I took these photos of what I thought was a hummingbird on Tuesday afternoon. But when I came home and looked at them in the evening, for some reason the little birdie didn't look much like a hummingbird. I let myself be persuaded that I'd made a mistake and put the photos aside. Then yesterday, I saw it again -- at least I think it was probably the same bird, since it was spotted flitting among the very same trees and at the same time of day as on the day before -- and it was unmistakably a hummingbird. So here are the photos, two days late.
My thought is, that if Hell existed, it would be a psychological condition, not a literal place where souls are 'physically' tortured. It would be a state of being in which one were immersed in a continuous state of utter terror, panic, helplessness and despair, as if one were in the process of being killed -- except, of course, it never ends.
Being made to feel as if one were tightly confined and suffocating -- a common scenario in nightmares -- as if one were buried alive in a coffin, or welded into a steel drum, as I heard once happened to a mafioso -- would certainly constitute one such mental scenario.
Feeling endlessly pursued by something that inspires fear is another. Knowing that the thing that horrifies and repels you the most -- like a demon or zombie, maybe -- is just moments away from catching up with you, and that you must stay on the run without ever being able to rest, forever -- that would certainly qualify as hellish.
The horror wouldn't have to be embodied in an actual monster; it could be something more abstract, like the fear of having all one's secret shame exposed -- or even an impending sense of financial ruin, depending on one's disposition.
It has occurred to me, though, that in some cases a worse fate would be the realization that one has become not a victim, but a victimizer, oneself; that instead of being chased by a nightmare monster, one has become the monster that haunts someone else's dreams.
Especially if that someone were the object of one's most ardent longing.
To know that the more anxiously you pursued the one you love, the more he/she was frightened and disgusted by you and the more they would reject you and try to escape -- or conversely, that they might find your impertinent desire annoying and pathetic, and might be moved to go through the motions of fulfilling it, just to humor you and make you stop bothering them. That would truly be a hell of despair and degradation.
I once showed this photo to The One I Cannot Name. She said the two lighthouses reminded her of us.
The red one must be me, the prickly, emotional and impatient one with all the goat between us. She's the dainty white one, the one with the maddening innocence, decorum and all the cat between us.
Except for a few precious -- and all-too-brief -- occasions, we have had to be apart. Circumstances also demanded that we be discreet. Still, we communicated on the sly. We would greet each other in the morning, bid each other good night, and in between we would tell each other very private things all throughout the day. These days I hear from her on rare occasions only. I shouldn't complain, though; I live alone, so I could do as I wished, but I knew it was impossible for her to keep it up -- apart from the risk of discovery, she led, and still leads, a much busier, more stressful and event-filled life than I do. She has lots more people in her life who need her attention, people who love her and whom she loves -- and whom she must keep in the dark. I don't make demands on her time because I know I cannot; to her I am The One Who Cannot Be Named.
We've been having damp, cloudy mornings lately, and yesterday I saw a worm stranded on the sidewalk for the first time in several months (the last one was on April 19). I duly repatriated it and covered it lightly with earth and grass. It was quite weak; I hope it lived.
The Greco-Roman pantheon did not include a god specifically in charge of clouds. Zeus/Jupiter, as the lord of the sky, comes close, but as he is typically identified with thunder and philandering (hah, nice play on 'thunder and lightning', Sam =^..^= ), to my mind he sports rather too bombastic an image to be associated with the gentle, lovely image below. It would have been fun if I could have subtitled this post something like, say, "Nefelios' Cloak" or "The Blanket of Nubion". It would have made a nice set with Apollo's ArrowandApollo's Arrow, Pt. 2.
We were both art students at USC. She was a couple of years behind me. And she had a bit of a crush on me. I had a bit of a crush on her, too, but at the time I was too inexperienced, insecure and afraid of rejection to do anything about it. I agonized for about a year -- all the while keeping up a pretense of proud indifference, of course -- before I felt somewhat confident enough to approach her, but by then she was bored with Mr. Wooden and moving on to another guy -- one with way more flash. A proud, beautiful Spaniard like herself (she actually introduced us; once I found him in the men's room struggling to tie a necktie for the very first time; I helped him tie it on properly, then found out he was on his way to meet her). Oh, well. At least I got this painting out of the whole painfully awkward year. One of the figures is a straight-out portrait of one of us. So is the other one.
This is the Wiltern Theatre at Wilshire & Western. It's a landmark located in L.A.'s Koreatown. It's a great old art-deco building that once had gone to seed and was actually in danger of being demolished before it was revived as a performance venue for cool acts. It's where I've marveled at David Copperfield's magic, listened to Nana Mouskouri sing, and saw my first X-rated movie ('Flesh Gordon', a well-made and hilarious spoof of the classic 'Flash Gordon' serial and now something of a cult classic itself).
Surprisingly, it turns out the building is equipped with a kind of quasi-camouflage. As one drives westbound down Wilshire Boulevard, it appears superimposed 'inside' the building behind it, and does its best to blend in.
It works better for the shaded right side of the building in this photo. I imagine it would be much more effective overall when the two sides are more evenly lit by the sun. Anyway, while I was approaching the intersection and preparing to take the above photograph, I saw this poster for a new movie:
Looks like some art director has been thinking along the same lines as me.
EDIT(9-25-11): Yes! Thanks to a hazy afternoon..!
For some reason this is reminding me of the creepy ant-mimic that resembles two ants close together.
I have referred in the past to the building across from my office, that occasionally becomes more or less invisible. A couple of days ago it happened again. While not as tall and spectacular as the also-sometimes-vanishing Scientology building in East Hollywood, I think it's impressive in its own right for being so close and immediate. Sort of like the difference between a grand illusion performed on a stage and an intimate sleight-of-hand routine done on a tabletop in a club.
My favorite time of day -- as the shadows begin to deepen and the lights to stand out, the world enters an all-too-brief inbetween period when the day that is passing and the night that is foreshadowed are intermingled, and the deep gold of the setting sun and the violet of the darkening sky imbue even the most ordinary sights with a mysterious, nostalgic aspect that hints at a world unseen.
Makes me feel like jumping for joy, and yet at the same time I feel myself on the verge of shedding tears of longing for something I cannot remember.
What I had for dinner last night -- tomato & avocado salad, plus a 'very green' tuna salad with lotsa parsley, celery and a dash of hot sauce (it was supposed to be chopped jalapeno instead, but when I got home from the market the single chili I picked up was nowhere to be found in the grocery bag ), topped with croutons. It's the most consciously healthy ('healthful'?) meal I've eaten in some time. All because I was feeling guilty over the bread-with-butter-and-jam and honeyed-tea binge I've been on lately.
I came up with this one just now, and this time I'm jotting it down before I forget it. Like this previous one, it's an expression of disgust and revulsion, but it's tempered with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. I don't think it's for everyone, though.
"O.K., I'm going to go and drown myself in the toilet now -- soon as I'm done throwing up in it..."
Once upon a time, a lamb wandered away from its mother and its herd and became lost. It wended its way down a steep incline and eventually found itself in a deep canyon, unable to climb back out. Fortunately, there was fresh water seeping out of cracks in the cliffs, and delicious grasses and flowers to eat, so the lamb was relatively content to live there in the canyon. Still, as the lamb grew into a sheep all by itself, now and then it fell into a nostalgic reverie, remembered its mother and its herd, and shed copious tears of longing for its lost former life.
Now, the condensed version:
Deep dip sheep sips seeps, eats treats, weeps heaps.
This piece was the central attraction at a show I had way back when, at the Simard & Halm gallery (which no longer exists). It was during a troubled and somewhat desperate time for me, and when it was sold I was only too glad to get the money; I didn't bother asking who the buyer was (I suppose I just assumed I could always ask later, only the gallery soon went out of business and I gradually lost contact with Mssrs. Simard and Halm), nor did I remember to document it; so all I have are these low-quality images from a magazine review. Which is why I say it's 'lost'.
It's a kind of temple-mandala-stupa with four sides, with three of its sides showing images with dreamlike -- or nightmarish -- themes: St. Anthony assailed by devils; a nude and rather voluptuous St. Margaret with a dragon; and a toy airplane in both the actual (sculpted) and dream (painted) versions -- and the fourth side opened up to reveal a hollow interior in which hangs what might be a skinned carcass (not shown in these photos); all very Vajrayana Buddhist if you ask me, despite the presence of Christian saints.
What I only just realized today is that the figure of St. Anthony (right panel in the first photo) is mislabeled as 'Jacob' -- I literally just realized the error as I was preparing to upload these pictures. Given that the Temptation of St. Anthony is a major theme in Christian art, the story of Jacob is also famous, and I am well familiar with both, it is strange that I should have conflated the two. But then, as I stated at the beginning, this all happened during a period in which I was beset with issues.
One last thing -- it was never quite finished. I was seriously pressed for time, and in the mad rush to get the piece into a presentable state for the gallery opening, I had to cut a few corners; that is why the base and the plaques bearing the sub-titles are so plain and simple, in contrast to the rich ornamentation in the rest of the piece. Had I had more time to work on it, everything would have been as elaborately finished as the main 'building'. In fact, I was still touching up the St. Margaret panel when guests started arriving. Later the curator chucklingly told me that some of them noticed the paint was still wet.
An unusual juxtaposition I just happened to catch. It's pretty, but at the same time I find it disquieting. The strangely alive-looking cloud, an unknowable, roiling mass off in the background, is simultaneously static and active, and also very much a stand-in for smoke from a conflagration, toward which the fire engine is speeding. Yet, the cloud/smoke and the fire engine occupy distinct, separate strata, whose axes are tilted in opposite directions -- is the fire engine even responding to the same fire? Perhaps they are not appearing in the same play at all. Very Surrealist, I'd say.
I found this little creature dead in my car. Apparently it had flown in through one of the cracked windows (I mean left slightly open, not broken) and couldn't find its way back out; it was found at the base of the rear window, where it probably repeatedly butted its head against the glass until it died of the heat and exhaustion, poor thing; however, this incident, sad though it be, will not make me stop leaving the car windows slightly open in summer.
Beetles die in cars because they cannot see as much as humans can; makes one wonder how many of life's terrors might be reduced to a simple matter of perspective if only we could see more (possible Nietzsche's Worm alert!) But on the other hand, not being able to see more, may well be the point.
All this week at work I've been volunteering to help out at another branch, which involves getting up extra early and braving two commutes -- but I love the city in the misty early morning! If only I could have the early morning without having to get up early...