Monthly Archives: December 2012

… the inner silence of Henri Cartier-Bresson …

The Mind’s Eye – writings on Photography and Photographers, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, is a lovely book I received for Christmas from a dear friend. I was reminded how H C B inspired my photographic work with its poetry and Golden Mean, and still inspires other creative areas, including my writing.

Henri Cartier-Bresson - 1972 photo of a Georgian familyFor H C B photography led on to include painting & drawing. For me photography led on to include writing, in the way H C B said: ‘The writer has time to reflect. He can accept and reject, accept again; and before committing his thoughts to paper he is able to tie the several relevant elements together. There is also a period when his brain ‘forgets,’ and his subconscious works on classifying his thoughts. But for the photographer, what has gone is gone forever.’

The impact of H C B’s images is hard to define. They exemplify what many photographers aspire to but can’t name. Not only do most of his shots surprise by capturing the essence of a fugitive moment, a magical decisive one, they are framed in a way that touches all the elements of motion in a dynamic balance.

H C B - rest‘My passion has never been for photography ‘in itself,’ but for the possibility – through forgetting yourself – of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form; that is, a geometry awakened by what’s offered.’

‘I hope I’ll never see the day when photo shops sell little schema grills to clamp onto our viewfinder; the Golden Rule will never be found etched on our ground glass.’

Henri Cartier-Bresson, girl running

 

 

 

 

 

 

I let Henry Cartier-Bresson talk for himself:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW7I3GBdsBw

Henri Cartier-Bresson, the wallInner Silence

H C B speaks in relation to portrait-photography of looking for the silence in the person. I guess he was looking for the silence behind everything. This silence was most likely what he was attentive to. I conjure that this silence lies between each breath, from which all phenomena emerge from second to second – from that timeless soul-garden within us – which we can tune into.

henri-cartier-bresson-liverpool-1963-c2a9-henri-cartier-bresson-magnum2

What I am saying is – H C B could not have captured these decisive moments without having experienced the silence within him. From this timeless state we glimpse the joie de vivre with its awesome sense of wonder generated and re-generated from eternity that makes life worthwhile and meaningful. It’s probably this glimpse, the ethic of this silent sphere that drives all anarchist artists.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sur les bords de la Marne 1938Why Black and White and not Colour?

In 1952 colour film emulsion was not well developed. H C B said then: ‘I am half afraid that this complex new element may tend to prejudice the achievement of the life and movement which is often caught by black and white.’

He was concerned that  composition would suffer and be overpowered by colour. I remember when colour TV was first introduced, I intensely disliked the busy business cramped into a small frame. Colour can however be used as a language, and I am certain H C B would have cottoned on to this had he lived on.

Here a sample of my own to illustrate colour’s use.  http://500px.com/photo/6913693?from=set/266780

In 1974, together with other freelance photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson founded Magnum Photos. See also: http://www.henricartierbresson.org/pres/home_en.htm

H C B’s second wife, the Belgian-born Martine Franck, was an inspired photographer in her own right: http://www.theworld.org/2012/08/remembering-celebrated-photographer-martine-franck/

I am wishing all my readers and visitors a wonderful creative New Year …. 

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Blog

… the rose trick …

As white clouds sail above my garden today, and robins peck at morsels the fat turtle-doves dislodged from the feed-balls I hung into tree branches, I’m thinking of the hectic buying-frenzy in town, and what springs to mind is that it’s all about feeling loved. In that spirit – a Christmas gift for you, my readers and friends – The Rose Trick – a guided imagery from another dimension. I use this imagery in my work, though it turns out different each time. Once you have read the text, close your eyes and make it real – imagine…

A garden, your inner garden – in it grows a rose bush that carries one bud about to open. Stand still and observe – a luminous tip of colour peeks from the enfolding calyx – the sepals gradually separate and turn their green tips outward. See the rose bud stir – see its petals open in a slow and fluid movement – until the luminous rose has attained its perfect shape and exudes its delicate fragrance.

As the garden fills with radiant light, imagine the open rose growing into another dimension, expanding in size to a sphere that is inviting you in. Overcome the weight of your thoughts, walk barefoot with  feather-light steps towards the centre of the rose-orb and sit and rest there for a while …

Absorb the soothing resonance, the exquisite tenderness of the petals, and the subtle scent of the rose-sphere through every cell of your body. Be loved. Become the perfect rose.

Autumn Rose

Now rise and return to the former dimension of your garden. Look back. Watch how the rose grows small and folds back into it sepals – watch the bud floating into the palm of your hand – sense the rosebud in your hand, and how its power wishes to stay alive in your heart so you can call upon its unfolding whenever you need loving. Do it, place the rose and the whole experience of rose-becoming into your heart.

*    *    *

Do this imagery when you feel a lack of harmony, or if you lost someone dear. It will re-animate the attar of roses in your heart.

The inspiration behind this imagery, which, done with an open attitude, can be  powerfully transforming, comes from great beings like Hazrat Inayat, Khan, Fazal Inayat-Khan, Roberto Assagioli, R M Rilke, Rumi, Bette Midler, and from roses grown in many gardens …

————-

‘When one of us gets lost, is not here, he or she must be inside us.

There’s no place like that anywhere in the world.’  Rumi

————-

The following are thoughts from ‘The Mind World’ – Volume Four of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s lectures.

The Function of the Heart

The heart, in Sufi terms, is called the mirror. Whatever is reflected in the heart does not only remain a reflection but becomes a creative power productive of the phenomenon of a similar nature.

For example, a heart that is holding in itself and is reflecting the rose will find roses everywhere. Roses will be attracted to the heart and roses will be produced from it and for it. As this reflection deepens and becomes stronger it becomes creative of the phenomenon of roses and the symbolic qualities we associate with roses.

Equally, the heart that holds and reflects wounds will find wounds everywhere. It will attract wounds and it will create wounds; for that is the phenomenon of reflection. There are examples to be found in the world of people who by retaining a thought have created on the physical plane its manifestation, its phenomenon. The reason is – that the phenomenon is not only an image as produced in the mirror

but that reflection in the heart is the most powerful thing. It is life itself – and it is creative.

If the heart is calm enough to receive reflections fully and clearly, one can choose for oneself which reflection to repel and which to retain.

*    *    *

Maybe we are the particle science is chasing ...

Maybe we are the particle science is chasing ..

See also Bette Midler – The Rose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=oR6okRuOLc8

And https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/imagination/

And …

Arvo Pärt – Alina!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmafNVimRbI

16 Comments

Filed under Blog

… the mystery of character versus genre …

Flicker, flicker, speed, speed – time is flying – here is a genre – an inviting golden bowl – let’s drop a story into it. A well-defined genre promises the best route to financial success for many aspiring writers.

the golden bowl of genre Human traits that make up characters are unfathomable in their combination, which is why we traditionally veer to an index of types. The adage of the writing guru – don’t tell, show – suggests character is revealed through traits that imply qualities. Traits fascinate us, but if they are mechanical in their emotional and logical processes, they seldom surprise. In such case the page-turning tension must be provided by the plot.

During the nineteenth century’s advent of psychology and individuation many writers moved away from the Greek model of plot-driven stories. Curiosity shifted to the complex inner life of characters and their individual way of creating meaning was employed to unfold narratives.

The search for a unique self beyond the collectively orientated ego personality is relatively new, and while time-engraved archetypal energies hold us in their emotional grip, we have now psychological maps to help us become more conscious of their compelling powers, more conscious of our personality, which, for the writer, informs their fictional characters and opens new worlds and new choices. Irrespective of the rich psychological and scientific knowledge available to us, the process of character formation present us with the greatest mysteries of our time – as exciting as discovering new territory, new planets, new eyes on the universe.

Here I am making up a scene from scratch:

He stiffly dragged his feet along the polished marble floor of the shopping mall, his head forward as if pulled by a rope, though his eyes did not focus forward, nor up or down, they swivelled, left, right, left right, alert for what? Alert for anyone who might observe him? Nobody did – apart from one person who sat still on a seat moulded into the stone replica of a toy train. She raised her eyes from her book and looked straight at him …

Now as reader, and as the writer of this entry into a scene without blueprint for a story, I’m curious – where is he heading, where is this going? I search for a deeper layer, a narrative unfolding from the mysterious core of the character walking through the mall. I want a substance to chew on, to extract a flavour from his unique world.

The woman’s stare broke his set rhythm of surveillance. His face contorted in fear, his feet lost touch with the marble floor, sailed on air, while his arms flattered like duck wings failing to lift. All he could think of before his fell flat was – she knows, she knows I’m not present in this body. All he perceived were veins of light in a glittering darkness. He chose to vacate.

Are you hurt? While approaching the sprawled body of the man, the woman shot a stern glance at her boy who stood by guiltily. She had noticed him drop the sweet wrap. She had noticed the man stepping on the slippery cellophane. She had caught his eyes – and what she saw in that instant had made her shiver …  

I’m not going to follow up this scene. Anyone who reads this is welcome to do so. It would give me a thrill.

We all enjoy our stock characters and their antics, types set into situations and conflicts we can readily identify with, heroes we can like, villains we can despise. We enjoy themes that fall into definite genres that entertain us away from tedious daily concerns. I’m not knocking these stories. I enjoy them myself.

But hey you, all writers out there, why not take a risk and be drawn to the mystery of the unpredictable that challenges you to think in new ways, why not evoke characters who, even while using known containers, allow their (your) unconscious past and future to fill in the content, characters who explore their personal experience to a depth where it becomes universal, characters who play with time and space and are directed from their inner spirit, even when it requires a new container?

In my writing, I like the adventure of discovery, a nut to crack. I like to allow my character to walk ahead and unfold the story, and if it spills over the frame of a convenient genre, so be it.

P1100981And here my little gripes with how-to-does:

The advice-filled internet spheres turn and turn like gyres.

Answers sum up being and are full of promised abundance – yet they are dead.

Questions sum up becoming and are full of challenging limitations – yet they are alive.

 

 

‘One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.’

Andre Gide

8 Comments

Filed under Blog