Monday, August 31, 2009

Dream Make-Up

The further education exhibition at the RDS provides opportunities for different kind of training activities - many of them creative. This young woman is Jennifer, here modelling for the LA Make up Academy , which has a specialty in body painting. This make up reminds me of some horror films and probably can be considered a mask. The mask very much depends on its intended use, which could be theatrical, carnival, funeral and so on - so Jung and indeed Freud might say the use of this make up is a special case of projection. We project whatever is the depiction of the mask so that it controls the external world with the attributes of the mask. In the theatre though, Ancient Greece in particular, when the actor puts on the mask, he or she becomes one with that representation. The audience is situated or controlled by the image of the mask. If you dream of being in a mask or perhaps made up like Jennifer, then you need to be creative. What does the make up mean to you and what are the connections to your life? It's always healthy to be creative within a good environment, so classes like those of the LA Make up Aacademy offer an exploratory way of developing individual expression. Good fun!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Police Escort

This was the start of the Annual Across-Ireland motorbike run to Galway and back - for charity. There were more than a thousand motorbikes of all shapes and sizes - quite a sight and sound in Dublin's Dawson Street. It is interesting that members of the motorcycle police are held in great respect by motorcyclists. It is an entirely different relationship from car drivers. Because of their skill and experience, bikers look up with admiration to these police riders. That's not to say there is no punishment for infractions - yet there is a fatherly relationship or maybe big-brotherly. The told-off motorcyclist feels much shame if it is one of these police men or women doing the telling! There is something to learn for parents then. We want our children to acknowledge our experience and skill, but not to the extent that they are cowed into submission. It has been a bit of a theme recently on the blog that children will be given boundaries and that it is their duty to test them. In the world of motorcycling, Garda motorbike police are, in general, understanding and supportive. They arrange training and safety courses and also role-model good riding, behaviour and technical skill. Those wishing to take one of their free courses should contact the Bike Safe Programme at Dublin Castle.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Looking at Patrick Kavanagh

I had promised myself that, when we got a break in the weather, I would hasten to this spot on the Canal to get a picture of what Kavanagh's statue was looking at. But this image was much more interesting. The two tourists were captured by Kavanagh's pose and scrutinised him closely. I wonder what Kavanagh would have made of that! A bit more than the view his statue has - which turned out to be much less interesting than I thought it would. And who knows, maybe this wasn't his favourite spot. He was a man for coining new words so maybe this spot continues to be stilly and greeny - with the canal water moving through the lock, Niagariously. I thought Kavanagh's words, written in hospital, summed up a little of the philosophy of this blog ...
... naming these things is the love act and its pledge/for we must record love's mystery without claptrap/snatch out of time the passionate transitory.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Search for Containers

It's no joke being a smoker these days and really it's not good for you. No-one can argue otherwise. But the bans have made some people inventive. Where there is no container, one will be found. So maybe there's a lesson here. Like many psychotherapists, especially Jungians, I argue a lot for the value of a container. Indeed, I've been waiting for a shot like this because there are many points in the city where cigarette butts gather. They spill out of these too-small, designated containers outside offices and gather under the doors of disused shops. Without adequate containers we are clearly in trouble. The family is a container and the best ones have clear boundaries, especially for raising children. If we don't set clear boundaries for young people, they will demand them - in one way or another. The psychotherapy relationship is also a container, which can be best observed in therapy groups. One key rule for this kind of group is that outside group meetings, there shall be no discussion about what been said or has taken place. Otherwise the group is said to be "leaky". It is an inadequate container. The same goes for the psychotherapeutic relationship. It's best not spoken of outside the boundaries of the therapeutic space. At the collective level, containers set social boundaries - such as in civil and political society, legal frameworks and religion.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Full Monet

Well I couldn't resist just a touch of Claude Monet, but the colours really were there in the first instance! These are religious symbols in many countries including India, Bangla Desh and - of course - in ancient Egypt where the flower was regarded as the most beautiful of all, the creation of the world out of moisture. But in Latin America too, the Mayans associated it to plenty, fertility and the Underworld. Apparently the Dogon think of it as mother's milk and give it to nursing mothers to eat! But my affection for Monet's water lilies lies in the past and to a nice memory. When I worked for an organisation that helped disadvantaged young people with employment, a team from Camden painted a rather unattractive wall at the London Head Office with a fresco version of Monet's famous painting. I liked the enjoyment that the young people found in that project and, in turn, enjoyed looking at a large Monet every working day! I always wonder with the young people, what happened to them. So this is is my tribute to them and their lives.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sandymount Corner

For preference in the image I would have separated the lampposts from the Ringsend towers to the rear - but in the end I went with the original. The sky was just too interesting! It looks quiet here but it's just across from Dunne and Crescenzi, which is busy most of the time. It's just off the main drag in Sandymount and only a short hop to a nice walk on the Strand. One of these strange skies, isn't it? Is it sunny or not? The sky is always associated with heaven and the cosmos. Whatever happens and whatever colour or weather, there is an association with a celestial order or even heavenly Being. I recall a line from a Paul Simon song - what do we look like from a distant constellation, dying in the corner of the sky? Maybe we look like this. Part of some relaxation exercises that I suggest to clients involves imaging a thread attaching the centre of the head to the centre of the sky. It's amazing the exact posture that is then adopted. Absolutely straight. The photograph is very Sky but it's also very Earth too. The Earth is support, the Sky is cover.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I find it difficult to get good flare with a digital camera. Often its easier to fake it with Photoshop. But here's the real thing. You have to make such an exposure on a manual setting - and nothing else is going to work if you don't. The photo makes me wonder what the Grand Canal was like in the old days with barges on the canal and horses pulling them on the towpath. Water of course is symbolically both good and bad - it can bring life and it can also destroy. But if you dream of water consider what kind of water it is. If the water is channeled such as for a canal, then it has a fixed location moving between two points with variation in levels strictly controlled. Some Jungians believe that this kind of dream symbol refers to something physical happening in the body and certainly a Jungian medical doctor would wonder whether there was anything happening with the bodily waterworks! Canals also make very specific boundaries and in Dublin more so than in many places. Already, traffic specialists are considering restricting traffic within the city zone that falls inside the canals.

Canal, Kavanagh and the Reeds

It's interesting that this scene is in Dublin's inner city. Poet Patrick Kavanagh would have known it well, since he used to sit along the banks of the Grand Canal, across from the Mespil Road. The oft quoted words are "O commemorate me with no hero-courageous/ Tomb -- just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by." During the week, the canal bank is alive with office workers but at the weekend it's a lovely spot to sit and read the Sunday newspapers. It was the reeds that made the photograph though. Resilient, flexible, tenacious and fragile, they adorn stretches of the canal. They are believed to be protective and cleansing but I most like them as the image of the soul and indeed - a voice. Ukranians say that the reed that grows from the grave of a drowned man will name his murderer if it is made into a pipe.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lisbon Orange - Spirit and Libido

I like Lisbon very much, especially the buildings in the city. This shot was taken from the top of a tower above the railway station - you can take a lift as far as I recall for some small sum of money . It's one of Eiffel's great works - either the man himself or a gifted apprentice. I cannot determine. It is lovely to have coffee or a beer at the cafe - although it can be windy! There wasn't much trade for the oranges that day but they made a good counterpoint to the city structure below. The orange is a symbol of fertility because of the many pips. In China it can be be given with the wedding gifts and in Vietnam it was given to young married couples. As can be seen, the colour is somewhere between gold and red and so some say it is the point of balance between the spirit and the libido. I think the photo reveals a very nice sense of spatial order - a beautiful city. It still bears the mark of the Roman colonisers and is is none the worse for that. Perhaps this suggests a good relaxation exercise. Imagine yourself looking across the city with its mandala structure of harmony and order. At the same time, let your senses appreciate a delicate smell of fruit or blossom wafting on the breeze. Or if you prefer, coffee or a tisane of your choice like camomile or mint. Cities were to be made with due reference to the convergence of wind and waters, light and dark - so imagine them too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bhangra Kids

This is a photograph I took in Birmingham a long time ago and I felt it would be a shame to leave this colourful scene in the archives. I was working for the Mobile Projects Unit of the Playbus Association at the time and the picture first appeared in a publication called Roadworks. Featured was a multicultural project organised around Bhangra dancing, based on a bus as you might expect! The members of the group were very intrigued by my Minolta light meter and I was delighted when they started to measure the light reflected by their different skin tones. They had much fun and so did I. I am not sure whether the publication is still available - it was twenty years ago - but I still think the kind of work the organisation carried out was extremely valuable. And so I wonder what happened to these young women. Maybe they will spot themselves! Bhangra is a Punjabi Sikh dance first dedicated to the Spring, migrating Punjabis having brought Bhangra with them to the UK in the eighties.

Clock Tower Blues

I had planned a picture of the clock tower nearly obscured by the leaves. But my shot looked like a lot of leaves and the tower was hidden completely. I resurrected this photo from a very clear day in the spring when the weather was a little sunnier than the present summer! In the Middle Ages, towers were universally used as watchtowers, places of vigilance and observation. This one does look like that too, with its castellated structure and narrow window slits. Yet they were conceived as ladders that linked heaven and earth. In this case, the tower looks up rather than down. The alchemists Athanor (an enclosed furnace chamber) draws on the shape of the tower to demonstrate the upward movement of transmutations like lead to gold or flesh to the spirit. A tower invariably has an underground well with much rubble - so joining not only heaven and earth but also the underworld. Surely St Bartholomew's can be no different? On inspection there does seem to be a cellar, so we shall see.

Rippled Houses

This is one of these nice wee streets off Morehampton Road in Donnybrook. I tried to give it a painterly look because the vertical lines seemed to call for it. I especially like the two tiers of bowed windows that make up six, since the windows in the Tibetan Wheel of Life correspond to six senses. A couple of blogs ago I was talking about the cellar and the attic. The spaces inside the house for psychoanalysts, correspond to conscious and unconscious states. The house though is feminine - a mother protector and a womb space. But here we have the outside of the house, which is really appearance, mask or persona - and outside there are many vehicles, which some might describe as houses on wheels. Maybe when driving, thats why we may get defensive and even aggressive - we are protecting our domain. In Carlos Castaneda's famous work on being a sorcerer's apprentice, Don Juan, his master, describes the car as a cave - and will only enter one by crawling through the door and along the seat. So there are many travelling caves! I am aware that motorbike messengers call cars (and particularly their drivers) "cages". They are containers of a sort so if you dream of either a house or car, the exact type (a terraced house, a Rolls Royce) probably reflects some aspect of your personality.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

OCD Ireland

The roadworks have arrived again and this time the pipes are yellow. I had taken several pictures and spent some time trying to get the blue out of another photograph. Eventually I realised that the blue was due to the way the light fell, my direction having been reversed. I was obsessively adjusting the hue and getting nowhere. This brings me to the blog for today. I was asked by Ms Leslie Shoemaker psychology advisor to the OCD Ireland organisation to mention the organisation's support services. I noticed that all the OCD images on the web are the same and tend to be of the hand-washing kind. Yet this is only a small part of the disorder. When I was taking this shot I recall thinking I should get rid of the leaves between the pipes and remove the smudges - that would be to make the photograph "perfect", control the image and essentially turn the street scene into something it had never been. Now that fits into part of the spectrum of the disorder. My point is that we all have a little bit of various disorders including OCD. Where it becomes serious however, it can be very debilitating. For example, my own behaviour that I reflectively describe can in extremis result in a person affected never completing anything. There's much more to it than that and you can find out more at OCD Ireland's lecture series on the subject. Each lecture merits a CME credit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Down to the Basement

In the past there were a variety of interesting places operating from what were essentially cellars in Baggot Street. These were small artisan-type enterprises and some were photography related - an E6 transparency processing lab for example. Another was orthopaedic furniture shop run by a counselling colleague I knew. In Merrion Square, the old Black and White processing laboratories catered for my European photo exhibition which I am pleased to say got a showing in Turin as well as Dublin. But with so many new offices available in the city, these basements now look a little sorry for themselves. Well, we call these basements but in reality they are cellars - and although I regard my small artisan workshops as nests where I would spend some time, we remain somewhat afraid of cellars. Jung describes the man who, on hearing a noise in the cellar, hurried to the attic to check things out. Finding nothing, he blamed his imagination - but in reality he was afraid to go down to the attic. There are, of course, noises in the attic but they seldom as mysterious as those in the cellar. In psychotherapy, the cellar or basement is in the realm of the unconscious. Jung said that it remains in darkness day or night. In the cellar we can always take a torch but the unconscious can't be civilised by such a device. There are always shadows. Raising awareness of the shadows is one of the key tasks for Jungian psychotherapists.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

May cause what?

As you might appreciate, when I saw this on a door in Baggot Street, I couldn't resist a quick snapshot. Someone with a macabre sense of humour perhaps or maybe they just don't want callers. Death of course is a potent symbol and is one of the Tarot cards, which in a reading is regarded as a sign of renewal, change or a new beginning. So Death marks the absolute conclusion of something positive like an animal, human being, plant or a relationship but at the same time - in symbolic terms - is not negative at all. It speaks of regeneration as in the seasons. Leaves fall from the trees and are to all intent and purposes dead. Yet they contribute to the renewal of the trees through fertilising the ground. Death opens the door to light and the realm of the spirit. The transcendent spirit lives on and is everlasting. Mors Janua Vitae. In psychotherapy it's all about change and that often means the loss of some familiar habit, pattern or way of life which someone wants to lose. Or maybe, after all, these residents are communicating that they just don't want visitors ... sometimes things are more straightforward than we like to imagine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Freud and Jung, father and son

This is one of these shots, beloved of photographers, where some found articles are arranged for an impromptu photograph. The sun was shining through the window and books and case were close to each other as were Jung and Freud, despite the argumentation and the falling out. Certainly, no Freud, no Jung - as the latter readily admitted. Devoted followers of Jung are often fascinated by the more esoteric of his works and yet he was the hardest-headed clinician you could hope to meet. His work on schizophrenia (or dementia praecox as it was then) is first rate. Jung knew that he deviated from Freud's theories but felt it was development rather than "heresy". He was the son, to Freud's father. But in the transference, the "patient" can project the father-figure onto the analyst in either a hostile or affectionate way. If the patient wants autonomy then both of these attitudes, regarded by Freud as infantile, have to be destroyed. It follows, says Jung, that if we train people to consistently bow down to authority (the father) then they will become sick. Jung's experience suggests that people must throw off obedience to the father and develop their own personality.


Another in the Bart's Illustrated project - this time another part of another door. It has quite a distressed look which I very much like. The letterbox has seen quite a few years and the handle has been turned many a time by many a person. The opening and closing of the door is akin to the rhythm of the universe. In common with many cultures, Christians regard the opening of the the door as revelation - again, related to the universe. In this case though, the door directs to the light of Christ, the true door (Christus janua vera). So Christ himself is the door. In my youth my mother was always reminding me that the Kingdom of Heaven had many doors - she thought that there were many ways to enter the Kingdom, meaning the acceptance of those of other faiths. Alchemists regard the door in the same way as the key. It's the entrance to course of the work and in consequence is a tool -the tool in fact. But since this is a church, Jean Laude might say that this door divides a holy or sacred place from the rest of the world as a symbol of creation to the living.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Carl von Linne - species being

Here's a portrait of the Swedish man who set up the classification system for much of the natural world. Systema naturae is the reference! This is taken in the Zoo at Amsterdam in a small annexe to the aquarium. In very low light with high ASA, there's a bit of noise but I gave it a watercolour look and I think it came out well. It's a very strong face don't you think? I fear he may have been a little difficult in matters of scientific discussion and we're none the worse for that. The first version of Systema naturae was printed in the Netherlands where he lived for three years. Where are we in this classification? Are we a species? It's argued that we are different from animals because animals act out of the instinct whereas we, as people, do not. Various German philosophers coined the term species-being to distinguish humans' conscious activity from instinctive actions. This is probably why Freud's work was originally unpopular because we do not care for the idea that part of our conscious activity remains driven by instinctive impulses.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gorilla in the Frame

I thought when I saw this picture enlarged, that sometimes we don't notice what's in the frame. There is a famous psychology experiment where students are shown a video of a basketball match. During the short piece, a man dressed as a gorilla comes into the match area and goes off again. Later, the students are asked if they saw anything unusual and generally they saw nothing that they considered out of the ordinary. We are so busy noticing the normal - what we're looking for and expecting to find - we fail to notice the abnormal or the unusual. I think this often applies to ourselves. We seldom see what is different or unusual about our own behaviour. One of the tasks of psychotherapy is to encourage the client to be aware of the things they do, about which they are unaware. Now I can see the gorilla in the frame. I didn't see it when I took the photograph though.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Has Beans?

This shot was captured by my photographer friend (and fellow Celt from Cornwall), Mick. Clearly, the person who left the catering-size cans was making a point about the inadequacy of containers. There was no way that they were going to through that slot. It was better to make an artistic point. I wondered whether we have all felt a bit like this at some stage. We just don't fit in a given collective - perhaps jobs, courses or even life? We don't always have a choice. Psychotherapists argue that it always possible for someone to adapt - but at a cost. There will be change and this inevitably means some kind of loss. Possibly the recycler could have spent some time flattening the cans and forced them through the slot with brute force and ignorance! It is indeed likely that many of us feel that's already happened to us. At that stage, the only solution is to recycle ourselves using our own resources.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ballsbridge Berries

Every time I see berries in such massive quantities, I start muttering about the hard winter that is yet to come.This comes from a saying I learned, somewhere in childhood. All my friends groan when I say it! I was just passing down Raglan Road when I noticed there were red berries everywhere - the saying just triggered and I smiled to myself. Fruit is generally regarded as a sign of abundance so maybe abundance should be tempered by the thought that it may not continue. Desire for immortality or wealth are the other associations and literature is full of warnings about these two! Invariably, fruit contains pips, seeds or stones - and this in itself is about sexual desire, yet another area for warnings. So maybe I am right to cast some doubt on this plentiful display. They are distinctive and pretty though, these bushes. The bush is not differentiated from the tree in Celtic mythology and is therefore regarded either sexually or as knowledge or thought. These bushes seem to be burning with copious red fruits. It looks like rather than eat them, their fire may devour us!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Firemen and photographer

This is from the archives. Just after the New York Twin Towers tragedy, there was a memorial event at the US Embassy just along the road. I caught this shot of a photographer at work. I was peeking through the railings but your man had the best view. Firemen have a special place for us all and their role as rescuers gives them a hero status that is difficult to match. Now the original Hero was one of Aphrodite's priestesses. Leander, her man lived across the water and nightly he would swim across Hellespont to see her (both sets of parents objected). One stormy night Leander drowned because the light set by Hero had extinguished. Some versions feature interference by sea gods. In Marlow's unfinished poem, Hero committed suicide on seeing Leander's dead body.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blue Hinge

I confess I played around a little but essentially it's the same hinge from a door on the Elgin Road side of St Bart's Church - with the hue adjusted. I couldn't resist the missing screw of course. And the cobweb is a nice touch. This door isn't used much and is quite picturesque as it is - I wouldn't change it or repair it for a moment! Now I know my readers will be incredulous at this point when I say there is a Roman God of door hinges - although why we should feel that way I do not know. After all, they were fairly technical, the Romans. Cardea's name comes from cardo, Latin for Hinge - the wider meaning (cardinal) relates to the north-south axis of a new city. The Goddess of the Hinge naturally protects the home and the family. Cardea was also associated with hawthorn which wards off evil and there is an association with a boyfriend, Janus who also looks after doorways. A tradition which survives until recently in Tuscany is that of the witch Caradora, who puts hawthorn tied up in a red sack in doorways and drives away sickness in babies. I am indebted to the Obscure Goddess Online site for this information.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

St Bartholomew's Illustrated Spirit

This is part of my Bart's Illustrated project. Thy church has a covering of brown leaves on one side which is quite dramatic. But the exposure was very different over two adjacent walls so I contrived to get Photoshop into gear. The outcome is equally dramatic. But it looks like winter, when in fact it's August. It's a bit of a strange summer with rain and breezy days, so when I see a change in the sky I hot-foot it over to the church to see if anything will work, camera wise. When taking this shot, the light changed slightly and a ray of sunlight fell on the leaves, giving them a strange speckled tone. It reminds me that in another of Hildegard of Bingen's visions, she saw the Church receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So perhaps the leaves in the picture represent the Holy Spirit where some are bright colours and others dark. Well now, leaves often stand in for people - the multitude. So the leaves symbolise people's different approaches - some disregard the Holy Spirit and those would be the darker ones. The ones that are brightly lit are those at a higher stage of spiritual development.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Potatoes in Sacks

These sacks of potatoes drew my attention as much for the patterns as for the colours. Especially the warm shades of the potatoes peeping through the sacks. It's not so much about the new season - which is ... summer? More about the nature of sacks as containers. Carl Jung was given to expounding on the nature of containers, and this derives from his studies of the alchemists, who knew that in order to cook something up, you needed a good , strong vessel. This is true of psychotherapy. In the confined space of therapy, two people work together on a problem or difficulty. In this alliance, the client or analysand seeks change. So much alchemy takes place with two substances - or people in this instance - under certain conditions. That's why there are many rules about psychotherapist and client - they may not meet under any other circumstances for example. They must work within the four walls of the therapeutic space, concentrated on their weekly task. They must be together in a situation of trust. So considering this, is this a photograph of "potatoes in sacks" or "sacks of potatoes"? Psychotherapist and client inevitably tend towards the latter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trolleys in Transit

I'm afraid that no matter how hard I try, no verticals are straight in this picture. For a while, I have been anticipating a photograph of this escalator with its interesting reflections of the first floor balcony. But it was only the other day that there was the visual interest I sought. So I got my shot. The trolleys are being pushed noisily on their way from the car park to Superquinn. Shopping centres are full of visual interest and sometimes I wonder why we take them for granted. The Blackrock Centre is one of the older ones and although it has lost its creche for shoppers' children, it still has a waterfall and children's rides. There's a variety of useful shops and so that's why I continue to call in there from time to time. These centres are the legacy of market places, which continue as symbols of the collective. In China, the market symbolised a peaceful meeting of yin and yang and blood feuds could not be pursued there. But whereas the market place was free, the market hall enclosed, sheltered and ultimately controlled the businesses therein. Now that was quite an invention!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shop in the Round

This is PC World in Carrickmines. Just shopping around when I noticed the security mirrors offered an opportunity for an interesting perspective. No need for the famous wide angle lens in this case. Nearly the whole shop is represented so the light-fingered of this world are at a disadvantage here. This gives me an opportunity to talk about mirrors or more correctly the dome - because this mirror is a kind of reflecting dome isn't it? The domed building is said to be the image of the world - fairly apposite in this case. The image of PC World at least, as reflected in this mirror. Mirrors are regarded in many cultures as reflecting knowledge and truth. Chevalier and Gheerbrant report that in Ho Chi Minh City a Chinese mirror in a museum is inscribed, Like the sun, like the moon, like water and like gold, be clean and bright and reflect what is in your heart.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Monster Il Mostro

I left this photograph exactly as it was, framing and all. It's the way I like it although if publication was intended, some space would be left around the edges to give editors room for manoeuvre. It's not a black and white photograph - just that there is no colour in the scene. This was the guest photographer's motorbike, three motorbikes ago! The iconic Ducati Monster or il mostro as a I prefer it. What secret is guarded by The Monster? The boot of course symbolises travel - and not merely travel in this picture. The combination of boot and bike symbolises travel in every direction. The boot and bike symbolise that she is her own master. This is another shot from the Pembroke Road and if you look closely under the bike, you'll see that the exhaust is slightly pinkish - the smallest trace of colour in the shot. Clearly the rider is "in the pink" - which is a phrase for another blog.