Saturday, 28 February 2009


I am fascinated by this 99th pensum revolution of everyday life:

"there were days too
when nothing needed to be said

when the game was simply
to watch the petals fall"

Most surprisingly, I had exactly the same thought - or, should I say, feeling - when I looked at this picture of mine. I say 'surprisingly' because of the obvious difference in style and tone that separates the two photos. His maintains a very characteristic Japanese sensitivity - what could be more Japanese than this image of idling away one's time by contemplating the fall of petals? I think of a passage in a novel by Mishima in which the hero has an insight into the nature of things that is to change the course of his life while looking at the fallen petals floating on the water of a bowl. An insignificant detail, which goes practically unnoticed.

I also wonder about this 'too'. What if one would or could discard it, and make each day just that, a simple game of watching petals fall? What could be said about such a life? (and I don't even dare ask: how could be such a life lived?)

Yet when I took the picture I didn't think about any of these questions. I stood there in amazement at such a marvellous impossibility brought forth by life in my parents' garden, that a tulip could bend over a fern and its red embrace the green and the petals fall in exactly that place, which, by its very nature, seemed to constitute a kind of shelter for the frailty of this world.

And yet - another yet, as if one followed a spiral down to the core of things - when I changed the focus and looked closer, I stood there thoughtless, connected as if by a strange musical tune to the pure vibration of colours and patterns unfolding before my eyes.

"Art, in short, has no other goal, no other meaning than to express those subjective determinations that constitute the ground of our being and perhaps of being itself, the soul of things and of the universe—if it is true that all entities, all objective appearances have their own inner resonance and initially repose within it. It is because this subjective dimension of Being is identical to the essence of the universe and the abstract content, in other words absolutely real, that art wants to express it, that Kandinsky could call it “cosmic depth” and say that “the genesis of a work of art is of a cosmic character.”

The aim of art is indeed not to express a subjective state understood as a state of fact, a state of affairs, and it is in this sense that Kandinsky could say, “I do not paint the states of the soul.” Art paints life, in other words a capacity for growth, for life as subjectivity, that is as experiencing itself, is the power of attaining oneself and thus of expanding oneself at each moment. That is why each eye wants to see further and each force swells, becoming more efficient and stronger. Art is the endless attempt to resume carrying each of life’s powers to its highest degree of intensity and thus of pleasure, it is the response given by life to its most intimate essence and to the will which inhabits it—to its desire for excess (surpassement)."

excerpts from Michel Henry, Kandinsky and the Meaning of the Work of Art, translated by Michael Tweed and generously made available by pensum here


  1. Imi plac din ce in ce mai mult "plimbarile" astea in lumea ta... Te pricepi forte bine sa ne calauzesti prin tot feluri de stari si ganduri...
    Pana la urma cred ca o sa ma faci sa cred chiar si in cuvinte...

  2. more than gratitude, i feel humbled

  3. Somebody even starts weeping when he see the petals fall apart down.. Sometimes I let my emotion resort on the romance of existentialism. Though I have been living in the arena of science, engineering and productivity, I think I might still share the feeling with the Japanese guy. Chao~

  4. :-)

    de unde vine problema asta a ta cu cuvintele, Emese?

  5. oh no, don't say that, pensum (but thank you so much for saying it, I hoped that you wouldn't be upset that I talked about my connection to 'however fallible' and linked to your work). I don't know how to thank you or to tell you what your revolutions of everyday life mean to me. not only this 99th, but there are so many that I am fascinated and inspired by.

  6. hi, Peter
    having the heart ache when watching the petals fall and feeling lost in this beauty, moreover, knowing that the two of them, this sadness and this beauty are inseparable, intertwined, lies at the core of japanese aesthetics, but I think there are moments when everybody can intuitively feel the same and be enriched by it.

    the 'arena of science, engineering and productivity' is very alien to me, so I can only admire you that you have managed to combine the two worlds :-)

  7. I love these pictures...there is such saturation of complement of colors - the red, the green - its like almost nature nature crafted these petals and ferns out of pure pigments.
    you should write more in your own words. not to say your selections of prose and poetry is not always well appointed, mind you ;-)

  8. Ce frumos --- fotografiile si cuvintele taurile. Iti dau recunostinta mea.

  9. thank you, Marc., your opinion is highly valued :-)

  10. ahahah - James :-) I see you have made a lot of progress, if you keep it going like this, someday you will write poems in romanian :-)

    Multumesc din suflet.

    ps. 'taurile' is not a word, where did you get it from? did you want to say: 'your photos and words'? in this case it should be: 'fotografiile si cuvintele tale'.

  11. I felt the same in a way, zuma, about the colours, their perfect match here, something like a pure vibration, or primordial energy, the words are not good enough to convey this feeling.

    you want to tempt me to write more? take me away from my wordless refuge? :-)
    (and above all, in English, I feel so unconfortable in this language)

  12. the mysterious dark center is hypnotic, surrounded by all those symmetric structures - and the petals barely saved from falling by an asymmetric leaf, never accidental, though

  13. je ne connais pas ton APN probablement du bon vue le résultat des shoots, comme tout cerveau qui simplement perçoit les couleurs des saveurs.

    ps: je suis un citoyen du monde en mouvement français langue de ma naissance, d'autre langue Europe, également langue d'asie je maîtrise pas a 100% and you.

  14. "tale" --- thank you. "Your photos and words," yes.

    It is the damned idiot dictionary. I'm looking at it right now, (sigh) and it says "taurile." Doesn't even have "tale" at all....

    Frustrating. I have ordered another dictionary....

  15. I saw this on Saturday and meant to write you. I can see you seeing this scene and grabbing your camera to capture it. How many times have scenes like this been taken in but not recorded?

    Have you noticed how tulips look like they're weeping right before the petals fall? That's also when they're the most beautiful. Arching and waiting for the drop.

  16. My coming, and even more my coming back, to your photographs seems to take the shape of a meditation on time (that’s one of its shapes) --- a record of these moments of “amazement” that you talk about. It is this moment --- this gasp at the sheer impossibility that these phenomena, the beautiful circle of ferns and the beautiful red petals have come together in this way (and yet they have, look!) --- this gasp is eternity. Or, if it isn’t eternity, then maybe I want this instead of the eternal.

    Green in its circle, its spiral to the core, interrupted --- or bridged --- by the sculpted shape of the red petals --- blood, flesh, mouth, vulva --- in suspense, neither before nor after, but now….

    is this not the point (one point?) of the quotation about Kandinsky, that the (an?) essence of the artistic impulse is in this sort of eruption of the moment of eternity into the flow of time (and this has already been here in your posts, it was the first thing I knew about you, though I had no words for it….).

    My new friend Danilov: “The imagination of the poet is not to be removed from the imagination of the child staring out the window, dreaming of a world as yet unknown to his senses…. What memories rage through his dreams? What world did he lose at birth? …. And what is the soul but an empty cage where the spirit of creation enters through the bars?”

    The spirit of creation … the entry of eternity into the time of the image ... you do this

  17. I'm fascinated by it too! Both intriguing and stunning.

  18. limited internet access - so quick comment - i love, love, love that top photo. It's stunning and I am still marveling at how you managed to capture it.

  19. Manuela, you describe it so beautifully. thank you, I don't know what else to say, I don't have many words tonight... thank you.

  20. folded... "Arching and waiting for the drop" - I can see so much beauty in these words, and it is your beauty that shines through. and your sadness, too.

    your first question is very important to me, crucial (even if it is a rhetorical one). I will write about it soon, now I am weary and it is late.

  21. James, you make me shy and lose my words. I am very honest when I say that I have never expected that my pictures could ever become important for anybody. much less that somebody could find all this depth and richness in them. I don't know, don't know how to answer... you make me happy and silent...

    (you know, gentle said something when she first saw the top picture, she talked about its eroticism. I think you saw this too)

  22. Dave, thank you.

    I am honoured.

  23. sz, thank you for coming to see my pictures even when you have other things, and fabulous ones, to look at :-)

  24. Siam, ca veut dire quoi, APN?
    'citoyen du monde en mouvement' est tres joli :-)

  25. M-am indragostit de prima imagine,de cand ai postat-o n-am incetat sa o privesc in tacere...are ceva special, captivant si misterios, compozitia centrata, te absoarbe inspre interior si te retine acolo alaturi de petale...

  26. not sure that more can be said that has not been said already. Maybe just that the process in itself, the process you describe is the vortex of images and words, and thoughts, and rhytms, and impressions. A very deep vortex.

  27. Edith, cand folosesti tu atatea cuvinte ca sa descrii ceva, desi zici ca nu prea te pricepi la ele (dar ce ai scris dovedeste altceva), inseamna ca e chiar ceva de capul imaginii :-) multumesc.

  28. Marta, you have always been the one more interested in the creative process (of my pictures and words, of my blog,) than anyone else, you are a born poietician :-)

    thank you.