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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Now


.
http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57011.23_1_2.jpg

Untitled (window), Berkeley, c. 1957
: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California
 



The imaginal representation of the mind,

the only world left to you. Continuing on. That poor
second best for which one would give everything
simply to have something to go on. The twisted
oaks. The stone steps descending
through the grove to where the light of morning
no longer bathes the contorted upper limbs
alone, but pierces them, at intervals, in the interstices,
with slender shafts that penetrate
the lower limbs and chequered
patterns of light and shade there made, all the way
to the bottom of the steep path.





http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57205.1_1_2.jpg

Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956
: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57205.9_1_2.jpg


Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956
: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57205.7_1_2.jpg


Untitled (oak tree), Berkeley, 5 December 1956
: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57207.4_1_2.jpg

Untitled, Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57209.20_1_2.jpg

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57209.21_1_2.jpg

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57209.22_1_2.jpg

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57209.23_1_2.jpg

Untitled (garden steps), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

http://cdn.calisphere.org/affiliates/images/omca/omca_LNG57209.3_1_2.jpg

Untitled (garden), Berkeley, c. 1957: photo by Dorothea Lange from Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California

15 comments:

TC said...

Someone says this reminds them of The Turn of the Screw. The ghostliness of the figures behind the window pane, the going down the garden path, the finally vanishing.

barkstry said...

beautiful.

Sandra said...

yes...beautiful!

TC said...

Many thanks, barkstry and Sandra, and welcome to my haunted house.

A bit of background on the images may be of interest.

From 1945 to 1951 health problems caused Dorothea Lange to stop photographing. When she started work again in the 1950s, her concentration had narrowed and intensified to the specific areal immediacies of light and shade -- views from the Bay Bridge in changing lights, family scenes, views (like these) of the oaks and other foliage in her garden in Berkeley.

Near the end of her life, Lange was interviewed by Richard K. Doud, who was documenting the FSA photography project as oral history.

By then (1965) Lange had suffered at length from serious physical problems, gastric ulcers, post-polio syndrome, esophageal lesions leading to the fatal cancer, and of course all that pain had affected her outlook.

Not that she hadn't been a pretty tough cookie all along.

RICHARD K. DOUD: What do you feel, since you did have this opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the country in the thirties to see people at their best and at their worst, to see the good times and the hopeless conditions, what do you think is the most significant thing you learned about Americans, or about man in general? Are there any qualities that were more or less exposed to you that you hadn't been aware of in Americans before? What did you learn new about the country?

DOROTHEA LANGE: Well, I many times encountered courage, real courage. Undeniable courage. I've heard it said that that was the highest quality of the human animal. There is no other. I've heard that. I think it was Mr. Freud. No, Mr. Jung. One or the other of early psychoanalysts. Alfred Adler or somebody. Well, I encountered that many times, in unexpected places. And I have learned to recognize it when I see it... I am not sure that that quality is not dissipating in us as a people. I think there's been a big change. I sense it. Now I have no proof, but if I were to go out in the field again, I sense that the quality that I might find would be a different one. The predominant quality would be a different one. But I did experience it then. I would like to go out in the field and see.

RICHARD K. DOUD: It might be disappointing to you.

DOROTHEA LANGE: I'm sure it would be. I'm sure it would be. I'm not very optimistic right now about the directions in which American people are going. I'm baffled by it. Maybe I'm just old, but I don't think it's my years that are troubling me, I don't think it is.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

TC’s Haunted House

you can say
that again,

a poem complete
with pictures haunting

the solitary mind

NB: That final paragraph of Dorothea's prophetic and disturbing.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

It takes courage to marry the oaks
trees with such curving beauty
one wishes them different
not so young
even though they are ancient
travelers in the filtered light

this way and that
the path goes up
and then down for walking

it is always there
famously in California
but other places too

Seek this risky adventuring
walk among the trees
in their fog
past their mossy branches
and dangling bird calls
they do not need you
that's why you are there
it was steep with deer

larry white said...

Mary Butts reviewing E.B.Mowat's Americans in England in February 1936: "This very charming book traces the adventures over more than a century of distinguished visitors to Europe, and to England especially. From Franklin to Gouverneur Morris, Talleyrand's friend, to the later diplomats and to Woodrow Wilson. A story of the pleasantest and most generous interchange, the fairest spirit of give and take. If all the Americans one has had the privilege of introducing to various aspects of England and country life had been made of the same stuff as these open-minded and enthusiastic travellers, all ready to meet one half-way...

Here the chief criticism arises. With few exceptions all these men were New Englanders of standing or from equally traditional parts of the South. That is to say, they were one and all English by descent and more than conscious by the continuity of their culture.

Already it is no longer like that. Americans are arriving here without root or memories of any kind in this land. Other forces are at work -- in letters alone you can see the change, the breakaway from the New England tradition. Already one has read a few of the young writers who have never heard of Wordsworth..."

Jonathan Chant said...

Wonderfully eerie, especially those figures behind the glass. And superb, precise writing describing the tree. One of the most enjoyable poems I have read in a long while. A post to re-visit..

Wooden Boy said...

"That poor second best for which one would give everything/ simply to have something to go on" I love how the last three words of this line hold both the sense of a clue and a call to carry on. Those last three words (and others), it always throws you to zero in on the letter O - wormholes piercing the poem.

The photos do make me think of Jack Cardiff's take on Henry James, The Innocents: figures passing windows; ghosts of governesses in the shrubbery

Susan Kay Anderson said...

"...the lower limbs and chequered patterns..."

beautiful, I'm there

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Blind Spot


The ‘ 81 V.W. Rabbit at the center of my life now at almost fifty. It finally died a month ago when my parents forgot to check the ever precarious oil level. It was something that would go unnoticed for awhile and the oil light would come on—that was ten years ago when it still did that. Ten years ago Denise and Robert were killed when their sedan was halved by a truck they didn’t see as they turned back onto the road from the shoulder. An unmemorable day except that they died.
That made it sadder? No, that made it dull—empty. Out on a lonely stretch of road. Maybe they watched a deer or a beaver or--? It was speculation that they forgot something—a freshly caught fish—at home, pulled over and waited for an opposite oncoming car to go by before swinging into the highway—I was angry when I first heard about it from Corine. Mad at Robert’s lack of peripheral vision. Damn him.
The license plate of the Rabbit had a holder that read: I teach, I touch the future. I know this wasn’t the inspiration for Robert to become a teacher but I can’t help thinking that him laughing and teasing about it—(it did sound a little perverted—if you looked at it that way) he thought my summer job on the Warm Springs Rez was great, teaching through the community college—again, I could not tell if he was really joking—he grinned and seemed to find great amusement in my confusion.
Denise always told me that they considered me a writer. I don’t know—my poems showing up in lit. magazines here and there but no instant fame, recognition, nobody cared one way or another when I mentioned poetry—it was as if I were living with a disease that was easy to manage.
Since I’ve been interviewing Virginia Brautigan Aste now for almost three years, I see that I will probably make it and pass my 50th birthday. The past 20 years of her life have not been boring, as I’m sure mine won’t be. Only today has she told me her son is an alcoholic—she seems very sad about this and lets go as best she can—one daughter barely speaks to her; it is punishing and difficult—angry at the past.
What else was supposed to unfold in my life? Wasn’t it supposed to happen by now? Were there things that were waiting for me? Such is my daydream. Promotion of an imagined glorious past. Denise and Robert were there.
Nobody had really cared for the V.W. all that well. It was my parents’ trash run car. People still slammed the hatch too hard. It was heavy. If someone slammed the hatch down it hurt your ears and rattled your teeth with the metallic jaw-breaking sound.
When I drove Robert’s band, Oswald 5-0, over to the recording studio, he laughed and said it felt like we were in Cannonball Run, that hillbilly movie. As if the cops were chasing us. I thought the V.W. Rabbit did very well across the various Portland bridges, overpasses and down the urban cluttered streets. It seemed like one favor I did for them—that they let me do—besides dishes when I stayed over on their couch in Eugene. Mike Johnson and such.
I don’t know what Robert would say to my car now—a 2006 grey Subaru Forester—not falling apart, very reliable, like the rabbit, I guess, very much so.
Denise would not have cared. I think. She wrapped herself up in other musings—she always had lusciously scented bath soap—gardenia—for instance—and always Pantene shampoo—she was intensely alive every moment and this exhausted her. She gave her all in her marriage. Something I think I do not do in mine.

barkstry said...

there is something so comforting in this poem. want it in my mind forever. what a gift, thank you.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

"through the grove to where the light of morning"

8.16

cloudless blue sky above shadowed white
wall, green of leaves on branch in left
foreground, no sound of wave in channel

which is directed toward it,
also belongs to whose

“may be,” what will be made
from it, present with

grey black fog against invisible ridge,
shape of black pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...

Many thanks to all. Ghostly governesses in the shrubbery indeed. Eerie, the past five months have been exactly that. There was the letting the side down with the Fatal Accident Team, frustrated in not being able to complete their work -- well, I've never been accused of being a team player.

The pivot of the poem is caught by WB in these words:

"'That poor second best for which one would give everything/ simply to have something to go on' ...the last three words of this line hold both the sense of a clue and a call to carry on."

The clue to the ghost story and the search for hints, the mute refusal of the CT scanner to offer help with the sleuthing, merely the dividing up of the corpus into 8000 massively irradiated planar slices, the technologists in the lead-shielded shrubbery speaking through ghostly amplifiers into the metal tube, the third time around saying "Don't move... Oh, you moved. We'll have to do this one again."

I hardly know how to comment on the VW theme, which brings back such tragic memories for dear Susan. But just offhand... There was one informative close inspection of the moonlike landforms of Wyoming in a rented VW Rabbit with the poet-scout E.D. hunched over the wheel, squinting through blizzard conditions in Wind River Canyon. That was March 1979. Then there was the VW Jetta, five months ago, leaving the Fatal Accident Team frustrated in its work; though of course with that particular metal vs man test run, all the results are not yet in. Still going down the path.

gamefaced said...

the pictures want me to listen http://youtu.be/9m-WTwGoJqk