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HOLD STILL / KEEP MOVING: Women Photographers’ Memoirs

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann, Little, Brown and Company, 2015 It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario, Penguin Press, 2015 — Early in my reading of photographer Sally Mann’s recently published memoir, Hold Still, I thought I wasn’t going to like her, this woman who is pleased to write of herself that she sometimes doesn’t leave her rural home for five weeks, not even to go to the grocery store, appearing not to realize that her bohemian abstention from ordinary lives is, in fact, privilege. I confess though that I have a low tolerance for privilege, and an even lower one for seemingly willful ignorance of it. As I began to read Hold Still, her book lit little crackly twigs … [Read more...]

Shame in the New Gilded Age

The Neo-Victorian Era and Two Thin Red Lines— When I was five years old I watched my father split his head open with an axe. We were living in New Hampshire at the time and it was winter, the fields deep in snow. My father was splitting logs in the basement of our house. He was a physically powerful man, and while young he had worked for several years on his father’s sawmill on a mountain outside Tucson, Arizona. I sat on the wooden stairs and watched him divide the logs with a rhythmic metallic chuck, the pieces dancing away onto the cement floor. At the apex of a full-bodied downswing, the head of the axe caught on a piece of old clothesline concealed near the rafters and the sharp blade swung around and struck him hard in the back of … [Read more...]

Field Mapping

Complex Systems and the Six Realms of Dharma —                                                                                         Photograph by Andy Ilachinski It was while reading the somewhat scandalous thinker Wilhem Reich that I first encountered the idea of emotional traumas being encoded into the flesh and blood circuits of the body. Freezing into a kind of “armor,” these encodings work to shape and delimit the ways we perceive the world, hence wielding an out-sized influence over the course our lives take. This was in the early 1990s, and I was reading Reich along with some of the Frankfurt School thinkers (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, etc.) who (broadly speaking) collide psychology and social theory to see what falls out. … [Read more...]

Paris and the Single Dose

Taking the Kohaku Challenge — Previously I have written about my daughter Eliza's reaction, as a two-month old child, to the sight of a neighbor’s cat leaping up onto the garden wall up where it turned to look back at us, tail twitching in the bright sunlight. Pointing at this emissary from a land of gorgeous dreams, Eliza's plump-fat baby legs kicked straight out, and she turned to me, eyes wide, to make sure I too had witnessed the miracle. A few years passed before I again observed anything as splendid as Eliza’s first cat-encounter, and it happened at midway through Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, which we were watching on our big TV. The heroine of the film, Chihiro (also known as Sen) has saved her friend Haku from the evil … [Read more...]

The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali | Sadhana Pada

A Conversation — When approached to make a contribution IYALA (Iyengar Yoga Association of Los Angeles), a sutra column, my first reaction was to run. A flat “no” would have sufficed, then as all things Iyengar yoga, the idea took seed and began to flourish. Working alone, however, was out of the question. I needed a co-conspirator to consider this text and give it it’s proper due. More importantly I didn’t know if I could stick to a commitment of isolation in study and feel comfortable as a singular voice of veracity. A conversation was needed and I remembered a great one that had taken place at a recent Christmas party with a young gentleman, but an old friend, Henry Wudl. He had become an Iyengar practitioner two years ago. His … [Read more...]

In Memoriam B.K.S. Iyengar 1918-2014

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar  B.K.S. Iyengar. Photographed at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, in Pune, India. Photograph: Michael O'Neill "Only his body has ended. One person's efforts from inside out, changed the acceptance of yoga throughout the world. Nothing was hidden, from the time he began to practice, to his illness and death. Even last night he was telling Abhijata (Mr. Iyengar's granddaughter), 'I have shown you all these things, now realize them for yourself.' What he has given cannot be encompassed by words. If a disciple is more developed, then that person will understand. What can be said in words, is that he was precious to us."  — Geeta Iyengar You can find more posts on Times Quotidian about … [Read more...]

The Christmas Card that Never Was

But Reached Biblical Proportions Despite — Christmas Creativity Beginning 6 years ago I started work on a holiday card that would feature a series of gun-toting Jesus’ from online. I was tempted by the eye-catching efforts of various “artists” to recruit this man, legendary for his non-violent views, to their own base purposes. It was to be an irreverent, “He’d Turn in His Grave” kind of card. I would staple it together into as a found-art booklet that would amuse and impress friends with my Crazy Christmas Creativity. Little did I know how vastly infectious the Jesus meme is when it enters one’s life and consciousness. So, how do we know who Jesus is? We readily recognize this bearded longhair, even in disguise. Google Jesus … [Read more...]

Shame and Connection

Affective Encounters on the Path — When we fall in love (even for five minutes) it means we have met someone who resonates with some aspect of our mind from which we have been alienated – in the lover’s presence we feel complete, and the feeling is strongest when it is mutual. Even then, however, there are, famously, no guarantees. As often as not the resonance gives way to something else. The bond begins to shift and change, quite often dissolve. We feel then as if some part of our being has again been torn away, like a ripped-off limb or a stolen organ, but none of this is actually the case. As the lover recedes we simply lose contact again with that aspect of ourselves they were able to embody, and the challenge is precisely to take … [Read more...]

Sympathy and the Devil

Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880-1914, Hammer Museum, January 25, - May 18, 2014 — An inventively curated exhibition of late 19th and early 20th century works on paper by fin de siecle artists, culled from the recent acquisition of the Elisabeth Dean Collection, Tea and Morphine achieves its effects by couplings and contrasts. This is show of ‘ands,’ (the emphasis of the title above is my own interpolation). Public and private are displayed in radical contrast. Public is a woman outside the home, here looking at an exhibition through her lorgnette, contriving her costume so that the ruffles of her hat are echoed by her neckpiece, a woman who is to be seen, and who is also seeing. This is the Belle Epoque teetering on the cusp … [Read more...]

Broken Windows

Personalizing the Politics of Wealth — Expressing astonishment, a friend who recently moved from New York to Mexico to sidestep rising rents, sent me a link to a Mother Jones article on the booming job market in “wealth counselors.” These are the psychologists who help the extremely wealthy cope with the unique suffering that attends being burdened by buckets of cashola. This note arrived the same week the Wall Street Journal printed an Op-Ed by billionaire Tom Perkins comparing the Occupy Wall Street protests to Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany. Subjected to immediate and sustained ridicule, Perkins doubled down, defending the comparison, as did the Journal’s Op-Ed editors. More recently, Ben Carson, the arch-conservative celebrity … [Read more...]