Saturday, February 26, 2005

Cleansing The Doors of Perception

Without their little one-year's-worth plugs of wax that I flushed out last night, my ears are letting in the most incredible sibilances. Faucet water, rustled paper, the recoiling keyboard space bar, cloth against cloth when I walk -- a whole stratum of high, crisp, thin, hissing sounds floods back. I didn't know what I was missing. The sonic world seems almost intolerably bright. There is a little nimbus of hiss around every sound. Like backlighting. Tinny, tinkling. I find my fingers stealing earward, my eyes squeezing shut against the glare. I quail in terror at the thought of wind passing through winter oaks.

These low, lush, matted, tangling blades of green were present last winter in the same spot. I have no idea what they are. They are, though, a balm to the winter-scoured eye: sinuous, lively, plump. In great contradistinction to all the spiky, bleached, skeletal, gray-brown-beige winter thicket. I've been photographing this bit of riverbank wood and meadow land for about a year, now. One would think that would be enough, or, at least bring a sense of closure. But it's not enough. My curiosity pushes ahead to the next botanical year, to the next cycle. What variations will it bring ? A year is not enough.

But, on the other hand, even a single moment is enough. A photograph is a moment of light, captured and fixed. Does a photo have, or signify, duration ? Does a photo of the moon exposed at a one second shutter speed have more "duration" than a weed shot at 1/500 ? What about star trails left on film exposed for hours ? Is a photograph a record of a "present moment," that elusive ne plus ultra we're always "trying" to live in, as if we could live otherwise ? The photo as an artifact has its own present moment. Just as memory is a phenomenon that occurs in the present.

It's still cold. There's been more snow, and there's more predicted. The bright morning gives way to a scrim of clouds and filtered light. There are so many doors.

The way in is the way out.

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