“Take Care of All of My Children” is based on a collection of pictures I took on the evening of June 6, 2013. The idea started when I found the deflated balloons on the sidewalk and I was reminded on the Tom Waits song “Take care of all of my children,” from his album Orphans, which says
Take care of all of my children
Don’t let them wander and roam
Take care of all of my children
For I don’t know when I’m comin’ back home
This song is, in my mind, an odd blend of a parade march and an old hymn, and thinking of this song while staring at this mass of balloon I started wondering about the story behind the balloons.
Perhaps some children were playing with their bunch of balloons and the balloons floated away and popped and landed there. Perhaps they were walking in the heat of the day and the balloons ran through the tree and popped and were left there.
A lost set of balloons, childless and therefore incomplete. Aside from the emptiness of the balloons, my walk made me reflect on the world we’re creating for the children. Cigarette butts, and factories, and sprinklers line the city streets and I started to think about the world the children will inherit.
The collection of photographs became a reflection on the future. The album beings with “A” and “B” pictures of balloons, a typical childhood toy, that lack air and are left empty on the ground. Which is to say, “Maybe we will rob our children of a future if we are not careful with how we use technology, and how we manage our resources.”
This leads into C – I which depict “Artificial Rain”, and the “Flora of the New Age,” as a way to reflect that maybe we are creating a world better suited for machines than for humans. The album ends with J and K to restate the initial theme of childhood, and the questions “Why are the balloons deflated?” and “Where is the child?”.
There are times when writing is difficult, and it’s almost painful to make even one sentence come out “right,” and every word is cause for anxiety, guided as it is by uncertainty. This difficulty is often accompanied by a sense of futility, a sort of nihilism born to the idiom of writers. How many writers were depressants? Fewer than people imagine, but more than we like to admit.
Woolf walked into the Ouse, Hemmingway shot himself. They were both around 60. Wallace hung himself. Kane hung herself. Kane was 28. Somehow Kane seems worse, but maybe life isn’t so precious as to warrant overstaying. Though not a writer, Judas hung himself, and how many countless others have died by suicide?
Maybe they, too, found a place where it was hard to write, and a life without writing, for a writer, is worse than death; It is a living hell, where words lose all meaning and beauty, and no shuffling of marks can create a single intelligible sound. A writer only stops writing when they are dead, but what they’ve written lingers on long after them. Is that a blessing or curse? Perhaps ironic, that a writer is never known for what they are writing, but what they have written.
“The Wasteland Variations,” are photographs taken in July 2013 of various pages from Volume 23 of the English Journal. The pages originated as the bi-product of a “book-box” project, which involved removing the ‘entrails’ of the volume and setting them aside. I decided to use said pages to make paper and so I place all thousand odd page in a large bucket and poured water over them.
Two things came to mind as the pages began soaking. First, how pretty the water made the pages look, and second how horrible it was that I could treat a book so poorly. This second observation was deepened what I decided that ripping the pages would help them mulch better and I started thinking of “The Hollow Men,” by T.S. Eliot who is referenced in both the gallery title and the majority of the picture names.
I started taking pictures of the pages, and noticed how the focal nature of photography made certain words more prominent which lead to the “Notes – of the spirit – captures this truth [in correct, effective speaking] – there is nothing [new]” which is a reflection on the way civilizations come and go, and to Ecclesiastes 1:9 “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.”
What remains of Atlantis? Of The Roman Empire? Of Babylon? And few have left their books, and to this day are doomed to slowly fade away from recollection. Then, “please examine” is a call to think about the nature of literature, and what these words mean and their implications. Leading to “The Way the World Ends,” and “With a Whimper” which emphasize the slow and painful erasure of civilizations as they are reduced to history, then fact, then legend.
“Saints and Effigies,” is a collection of pictures composed of three effigies: a statue of Mary holding baby Jesus, a wooden owl, and a pink ‘magic eight ball’ Jesus. The ‘Mother Mary’ series were taken in December of 2012 at my grandparents house and is a photo representation of Faith as it endures sickness. Mother Mary I is the young faith, and self-assurance of new belief, then Mother Mary II and III introduce doubt, sickness, and strife in the form of the various pill bottles, leading to Mother Mary IV which is the faith darkened, though matured, from the previous turmoil.
This then leads to Owl I and II, which is a wooden effigy pictured with gold and pewter in the background. The owl itself “is the symbol ofthe feminine, the moon and the night.The owl is the bird of magic and darkness, of prophecy and wisdom.” (Lin’s Domain) while the gold and pewter represent the different pure and tainted qualities of the soul. The Owl, then acts as a physical search for renewed faith leading to the ‘resurrection’ of faith with Pink Jesus I.
The journey of faith concludes with Pink Jesus IV as the manifestation of a more real faith, which understands that grasping the True character of the infinite God is beyond the capacity of the finite Creation. The faith is, however, not as one might expect because not only is Jesus pink, but also plastic and static describing the individuality of faith and understanding, and also the dangers of ascribing finite features to an infinite spiritual entity.
(or: Short Stories in Sonnet Form I)
It started one day in January.
Larry and I were out hunting snipe when suddenly a little, grubby gnome appeared.
Obviously, when a gnome appears the chances of finding snipe increase dramatically, so Larry and I approached said gnome and asked the fellow his name.
“Vallery Von Vellenvronvrock I am,” he grumbled with an odd sort of smile, then asked: “vhat are you boys doing out so late in my voods?”.
Even though gnomes are a good sign in snipe hunting terms, a gnome with a Germanic accent tends to throw one off, so it took us a second to respond.
“You know,” said Larry at last, “we’re hoping to hunt some snipe in your woods if you don’t mind.”
“Oranges.” declared the gnome, “Unless you bring me Oranges you may not hunt here.”
Useless as it is to reject a grubby gnome’s terms, I requested a moment to consider the matter and pulled Larry aside.
“Dunno about you,” I said, “but I don’t have any oranges. ”
“Just a moment,” Larry said, “I’m pretty sure I packed some in my bag.”
“Enough to appease his grubbiness?” I asked as he checked his bag.
“A feast and a half,” he said, “I’ll bet the little fellow can smell them.”
Not wanting to keep the gnome waiting too long we turned back to the gnome, accepted his terms, relinquished our oranges, then continued our night of snipe hunting.
Eventually, as the sun started rising, we saw a snipe some 30 yards away but were so struck by its rugged beauty that we couldn’t bear to shoot it, and we went home empty handed.
Somberly December comes again
Leaving the sweetness of Autumn
(Outstretch to warm itself in sunlight)
Weakened by the Winter’s frigid might.
Listless snow descends upon the leaves,
Yawning as it lays down to sleep
For snow grows faint from faintly falling
And there’s more of the Winter calling.
Dreaming snow, whose sleep is deep (so deep)
Encases Autumn while Summer grieves
And the days are lost in the night
(While the Winter’s snow entraps the light)
And Summer longs for sweet, gold Autumn
Yet solemnly December comes again.