Awesome Obscurities, No. 2

An East Coast Ode to the Basin

In many ways, discovering a great blog for me is like stumbling upon an amazing used book store. Often the collection of books is an extension of a truly remarkable personality to be discovered in the shop owner.

One blog that fits this description is Austerity 101, by Cathy Tremain. Daily, Cathy takes and shares a picture of the basin she lives by, in a simple, direct manner. The consistency of the practice invites the viewer to become familiar over time with the various features of the landscape as the camera captures views in each direction. Daily, it’s like returning to a favorite spot to look out over the water.

The impact of these posts is they open a silent, meditative window. The poet Charles Olson, who also lived along the water in Gloucester, Massachusetts, was fascinated by the effect of seeing the line where the land meets the sea. He celebrated this in his epic The Maximus Poems, by highlighting the paintings of Fitz Hugh (Henry) Lane, and developing a poetics of the “eye view.”

The relationship of a person or a culture to a specific landscape, as Cathy’s study of the basin creates, also reminds me of the fascinating books by Vincent Scully. In his The Earth, The Temple, and the Gods, Scully explores the impact of the landscape in shaping the ancient Minoan culture in Crete. In his Pueblo: Mountain, Village, Dance, he turns to the American Southwest and, through the same lens, explores the fascinating relationship to be found between the culture of the Pueblo tribes and the landscapes of the high desert.

My own practice living in the Catskills strives to capture and convey the connections I continue to learn about on a daily basis from masters like Charles, Fitz, Vincent, and Cathy.


Postscript: Since we are on the topic of connection to the landscape, a quick shout out to my partner Judith, who has just released a small series of recent paintings: Winter in the Catskills. Take a look, I think you will like them.

Longing for the Wrack Line

When I get back

I’ll peel off to the left

leaving the congregation

of sun worshipers

gathered at the foot of the stairs

to their plastic coolers

and tanning lotions,

each sand sinking step,

a push further into a precious

solitude dotted with terns

and sandpipers.

The rhythmic drone

of pounding surf will fill

a shrinking headspace

as the burning soles

of both feet seek

the cool wet sands

where each wave tumbles,

tossing seaweed, stone, shell,

then releases, then returns,

a perpetual succession,

the elemental communion

beyond the wrack line.


(In response to The Amplification Effect, no. 7)

The Amplification Effect, No. 7

An invitation for artists and writers, creators of any medium, to participate in a group exercise.

A group exercise performed in the comments.

A symbol is provided, and participants are asked to share at least twice to generate an amplification of that symbol.

Carl Jung championed approaching unconscious symbolic material with an ‘as-if’ attitude. Jung taught that meaning may be circumscribed, but not described.

The Process

1. Participants self-select.

2. Responses are placed in the comments to this post.

3. Each participant replies with an amplification of the symbol.

4. Each participant replies with an association to another participant’s amplification.

5. Participants are encouraged to repeat steps 3 and 4 as often as they wish.

6. Participants are encouraged to reflect on the group results of the exercise to provide an impetus for future creative work.

Postscript: Consider linking back to this post with any work this exercise generates. Links from this post to any work generated will be shared below.

(For further information, as well as an example of a completed group response mind map, see the inaugural Amplification Effect)


Week #7 Amplification Effect Symbol:

A solitary beach.

Join us in the comments below!


Group Response Mind Map (updated throughout the exercise):


Links to Works Generated:

Longing for the Wrack Line, by Richard Reeve

The Push and the Pull

Even here,

nestled far away

in the mountains,

what pulls at the sea

pulls at my salty

water logged body.

You there, boney white moon,

hiding behind the trees –

you not so sneaky culprit.

Regardless of phase,

cloud cover,

daytime or night,

a great tidal dance

you conduct,

rising across beaches,

surging within these veins

(and not once, but twice daily).

I will go about this business,

stack my firewood,

then stir the stew.

Meager my praise

when life itself

the perpetual applause

for your unending encore.