Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vicki Archer - Saint Tropez - Colette -- and French Essence

Vicki Archer and French Essence

This post is going to be a bit different from the others.  It started to form in my head this morning after I read "French Essence," a blog by Vicki Archer who lives and writes about her life in Provence, with exquisite photographs of her house and garden, and occasionally of her travels.

This week, she is off to Saint Tropez for a visit with friends, and I am going with her (in my mind).  I can hardly wait to see her photographs of a village in the south of France that played such a big part, at one time, in the life of Colette, my old favorite.  A French woman writer in the middle of the 20th century, Colette wrote endlessly to support herself, mostly about her love affairs.

Colette and Saint Tropez

And that brings me to my interest in Saint Tropez, on the Cote d'Azure, between Cannes and Marseilles.  It was in Colette's time little more than a fishing village, which has since turned into a playground for the "rich and famous."

La Treille Muscate (the climbing grape vine) was what she called her house near Saint Tropez, and she shared it with the man who would become her third husband, Maurice Goudeket.

I want to use this post to pair some of my own photographs with quotes from Colette:

"I'm not ashamed of what I have had, and I am not sad because I no longer have it."

"Smokers, male and female, inject and excuse idleness in their lives every time they light a cigarette."

"A woman who thinks she is intelligent demands the same rights as men.  An intelligent woman gives up."

"Boredom helps me to make decisions."

And now, I think I'll read a little before I go to bed:  A LIFE OF COLETTE,  by Judith Thurman ought to do the trick.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Two Swans Meeting on the Jung Frau"

Victor Hugo

I know there are no swans in this picture, but the picture gives me the same feeling as the quotation from Victor Hugo.

Maybe because -- it's soft and far away.  The colors are so muted, and it looks so indistinct.

I did that to it, of course. It was a perfectly fine picture before I meddled with it.  The light was exquisite coming through the sheers and falling on the lighted lamp.  The piano was ebony and dominated the picture.  Even the oriental rug with its bright reds was visible.

But I cut  that all out, softened the focus, gave it an old fashioned color, darkened the edges, and framed it, before typing the quotation from Hugo at the bottom, using the ebony of the piano so the letters would stand out.

Now, for whatever reason, it has the pristine quality of "two swans meeting on the Jung Frau." (The Wikipedia spells it Jungfrau, but I like it better with two words.)

The Jungfrau, the highest elevation in the Berenese Alps, situated between the Valais and Bern, in Switzerland, is sometimes called "the Top of Europe."  And it certainly seemed so when I was there with Ed and Wynell (I forget how many years ago).  We rode the train from Wengen and stayed the night in an inn in Grindelwald.  The next morning, Ed wanted to go to the Jungfraujoch.  "You go ahead," Wynell and I said.  "We're staying here."

But somehow he managed to get us both to the top, protesting all the way.  Then he and Wynell visited the glacier, while I stopped in the cafe and had a tea, trying to quell the dizziness from the combination of the altitude and my disgust at my own lack of self-assertion to let myself be convinced to do such a thing when I knew, not only that I wouldn't like it, but that I would hate it.

I had been to the top of mountains before, so had Wynell.  We took our girls, Lane and Abbey, when they were 12 or 13.  They made snow balls and played with all the other youngsters.  Lane wanted to stay at the top and slide down on sleds with the others, but I held on to her as I got in the elevator that would take us back to the bottom and my own comfort zone.

I only like mountains, standing at the bottom looking up at them.  Then I can appreciate their majesty.  But at the top, they are cold and forbidding, devoid of life, only snow and ice and wind.  Ugh!  All my complexes are activated by the cold.

But I digress.  "Two swans meeting on the Jung Frau" is the perfect image of the pristine:  pure, fresh and clean, unspoiled by civilization.  In German, a jungfrau is a maiden, a virgin.  Unspoiled.  Swans, of course, look pristine, gliding around on a lake, but they are, in fact, mated, mated for life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where Miracles Arise

Today is a calmer day after the "shadows" and the "citrino."  So I'm thinking about everyday pleasures, like sitting in a swing in the open air.

"The place where light and dark meet," according to Robert Johnson, "is where miracles arise."

Light and dark certainly meet in the light coming through the wicker swing, in the light filtering through the trees onto the lawn,  and in my own psyche.

Those dark shadows of Monday and the bright yellow light of the citrino yesterday have given way to  images arising in my psyche, mostly in dreams.

In one dream, a tall, dark and handsome man, dressed impeccably in Italian slacks, shirt, and shoes is talking to a group of people I perceive as "my family."
I come around the corner and take his hand, and we walk off together.  He looks down at me, with an impish smile, and says, "Let's go make ourselves happy."

And we did that -- I think -- but not in the dream as it ended on that note.

I love when dreams end like that and let you play out the rest in your head with as many different endings as you want!  And then the miracles can arise endlessly, and they have for me with this one image.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Citrino 2

The "citrino" is the final stage in the alchemical process of personal development in which one sees "the goldenness of life.

The stages, according to Robert Johnson's OWNING YOUR OWN SHADOW are 1) the nigredo -- when one feels the darkness and depression; 2) the albedo -- when onc sees brightness; 3) the rubedo -- when one discovers passion; and 4) the citrino -- when one appreciates the goldenness of life.

Having just moved very quickly from the nigredo to the citrino after re-reading Johnson's book last night, I want to share a few of his thoughts in these quotes:

"A mandorla is that almond-shaped segment that is made when two circles partly overlap."

"One makes a mandorla every time one says something that is true."

"We are all poets and healers when we use language correctly."

"Good talk restores unity to a fragmented world."

"Language, properly used, is a highly curative agency."

"You can give another person a precious gift if you will allow him to talk without contaminating his speech with your own material."

"Whenever you have a clash of opposites in your being and neither will give way to the other, you can be certain that God is present....if we can endure it, the conflict without resolution is a direct experience of God."

"The place where light and dark begin to touch is where miracles arise."

"The mandorla...asks conscious work of us, not self-indulgence."

"Our human situation divides us over and over again into ego-shadow opposition....The first reward for this is that we diminish the shadow we impose on others."

"The mandorla is not the place of neutrality or compromise; it is the place of the peacock's tail..."

Citrino 1

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Lost in the Shadows"

Sometimes this is just how I feel..."lost in the shadows."

What's called for is time -- to sink down, to reflect, to sort through.

It's not a time I avoid.  Though, every time it comes, I am surprised, so blinded am I by the light.

Nor does it usually last very long, a few hours, a day, at most.

Sometimes, something seems to provoke it, and sometimes, I'm not sure.  Whatever it is leaves me unable to verbalize what's going on inside me.

I'll just have to wait.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"You Have to Find Out What Life is Asking of You."

"You have to find out what Life is asking of you."

How long it takes us to find this out!

But once we do, everything settles down.  Everything falls in to place.

There are no missing pieces to the puzzle.

It's like bringing an image to focus in the camera's lens.

What was fuzzy becomes clear!

What seemed annoying, becomes amusing!

Everything, even the tiniest things take on significance.

Then, all you have to do is remember:  So this is what life is asking of me.  OK, I can do that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Life is Never Stranger than when it is Unreasonable"

Another quotation from Victor Hugo and another camera app for the iphone.

This one is called Cameras Plus and it is combined with PicMonkey (without which, these days, I never publish a photo.).

And another quotation from Aldous Huxley:  "Your enjoyment of the world is never right till every morning you awake in Heaven."

Which I did this morning, and every morning, if I can keep from being awakened, and simply allow myself to wake up "in Heaven."

What a marvelously contented place I'm in these days, so much variety and so much space -- and so many toys to keep me occupied.

Lee cooked a breakfast-lunch at 12:30pm for me and Harris, the youngest Busby, and I must say one of the most charming.  I am so enjoying getting to know him, given this opportunity to be around him more since he is sharing the house with Lee.  He starts his university schooling in another month, after which I'm sure he will be scarce, but right now, he is available,  relaxed, and very good company.

Lee cooked, and Harris ate heartily and then said, "You cooked.  I'll clean."  What a joy!

We had thunder and a little rain while we ate, which left the feeling of freshness in the air.

I'll close with another quotation from one of my favorite philosophers:  "I'm going to pour myself into life and enjoy every minute of it."

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Perception is the Same as Revelation"

"Perception is the same as revelation."  Aldous Huxley
I find these days that I have less and less to say -- I only want to look at these exquisite images that I can create on PicMonkey, using photos that I had long since given up on.
I could "see" something in them, and consequently, I didn't throw them away, but I was aware that others couldn't see "it."
Now, I think other people can "see" what I see, thanks to this software that allows me to bring out the colors, darken the edges, put a frame on it, and write on it.
C'est magnifique!
(And this reminds me of an earlier quote, not from Aldous Huxley, "I know that it's true; and I know that you don't see it."  Said in an entirely different context, but so appropriate here.)

Now I'm off to stir the stew in the outer world.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Profound Stillness

Huxley discusses how works of art and natural settings remind us in our unconscious of that "Other World," and transport us to that world even in the midst of our everyday lives.

This, he says, is the reason we value gem stones out of all proportion to their innate value.  Possessing them, we feel we are holding a piece of that numinous world.

Stained glass windows in cathedrals had the same effect on worshipers.  It was not until the Age of Reason that the church put so much influence on the written word and churches used clear glass in the windows so that the devotess could read their Bibles.

Marble and ceramics, highly polished, have the same effect on our unconscious.

This, I think, explains my own fascination as a photographer with shooting through windows and into mirrors.  The effect, for me, is enhanced when the objects are indistinct, diffuse, blurred.

The inhabitants of this Other World never "do" anything.  "Similarly the blessed never "do" anything in heaven.  They are content merely to exist."

"Action does not come naturally to the inhabitants of the mind's antipodes.  To be busy is the law of our being. The law of theirs is to do nothing."

"Profound stillness gives them their numinous quality, their power to transport the beholder out of the old world of his everyday experience, far away, toward the visionary antipodes of the human psyche."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Antipodes of the Mind

I'm reading Aldous Huxley's HEAVEN AND HELL in which he describes visionary experiences as the "antipodes of the mind."

Here are a few quotes from the book:

"Preternatural light and color are common to all visionary experiences.  And along with light and color there goes, in every case, a recognition of heightened significance.

"...their meaning consists precisely in this, that they are intensely themselves and, being intensely themselves, are manifestations of the essential givenness, the non-human otherness of the universe."

"For most of us most of the time, the world of everyday experience seems rather dim and drab.  But for a few people often, and for a fair number occasionally, some of the brightness of visionary experience spills over, as it were, into common seeing, and the everyday universe is transfigured."

"Everything seen by those who visit the mind's antipodes is brilliantly illuminated and seems to shine from within."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Loving PicMonkey

This is the view from the apartment I lived in for a month in Villefranche
sur Mer while I was studying French.
I can't believe how many ways there are to manipulate your pictures these days.

I had barely gotten used to using the 100 Cameras in 1 on my iPhone when I discovered PicMonkey, today.

It is to be used directly on the MAC so I don't have to re-shoot the photos in my  iPhoto file.  Just drag one of them to the desktop and download it into this software.

Then you can change the color, the size, frame it, write on it, make a collage, etc.

I still have much experimenting to do to see what is possible, then I will have to learn to Pin It, use it on hubpages, make it a background on Polyvore, etc.

This was shot in a jewelry artist's shop in Milano a couple of years
ago when Nat and I were there shopping.
Here's another one.

 Every time I do one, that one becomes my favorite.

 And I adore writing on the images and putting borders around them.  Makes them look so much more professional.

The quotation is from John Lenon.

I'm beginning to agree with him.  Although I can't decide which comes first:  getting more real or the world getting more unreal.

Maybe they're both happening at the same time.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Layers of Beingness

This is a shot taken in Monaco.   When I look at this
shot,  I am living vicariously.
A couple of years ago, when the Monday Night Girls Group was meeting regularly, we had the idea of building a web page.  We decided to call it "Layers of Beingness."  And our model was those little Russian nested dolls that you see, one inside the other.

Lately, I've been playing with something in my head, that resembles that idea.  What are the layers of our lives like?  What's the difference in vicarious and virtual? (I know, of course, the difference between actual and vicarious.  Actual is physical, "real.")

Nor is vicarious a new concept to me;  I have been an avid reader most of my life.  As a matter of fact, it sometimes seems that most of what I know I learned vicariously, i.e. through reading.  At least, that seemed so in the first 45 years of my life.  I had a life, but it was vicarious.

My experiences didn't seem to be mine at all.  I felt like a stranger in my own life.  About the age of 45, things changed.  My children grew up and left home.  I got a divorce from a 25-year marriage.  I quit my teaching job at the University of Alabama.  I went to live in Zurich.

There was an interim when it didn't feel like I had an "I," an ego.  I got up in the morning and recreated myself every day -- it took lots of time -- so that I could go into the outer world and interact with my new friends in Zurich and go to class at the C.G.Jung Institute for Analytical Psychology.

Gradually, however, I created a new "I."  I came "home."  Eventually, I got another job.  My children returned to the town they grew up in.  We began again to live our lives -- our new lives -- in the same physical space.  Now, for the first time, I had a life I identified with.  It was mine.  I created it.  I had two lives, both an actual (physical) life that was mine  and a vicarious one.  (See the photo above.)

Not too long ago, I felt another change taking place, not so drastic in my outer world as the first one, but it feels equally as life changing in my inner world.  My working life finally wound down.  (It's about time.  I have been working since I was 16.)  I am free now to spend my days almost exactly as I choose, and I have put together a schedule that pleases me.
This is the same shot enhanced with 100 Cameras in 1.  When I look at this
shot, I call that living virtually.

I sleep late.  I loaf.  I lounge around.  I talk on the phone.  I go foraging for my food.  I do only what's necessary to keep my physical life running smoothly.  Mostly, I play in my head and on the computer.

I spend hours on the computer, reading my blogs, answering a few e-mails, writing a hub now and then.  These days, re-shooting the photographs on my MAC with the iPhone and seeing what I can make of them with the various Apps.

This is what I call my virtual life.  I start with a vicarious experience and I interact with it using what little technology I have learned, and -- voila -- it becomes something else.  (See the photo at right.)

So, now I have three lives:  a physical/actual one, a vicarious one, and a virtual one.  No one is better than the other two.  Sometimes I enjoy one; sometimes I enjoy another.  Now I have choices.  And that makes my life/lives richer.

Are there more layers to be added?  Don't know.  Wait and see.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Ith" My Birthday

"Ith" my birthday and what a wonderful one it is.

The image to the right is the first one I have created with "100 Cameras in 1. " This was a very ordinary image, almost a throw-away, that I shot on Wednesday when Vicki, Mary Caroline and I were eating at the Thai place on the strip.

But with this new app on my iphone, I can turn an ordinary image into something extraordinary.  I still have to play with it and see what all it can do.

Back to my birthday, I have had calls and cards from many people who love me.  And, as I was just telling a special phone friend, I feel so blessed to be in a stage in my life -- when most of my responsibilities have been carried out -- when I have the free time to do some important work in other realities, lighter, less dense realities where the consequences and outcomes can be changed in the blink of a eye.

Like the e-card Ann Hays sent me, which expresses in such a light, whimsical way, the way I'm feeling:  we can create our own reality in the outer world by painting it in our inner world, and if we spill the ink, we can make a dragon fly out of it.

Thank you, World.