Tuesday 14 December 2010

in the stale grandeur of annihilation




Weaker and weaker, the sunlight falls
In the afternoon. The proud and the strong
Have departed.

Those that are left are the unaccomplished,
The finally human,
Natives of a dwindled sphere.

Their indigence is an indigence
That is an indigence of the light,
A stellar pallor that hangs on the threads.

Little by little, the poverty
Of autumnal space becomes
A look, a few words spoken.

Each person completely touches us
With what he is and as he is,
In the stale grandeur of annihilation.

Wallace Stevens (



  1. i know that you are all (or almost all) already buried in snow, however here this late autumn refuses to die, - though "the poverty" of its space increases day by day...

  2. I will repeat, I love your works.
    Secondly, it is here so beautiful as to ache with violent Sun and soft rains with the cold sweat of night, and the lover's caress breezes.

  3. lovely portrait.
    (and one of Stevens' finest poems)

  4. oh merc -

    thank you.

    violent (as in: rapture) and caress (as in: soothing), could art be such at the same time, this mysterious paradox? i often wonder.

  5. I feel all paradox is real ;-)

  6. Michael,
    i love Stevens, i think it is impossible not to.
    i am not sure though, if the portrait still says much, coming like this after the first three shots and the poem, overwhelmed by the words as it seems to be.

  7. on the wings of butterflies
    there is a greater death
    than the scales
    from their wings.

    it is the quintessence
    of water
    going from
    to crystal vibration.

    very nice paintings, but why english? it is so much richer in the language of the mountaineers...

    could do both?

  8. From the pitch black street
    You usher us into your theatre
    Once inside the dark lobby
    Where fading crimson tapestries hang
    A scarlet threadbare rug beneath our feet
    Soaking up the wet from our worn soles
    From the rain in the street
    We cannot help but cross ourselves
    Not in reverence to some paltry religion
    But in adoration of the candle's flame
    Candles line the passage to the grande salle
    Where ancient oak backed chairs creak before the stage
    Grey and black overcoats cast off
    Rustle on purple velours
    A string of gleaming pearls shines
    On the pale skin of a woman with hollow eyes
    Who sits alone in the fourth row
    The chandelier dims
    A violin begins... a mournful tune

    Such moods you create.
    The final portrait is towering in its depths.
    With the broom, sweeping, I could not help but think of Auden :

    "The stars are not wanted now; put out every one
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
    For nothing now can ever come to any good."

    May tomorrow bring sunshine, a brief respite before the snows and bitter cold return...

    Tonight my dream is to print up thousands and thousands of slips of paper saying : "Dare to cross the Floating Bridge of Dreams" with a website address on the back, and toss great handfuls of them from the top of Notre Dame near the gargoyles, and from the Eiffel Tower, to scatter them on the steps of Sacré Coeur, to hide them in tombs in Père Lachaise, to leave them floating in the circular pond of Luxembourg Gardens... have you been there ???

    This is not littering, this is art crying out to art...

  9. Your pictures make me feel the words and enable me to experience their meaning. But even without the poem, they would speak their own poetry to me and lead me on an inward journey of reflection. That minimalist, nihilistic feeling of autumn...with its last spark of hope.

  10. I have to agree with Owen, "Such moods you create." These images and words open up another paradox for me. Depending on one's mood, life can look both resilient or fragile. I like the light in the portrait. And on a lighter note, I've often wondered if those plastic outdoor chairs were universal.

  11. bonjour chère Roxana, I couldn't resist before my pause from blogging I have to answer to your magnum opus truc, ha ha.your truc of words ah c'est mignon!
    bises Madeleine

  12. ah bonjour chère magnifique Roxana, que tu es tellement gentille tes mots de compliments sont comme les bouquet de fleurs pour l'imagination.

    I am having to post double lately in blogger so I'll make a few shorties.

    What a powerful masterpeice.AH how I can feel the desolation and annihilation it must be within me even though life is good for me.
    Ewe Roxana I will never be the same I will have to sue you. kidding.I willbe the same and I won't have to sue you haha but I got to say it..
    Do we go out in search of devastation because it is within our inner landscape.

  13. This photograph is so powerful in evoking the annihilation and you know Roxana, for my own little story for today, maybe it is just my mood but I cant relate to the "grandeur of annihilation" with reference to this series nor to the poets connection although I seem the attempt, the desolation of humanity,when man is stripped of all material and comforting psychological distractions then you can see the flame of life persist and the drive of life and I am glad that you said these lines and the poet also but for me today, I mean this as a compliment the sense of annihilation is so powerful in this powerful art that for my interpretation today I can see no grandeur.

  14. .. the desolation of the place of isolation where we find the abandonned chair and perhaps there is a key for my own thinking anyway where the isolation coexists with annihilation and the empty chair could invite another existence but I feel the atmosphere is too oppressive. and the sweeping of the leaves away like the abandonned leaves of our life journals and the magnificent portrait to demonstrate the cold sense of isolation.
    I can only imagine the aftermath of a war but it must be this that you have portrayed.When people suffer even to death but there is compassion and human warmth surrounding them there isn't this devestation of man destroying man.This is the ultimate alienation, I was going to write annihilation but this is just as good!
    As with all your masterpeices and powerful work there is always nuances of feelings and subtleties.The look on the agonized face has a coldness that evades interpretation and suggests that we can't feel this cold pain without experiencing it, it is evasive like modern sinister war technology flying through the heavens metallic demonic posession describing the heavy metals of our souls and lives.

  15. and finally, thank God for that finally ha ha.but you know Roxana you brought it up ha ha hugs.

    and finally I took a little spin of the dictionnary and well you know the physics of it all when a particle and antiparticle come together they annihilate and form a proton and that would release light
    and well it leads me to think of the ultimate annihilation the nuclear annihilation where we travel light on our return to the stars but is this annihilation within that causes this outward exile to the stars.

    anyway on another day I might see the grandeur of annihilation but not today not today not now in this powerful magnificent post!

    wishing you a day filled with love and light and peace.....nevertheless

  16. i have spent the afternoon here, coming back to watch the way the light folds into her face, and, if i may say such a thing, into the lines of her heart ... and these other pictures! the restraint and depth in these colors, which are, i know today, the colors of my soul, this spirit that has always been in love with the worn and faded, these leaves, this table, as the flow of time over them abrades the surfaces and they shine from within, darkly....

    (and i agree with pensum about this Stevens's poem ... a poet who feels so very at home on the Bridge)

    (the the word verification is "distem" -- it doesn't mean anything, i guess, but it suggests such relevance, hinting of fallen stems and of time...)

  17. I for one, for the first time here perhaps, am writing about your pictures in relation to the poem you have quoted. I don't think the pictures and the text agree, as others here seem to think. the poem suggests a grandeur of annihilation, more of a vacuous one, of having been left behind, the loneliness of space after the rush of inhabiting, the melancholy of touched places.

    However, this may be not be the only reading. we interpret things differently at times and it could be all that you wanted to show as well.In annihilation too, there is some kind of lingering life. of that solitude, of the promise of a beginning but not of death, for death is an end but not annihilation.

    who knows what one wants to say actually?

  18. In feckless silence, i watch this earthy visage and find myself incapable of thought, intention or artifice. i overcome this deft silence when i can finally give it a name: humanity.

  19. chère Roxana..
    Est ce le temps qui passe ou nous qui passons dans le temps..le temps n'est-il pas immuable,insensible aux rides qui recouvrent nos visages,aux feuilles qui tombent sur nos automnes..ne sommes nous pas les passagers du temps, emportés par la tourmente de ces hivers qui un jour seront nos seuls jardins..

    Le temps ravine nos visages, cartographie de nos joies et de nos peines ..
    Et chaque vie chaque visage chaque être qui respire est un merveilleux voyage..tant pis si celui si a une fin..il faut seulement être vigilant tout cela va si vite...chaque seconde est primordiale..

    Un très beau portrait, émouvant,vrai,triste,j'y vois de la douceur,et une grande lassitude..la vie est un combat inégal ,elle nous use doucement et on n'en sortira pas vivant :o)..
    une belle émotion dans ce post Roxana..
    je t'embrasse..
    a bientôt..

  20. das Gedicht ist wie geschaffen für die ganz besonderen und hervorragenden Bilder. Zuerst war ich aber betroffen durch das Wort "annihilation", das ich nichts und niemandem zueignen konnte und wie kann ein Poet von einer "definitiven Vernichtung" sprechen, da er ja selbst dieser nie verfällt...?
    Als ich die Zeilen aber genauer las und immer wieder Deine Bilder mit ihnen verband, vermittelten diese mir ein Gefühl von Ruhe, eine Art Meditation auf das Leben, diese Welt auf eine besonnene und undramatische Art gesehen. Und nennt der Dichter seine Sicht nicht auch "Spielerei", und so fand ich schliesslich auch noch dieses:
    "Throw away the lights, the definitions,
    And say of what you see in the dark...".
    ein sehr liebes Lächeln von mir und Gedanken an Dich!
    Bis bald, liebe Roxana!

  21. Flipi, thank you for coming to the Bridge and for the very beautiful poem you left as a gift...
    as to why English, it's just because i am interested in being able to communicate with many people from the entire world, and whether we like it or not, English is a better tool for that. besides, there aren't many Romanian readers here, and those who come speak very good English themselves.

    oh Owen, you overwhelm me with your kindness and your enthusiasm :-) and such gifts, precious gifts, your poem and then Auden's lines. though i have to add, honestly, the rich mood your words evoke - i really think all this richness lies in you but if you say my pictures stirred those images within your soul, then i will gladly accept the compliment :-)
    perhaps one day you will fulfill your dream and that cozy and refined parisian photo-cafe will come to life? :-)
    warm hugs!

    Dear Lynne, i am happy you see the photos on their own as well, perhaps the story they would tell then would be a different one, but often i like to play weaving different meanings into them, here on the Bridge, depending on my moods and poetic loves :-)

    haha, Lisa, i know, i have the same question myself. i normally hate them and wouldn't include them in a picture, but here i loved exactly the contrast between the banality and ugliness of that plastic chair and the glow of the old wood, different ways of lives, so much contrast and yet a kind of harmony as well...

  22. dear crederae,
    as always i am humbled and so grateful in front of your kindness and the attention you show me and my works... it is so enriching to hear your interpretations, even (or should i say: especially) when they are different than mine, then the entire beauty and pleasure of endless playing with a work of art, be it in words or images, opens up...

    i was struck by this line:

    "Do we go out in search of devastation because it is within our inner landscape?" - it is so beautiful and intriguing, it deserves a post here, with this title!

    i will answer more about my understanding of the poem in Kubla's answer, since he also touches upon a similar topic.

    a kiss for you, and enjoy your week...

    ah, James, your words here:
    "the colors of my soul, this spirit that has always been in love with the worn and faded, these leaves, this table, as the flow of time over them abrades the surfaces and they shine from within, darkly" - they are the perfect description of the wabi sabi feeling, you know that? of course you know :-), i remember all our discussions about this aspect which one could call "japanese", in our culture, or when we talk about "japanese sensitivity" - then it is always these colours, this restraint, that we come back to!

  23. multumesc, I.B!

    Prospero, i am very happy about your comment. i think you simply summed up here the essence of this poem, what i perceive to be its essence, and what i tried to express in my pictures as well. thank you.

    douce Clo, tu as "lu" dans le portrait de la douceur aussi, oui, meme si la pluplart n'ont vu que de la tristesse la-dedans moi aussi je pense qu'il y a beaucoup de douceur dans son expression, douce melancolie... merci de tout coeur pour ta belle reflection sur le passage du temps, si vrai, tout, et si poetique. une consolation aussi, si consolation est possible...
    je t'embrasse de tout coeur!

  24. kubla, hello, what a surprise, that you comment on my images alone, indeed ;-)
    thank you for that!

    i am not sure i understand your objection, you seem to say that the pictures don't illustrate the poem for you, because the poem expresses: "a grandeur of annihilation, more of a vacuous one, of having been left behind, the loneliness of space after the rush of inhabiting, the melancholy of touched places". so i must take that for you the images suggest something else? very interesting, because for me they evoke exactly this melancholy of once inhabited places, rushed departures (there is a still warm cushion on the chair, for ex.). so in this case for me the pictures fit, though in other cases i might purposefully choose images which create a tension, a contrast to the words.

    as for the meaning of 'annihilation', i think we also read the poem differently (and i am also answering Crederae and Renee hier, who also wondered about this word and its many possibly meanings): for me, annihilation is not at all death here, it is the falling away of everything which is unnecessary, artificial or illusory in human beings (the proud and the strong have departed), who are reduced to their essence, and this essence reveals itself to be precisely a certain kind of fragility and warmth, care for the other. we are touched by the other's vulnerability, the other's mortal destiny and in this way our own humanity is revealed, in a very Levinas-way of thinking the relationship between the self and the other.
    herein lies, for me, the 'grandeur' of this revelation: what seems to be a destruction is actually a condensation, a return to one's profound essence: real humanity.

    the title says: playing with the wisdom of life - it is important as well, i think, first we have the idea of wisdom obtained through a life' ripening, experience, maturity of old age, to discover what really makes us human is then the goal of such wisdom (any wisdom?). but then we have to know to be playful as well, precisely in this wisdom... Nietzsche's lighthearted dance of the gods, maybe, that we have to learn. there is a tension between this 'play' in the title and the bleak poem, which increases the richness of interpretations.

    but this is of course only my reading, yet i wanted to explain my vision because i chose my pictures according to this understanding.

  25. liebe Renée, ja, es ist genau das, diese Art der Ruhe, der Meditation, die Sicht jemandes, der vielleicht alt ist und im Lichte seiner ganzen Lebenserfahrung jetzt darueber nachdenken kann, entdeckt, was es heisst, menschlich zu sein. und danke fuer den Hinweis auf "Spielerei", ich hatte auch meine Gedanken dazu, die Du jetzt bestaetigt hast. zur annihilation habe ich in meiner Antwort auf Kubla's Kommentar mehr geschrieben...

    lass Dich ganz lieb und warm umarmen! :-)

  26. Beaucoup de charme; j'aime particulièrement le portrait pencher; un homme qui réfléchit sur son existence, le philosophe qui réfléchit sur une existence absurde ... C'est ce silence face à son moi.

  27. Wallace Stevens is a favorite of mine but I had not seen this poem before. I think it is a masterpiece, most definitely, and the image you shared with it is perfect.