leo photophile

Through a glass darkly

In the Cavern

And all the time, something else may be happening, something to do with blindness, with lack of direction, as a route to realisation.

I took the picture in the Gorbals around 1966. I have just discovered the negative, which I don’t think I ever printed. It was probably disregarded as of little interest. But now I see it in a very different light. For me this image has magic.

I don’t recall my state of mind when I took the picture. I think it was probably the girl on crutches that was the subject because I have some close-ups of her playing hopscotch, which were printed. Those prints, however, are nothing compared with the one I overlooked.

As a piece of photojournalism, it records a way of life and has a certain pathos. The street is the only playground these children have. They live in tenements, or closies, and wear hand-me-down clothes. The close-mouth probably stank of cats’ piss. The street is also the everyday setting for women in coats and headscarves and shopping bags, hurrying to the corner shop run by an elderly couple or an eccentric old maid.

On the street On the street, 1966

But this image is something else besides. It has, however, to be seen much enlarged to be appreciated, for then the grain takes over and the secrets begin to creep out of the dark and swim together. The distortion of the 28mm lens contributes to the mystery of the space.

Two things strike me then. The first thing is how the identifiable figures in the image become unknown- seen for the first time. But more curious is the merging of animate and inanimate objects that takes place. The sense is of arrested movement (not just stopped by the  speed of the shutter), so that the plane of the photograph becomes a tableau.

I get the same eerie sense I get from a particular painting by Balthus: La rue, from 1933-35, and also sensed, if my memory serves me, in the slow- motion footage of Jean Cocteau’s Le Testament d’Orphee. The archetypal aura of Raymond Mason’s marvellous bas relais: Carrefour de l’Odeon is also around.

The accentuated grain turns the tableau into tapestry in which the waste paper in the gutter has as much value as the little waifs standing in the middle of the road, or the gloomy immemorial buildings, like the inn in the top left corner. All this was unwitting, not consciously present at the time I took the picture; present, I choose to believe, to the inner eye, an example of seeing blind.

In the end, I don’t know what I am seeing here.  In the Mandaka Upanishad it is written – gnaw the knot of ignorance.  For spirit, according to Hinduism, is to be found in the cavern.


November 17, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I like to disseminate understanding that I have accumulated with the yr to assist
    improve team functionality.

    Comment by Anonymous | July 27, 2013 | Reply

  2. Good day! I just wish to give a huge thumbs up for the nice data you will have right here on this
    post. I will probably be coming back to your blog for extra soon.

    Comment by tonsillitis tonsillitises tonsils tonsure tonsured tonsures tonsuring tontine tontines tonus tonuses tony too took tool toolbox toolboxes tooled tooler toolers toolhead toolheads tooling toolings toolless toolroom toolrooms tools toolshed toolsheds toom t | July 30, 2013 | Reply

  3. What’s up Dear, are you actually visiting this web site regularly, if so after that you will without
    doubt get pleasant know-how.

    Comment by sizzling hot reihenfolge | October 6, 2013 | Reply

  4. It’s very trouble-free to find out any topic on net as compared to books, as I found this piece of writing at this web page.

    Comment by http://anbaetanja.com/wa/jarida/comment.php?comment.news.126 | October 22, 2013 | Reply

  5. I was very pleased to find this web site. I need to to
    thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you
    book marked to look at new things in your web site.

    Comment by what program opens rar files | February 11, 2014 | Reply

  6. The above photo On the street 1966, the girl in the photo on crutches is my sister. If this is 1966 she would be 14yrs old. I was so surprised when i seen it.

    Comment by josephine stuksis. | September 23, 2014 | Reply

  7. Excellent way of explaining, and good paragraph to get information concerning my presentation focus,
    which i am going to present in university.

    Comment by mp3 | August 15, 2015 | Reply

  8. We’re a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme
    in our community. Your site provided us with helpful information to work on. You
    have performed a formidable process and our entire group can be thankful to you.

    Comment by youtube | August 26, 2015 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: