Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cup at the Cafe

How to get an unobtrusive shot in a public place? Well, you can always use the old trick of setting a wide angle and putting the camera on the table. Proceed to fiddle with the dials. So I left the framing on this shot - this was the coverage. I was pleased about the woman with the cup. The coffee is good at Dunne and Crescenzi. I also gave the picture a small amount of glowing edges filter since it accentuated the cafe atmosphere and suited the lighting. A cup is a symbol of considerable power. The chalice of course and the grail are both cups. The Tarot has a whole suit devoted to cups. My cup overflows (oft said sarcastically) is from the Christian Bible and is to do with blessings and destiny. But chalices are often associated with breasts flowing with mother's milk. I wondered whether this was the source of the current and extremely popular fashion for heavy cappuccino consumption. Purists don't drink it after noon, but that's become common enough. Very often in object-relations psychoanalysis (Melanie Klein or Emma Freud would be good examples), the therapist will draw attention to a particular kind of behaviour, saying "Well it's like mother milk, isn't it?" Meaning that it's self-gratifying. Constant use of the Internet or television or even coffee can be like mother's milk. Maybe we are all being our own version of the giving, bountiful mother we think we deserve.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The colours through the windscreen were interesting and the raindrops looked nice. I chose to focus on the raindrops for no other reason than aesthetics. I sheltered for a minute in the car after prowling around and I was parked outside the video rental shop with its very vivid advertising. Symbolically the window is about receptivity, but the shape is important. A round window resembles the eye and might be about the self, but a rectangular window may concern reception from the outside world. Say I was to dream about switching the windscreen wipers on. This might indicate that I needed to increase my receptivity - maybe I need to look harder at something or need to see clearly something that is happening in my environment. But that's just my view. In dream interpretation, its always the dreamer that should have the last view about meanings. It's the dreamer's dream. Keeping a dream notebook is a bit of a discipline, but very worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rocket Science

When I first took shots of neon lights, I was surprised that they were overexposed. I'd taken all of the usual measurements and the results were quite awful. I should have listened to advice. I learned my lesson. Bracket the shot with that overexposure in mind. Take a whole slew of shots. So I did this time and here's my favourite of the door at Eddie Rockets snack bar, Donnybrook. The deepest red was chosen, but you can still see the reflection of the buildings opposite. Eddie Rockets became a bit of an institution. Not as ancient as Abrakababra, but maybe as justified. Many moons ago, I remember sitting beside a couple on the Heathrow-Dublin plane - and I heard her say to him with enthusiasm. "Just think. In an hour we'll be sitting in Eddie Rockets in Donnybrook!" So here we are at that very venue. Rockets generally are symbols of ascension and transformation. But if you dream of a rocket, much may depend on whether you are sitting in it and whether you are in control. Despite the clear sexual connotations, any notion of flight must be somewhat airy and ungrounded - maybe the dreamer is being over-intellectual. Crashing would be akin to Icarus - a touch of harsh reality. Dreaming specifically of Eddie Rockets - now that's a different matter entirely.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Donnybrook Pyramid

Of course there's no pyramid in Donnybrook. Perhaps there should be! Just round the back of the shops, there's an old laundry with a chimney. It used to belong to a religious order and it's had a few different lifes but it's still there. Built on marshy land that used to stretch all the way to the Dodder, it has survived about a hundred and sixty years. I had to wait around and I was playing with the camera. So the chimney effect is all made inside the Pentax box. There's much fighting goes on about pyramid symbolism. Egyptologists are really quite dreary on the subject interestingly. But probably the alchemists have it. It's to do with the relationship of the perimeter to the base. My fellow blogger Custard by Design will surely agree. The square base has a perimeter equal to the length of the circumference of a circle with a radius equal to its height. Alchemist were always on about squaring the circle, so there you have it. Symbolically - elevation, integration and convergence. In the end, pyramids are symbols of ascension - and so are chimneys

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just Stop

Just outside the local Ballsbridge pub Bellamy's, the road sign is a formidable instruction - although I am not quite clear about who is supposed to stop or for what. Stop for a drink by the looks of it. Bellamy's always has a dramatic paint job itself, although not always appropriate. A very popular place during events at RDS and Lansdowne Road (I'll never be able to call it by its new name). A number of clients, who find they can't stop the worries that constantly circulate in their heads, are invited to consider in the imagination this big red stop sign. Pick a place to sit comfortably. Imagine driving along a road winding by the coast or through a beautiful valley. Then imagine you meet a sign like this. It could be a red traffic barrier across the road. It is time to stop and leave your vehicle. You can no further go! You are forced by circumstance to find a place to rest and enjoy yourself - and it can be whatever or wherever you want. Consider that place for a while. Just rest there. Sit down. See the scenery. Smell the smells. Touch things and feel the different textures of stone or grass. When you're more relaxed, bring yourself back gradually to the red barrier. You can move forward now. Have a go and see if it works for you. Practice helps!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Toyota in the Water

This must be a water period. I had pushed out at lunchtime - to get out. No need to pick anything up at the shops. Just a walk. It started to rain and I wrinkled my nose. But it was light enough and there were plenty of people milling around the RDS area. I don't usually walk that way and I had forgotten about the Toyota showroom with its artificial lake. Gaston Bachelard would dislike that artificiality and dismiss these small, decorative pieces of water out of hand. No doubt he would have hated the Toyota showroom altogether. However, the reflections were interesting even though the water was murky. The car reminded me of Herbie in that Walt Disney series - as if its reflection might start bowling down the Merrion Road. Sometimes reflections seem more real than the original. The reflection doesn't change the nature of light, but it appears to carry with it some illusion. The Toyota water is sad and sombre. As night falls and the wind gets up, Herbie's image may be betrayed and forgotten with every ripple.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

Just a nice shot of the ferry coming into the Liffey. I travel to this spot occasionally and it's always uplifting somehow. Very soothing, very relaxing. Sittin' on the dock of the bay, wasting time sings Otis Redding (the version I like the most). Otis Redding died three days after recording the song, which he wrote with Steve Cropper - hence the hummed last verse. That was never completed. So from the South wall, I watch the activity of the docks, the incoming and outgoing ships and sometimes I can spot the odd seal. One of the relaxation exercises I teach my clients might be performed here - or even an "imagined here". Imagine you are in your car and you drive to a spot like the small car park there. Gradually imagine reversing your car up to the wall in short movements, getting closer and closer. As you imagine making each movement, draw in your breath slightly and hold it each time. Build it up without exhaling. Don't exhale yet nor breath in fully. Not until you are comfortably parked. Then take that last deep intake of breath, look out to sea, expel the air slowly in one and imagine your tension, troubles and worries flow out with the waves as you breathe out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Memories, dreams, reflections

This piece of typical ironwork lies in front of a Pembroke Road building where, many years ago, I first started dream workshops. This is kind of connected with the last post because the Lansdowne Hotel next door, would sponsor events connected with international rugby matches and the noise could be disturbing - at least for our task. On one of these occasions, our trainer, feeling that the jazz singer - who was belting it out - was too distracting, said to us solemnly "Shall I go out and ask her to stop?" We looked at her in amazement and then glanced at the vast crowd of enthusiastic supporters outside and shook our heads. Then we closed the shutters and left the matter in the realm of the imaginary!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a The

This is pretty much an illustration, but its origins are in the Pembroke Road, Dublin 4. I've been looking at the Lansdowne Hotel sign which is big and blocky - and thinking there's a photo there. There's such a long way between the words on the sign that the "the" sits on its own somehow. But somehow I could never get to the sign when the sunlight would give it three dimensional relief. So I played around! Grammatical rules suggest that the indefinite article must be used first and the definite article can then be introduced. "He walked down Pembroke Road in search of a hotel. The hotel on his right, the Lansdowne Hotel, looked suitable for his purposes. Following an assessment he booked a room for the night." We could go on in that series and in that order. But in the internal world of personal consciousness, we might recall an occasion and muse to ourselves "The hotel was fabulous, a fine hotel of its kind!" We don't need the rule when we narrate our our own world. So in psychotherapy, it's mostly about definites - definite mothers, fathers, husbands, wives or relationships. Recollections are more about the the than the a.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Absent Patients

This is the seat in the doctor's waiting room when I arrived. It's unusual for there to be no one there and it looked deserted and a little disconcerting. The reason for this is I think, that I am expecting something to be in the centre. But I am not rewarded in the field of view and that is unsettling. So I left the picture like that in the end but where were the patients? Even more, where is the patient that should be in the centre? The roomed filled up shortly after I took the photograph and there was someone there in the end of course. The seat is a sign of authority and if you deliberately remain seated whilst another stands then you are demonstrating your superiority. To offer someone a chair is to recognise their authority. I'm not sure what is symbolised if you offer them a whole sofa like this one. Another blogger called custardbydesign has been in touch. His blog is well worth a visit and if he were here I would offer him a seat!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Persephone's Springtime Tower

Part of the St Bartholomew's project, this is the tower from the Elgin Road side. The trees are blooming in a most aggressive manner. Spring is the season of which we speak with some reverence isn't it? You can see why. Renewal, rebirth, the fecundity of the earth. The seasons are symbolically depicted in different ways - the spring is usually a lamb, a kid or a wreath of flowers. Spring is said the be the season most revered by Hermes, the messenger (and trickster) and of course Persephone was the Goddess of springtime. Soon the clock will disappear amongst the leaves and residents of Elgin Road will have to rely on indoor clocks! Only the quarter chimes will remind us of the the time that St Bartholomew's has been chiming out for around 150 years. Can you see the time on the clock? I think it's probably 5.30. It was late Saturday afternoon and unseasonably warm. A very pleasant spring weekend in Ballsbridge but where's Persephone? We will know her when we see her. She is usually rather severe and may be carrying a wheat sheaf. Abducted by Hades, while she was innocently picking some flowers with some nymphs, she was for a while his consort in the Underworld. She was eventually returned, but was tricked into eating pomegranate seed which forced her to return to the Underworld every year - during which time the earth would turn barren. Hence the seasons! In consequence of her underworld status, it is unwise to address her by name. The Maiden will do.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Legging it up Grafton Street

Well it was the legs drew me to choose this shot, taken yesterday in the rainy weather, which gave us rather more than an April shower! Symbolically, legs are about social bonding. They allow us to perambulate up to the other. Apparently, the leg is to the body of the social order as the penis is to the human body. Many tribes, such as the Bambara consider it a sexual organ and for them it can be a symbol of marriage. They think that to put your boot on in front of another is to cast very serious aspersions on that persons mother. "Let's leg it!" is of course a reference to a quick getaway - no doubt from those who police the social order. Even so, walking is a matter of confidence in doing automatic things. If you stop to question it ... then we often start to make a hash of it. The centipede was happy quite/Until the toad, for fun/Said, "Pray, which leg goes after which?" /Which wrought his mind to such a pitch, He lay distracted in a ditch /Considering how to run! This is very much a feature of hysteria - always considering the action. So if you're legging it up Grafton Street, don't think about how this all works. Just do it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Colour in the Rain

Some readers found my last few posts rather sombre so I have been under pressure to get a cheerful shot. That proved none too easy on a day when Dublin suffered a foreboding sky and relentless rain. I spotted this shopper on her way up Baggott Street when her colourful bags caught my attention. Yellow is the colour of the sun and saffron - and hence magical! But the rain is another matter. The Greek story of Danae is appropriate. She was the daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Perseus' mother (by Zeus.) Acrisius was worried because it had been prophesied that Danae would bear him a son who would kill him. Imprisoned by the king to stop her becoming pregnant, Danae was locked in a bronze vault. Zeus fell in love with her, seeped through a crack in the ceiling and showered her in a golden rain thus making her pregnant. So the symbolism speaks of a fecund rain which fertilises the ground. In a combination of opposites. Perseus is conceived in the depths of the earth by the rain from the gods above. There's much more to the story but the exploits of Perseus are I think, well known. Myths are stories, told in good faith, in order to explain something abstract. Today, I think there was a good atmosphere in Dublin despite the rain and all the difficulties that beset the economic system. So the story and the picture suggests we should expect benevolent rain!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chimney at the Window

Nothing is straight in this picture and maybe that's why I like it. It's not the front of the building and not a facade. Just a few functional pieces of architecture that we are not really meant to notice. In the middle, the chimney is a friendly sight though. Symbolically important as the conductor of smoke and air, it lets the house breathe. It is no less than a channel of communication. But look how it's shoved away at the rear of the house with no particular thought given to its proximity to the window. I am making allowances for the foreshortening effect of the lens, but even so ... The window is the main point of egress too in the event of an emergency. A triumph of function over aesthetics. This building to the rear of the Pembroke Road has served as a private school for many years, so it needs to fulfil various legal requirements. Like many buildings in the road, it no longer houses individuals or families but has been adapted for commercial use. But what is this collage of function saying to us in the psychoanalysis of space? There are things that we would like to ignore and so we push them away where they are out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, where nothing is really that straight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Stags Drinking

This is a detail from the interior of St Bartholomew's Church, Ballsbridge. I have been trying to track the origins down with some success. The stags feature on the floor of the apse mosaic which appears to be modeled on the Church of San Clemente in Rome. San Clemente also features stags although in a different position. The image itself is said to be based on Psalms 42:1, "As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God." or "As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God." There are various translations! Interestingly, the two stags drinking from the water of life has a practical origin. Stemming from the edict of Emperor Theodosius II in 427AD some images such as Christ were not considered appropriate for a church floor, so various other scenes took their place. The stags motif is thought to be an absorption of Greek art into Christan use and there also appear to be examples from Pompeii. This all seems reasonable, but I cannot find a good citation other than for early Christianity. The discerning visitor will find St Bartholomew's interesting as did I. If you're passing don't miss the chance to see inside.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Roman Visitors?

Easter Monday and a day off. Excellent! But what to place as an image today? This photograph from a trip to Thessaloniki. The Mount Olympus Museum came to mind and I don't know why. But I'll stick with it for all that. I forgot my own instructions on that trip. If you're taking a photograph of an exhibit, it is wise to to take a photo record of the sign that goes with it! Now commences a hunt to accurately find what this is. Can anyone help? I see the horse, the warrior and the uroboros though. And I notice the inscription is Latin. They had visitors then? Indeed they did. As an addendum, I must thank my sister in law, Laura, for some work on tracking down the meaning of this image. This is a Roman funerary pillar and on the inscription is the title of a Roman judge who was in charge of circuses and constructions in the colonies. He was the Entertainments Officer! He was probably from Abruzzo and most interestingly the pillar is inscribed in the first person singular while the usual is the third singular. Thanks Laura.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just an Outline

On Saturday, I was rolling around feeling rootless in the Easter weekend. My journey took me to the South Wall - a popular place for a walk. My shot of the Poolbeg towers was, I felt unremarkable, until I noticed the assembly of walkers seemed interesting. So I played with it for a bit. This version summed up the somehow sombre atmosphere and captured some kind of dynamic between waves, clouds and industrial structures. Much controversy continues about the efficacy of the power station and sewage processing sites and there are continuing concerns about pollution. Symbolically black remains negative for many people - the image reminds me of a negative. But like the old photographic negative, you need it to get a positive. No negative no positive. No negative terminal, no electricity! Black is the colour of melancholy, despair and sorrow and gives rise to terms like blackmail, blacklisting, black market etc. But it's also the colour of the earth that will be fertilised and where plants will bloom. Let a hundred flowers blossom in Ringsend.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pembroke Steps

I like to think of these steps as the ones used in Alan Parker's film about an Irish R&B band, The Commitments. The mother of Joey the Lips lived in such a house, with such steps. I can't track down any definite answer to this one so maybe someone would let me know. Climbing stairways or steps carry important meanings in psychology and in dream analysis. It can be be about anxiety and terror or on the other hand about happiness and exaltation. Ascension too is part of stair symbolism. We climb the stairs to heaven, success or fame.This a fairly dynamic principle and differs somewhat from going downstairs which Freud would certainly have associated with the unconscious. When we fall from grace, we don't go down the stairs though. "He went down the hill" is a popular way of describing degeneration or deterioration. When the band members of the Commitments climb the stairs of Joey the Lips' Pembroke Road home, they go into something of a different world. It's a film worth seeing again.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

St Bart's Illustrated Tower

This is part of the St Bartholomew's project. For the effect, I used an in-camera filter which is called illustrate - I don't use these filters much but they are somewhat different from Photoshop filters and quite subtle. I brought up the red so that the sandstone could be seen - I think it's the combination of stone that makes this building interesting. Thomas Wyat the architect was said to be rather boring but I think he made a fist of this church all right. The Christian world very much adopted the tower in its medieval form, complete with belfry and keeps. It's both a symbol of watchfulness and ascension. The story of this particular tower is that it was intended that there should be a spire on the top, but funds were not available. Students of the Tarot will know that some see the Tower as quite a frightening card, but some see it as more dynamic. The lightning hits the tower and builders are thrown down, yet the tower remains fundamentally secure. So the builders must rejoin their efforts since "an unfinished tower is a unfinished as an unsuccessful existence is unfulfilled." So say Chevalier and Gheerbrant who point out that the Tower is a positive symbol and may express an unexpected change of fortune or a crisis of redemption. Maybe Ballsbridge, which has suffered the recent storms of development, will receive an unexpected change of fortune.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blue Head Blues

World Health Day - I missed it by a day. The budget took precedence I'm afraid. Now the results of the budget have made people a little blue - so I am concentrating on mental health. Certainly a whole music genre has been devoted to difficulties, problems and indeed what people used to call melancholy. Mental health has always suffered in comparison to physical health. It's about feelings and of course you can't see them. Nevertheless, if these unwanted feelings of sadness become permanent, sufferers find it very hard to get along. The head symbolises the active and driving part of the spirit. All the meanings of psychology and psychoanalysis seem centred in the head. So this blue head for me is a kind of symbol of mental health and depression, maybe because blue often signifies a detachment from the world. So let's remember when we are talking about health, that it's not just about the physical condition of the body. None of us should be ashamed of seeking assistance for mental health difficulties.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Glove on the Fence

There's always something interesting on the Pembroke Road. I wonder who this glove belonged to. In time-honoured fashion it has been placed at eye level for the owner to find - but making some kind of point by the looks of it. So perhaps it's in honour of today's government emergency budget because the glove is symbolically about offering or accepting a challenge. The purple shade of the glove suggests aristocracy although it is said that to remove the glove in some-one's presence is to acknowledge their superiority - and I think this survives to this day. When we meet someone and want to shake hands, it is polite to take the glove off. But the fence itself is a boundary of sorts. So maybe someone in the collective wants to make a point about recent developments in the economy. Maybe they felt that things went too far. Maybe they took the gloves off. The finger does seem to be wagging.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Calzone Cafe

The picture is here purely because of the striking green in the winter sunlight in Dublin city centre. A pleasant and attractive sight for a snack. The people here look settled in, don't they? No need to move when in good surroundings. Food retailers, in general, seem to like green and the reason appears to be that no one ever complains about this colour. It's therefore sometimes regarded as neutral and hence undemanding. But beware. Only a pure green is so perceived. Any other kind of green is somehow tainted and directly confronts neutrality. So there's nothing neutral about the vivid lime green of the cafe. I have never eaten there so I cannot comment about the Calzone. The calzone pizza is derived from the word for trousers. Folding pizza dough around the toppings makes a pocket. Purists argue for the sole ingredients of mozzarella, basil and tomato.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


This apartment block is just off Herbert Park, Ballsbridge. It's not the best or worst block but I would say that its age and shape suggest that the rooms inside are larger than are built these days. Henri Lefebvre would say that this is housing - not a residence. Residence, he says, has a poetic resonance and is based on the luxurious interiors of the aristocracy. Yet he would note that the apartment block parodies the aristocratic mansion, where the interior was the most important consideration. The exterior is about function, rather than visual pleasure. In the modern city though, it's a structure within which space has been extended and divided. Boxes for living in are jammed beside each other and increasingly piled on top of one another. Space is increasingly important in modern times. Outside in the park, there is a pleasurable environment to view from the windows of the apartments - but it too is broken up into units - the bowling green, the tennis court, the football pitch. Runners jog through the greenery during the lunch hour hours. Everything seems dissected, apportioned and controlled.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Official Graffiti - the Word

When I spotted this colourful paint on the pavement in Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, I thought it must be to do with the large number of roadworks currently taking place. However this is a sign from the Electricity Supply Board and surely must be an instruction about a future dig! In this case, the symbolism of letters is not very productive - that's all a bit vague and usually resolves back to numbers - the number of letters in the alphabet for example. Since this graffiti refers to a state agency (semi at least) which has some authority, I thought it should be treated as a word. Logos means not just the word, but reason, intellect, thought and ideas. Jung felt that this was the paternal principle "eternally struggling to extricate itself from the primal warmth and darkness of the womb" - from unconsciousness in other words. The word is a pure symbol of the individual - the individual who communicates with another. The French psychoanalyst, Lacan, agrees. In Lacan's view, the only desire of the analyst could be that his client (the other) would communicate with him - in words. So the other's communication would lead to development rather than the analysts wish for the other to "get better". And perhaps the photograph suggests that future digging below ground is a metaphor for the delving into the unconscious.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Autism - a piece of the jigsaw

When I signed up for a blog on Autism Day I was unsure about the image to use. Very often, jigsaws are used to portray the various campaigns and support groups but I know there is some dissatisfaction about it. I decided on this one. Autism covers a very wide spectrum, but fitting in with others is a common difficulty. Adults living with this condition do suffer from strained relationships with others and it can be a struggle to maintain the kind of relationships that we take for granted. Sufferers can get very upset about the way in which they are treated by other people who have no conception about what it's like. It is not true, as is commonly thought, that those with autism do not want friends. Yet there are problems in being understood. According to some self reports, adults with the condition sometimes retreat into their own world. If you see someone gently rocking at a supermarket shelf, and you think they may be suffering, just give them their own space - a bit like the image of the jigsaw piece here.