Tuesday, September 30

with a sound but half its own

The everlasting universe of Things
Flows through the Mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark—now glittering—now reflecting gloom—
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters,—with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
In the wild woods, among the Mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.

-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, lines from "Mont Blanc"

Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

Every scheme for the analysis of nature has to face these two facts, change and endurance. There is yet a third fact to be placed by it, eternality, I will call it. The mountain endures. But when after ages it has been worn away, it has gone. If a replica arises, it is yet a new mountain. A colour is eternal. It haunts time like a spirit. It comes and it goes. But where it comes, it is the same colour. It neither survives nor does it live. It appears when it is wanted. The mountain has to time and space a different relation from that which colour has.

-- Alfred North Whitehead Science and the Modern World

Monday, September 15

a certain way

Finding a gentleness in my pictures, that's about the highest compliment I've had. If my pictures help some people to see things in a certain way, it's probably to look at serious things non-seriously. Everything's serious. Everything's not serious.

-- Elliott Erwitt Elliott Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt

Friday, September 12

glass doorknob

glass doorknob ©2008 RosebudPenfold

this iron chain

This iron chain,
heavy as it is, seems
light to me, I don't feel it.
There's another chain made
of waves, lands, winds,
smiles, sighs,
that binds me I don't know where . . .

-- Pedro Salinas
Tr. W.S. Merwin

Pedro Salinas

Monday, September 8


All our evenings we have been looking at the death of candles:
we use and are used up. What is the using for?
Light, light . . . how, why, should there be light? And what is it? What is it for?
It travels a hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second, exists only as it travels.
Could it exist if it had nowhere to travel to? Could we? Do we?

--Peyton Houston XVI Complex Songs at the Borders of Silence

Friday, September 5


ukulele ©2008 RosebudPenfold

hidden in the apparent clarity

Some soldier stopped a moment and spoke. "It's indescribably rich in the dark, isn't it?" Without waiting for an answer he continued, a little unlike a soldier. "This soft mist, the dark outlines of the boats in the convoy make it seem as if the long strong limbs of my woman are what cause the rhythmic heaving of this bloody ship. And the wind is like her hair in my face. And the foam and blue-green glints of light are like her fleeting expressions of smile and seduction. Can you see that faint red gleam on the water like flesh in the moonlight is red from your memory of flesh?"

I could not, so I laid his faulty vision to the hot red blood of him who spoke. He must have been full of the dreams the endless ocean engenders to talk so freely and so expressively of his feelings, instead of using the vulgar language we usually use to hide the tenderness of our passion. I had been dreaming of love myself, I guess, though you were not consciously in my thoughts. The night was too misty, mysterious to be one of yours. It is the clear, sparkling jeweled nights and days that are yours; those times when mystery is so cunningly hidden in the apparent clarity, it is more absolute, more unresolved than any other.

-- Minor White, letter to Isabel Kane, July-August 1943

Minor White

Thursday, September 4


hope ©2008 RosebudPenfold

a real new experience

The world doesn't fear a new idea. It can pigeon-hole any idea. But it can't pigeon-hole a real new experience.

--D.H. Lawrence "The Spirit of Place" Studies in Classic American Literature

Studies in Classic American Literature

Wednesday, September 3

beach 5

beach 5 ©2008 RosebudPenfold

the blind spot of meaning

Photography is a marked art, a spectacle of light marks. A photograph is a touch from the distance that has its own unforeseen time. In photographs nature thinks with light, sometimes almost invisibly, on the threshold of perception. Science seeks the meanings and classifications of things, whereas photographic art examines the limits of its own seeing.

At the junction of these two kinds of vision there operates a world with its own laws, where new and fantastical creatures have a fleeting existence. Gaze seeks out the blind spot of meaning, from which it examines the world through the eyes of a poet. [more]

-- Harri Laakso Grey Matters (Aftercrop)

Tuesday, September 2


If I sit at the piano and play that low C, you may think you're hearing only that one tone—a dark, rich bass note—but you're not; you are simultaneously hearing a whole series of higher tones that are sounding at the same time. These are arranged in an order preordained by nature and ruled by universal physical laws . . . All these upper notes of which you may be unaware result from a phenomenon of nature whereby any sound-producing source, or I should say "pitch-producing source," such as that piano string, vibrates not only as the whole string, in all its whatever-inch glory, sounding that low C, but also in fractional segments of that string—each vibrating separately. It's as though the string were infinitely divisible, into two halves, into three thirds, four quarters, and so on. And the smaller those segments are, the faster they vibrate, producing higher and higher frequencies and therefore higher and higher tones—OVERtones. And these overtones, or harmonics, as they're also called, are all sounding together with the fundamental sound of the full string. This is the basic principle by which the entire harmonic series is generated, starting on any fundamental tone . . . Any note I strike will contain its own series of overtones, but the lower the note I strike, the more abundantly audible will be its harmonic series, which accounts in part for the comparative richness of that low C.

-- Leonard Bernstein The Unanswered Question

Monday, September 1

beach 4

beach 4 ©2008 RosebudPenfold

the literal

As if Atlantis could haul the past up into the sky, the weightless void of a there that has no here, and dump it, disassociated and infinite, bursts of event, lost loves, revolutions, matter matter, murmur murmur, all the hoodlum detritus of our hopes, dreams, triumphs, and defeats, construed into the frozen region. The screen's flatness, the world's flatness. Loss of depth of field, of vision, of the tactile variety of hair, skin, limb, the disembodied wilderness in which we now live; metaphor of the cycle expunged, surface lifted up so as to exclude periphery and vanishing point, whatever illusions of inclusion we had invented along the way. A bar. Television on, sound on, music on, talk, eye contact, orders, moneys exchanging hands, things on a wall, scents. How much is enough? All on the same plane, on the horizontal field that is not horizontal at all but flat, upright and flat. This is the space on which the literal basks.

-- Ann Lauterbach The Night Sky