Daniel Levin Becker’s Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature rolled in yesterday and transfixed me from the very first page:
I’ve known of OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, ‘Workshop for Potential Literature’) in a desultory sort of way for years, mostly via the work of Georges Perec (see Georges Perec provokes and Convivial Question and another genius) and largely thanks to my many years of friendship with Daniel Heïkalo, Oulipian avant la lettre. Becker introduces me to OuPhoPo, a Photographic avatar of the original institution, and a company of rats (“rats who build the labyrinth from which they plan to escape”) in which I feel I belong. “Cette association a pour de promouvoir la ‘Pataphysique de la photographie…”
are 3 examples of invocations of the playful, provocations to the literal and the staid.
And then in comes this bit of reality:
(from What Viral Shedding Looks Like During a Covid-19 Infection)
Much to think about. See Oulipo: freeing literature by tightening its rules from The Guardian.
As I begin to lay out the next Blurb book, I’m retracing the steps of my burgeoning engagement with persons and creatures in rock. It seems that it was more than five years ago (in March 2014) that I discovered the 12th Imam (who went into Occultation in 874 CE) on a stretch of beach rock:
I made a mirrored image of himself and his chiral twin, heads resting in the lap of a goddess (Bilquis
, I’m thinking):
I relocated the original image and rotated it a bit, then traced the lines of extravagant turban, beard, and eye-nose-mouth:
The great significance for me of this image is its contribution to my appreciation of ephemerality in the medium of rock. Months after the original capture of the Imam (in December 2014), I returned to the stretch of beach in search of the Imam. I found the rock, sure enough, but the Imam was simply not there:
Subsequently (as I compared the March and December images) I realized that the Imam’s mouth in the March image was in fact a strand of seaweed, whisked away by the next tide. I can
imagine a turban’d face in the December image, but it’s not nearly as classy as the Imam.
When I first processed this one
I saw the whole as a dog-like figure, but I completely missed seeing until today this marvelous face:
This sort of thing happens a lot, and is basically A Good Thing: there’s always more to be found in images and/or in one’s mind. The problem is often how to articulate, describe, convey what one descries. Another example from this morning, from the very same source material, in an unfolding I made a couple of days ago:
At first I saw the canine figure in the top third of the image, seemingly with forepaws raised in benediction, and the first thought was “ah! the God of Spaniels!”. And next I saw another and larger canine in the center of the image, and read that one as a fox. But this morning that central canine appeared as a spaniel in transports of delight, floppy ears flapping, smiling muzzle, and eyes expressing a degree of pleasure that I imagine for a young spaniel playing in surf. The figure I first saw, the God of, is a spectral presence, blessing the joy of the dog beneath.
Wholly imaginary, since the seed material was a stump, cut off flush with the ground:
and it may well be that nobody else sees what I see. And indeed, I had no idea there were spaniels to be descried when I snipped out a bit of the original image and mirrored it.
Not sure if this is a Good Thing or a calumny, but it’s progress of a sort.
The new iPad arrived yesterday, and I’ve been playing with Adobe Illustrator Draw, attempting to actualize an idea I’ve had for a few months. Take an image in which I see something that I want to call other viewers’ attention to. Sketch the outlines of what I see on a new layer, then export the sketch. Here’s an example, raggedy but clear enough to show the potential:
Start with an unfolded image (what I call a tessellation, though it’s just a single mirroring), like the one I labelled “voracious blue-eyed goddess”:
sketch in the lines my imagination sees:
and turn off the background:
Who is it?
I had no idea…
The life of a photograph is pretty chancy: many never get processed from their RAW capture, some of those that do never make it to viewers’ eyes, and some are out there on Flickr but hardly anybody happens upon them. And a few have second and third lives after their original appearance. This one was an offhand grab as we walked along the shore of a pond at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland:
Surely geography. I liked it for its ambiguity of scale (an aerial view of an island? a closeup of a mossy rock?), but it’s had only 4 views by Flickr users. And then this morning (2 months after it was taken) it occurred to me to mirror it, and lo and behold:
I see an owl with wings spread, perhaps closing in on a mouse. There are other possibilities too, of course, but it seemed to me that it belonged in my Flickr Album called A Catalog of Wings for Celestials
And then I happened to look at the lower left hand corner and saw this mountaineer coming around a boulder:
So many wonders…
Full-frontal Spiritual Manifestations: gods, godlets, daemons and other beings is now live in extremely provisional form.
a very minor godlet of something beneath notice