“When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.”
Jung said that science is nested in a dream. The dream is that if we investigated the structures of material reality with sufficient attention and truth, that we could then learn enough about material reality to then alleviate suffering: To produce the philosopher’s stone – to make everybody wealthy, to make everybody healthy, to make everyone live as long as they wanted to live or perhaps forever. That’s the goal – to alleviate the catastrophe of existence. The idea that the solutions to the mysteries of life that enable us to develop such a substance, or multitude of substances, provided the motive force for the development of science. Jung traced that development of the motive force to over the period of 1,000 years. Jung went back into alchemical texts and interpreted them as if they were the dream upon which science was founded.
I don’t usually remember my dreams. I know I have had them, I can feel them silvering away, sliding into forgetfulness. I’m left with vague feelings of fear and dread – so maybe it’s best that I don’t remember.
But sometimes I do. The other night I clearly remember one – or at least a good part of it. I go on these photowalks when I can manage it, and one was scheduled for Friday night down in the arts district. I’ve been thinking about this walk – working on a way to carry a tripod (it will fit in a gym bag I have – barely) and planning on doing some long exposures in the dark – working with blur and such.
In my dream I was doing my photowalk and taking a lot of pictures. Suddenly, a scene opened up in front of me, something of indescribably beauty and interest. It must have been indescribable because I don’t remember what it was. But it was something that I absolutely had to take a photo of.
When I pushed the shutter nothing happened. I discovered that my memory card was full.
Frantically, I lowered my camera and began deleting photos I had taken, trying to free up space for this amazing something right in front of my eyes. But I was too slow, and missed the photo of a lifetime.
I wondered what this dream meant and resolved to take a lot of photos – maybe even fill the card up.
When Friday arrived I carefully packed my bag with my camera, full battery, extra lens, tripod, and cable release. At the appropriate time after work I lugged the pack down to the LBJ/Central DART train station to ride downtown for the photowalk. Once the train began to move I decided to check everything one more time. It was all in the bag… then I pulled out my camera. Checking the battery once more, I saw the dreaded warning, “NO SD CARD INSERTED.”
My card was, of course, still on my desk at home stuck in my laptop where I had transferred the data from my last photoshoot. I didn’t panic – but was pretty upset at my idiocy. I began to think, “This is a huge city, where can I buy an SD card?” I didn’t have much time,
I don’t like to be late to group things.
I knew there was a 7/11 convenience store downtown, right at my last train stop. It’s major purpose is to sell cheap wine to the homeless, but it might have digital cards – for tourists and stuff. I pulled out my phone, did a search and found a page that listed items that 7/11 stores carried. I typed in “Dallas” and was presented with odd results – then I realized it was a dot.au site and I was searching Australian convenience stores – not much help.
Time was slipping away – the train was hurtling toward a digital-less downtown. So I pulled up Google Maps on my phone, watching the blue dot of my train going down the tracks. Looking ahead – I noticed that there was an office supply store right next to the Lover’s Lane train stop.
I was able to find a 16 gig card in the clearance rack. The whole store had a sad feel to it, Amazon is grinding office supply stores to dust.
Walked back to the train stop, caught the next train, and made it right on time. The day was too hot and I had trouble getting enthused – though I heard a really good Texas ambient band, This Will Destroy You, at the Nasher and am now a bit of a fan. I did figure out how to handle the tripod, camera, and cable release – will work on my technique for the future.
And pay more attention to my dreams.
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Oblique Strategy: Work at a different speed
I was driving up to McKinney for a photowalk, taking the route up the eastern side of the city. There were a couple of interesting looking taquerias, a line of small-time used-car dealers, and some place, little more than a shack, with a peeling sign that read:
Now, I know about a weekend fishing trip and how those things go together… this is Texas… but still….
“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country
I think I recognize the white glove-things in the photo I took. I watch too much television – and I watch too much “How It’s Made.”
One episode showed how they made latex surgical gloves. These ceramic hand-molds are dipped in a latex solution on a long assembly line. The solution dries on the ceramic hands and the gloves are then blown off with a jet of air. The scene of hundreds of hands moving along the manufacturing process was odd and hypnotic.
I think those things in the window, in front of the painting, are ceramic latex glove-molds.
“Your dreams are your spirit, your soul and without them you are dead. You must guard your dreams always. Always. Lest someone steal them away from you. I know what it is to have your dreams stolen. I know what it is to be dead. Guard your dreams. Always guard your dreams.”
― Brom, Krampus: The Yule Lord
“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”
― Jack Kerouac,
A while back I went on a photowalk with some other folks in Deep Ellum. It was sponsored by a national organization and there was a contest. I wasn’t really interested in entering and didn’t think about it – I was there for the fun.
As we walked around I stepped into Serious Pizza. There was a woman from the Photowalk already standing there, looking at the guy spinning pizza dough. I stood shoulder to shoulder to her as she raised her camera and clicked. About a minute later, I took the above shot.
I’m notoriously slow at processing my photographs and the other woman had hers up first. It was amazing how similar our photos came out, even though they were taken a minute apart (I think it was different dough, for example). She entered hers in the contest, and won first place nationally.
Which is cool with me, she did take her photo first and had it posted first. It is a nice shot – especially with the guy’s tattoo.
I love Deep Ellum, always have. I’ve been living in Dallas long enough now to see the area go up and down several times. I did a search on my laptop for the term “Deep Ellum” and found some entries from my old journal from back in the day.
This one is from an entry called “Monkeys in Space.” I wrote it in 2000, sixteen years ago. It refers to an event that happened fifteen years before that – in the mid eighties – thirty years of Deep Ellum.
The mid-eightes in Dallas were a time of alternative music and gritty nightclubs popping up in the nascent Deep Ellum district. Most of my life, I’ve felt out of step with the times, sometimes ahead, sometimes behind. For a little while in the mid-eighties, while I was in my late twenties, I guess I could be considered to have been fashionable. The Deep Ellum nightclubs were starting and I was among the first people to hang out in the old Video Bar, the original Club Clearview, Theater Gallery, and the Prophet Bar.
Like all the clubs, the Prophet Bar was a converted old brick industrial space. It had two rooms, a front bar with live music and a back room with a suspect kitchen. It was known for watered down drinks, hot music, and walls covered with wild surrealistic murals painted on commission by local artists.
One evening we were at the Prophet Bar for some live music but had arrived early and were sitting around the front room with a smattering of folks all sipping drinks and eyeing the fashions and the figures. They had a jukebox and I had a fistfull of quarters.
The selections were populated by the alternative hits of the day, Siouxie and the Banshees, Teardrop Explodes… but among these familiar tunes were a few songs that even I hadn’t heard of. Wild sounding bands with ridiculous song titles. The one I remember was a band called Monkeys in Space with a song on the jukebox that I can’t recall except that it was a sexually explicit title.
I said to my friend, “I’ve never heard of that band before. Look at that. I wonder what kind of music that could be?”
Of course I couldn’t resist. Thinking how cool and hip I was to play a song nobody had heard of I plunked down my coins and pushed the proper numbers and letters on the buttons – then walked back to the table with the whole bar looking at me.
The bastards that ran the club had thought up a pretty good joke. In the slot that they had earmarked for Monkeys in Space they actually put a copy of Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree, by Tony Orlando and Dawn. It’s hard to describe the horror of that song… that opening hook, those lyrics booming out in that place with the black clad clientele and colorful murals.
I curled up like a sprayed bug.
That incident always stuck in my head. Decades later, I was able to use the Tony Orlando and Dawn song for my own nefarious purposes.
But that’s a story for another day.