photography


Random quote of the day:

“If reality fails to fill us with wonder, it is because we have fallen into the habit of seeing it as ordinary.”

—Brassaï (Gyula Halász), quoted in Brassaï: Paris by Jean-Claude Gautrand

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Destruction_of_Leviathan
The Destruction of Leviathan by Gustave Doré

“Although we human beings have our own personal life, we are yet in large measure the representatives, the victims and promoters of a collective spirit whose years are counted in centuries. We can well think all our lives long that we are following our own noses, and may never discover that we are, for the most part, supernumeraries on the stage of the world theater. There are factors which, although we do not know them, nevertheless influence our lives, and more so if they are unconscious.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, tr. Richard and Clara Winston

There are two images for this post, besides the one above, both behind a cut at the end of this post. One is called the falling man, a photograph by Richard Drew, the other is called the hanged man. I’ve put them behind a cut because even now some people don’t like looking at images from 9/11, and this image caused some controversy when first published. There’s nothing gory about it, but it does represent the last moments of a man’s life. Some feel that’s a private moment and should never be seen. I don’t discount their feelings, but I also believe it’s something more: a testament of the horrors of that day, of terrible decisions forced on ordinary people, of their courage and grace in making those choices, no matter how desperate.

All I know is that the first time I saw the image of the falling man it resonated inside me like a struck bell—beautiful, horrible, incomprehensible. Yet deeply known. In the amazing and moving documentary, 9/11: The Falling Man, made about this picture, it’s revealed that the editors of The New York Times had a series of pictures in this sequence to choose from, but found this one most compelling. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Of course, there’s a personal horror of recognition here. One morning you go to work and something unthinkable happens to rip everything away. This picture represents the ultimate “there but for the grace of God go I” moment. But that’s not what my deeper cord of recognition was about. This man’s death was not a symbol, but there was a potent symbol in that sky. It took me a couple of days to understand it. An image from tarot came to me: the hanged man. Not in the sense of portents in the sky or any other such bull, not to minimize the power of the falling man by reducing the image to a formula. The image is its ownself, vast and powerful, but there’s also this other thing falling beside it: archetypes working themselves through the real world and through our psyches.

This phrase about the hanging man card from aeclectic.net in particular struck me: “It is as if he’s hanging between the mundane world and the spiritual world, able to see both. It is a dazzling moment, dreamlike yet crystal clear. Connections he never understood before are made, mysteries are revealed.”

Not him, you understand, but us…suspended between life and death, the sacrifice to gain knowledge, a time of trial or meditation, the moment of clarity, of not being able to see things the same again. It’s not just this man’s life, and the ending of it, but that moment of suspension and terrible clarity for the United States and the world.

That subconscious strata of images and ideas is always at play inside each of us. I’m not in any way saying those archetypes are the only reason we respond so powerfully to the image of the falling man, but I do believe they are part of the mix. Whether or not you have ever seen a tarot deck, or this particular tarot deck, this image doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It appeared in the tarot because it was part of our culture’s archetypal and intuitive heritage. Perhaps it’s an image that would resonate only in Western culture—I don’t know enough to say otherwise—but it is part of the unconscious lives of everyone who has ever lived in the West for any length of time.

And what does it ultimately say about 9/11? Maybe that archetypes are cultural snapshots—or roadmaps—of the great moments in human existence, both specific and nonspecific, grandly sweeping and intimately personal.

Each of us is composed of both conscious and unconscious associations. We need to examine ourselves closely before leaping on any bandwagon or cause or demagoguery, committing ourselves to actions and movements that rob us of our individual and essential humanity and turn us into impulsive mobs, spurred to commit atrocities in the name of some deep, unthinking leviathan swimming just beneath the waters of consciousness. (more…)

Here are the pictures associated with my post, I Know Not Where She Came From.

IF

Here she is in situ beside the depression left by the brick.

IF

Here she is just after I’d pulled her out of the ground and dusted her off.

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Here she is on the mantel showing her relative size. She’s 2-3/4 inches high.

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And here she is up close and cleaned up.

uniquehorn-sm2

Returning once again to my old favorite, Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland by Eddie Lenihan and Carolyn Eve Green, to speak of fairy horses, the fíor-làr. There are many, many stories in Celtic lore about horse spirits, but Mr. Lenihan’s informants say that they are generally born to regular mares. There’s some debate what makes a horse fairy instead of ordinary, because to outward appearances they look like any other horse. One story goes that you know you’ve got one of those “funny fish” when the gestation of the foal takes 366 days—the old, magical formula of a year and a day. Most foals gestate in ten or eleven months (according to the old timer telling this story).

Like as not when you have a fairy horse they will be a good horse, but given to disappearing for short spells of time when the fairies require its services. But never fear, the fairies play fair in this regard. If you’re depending on that horse, they’ll substitute another until it’s time for the fíor-làr to be returned to you.

And then there’s this, a more spirit-horse version of fairy horses, taken from The Paranormalist.

He recounts the story told him by author, Herbie Brennan:

Shortly thereafter, as Herbie and Jim turned to leave the rath, along the top of the earthen ring, there suddenly appeared a herd of approximately twenty to twenty-five tiny, white horses “no bigger than cocker spaniels”, in the words of Mr. Brennan. The tiny horses galloped along the top of the earthwork, disappearing down the opposite side. Herbie and Jim ran out of the rath andto the other side to see what had happened to to the tiny horses, but they had vanished. Neither man had any explanation for what they had just seen.

Some years later, Herbie told the story of the white horses to his good friend, the late author Desmond Leslie. Leslie had a fascination with mythology and was quite knowledgeable about the subject. Upon hearing Herbie’s account of the tiny horses, Leslie replied, “Dear boy, don’t you know what those were?”. Herbie replied that he had no idea whatsoever what they were, only that he’d seen them. “Those were faerie horses,” Mr. Leslie continued. “They’re associated with the megaliths of Ireland, and there are also reports of them in Japan.”

You can watch Mr. Brennan himself tell the tale below, the first of three stories that explain how he was very reluctantly convinced in the reality of fairies through personal experience:

I’ll have more to say about “fairy photography” one of these days, but let me conclude by saying that I think anyone who’s been around horses much—and I used to be, although sadly not so much anymore—knows that some horses just are special. Even if they don’t have unexplained disappearances to their credit, are not miniature white glowing spirits, sinister kelpies or what all, some of them do seem to have a touch of the fey. Great, dreamy-eyed beasts that they are, they often have their heads in two worlds at once and seem to know much more than the two-leggers astride them. Old souls or fairy-led, I cannot say. Just that they are special.

Please note the dust on the shelf. That is an important accuracy in any of my self-portraits. In this case, the “art” tag should definitely be in quotes.

Self-portrait with snake goddess photo self-portraitwithsnakegoddess_zps5c17febc.jpg