Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love at Last Sight

A lightning flash... then night! Fleeting beauty
By whose glance I was suddenly reborn,
Will I see you no more before eternity?

Elsewhere, far, far from here! too late! never perhaps!
For I know not where you fled, you know not where I go,
O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!

Charles Baudelaire, A Une Passante - To a Passerby, 1857

Or, as Walter Benjamin put it, 'love at last sight' - the frisson of the brief encounter, a glance, the quiver within the self ... and the melancholy ache that ensues as that moment melts ... of holding it in the memory. Sudden moments from the train window bring such rapture ... then fade, into time, into space ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Chapel at Le Couvent de la Tourette, Jan 2009, JBowring

"Reality, as it evolves, sweeps me with it. I am struck by everything and, though not everything strikes me in the same way, I am always struck by the same contradiction: although I can always see how beautiful anything could be if only I could change it, in practically every case there is nothing I can really do. Everything is changed into something else in my imagination, then the dead weight of things changes it back into what it was in the first place. A bridge between imagination and reality must be built ..."

Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, 1967

Chapel at Le Couvent de la Tourette, Jan 2009, JBowring

"... imagination augments the values of reality." Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, first published in French, 1958

Chapel at Le Couvent de la Tourette, Jan 2009, JBowring

"... the rational substance is a corporeal light; the imagination, insofar as it is an image of the body, is a shadow. Therefore, after the imagination has risen as far as reason, like a shadow that comes to the light and superimposes itself on the light, insofar as it comes toward the light it makes itself manifest and circumscribed, insofar as it superimposes itself on the light and darkens it, enfolds it, covers it.

... ... if reason adheres to it with delight the imagination becomes like a skin for it, so that reason cannot detach itself without pain, because it has attached itself with love..."

Hugh of St Victor in Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas:Word and Phantasm in Western Culture, 1993

Chapel at Le Couvent de la Tourette, Jan 2009, JBowring

"Strange! So infinitesimally narrow is the threshold between the two realms, and yet no one raises their foot to cross it! The other reality borders on our skin, yet we do not feel it! Our imagination stops here, where it could create new land."

Gustav Meyrink, The White Dominican, 1921 (with thanks to Gavin Keeney)


San Michele, Venice, January 2009

"The illuminating searchlight of modern science, in its rendering history, life and things transparent, whilst no doubt valuable in its contribution to the sum of knowledge, tends to subject all spaces to its pitiless glare, fostering the illusion that all might be revealed everywhere. This monumental banishment of the dark and mysterious within such a modern topography leaves little room for gloom and the disordered yet evocative matter which might lurk there."

Tim Edensor, Industrial Ruins: spaces, aesthetics and materiality

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day Dreaming

6:45 a.m.

"Clouds are numbered amongst the most oneiric of 'poetic things.' They are the objects of daytime oneiric experience. They call forth easy, ephemeral reveries. In an instant we are 'in the clouds,' and the we come back down to earth, gently teased by positivists. No dreamer attributes to clouds the solemn significance of other sky 'signs.' In short, the reverie of clouds has a particular psychological characteristic: it is a reverie without responsibility."

Gaston Bachelard, 'Clouds', from Air and Dreams: An essay on the imagination of movement. (first published in French in 1943)

7:00 a.m.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Forgetting how to Remember

Monaco, January 2009, JBowring

Places recalled out of time, remembered or misremembered, dreamed. The impossibility of having been there, of inhabiting that place, threatens the memory. Was it so? Memories melt into dreams, coalescing and imprecise moments, impressions, colours, words. Left behind, drifting in the ripples that fan out in the distance, as in a wake. Or, as at a wake, where the remembered moments triumph; what is lost is held high, valorised. As though neither awake, nor asleep, since these moments hover in the liminality of the ever-so-slightly sub-conscious, the elusive and fragile zone where nothing is quite graspable. Twisting and turning in the winds of time, like a falling piece of paper which when end-on is barely visible, and momentarily flickers into the full view of a page, then ... gone again ...

Monaco, January 2009, JBowring

Thursday, February 12, 2009


The very, very strange beauty of Kolmanskop, Namibia. A diamond town from the early twentieth century, made in a vision of Germany. And then the diamonds dried up. In the late 1950s the town was abandoned ... deserted and desert-ed, as the sand lands surrounding slowly invaded the settlement. The painted walls had somehow anticipated their fate, providing ethereal backgrounds to the interior deserts. An architectural Ozymandias, Nothing beside remains: round the decay / Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, / The lone and level sands stretch far away....

And an echo of the inundated photographs of James Casebere, the model interiors succumbing to water, the flood confounding the datum of time and space ...

James Casebere, Nevision Underground #1, 2001

(Sound track: Mazzy Star, Into Dust. Images: various unknown photographers. Yes: I want to go there ...)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Drift

Images from travels in Rome ... Paris ... adrift amidst mist, a twilight promenade, evening falls, the sky mirror glimmers ... "Water is to the landscape as the soul is to the body." (Jean-Marie Morel) ... "Water is the gaze of the earth...." (Paul Claudel)

Muscular limbs of trees and torsos ... trunks. And through the landscapes of folds and veils, gestures of grace, filmy gossamer draped, statues at rest, in shroud or gown, diaphanous.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Padova Station, Jan 2009

"... ghosts -- that is, the sense of the presence of those who are not physically there -- are a ubiquitous aspect of the phenomenology of place. Although the cultural language of modernity usually prevents us from speaking about their presence, we constitute a place in large measure by the ghosts we sense inhabit and possess it. The meaning of a place, its genius loci, depends upon the geniuses we locate there."
Michael Ball, The ghosts of place, 1997