Monthly Archives: December 2018

enigmata

I like me a good enigma, and I’ve used that word in all sorts of connections over the years, but never thought to inquire into its etymology and various senses. Dictionaries seem to agree that the Greek ainos, ‘fable’, is the original progenitor, but others cited are Greek ainisessthai, ‘to speak allusively’, and Latin aenigma, ‘riddle’. The modern senses favor

  • mysterious
  • puzzling
  • hard to explain
  • inexplicable
  • hidden meaning or known thing concealed under obscure words or forms
  • dark saying
  • baffles understanding

Looking over my own past uses, I seem often to invoke enigma in describing something non-obvious that interests me or piques curiosity or captures my attention. An artful story is what’s required to dispel murk (or mirk). See Narrativium for the how and why.

Most dictionary senses seem to favor the textual enigma, but I’m especially drawn to visual instances, in which there’s something unresolved


Orrs Island mystery

or ???huh???
children at play

or flat-out puzzling

This morning in the Back 40

or ambiguous and suggestive of multiple possible readings

the morning after the night before

or just plain weird

31x18068

Edward Gorey on writing:

…the way I write, since I do leave out most of the connections, and very little is pinned down, I feel that I am doing a minimum of damage to other possibilities that might arise in a reader’s mind. (New Yorker Dec 12 2018)

Photographers who traffic in enigma and abstractions of various kinds, and/or explore Buddhist and Taoist notions of the contemplative owe a lot to Minor White. Herewith some of my thoughts from more than a year ago: Major Minor.

just a stump

Digital processing is really a marvel, especially in the ease with which one can tweak an image to express different flavors, moods, attitudes. The danger is that it’s easy to take the tweakage too far, but that’s really subjective. Here’s one from yesterday in which various changes are rung (as Bill Skinner was wont to say). It’s worthwhile to contemplate why one might prefer one or another version.

the unedited original:
stump as shot

cropped and adjusted, subjectively pleasing:
stump1

monochrome, with green filter:
stump b+w green filter

using Lightroom’s “Infrared” preset:
stump "IR"

using Lightroom’s “aged photo” preset:
stump "aged"


Of course I see a creature, probably a large-mouthed fishy person (a staring eye in the upper center)