In the mail the other day was an envelope containing photographs taken by a professor friend who runs the PhotoForum list out of Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. I sent him this self-portrait to confirm his excellent images had arrived safely and that I liked them very much.
Now, as cold weather approaches I tend to do more and more serious reading. It's a sort of turning inward, and is often a pleasant revisiting of the heroes of my youth. In my 20s and early 30s I was deeply into Hemingway, particularly his early stories, and still am, but then after a decade of kneeling as an acolyte at the altar of minimalism, I remain permanently and enjoyably lost in the labyrinth of James Joyce.
Dubliners. And of course Ulysses. Finnegans Wake, however, I’ll reserve for the time I finally acquire authentic wisdom and a deeper understanding of language and its infinite possibilities.
I can't resist mentioning that James is a distant, distant cousin of mine. My mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Jean Joyce. Her great-great-great grandfather was transported from Ireland to a penal colony in New South Wales, Australia, for sheep stealing during The Great Famine. In a net search of the Irish National Archives I found a number of Joyces similarly disposed, and my ancestor almost certainly was among them. Of course I still intend to go to Dublin to retrace L. Bloom's footsteps and to do all the rest of the cliché tourist things, including photographing everything, from top to bottom.
Speaking of writers, a woman friend of mine, at a lunch in New York recently, complained about suffering from a severe attack of writer’s block. I replied that as a logical and linear male I feel compelled to give advice, to conjure up a series of sure-fire solutions to problems. But as I understand contemporary feminist theology, such an offering only tends to annoy women, who prefer to be heard, not fixed.
Maybe the reason I've never suffered from the affliction is that I don't believe it exists as an entity, or is part of some perverse cause/effect sequence. One ought not yield to, or be negatively affected by, the nonexistent. So as a practical matter one must reframe one’s perception of what's going on by means of a different mental vocabulary, which simply refuses entry to such words as “block,” “inability,” “failure,” or other such useless concepts.
Semper sursum. Always upward, always rising.