Friday, July 26, 2013

the right to share the exotic

I have never been a fan of the zoo. It has always seemed a sad place for me. Yesterday, I was at loose ends and went looking for a photo op. I went to our local zoo. It is as good as any, I understand. I wandered for several hours and saw animals that seemed bored or putting on a show to interact with the species looking in through the wire fences/bars/glass barriers.

I got some decent photos, but at what price? The price of captivity for most of the animals seems obvious. But, what is the price we pay for this moment of viewing the exotic, far from their natural environments. The pensive Snow Leopard brought to mind this deep felt poem of Rilke. Rodin had told him to go out into Paris and observe. This was one of those moments for the young Rilke. Still holds for those of us who are old.

The Panther

His gaze has from the passing of the bars
grown so tired that it holds nothing anymore.
It seems to him there are a thousand bars
and behind a thousand bars no world.

The supple pace of powerful soft strides,
turning in the very smallest circle,
is like a dance of strength around a center
in which a great will stands numbed.

Only sometimes the curtain of the pupils
soundlessly slides up ─ then an image enters,
slides through the limbs’ taut stillness
dives into the heart ─ and dies.

Rainer Maria Rilke
tr. by Edward Snow

Sunday, July 21, 2013


It has become a custom in my neighborhood to put out usable objects for passersby to recycle for their own use. This room size rug was prominently placed at the edge of the rec center/children’s park--a popular place for displaying “goods”. The rug is an amazing green color, but had one serious qualification from the previous owner. BTW, I like the lettering and graphics.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

a time for quiet

It is a cold, foggy Sunday morning in the City. A time for quiet, as the fog dampens not only the air, but sound. It does not seem like a time for endings or a time for beginning. Just a near silent morning thinking about today, not so much about yesterday and very little about tomorrow. Reflecting on temporality: this magnificent butterfly remains magnificent.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

blue light of awareness

Late in the evening as I was walking home, I saw the grizzled old man who frequently sleeps in doorways and on bus benches on Mission Street. I have commented on him in an earlier blog. I have observed him from the bus window. I sometimes walk past him when he seems to be passed out. I have watched him as he incoherently discourses with the passing traffic. All of these times, I have seen him. Last night, he looked up at me as I passed and I realized that he recognized me, too. I had never once thought about him observing me. This was a shattering awareness of my role as “unseen” observer. A psychic way of separation and self-protection that feels very, very uncomfortable.