Wednesday, 10 June 2009

modern waiting in strong colours or, if you prefer, harmonic functions of blue, gold and green

the blueness of things calls out your name.
the tides of my waiting never reach your footsteps.
i remember telling you
photography is the time of death.
i remember the green edge of the light
falling on your lips,
while you answered with a smile
you only understood irrational numbers
and, on some evenings of particular haze,
irrational time signatures.
then you bent over for a kiss.

you taught me the law of gravity

attaching me to my pain.
other equations you left unsolved,
or perhaps the solution eluded you
as well.
how to prevent the sound of you
blossoming in every wound,
this is indeed no smooth manifold
with a vector of harmony.

i sit here at the table of waiting,

combing the golden sea of my hair
with a golden comb which rewrites
the laws of such poisonous
fluid dynamics.
oh perhaps things were simpler
in the old days,
or Laplace's girl had short
and curly hair,
much more luminous eyes.

don't come back, not even once.

if you do, my golden lava
will fasten your ankles,
my mouth will encircle yours
with the hunger of the last moth.
then, only then, will you perhaps grasp
the constant of sorrow.

some more - perhaps avoidable? - but certainly ffflaneur-contagious notes :-):

1. this intermezzo from my usual dark broodings (intermezzo?) is dedicated to the tech nerds who do me the honour of walking on the floating bridge. oh, and to that unknown Benjamin A. Itza-Ortiz who has won my eternal admiration for writing his PhD on the subject of: "The C*-algebras Of Irrational Time Homeomorphisms Of Suspensions". Let's just hope he won't google his dissertation to come across my humble homage :-) Because this could be read also - also! - as a homage to these bold heroes of our time, even if it looks otherwise. oh the twisted ways of that infamous 'feminine logic' which gets slandered on some blogs, in good classical company (Lermontov) :-)

2. for my other readers, who will surely not understand how they have managed to live so far with no idea whatsoever of the existence of such things as "approximation by harmonic functions" - what a lovely, irresistible name! they would be solutions to Laplace's equation, mind you - "on subsets of Riemannian manifolds", which are usually defined as "a smooth manifold" - a smooth manifold! can one find a more appealing metaphor? i am so sorry i can't take the credit for it- "with a smooth section of the positive-definite quadratic forms on the tangent bundle", i can only offer this in guise of consolation: Thomas Adès's "Piano Quintet" (2000), which apparently makes extensive use of irrational time signatures.


  1. Hello,

    your woman gleams and glitters. the gloss is unshakeable,seemingly. Her lips and her lipstick, her long hair and the candour of her daring are quite striking. the poem is good too, especially the ankle bit. you like violence don't you? All love and desire is violent. To remember someone, i think is a violent act too. Especialy if the 'other' doesn't know.

    Regarding the sub-text at the bottom, who needs that? aren't the pics enough?

  2. hi Kubla

    thank you for this incredible description of my woman / photographs, i have always thought you should write a lot more prose, you know?

    about your question, isn't everyone torn between gentle melancholy and the violence of desire? i think i wanted to evoke these different forms of waiting, especially if you compare the first part of the 'trilogy', the japanese one in black and white, with this last part.
    i love this phrase: "to remember someone is an act of violence, too". looked at from a certain perspective, many things are an act of violence, for example, one could argue, photography as well. Manuela wondered once at how agressive the vocabulary of photography was: "to take/capture an image", to "shoot". even eating can be understood as an act of violence, no? there are many analogies between the act of erotic loving and that of ingurgitating food, and they are such a deeply embedded part of our language that we don't even think of them as real metaphors anymore: "i am hungry for you".
    but this is an interesting and long discussion.

    re the notes, just ignore them, i was afraid people wouldn't understand the scientific terms of the poem if i didn't point at their source :-)

  3. PS. Kubla:

    this quote that i love (and thank you, Mansuetude, for posting it), about a different kind of violence, that of the aesthetic encounter:

    “I think we ought to only read the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?” (Kafka, in his letters)

    but i think the same dialectics apply here as well, the other extreme would be 'gentle soothing/soft melancholy' - i doubt that much of Japanese art would meet Kafka's standards...

  4. these are really lovely, the first one has a painting quality about it.

  5. hi ! this is the first time i visit this blog . loved so much the images and isgreat to spend time doing something so good.

  6. poets miss so much by not studying other languages like maths. and like rachel, yes, a killer first line!

  7. you taught me the law of gravity
    attaching me to my pain.
    the constant of sorrow.

    what a wonderful poem. i get a sense of why it may feel violent - to me it feels more like determination, strength. not passive waiting, but rather an assessment of waiting as it approaches it end - the clear-eyed insights will (can only) be followed by a calm and determined 'enough' and a walking away. a last good bye, as a second thought, over the shoulder, in the last photo? my favorite.

  8. I know this is going to sound rude, but I've given up reading what you write and just look at the pictures.

  9. Your photographs open like an endless shoji panel, the light-panels of interstellar vessels on their way, not to a place but to a not-place.......Edmond Jabes wrote: WRITING BECOMES VIOLENCE IN TRYING TO COME TO TERMS WITH THE VOID. HENCE ITS DESPAIR.....And of course its exstasy, as he also knew. Between motes, we dance a quick dance, we are gone.

  10. "many things are an act of violence":YOU SAY. I agree, many things are. however, one must know how to look at a picture or how to read a text. Reading like looking itself is an art. whether photography is some kind of violence too, one can debate. many people approach such issues variously.

    Eating as an erotic act? i could say the thing is in the touch. an aesthetic act of violence, i agree is possible. i am aware of the Kafka quote. i agree entirely. i have always believed that the underlying sub-text in all Kafka shows violence of so many different kinds, not just the meta-physical.

    I could daresay that some of your pics have an underlying element of erotic violence, a definition, the erotic pose but still underneath is the hint of unrequited sexual tension , the one that is ultimately denied to the viewer. Because it is not sublimated, it is a threat. what say?

  11. well, this time it is pure logic and not feminine logic (both of which,of course, sound meaningless to me).. :)

  12. i hate the nerd who hasn't come back. :p

  13. how i love that first picture - the balance of the blurry, mysterious woman in the foreground and the sharp assorted objects in the back - especially that balloon!

    Love the Kafka you quoted - it applies to so many of your pictures,which so often knock the wind out of me.

  14. “I think we ought to only read the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?” (Kafka, in his letters).

    It is not I who poet, it is my Other, bidden.

  15. I hate the Kafka quote. What rubbish!

  16. strictly speaking, nothing can be harmonic with green ;) harmonic functions have frequencies which are related by a factor of two :P so 550nm is not harmonic for anything visible. Maybe this is why I hate green colour?

    I am truly surprised with your poetic self being a riemanieann manifold though. While you do carry a tangent space in every point, but no matter how unsmooth - it is still real, while the poetic self is not only complex but lives in space where parallel lines cross

    constant of sorrow is very funny ;) in the absence of turbulence everything is decaying function of time ;)

  17. "the hint of unrequited sexual tension , the one that is ultimately denied to the viewer" I missing something here? I hope those pictures haven't been taken down! :-)

    But on a serious note, why on earth shouldn't one want to deny unrequited sexual tension (or requited sexual tension-if there is such a thing) to the viewer. There's a lot of crazies out there...

  18. Beautiful post. Re Lermontov: I just finished reading Life Of A Hero; the writing is so lyrical it's breathtaking.

  19. oh R, you first had me breaking into a sweaty panic, reminding me of a failed "Laplace Transforms" exam 24 years ago... :-)

    I love the poem, & its use of math metaphors. There's more to it than playing around with the poetic sound of arcane math principles. Metaphors "bring about the one-ness of the world", as Arendt says.

    i particularly love these lines:

    'you only understood irrational numbers
    and, on some evenings of particular haze,
    irrational time signatures
    ' [...]

    'then, only then, will you perhaps grasp
    the constant of sorrow

    ah, and the photos! yep, they quite capture 'modern waiting in strong colours'!

  20. Hello Roxana,
    I simply LOVE the atmosphere of your pictures... The last shot of your secret woman is just beautiful, no other word comes to my mind, because this is as simple. Beautiful beauty.
    See you

  21. am dat din intamplare peste blogul tau.. imi place perspectiva pe care o dai fotografiilor tale, iesita din obisnuit, profund personalizata si interiorizata uneori.. chiar intima.
    o sa mai revin :)

  22. Yes, i think that too about the first one, Sorlil. thank you!

    Hi, Caio, thank you so much for your visit! I can only be grateful for your appreciation, especially as it comes from somebody whose "home sails over the clouds" and blood cells were changed into "white, blue, purple tiny flowers" :-)
    (still discovering your Welt, as you see)

    swiss, you are so right, yes. and i am glad you like the first line, it was actually the first one that came to my mind, and long time the only one :-)

  23. Manuela, the last photo is your favourite? wow, i wouldn't have guessed :-)
    Actually i was a bit surprised that Kubla mentioned violence in this post, i think i understand why as well, but also i think there are other poems which seem to me more apt to evoke this, like this one:
    i suppose it is my expressionist side which can't be contained very well :-) i have always loved Expressionists and their Pathos.

    b, what a shock! i remember you telling me that you always wanted to see my pictures together with words :-) is this your way of telling me you loved the images or that you hated the poem?

    sutton, thank you for that quote, it is true, i think. and i have to think again about my expressionists, they embody this so well, the back and forth from despair to ecstasy, or, even better, the two of them together, in a kind of last dance with closed eyes before jumping into the abyss (the first chapter of the famous poetry Pinthus-anthology "Menschheitsdaemmerung" is called: Sturz und Schrei, "Fall and Scream").

  24. Kubla, hi again
    actually i had meant 'erotic act as eating', a longing for the appropriation of the Other, making him/her a part of one's own body - but eating as an erotic act is fascinating as well, i can recommend the Japanese film "Tampopo" by Juzo Itami, a wonderful reflection of the meaning of food (this in case you happen to watch comedies as well, i wonder? you being always so dark :-).

    it's always captivating and one of the greatest joys and challenges of this blog to find out how people relate to my pictures. obviously, i can't see them from the outside, so i am not able to say a lot about them, i don't know what to say about the erotic violence you see there. i think it is not so much about what the picture is/represents, but what it becomes in the encounter with the viewer (this is true for all art). for ex., Billoo, if you read his comments, sees no sexual tension in these pictures, as you say, "many people approach such issues variously".
    but yes, i think that there probably lies, in various degrees, an element of violence at the core of erotic desire, even if it is not recognized as such. I have to think now of a German poet that i hold dear, an Expressionist, Else Lasker-Schueler, a fascinating woman with a fascinating life, and her poems often express this connection. I wonder whether you would like them, just a sample:
    "I can no longer be/ without the scalp-play./ Your knife paints red kisses on my breast/ - Until my hair flutters on your belt". or: "i always carry you around/between my teeth" (eating, see!), or: "i dig without tiring in your breast/for the golden joys of Pharaoh".
    or this wonderful "End of the world", not so manifestly violent but it is the same passion and death/ecstasy:

    There is weeping in the world,
    As if the dear god were dead,
    And the leaden shadows that fall
    Weigh heavily as the grave.

    Come, we will hide ourselves together...
    Life lives in all hearts
    as in coffins.

    You! we will kiss deeply --
    There is a yearning beating in the world,
    by which we must die.

    But i don't understand very well what you mean by 'not sublimated" in pictures, i think that if erotic tension is not somehow sublimated, or denied to the viewer, then we've got pornography and not art (but where is the frontiere, how can one establish this, it is indeed a very tricky question).

  25. Anamay, hi :-)

    normally i would comment on this opposition: "pure logic" /vs./ "feminine logic", but in this case i know where you come from using such terms :-)
    and indeed, transcending such duality (and others as well), not only deepening it, is the way of this blog, so i totally agree :-)

    Peter, ha :-) to his defense i have to speculate that perhaps he discovered that blondes were not really his thing and ran off with some brunette :-) or he learned from mythology what happens to those who answer the call of such sirens and was wise enough to save himself on time. this just to point out that i made a reference to Heine's Loreley:

    "The loveliest maiden is sitting
    Up there, wondrous to tell.
    Her golden jewelry sparkles
    as she combs her golden hair

    She combs it with a golden comb
    and sings a song as she does,
    A song with a peculiar,
    powerful melody."

    because i wanted to relate it to my Ulysses in my mythical waiting as well. I am just saying this to show that this Waiting-tryptich is a carefully elaborated series with fictional voices and many intertextual connections - it's not the jotted-down Diary of a Sad Pretty Lady, even if i am sure that such a one would find more readers ha :-)

  26. oh Sz, if you say it applies to many of my pictures, then i am more than happy! thank you! :-) (and yes, it was exactly that balloon which made me think of "law of gravity/ attaching me to my pain", a line that some readers loved :-)

    merc - yes.

    billoo, i am not surprised that you hate the Kafka-quote, in your "oriental laziness" i would assume that you prefer books who put you to sleep :-P and thanks for the other comment as well, it was important in my discussion with Kubla.

  27. Eneles, hahahaha - this has really made my day! thank you, i was expecting that those nerds reveal their true identity and start tearing me to pieces for the misappropriations in my poem (and let's wait and see what happens if the great Benjamin A. Itza-Ortiz himself finds my post and gasps in horror).
    re: Riemannian manifold, i could of course answer that the metaphor applies to the wounds themselves, which are very much real, but even if i take the equation poetic self=unsmooth manifold, i can't agree on it not being real: poetic selves are pretty much so, even if they inhabit irrational/imaginary times and spaces :-)
    i have no doubt that you would find "constant of sorrow" very funny, i am glad i could amuse you like this :-) thank you for confirming my fear that i was too optimistic in the last two lines, with that foolish hope that nerds could perhaps grasp its meaning :-P (as a matter of fact, i find this poem to be very sad and very funny at the same time, but i think that people who are not 'unsmooth manifolds' have to settle for only of the poles :-). but may i point out that you are also optimistic when you assert that: "in the absence of turbulence everything is decaying function of time" - if i translate it into every day language and you wish to imply that time heals every sorrow, i could perhaps advice that nerds should stick to their clear-cut definitions of time and accept that time looks different for poets :-P
    (oh, i accidentally deleted your other comment, can't recover it, sorry, but i just want to tell you that i still laugh about the scientific rewriting of my blog title that you propose: Kingdom of the Bridges without Proper Support, i will give it a thought :-)

  28. Mary-Laure, i was referring to an excerpt of Lermontov, this book exactly, in which he goes on complaining about feminin "logic", it is a nice coincidence that you have just finished the book!

    oh, fff, NOOOOOO - DAMN! if i had known this about your exam, i would have been so harsh on Laplace in my poem, i have to rewrite it to make up for your cold sweat :-)
    (incredible Hannah quote, thank you!)
    i am happy you liked both text and poem, it is so important to me that you tell me this.

    Loulou :-)
    a big thank you for your lovely words, "simple and beautiful" is the best...

    multumesc, Romina, sunt bucuroasa de vizita si de aprecieri, te mai astept cu drag!

  29. But I have gotten here late. Such an interesting discussion!

    Of course there exist only numbers and the harmonics of vibrating strings --- Pythagoras knew that long ago and now everyone else does too. Even blue, gold, and green are numbers, wave frequencies, and it is the strange feedback interference of consciousness that turns them into “colours”. But then Noam Chomsky speculates somewhere that numbers are nothing more than an abstraction from language, the property of discrete infinity of the one ideal, endless sentence, re-imagined as pure form and the principles of mathematics as its grammar…..

    I like her. I wait along with her in this muted luminosity, this smooth manifold….

    Such beautiful lines. I completely agree about the first line.

    Also, "how to prevent the sound of you
    blossoming in every wound"

    and, "my mouth will encircle yours
    with the hunger of the last moth."

  30. finally i managed to come up with a compliment (complex of course contains both imaginary and real part) and what do we get? oh well, one shouldn't walk on rough manifolds in order to avoid touching the wounds

    but before i sit down in the corner patiently awaiting your return I have to note that things like riemannian manifolds do not live in space and time, they are space and time.

    also your objection to anger-dynamical dissipative equationism is not well-justified. first, it is actually very hard to define what time is, in a multiverse full of little universes. and I did specify the absence of turbulence - and poetic selves would rather jump off the cliff than actually sit on the edge of the cliff looking at the sunrise - a clear definition of turbulence.

  31. Roxana, forgive me for being such a slow, plodding, benighted blog traveller who fell asleep in a vast field of poppies (only to be saved by field mice), and getting here to this vibrant sea of comments so late, so late, (I'm late, for a very important date!), but better late than never, and happy to see Loulou has been here before me...

    Your poem and photos send me cascading back through time, tumbling through clouds of stratospheric layers of years of months of dimensions, back to the university library reading rooms of my school years, where poetry unfolded on page after page, where long-haired bespectacled young women absorbed my gaze at their backs and shoulders and the nape of their necks unknowingly between poems, and then the walks back through the crisp midnight air to the dormitory where one slept, alone. Where mathematical scientific terms blended in consciousness with Rilke and Hesse and Arnold and Fowles, where life was unbounded dreams and mind play all day... ahhh, but that was years ago... and now other realities reign... until jostled by visions on a blog page...

    Thank you for the dream trips your pages inspire, I sense no violence here, just a warm heart beating blood rhythms that dance in their infinite fractal glory... spinning off small universe-atoms into the ether.

  32. James, Eneles, Owen, thank you for your comments, i will get back to you as soon as possible :-)

  33. I'm like this shoots too
    a kiss for you

  34. These are very beautiful... full of anticipation and golden energy.... Roxanne (we almost have the same name) have a joyous day...

  35. James, you are never late (but i am, in answering these comments, please excuse me).
    i am always happy when you tell me which lines speak to you. and it is so fascinating to see what words/images touch people the most, and in what different ways. i wasn't sure about that line: "my mouth will encircle yours
    with the hunger of the last moth."
    actually i wanted to say: 'la faim de la derniere louve" but it was impossible in english, and i didn't like the neutral 'wolf'. this is one thing i can't make peace with in english :-) so i changed the wolf into a moth with my magic wand :-)

    and yes, it seems that poets have always been fascinted with numbers - and who can avoid to be fascinated by Pythagoras? :-) but i don't want to think of my colours as numbers, or frequences whatever, but rather like Goethe in his Farbenlehre, and against Newton :-) : „Farben sind Taten und Leiden des Lichts".

  36. Eneles, why do you complain, i think i was very soft on you in my answer :-)

    re your objection to the riemannian manifold-poetic self analogy:
    i have to note, in an amused tone, how you deal with my poetic analogies, as if they were equations. but a = a applies only in mathematics, or mathematical logic, in poetry one lives off ambiguity and semantic openness. just an example: when Homer says "Achilleus is a lion", the famous example used in every metaphor theory, this doesn't mean that Achilleus lives in the desert, doesn't it? so even if "things like riemannian manifolds do not live in space and time", the analogy with the poetic self is still valid, from other points of view :-) so stop applying a=a principle here, because if you want to tackle Roxana=Roxana in this way, you will fail :-P

    re the turbulence objection: no, it is clear that we deal here with a poetic self teaching itself the lesson of "sitting on the edge of the cliff looking at the sunrise" - if it jumped off a cliff, we wouldn't talk of a 'constant of sorrow' anymore, but have other metaphors, like... like what? a flat torus, with zero curvature? :-)

  37. Oh Owen, why would you be sorry, i think that "a slow, plodding, benighted blog traveller who falls asleep in a vast field of poppies (only to be saved by field mice)" might be just about the portrait of the ideal reader on the Floating Bridge :-)

    thank you so much for taking the time to write such a long and moving response to my images and texts, i am honoured! i especially loved this description: "where long-haired bespectacled young women absorbed my gaze at their backs and shoulders and the nape of their necks unknowingly between poems, and then the walks back through the crisp midnight air to the dormitory where one slept, alone", i suddenly felt the urge to take pictures of those women, of those books and shadowy shelves of dreams and desires, of the silent night landscapes on the way back...

    i am so grateful that you made me this gift of your memory.

  38. Morris, thanks :-)

    un abbraccio!

  39. Roxanne of the River Garden, i am glad you visited, thank you for your kind words...

  40. mmm, she was soft on me, - my gratitude is endless - for I am mourning the lost of (yet another) dear friend - though this time, for a change, a replaceable one. but she was influencing my world-view more than anybody else and my sadness is a well that doesn't have the walls.
    now returning to mathematics, what you missed is of course that poetic "is" is not translated into "equals" but into (cannot reproduce the sign here) "has overlapping set of properties with". example: sun is a star. that doesn't mean that all properties of the sun are shared by stars, nor that sun has all sun's properties. and in metaphers the relation hold, just the set of properties become smaller while objects become more distant. and Homer's comparison was supported by the fact that he might have known what a lion is, whereas you mixed up lion and savanna. (in fact he didn't, lions are stupid bourgois animals who cannot move around during migration and starve to death. so achilles is a cheetah would be a better comparison, yet homer probably wasn't aware of cheetah's existance (wouldn't see the difference either ;)))
    and torus of course cannot have zero curvature ;) but roxana is roxana

  41. Eneles, i don't know what to say. i am deeply sorry for your loss, though i don't understand exactly what happened. and i am more than suprised to find out about a friend who deeply influenced your world-view more than anybody else. so, if she was able to do that, how could she be replaceable?
    i am terribly sorry for your sadness. i'm afraid i'm not in the mood right now to continue our little discussion, i only want to say that i checked carefully - of course i did! - before using 'flat torus' and the various sources that i found defined a 'flat torus' as a having zero curvature (not only wikipedia, but many others:

    of course i can't even dream of contradicting you here, so i just wonder.

  42. Belle composition et tons fabuleux!! Joliment fait!Roxana

  43. well, I hope I didn't induce sorrow in you as that would use up all sorrow in the world ;)

    it was a lense, my faithful 80-200/2.8 - which survived india,nepal and china and india again, and found its end eventually (it looked pretty metal, but few parts inside were from composite, and they broke.)

    flat torus has zero _gaussian_ curvature, which has similar relation relation to curvature as poetic self to self

  44. Allan!!!! je suis si heureuse que tu es la de nouveau! mais je vois que tu n'as pas repris les postes sur ton blog, tout ce que je veux te dire est: n'oublie pas que nous t'attendons tous!
    merci de tout coeur...

  45. Eneles, that was not such a good idea to make such jokes...

    well, i suppose gaussian curvature is still a type a curvature otherwise it wouldn't be called as such, so it is still a zero curvature in my eyes, however non-mathematical this may seem to you.

  46. I apologize, it was incomprehensible to me that you would not see the joke there.

  47. it's ok, Eneles, i'm sorry. now that i think of it, it is incomprehensible to me as well. perhaps it was the way you put it: 'the loss of yet another dear friend'. i think i am a bit sensitive when it comes to this, and my mind got blank. don't worry :-) i am relieved that it is not what i imagined.

    speaking of lenses, my relative received the order from amazon :-) so more than half of the job is done. soon your curiosity will be satisfied :-)

  48. congratulations, poppies look nice in colour too (I have an irrational proof of that). I am also trying to buy something in the states - well, the replacement.

    how are the seas doing?

  49. Eneles, i hate to give the impression that my mind is permanently blank now, but i don't exactly know what you mean in the first sentence :-)

    ah, the seas... unfortunately extra-aesthetic factors tend to blur my gaze when it comes to contemplating the primordial Sea, i am still struggling to overcome this obstacle so that i can go into a deep meditation, as it should be :-)

  50. I'm like this photos too.
    With my compliments