, but the wind alone could denote an impending change. Dreaming of men with umbrellas in the wind and rain would need a lot of exploration - maybe a couple or three sessions!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pecking Order

There are many photographs of pigeons in cities and usually I tend to ignore them unless they are doing something completely unusual. But I liked these two for some reason - and they were tucking in. In the city they are very much a link between heaven and earth - and anyone who has had to take a suit to the dry cleaners because of birds may wryly smile. Symbolically, in the East birds are regarded with suspicion whereas in Celtic tradition it's all very nice. Birds can raise the dead from their sleep by singing so sweetly and so on. In my case, my photographic foray was interrupted by what my American friends call a "wise guy". Very annoyingly he put his feet closer and closer to the munching pigeons until they flew in the air. On his departure they immediately came back for the food and tucked in. So here's that shot!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leaves in Danger

The Pembroke Road provided me with colour today in the shape of a wagon collecting leaves. So I was pleased to see that the wagon was accompanied by a man with a brush who swept the leaves into piles and then shovelled them into the truck. Is this not the way to deal with leaves - rather than those who pretend to have a moped and deliver mayhem to our environment? What have they got against the leaves, I thought, that they must be chased around so much? Perhaps Shelley has the idea when he speaks of them as "pestilent multitudes". Shelley of course was witness to some major social upheavals and this surfaces in his poetry. Perhaps the multitudes can only be pushed around so much. In any case the autumn colours of Ballsbridge are very nice this year, I must say. The foliage of some of the trees is very nearly red.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the Wall

I couldn't resist the pipe, near Dunne and Crescenzi on South Frederick Street. Most certainly it was the wadge of white paper wedged behind it, that did the trick. But there are many shades of green moss too, which increases the visual interest. And surely the orange shade of the bricks is most typically Dublin? Plumbing has an interesting history. Pipes first originated in urban settlements in the Indus valley in 2700BC and were further developed in the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese and Indian civilisations. Between the Romans and the nineteenth century not much happened! By the looks of this pipe, nothing much happened after that either. I guess its not rocket science, as they say these days. But I can see an abbreviation on the pipe - 3RW. I know RWB is rain water basin, so could it be the obvious? Pipes are conduits, so if you dream of pipes you need to look closely at what they are for, where they are coming from and going to. What are they carrying, and what does that mean to you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Something Xtra

Xtra-vision has been on this Baggot Street-Waterloo Road corner site for quite a few years now, but in my memory, the corner site belonged to AIB and was disused. In these days, the local video rental shop was called Metropolis. It was above where Tesco is now and was a treasure trove of back catalogue material. I have been trying to track down the origins of the use of "X". There are various theories but the letter chi (pronounced kai) is the 22nd letter of the the Greek alphabet and it is thought that this gave rise to Christ being represented as x, as in Xmas. There are, as usual, many arguments, but when X is fused with the Greek letter Rho, the resulting figure (like a cross, superimposed on a "P") is known as the labarum, which came to symbolise crucifixion. Much used in ecclesiastical celebration, it can't be traced much before Constantine in AD312. Again, we are a long way from Xtravision and the way in which X is used - such as the X factor. But Xmas approaches.

Bute Harbour Haven

This shot is taken from a hotel window and necessarily at a high ASA - hand held available light, as I'm fond of saying. The Victoria Hotel in Rothesay is an institution on the Isle of Bute and it has excellent views over the harbour and bay. The picture is noisy but I put it through a filter called "edgy" and was quite pleased. These are ships rather than boats and symbolise strength, control and the journey. The ship voyages in safety under human control. Here, the Bute ferry is plying past a cargo ship that is, in all likelihood, waiting on instructions. In a recession, global trade drops and so do voyages. Ships are laid up or even "mothballed" during these times and very often the West of Scotland provides fair haven for the vessels within its many fjords. Maybe some of the crew of the cargo ship are in the "The Vic", with glasses of malt whisky?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gastro Pub Menu

The menu in the Colintraive Hotel was so ... baroque, I had to take a picture.. It's interesting if you click on the image and have a look at all the varied information, including the person who caught the fish, checked the spelling, etc. It's a bit like some descriptive CD insert. I think this is all about the Word, which is necessarily about the father and instruction. In all this we can see what's what and when you can have it. Sometimes things are taken away. In Christian terms, the Word existed before the world - in God. Before the World is made, it's vested with wisdom and hidden design. Greek philosophers called it Logos - intellect, ideas and thought itself. But I like the Dogon, who conceived of moist and dry words. Dry words exist at the level of a primeval lack of awareness - undifferentiated but with potential, the unconscious in other words. The moist comprises words given to man and it is creative and fecund - the world comes into being. So this menu is moist - creative, promising and inviting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Northern Lights

At the southernmost tip of Scotland, on the Mull of Galloway, lies this lighthouse. I visited it on a rainy November day, when probably it is at its best. It is very similar to Lands End down in Cornwall (without the exhibition, though!). All lighthouses are said to be modelled on the Alexandria lighthouse built on the Island of Pharos in 280 AD by the Greek architect, Sostratus. Famed for its technical excellence it was one of the Seven Wonders of the world. The king, Ptolemy, forbade Sostratus from inscribing his great work, but he went ahead and did it anyway. Ptolemy was not pleased and covered the inscription with his own words. But as time passed this fell off, to reveal the signature of the architect. Such was the durability of the lighthouse that Pharos became the origin for lighthouse in many languages - phare (French) farol (Portuguese) faros (Spanish), faro (Italian) and Catalan (far).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Highland Truck

You can take a short cut to the Highlands by taking the Wemyss Bay Ferry to Rothesay and then the ferry from Rhubodach to Colintraive. This is the latter. It has a kind of a timetable, takes about five minutes and is worth every penny of the fare. On the Colintraive side there's a very nice hotel which does an excellent lunch. This part of Scotland relies very much on its ferries so I will desist to speak of Kharon, the ferryman who conducts souls to the Underworld - because he is generally portayed as a dirty, unkempt kind of fellow! The red fuel truck is my object and the driver is there in the mirror ... Here's the Slogan, always use Brogan. I forgive you your slogan, Mr Brogan, because I rather like your truck. In a dream, a truck loaded with useful cargo implies positive contents of the psyche. But if you are stuck behind one or perhaps being pushed by one from behind, like the film, Duel, then that's another matter entirely.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Change means Loss

The weather changed and suddenly there was sunlight in Ettrick Bay, so I rushed out of the cafe to take advantage of the sky. This scene is quite poignant for me because when I was a child, I used to come here on holiday or for a day out by the sea. There were many holidaymakers here, milling around with swimming togs and beach balls. On this wee playground, there used to be a funfair with a Ferris wheel! I am quite sure the funfair was much smaller than I now imagine it, yet it seems a little sad that this scenic spot is so quiet. Change means loss - so said my group supervisor during my training. I doubt if trams will ever again take holidaymakers from Rothesay, the island's main town, to this beautiful spot. But it is somewhere I always return to with enormous pleasure. Memories are important in psychotherapy, but in order to call them up, I need to recognise my old experiences. Perhaps the colours of this over painted swing did that for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flying Chips

Here's something else that's just for fun - the third in the Ettrick Bay series. This cafe on the edge of the sea is decorated in a lovely blue colour. I was just taking a shot of the tables and chairs when the waitress brought my lunch - prawns in a wrap and a plate of curly-wurly chips. They appeared in the shot and I decided it looked just fine! Very tasty they were too. These two colours appearing together would normally represent a sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth. I'll leave it there for now and remember how satisfying the food was on a cold November's day.

Too Early Snow

This view looks like snow on fields but I did use a filter which made the scene into black and white - it's almost a change to negative.. I rather liked the fence. Did you ever run a stick along a fence and make a terrible racket? Piaget tells us us that this is a search for regularity, which is a normal part of child development. The repetitive sound is is reassuring to the child. I think that what caught my attention was indeed the regularity of the fence. Of course when you look at it closely, it has some pieces missing and it's not as regular as I thought! Fences are boundaries, which can be looked at from both sides and this one appositely contains a children's playground. On the other side lies grazing pastures. The Isle of Bute has the advantage of the Gulf Stream, so snow is relatively uncommon, but just for fun I'm keeping my processed shot the way it is at present.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two Bike Path

The scene is in Scotland on the Isle of Bute. This path calls for adventure does it not? What is around the corner? What lies at the end? We need the words of Gaston Bachelard here. In the Poetics of Space he comments that psychoanalysis generally sets the human body in motion. Our unconscious is familiar if we are at home and at at rest.Yet psychoanalysis calls us to enter into life's adventures and we are encouraged outside of ourselves. "What a dynamic handsome object is a path!", he says. George Sand wrote "What is more beautiful than a road? It is the symbol and the image of an active varied life." So it's worthwhile for everyone to speak of their paths, roads, hedges and fields - of the horses, sheep, goats and cows they invariably encounter along their route. Emmenez-moi, chemins!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Baggot Street Hallowe'en

This scene in Baggot Street was correct for the time of year. We put out pumpkins, or more correctly for these parts, turnips. with a scary face. Now the tendency this year has to been making Hallowe'en into Christmas. I have seen strings of Hallowe'en lights and posters wishing me "Happy Hallowe'en". I understand that we want to have a happy time and there is nothing wrong with that. But Hallowe'en is a time to be scary. We like to scare each other and howl with laughter because it isn't really dangerous. Just the idea of being terrified will suffice, won't it? It's acceptable because it's "in a container" - one special night where some rules don't apply. Children can dress up, go around to neighbour's doors and perhaps sing, act or say poetry. In return they will receive sweets or sometimes .... money! I'm describing Scottish Hallowe'en of course. But the principle is the same. So have a good scary time tomorrow evening!

Pembroke Road Autumn

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Triptych reflection

I generally don't like this kind of photograph because they seldom turn out well. The fail to fulfil their early promise - which is when you see the reflection in the street. It is almost as if they cannot take another reflection or representation when it goes into print. My worry was that as a triptych it might look like these dressing table mirrors of my parents' generation. But this turned out OK and I was pleased with the three panels of different sizes. But what about triptychs? They were popular in the Middle Ages in Christian art, but were certainly created during the time of the Greeks and the Romans. I felt that somehow the two architectures created a kind of representational relationship. At the same time it's about change in the city - somehow held in aspic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Red Hot Attention in Ballsbridge

Just across the road from the Sebastian Guinness gallery in Burlington Road, there's a rather forlorn border for plants. To be fair, the office development isn't complete so the plants gets only a little attention. There was only one of these fabulously coloured plants so it got my attention and I went for a limited depth of field. I think it works. Kniphofia caulescens is a member of the genus Kniphofia and is commonly known as Red Hot Poker. African in origin, these plants are named after German botanist Johann Hieronymus Kniphof. Gardeners describe these striking colours as inflorescence and really you can't help but be drawn to look at them. But attention as a concept isn't great. What about that fuzzy field at the rear that the lens didn't pick out? I gave it my attention, so that the viewer wouldn't. That is in the realm of consciousness and consciousness does not begin to exist until it sets limits to an object. So says Merleau-Ponty and thus describes what photographers do all the time!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ballsbridge Amazon

This is the statue outside the Ballsbridge office block, currently being used for the David La Chapelle's American Jesus exhibition at the Sebastian Guinness Gallery in Burlington Road. It is, of course the Mythical Queen Maebh of Connaught in Amazonian pose. I expect most know this story of intoxication and equality, but it was vital that the Queen had to be equal in possessions to her husband. So Maebh felt forced to make a secret sexual accommodation to Daire in order to borrow a brown bull that would equal her husband's prized white bull. But the details of the secret deal leaked and a war commenced to get the brown bull. She was going to take the bull anyway, so it didn't make a lot of difference. There's much more to it and much more bloodshed before the story ends - badly as it happens. The statue reminds me of Beyoncé, so perhaps that's a fitting way to introduce the Americana of David La Chapelle's interesting pix. Get on down there before the exhibition ends on October 31st.