leo photophile

Through a glass darkly


I believed at first that Gaston Bachelard was a postman, in the same way as Kafka was a clerk. I thought of him riding round the French countryside on his bicycle in a dark tunic with red flashes. Now when I think of him, the wind rattles the slates, mice run in the rafters and the timbers crack in the grip of the ice, and, by that very consequence, I am snug within. “Great passions,” he wrote, “are prepared by great reveries.” I wonder now if my nature is longing – because I have named my picture thus:

 My end is my beginning My end is my beginning (from the helicopter) 

The year was 1976 and later that year my younger daughter was born. When the news of her mother’s pregnancy came over the ship’s radio, I was in the company of roustabouts, roughnecks and Mexican welders, even an Oxford graduate. I was called an aged hippy and likened to Lee Marvin in Cat Balou. I chose to be flattered by that, but still I have not seen the movie! It felt like a liberation from a false self, but did not touch the deeper condition of distance.

 helicopter landing Chopper landing on oil rig, Fortes Field, 1976

There were some lovely guys out there. Many were from Mexico. One young cook’s assistant was always stationed like a gracious host as we filed into the comidor for our meals. He always greeted me with the same question: “Are you angry, Sor?” Of course I always denied it – until eventuallly I realised why he always looked a bit crestfallen by my reply – hungry it was he was saying.

 Mexican welder Welder, North Sea, 1976

Bachelard in his work The Poetics of Reverie (1960) poses the position of arriving at one’s imaginative self in words that make a man the author of his solitude. It sounds to me like the achievement of a lifetime that: to be able to grasp the full intent of that phrase of his; and certainly in 1976, exactly 30 years ago, I was far from any such blessed state, whether now I am any nearer. And, of course, poets die young, don’t they. But anyone who knows the writing of Melanie Klein will know that a position is not a state, and, although dependent on capacity, is always temporary and reached only from time to time. The depth of imagination must be like this, and the camera, therefore, a ritualistic reminder of such wonders.

Anyway –

 Mary love Mary (19), mother of Sophie, 1976 in the woods on the banks of Loch Lomond


August 23, 2006 Posted by | Bachelard, black and white photography, Melanie klein | Leave a comment