The Waters of Our Time

Posted in Art, literature, Photography with tags , , on June 25, 2014 by briancarnold


I’ve always thought there was a certain amount of good and bad in the world that never changes.  Whenever something bad happened to me, I told myself that there must be some good balancing it out someplace else.  Whether there’s more good than bad, or the other way around, I could never be sure, and I’m still not.  But that’s not the point.  We all have to pay a price for being here.


Since we can’t feel things fully as they are happening, all we can do is let time pass and try to retrace them.  I guess that is just life – maybe we aren’t suppose to know what it is or why it is while we are in the midst of it.


I started my morning today reading The Waters of our Time, a collaborative book made by Thomas and Giancarlo Roma – a little gem about life, love, memory, and living in Brooklyn (a wonderful flavor of Brooklyn throughout the book).


I’ve never spent too much time with Roma’s work, but the use of both a textual and photographic narratives in this book are delightful and evocative.  A redirect for the day, going to back to my project about my life in Denver, and do the best I can I can to coax out some more ideas in the writing.


I just want something to remind me of this place, so that I know that it was real – that it was mine.

Ask Me

Posted in Art, literature, Photography, poetry with tags , on June 23, 2014 by briancarnold


I can’t tell a lie.  I am a total bibliophile.



I was an English major and now a photographer, I worked in a bookstore for years, and I’ve always had a collectors mentality.  The last time I moved, I packed about 60 boxes of books.


A personal favorite, really of any genre – fiction, poetry, history, art, photography, biography – is Listening to the River by Robert Adams.  Photographed around Colorado over the course of 7 years, the book is a series of incredible panoramas, but reads more as the most heartfelt, free-verse poetry.  And then the pictures are accompanied by poems written by William Stafford.


This book was my first introduction to William Stafford too, a poet I’ve come to love.  There is one poem in the book in particular which is really one of my favorite pieces of writing.



Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt:  ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.


I’ve come to this poem time and again, especially at times of transition or upheaval.  I read it at my father’s funeral.


So simple and so beautiful, and such a lovely metaphor of movement and stillness, and life constantly in flux.

Dusk in Yogyakarta

Posted in Art, Java, Photography with tags , , , , on March 18, 2014 by briancarnold


Minggarin, a small park in the south side of Yogyakarta at dusk.  Young lovers sit on stone benches circling the park, sharing quiet moments together.  There is a small playground, where there are some parents and their children – playing basketball, riding seesaws.

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There is a group of older men sitting together, about 8 of them, huddled close under a large banyan tree, huddled intently over a chess board.  They sit together on the ground, each one as attentive to the game as the two playing.

There is another group of about 10 younger men, perhaps in their early to mid twenties, and each of them with very dark skin.  I assumed they must be from the eastern parts of Indonesia – perhaps Papua or the eastern parts of Nusa Tenggara.


Together, these younger men played football, practicing their corner kicks.  Their ball was full of air, but was also flat and lifeless.  The field was mostly loose, dry dirt, and where there was grass, it grew in tough bunches, each several inches tall.

Left just outside the park, there was an abandoned Honda.  The windows were all broken out, the seats rotting, and the front end looked like it had a survived a fire.

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There was a soft, diffused light over the park, over the whole city of Yoyga.  The air was still and quiet.  Everyone seemed content in the park, quietly taking in their shared experience.

Downhill Skiing

Posted in Art, Java, Photography with tags , , , , on March 7, 2014 by briancarnold

Growing up in Colorado, I skied a lot as a kid.  But given how much I skied, I wasn’t that good.  I was okay, but the time to accomplishment ratio was out of balance.  I guess I always felt a little intimidated and fearful – the speed, the balance – whatever, I was always scared of losing control.


A friend of mine in Ithaca once told me that if you aren’t scared, you’re not really skiing.


I think he was on to something there, but today I want to modify his comment just a little.


If you aren’t scared, you aren’t really living.  You gotta show up to make it happen.  Living has to be a fully activated.



Dream is Destiny

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , , , , on March 5, 2014 by briancarnold

At the beginning of Richard Linklater’s great film Waking Life, two kids sit playing an age old game with paper, a fortune teller I suppose.  The two kids – one the main character as a child – unfold his future, with the words dream is destiny.  Thus the story begins, a study of consciousness and experience, as the main character tries to discover the root of experience.


British filmmakers, Lorne and Lawrence Blaire, spent many years producing a series of documentary films in Indonesia, The Ring of Fire.  There are four in the series, the last being The Dream Wanderers of Borneo.

In this film, the two travel deep into Borneo, and spend time with a nomadic tribe, the Punan Dyaks.  The Punan’s believe in a dream wanderer, and higher, spiritual self that manifests in dreams.


Recently, I had in dream in which I was with a good friend, and we found ourselves in a bit of  pickle.  Though all was well that ends well.  In the dream, it seemed likely we’d both be injured or stained, but left largely unblemished and unwounded.


I do want to believe in mysticism.  I want there to be balance and order in my life, reason and intuition meeting to help determine my outcomes.  Dream is destiny.

Keeping the Faith

Posted in Art, buddhism, Java, Photography with tags , , on March 5, 2014 by briancarnold

Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures.


And in desperation, sometimes we have to rediscover faith, to believe that our world has meaning.


I just want to have my own little life in my own little corner of the world.  Sometimes even that requires a little faith, and a need for protection.


The Middle Way

Posted in Art, buddhism, James Joyce, Java, literature, Photography with tags , , , on March 1, 2014 by briancarnold


There was a time in college and just after in which I was completely obsessed with James Joyce; I really considered myself a disciple of his life and work.

Among many other things, I loved his appropriation of the Daedalus/Icarus myth.  Giving his alter ego the name Dedalus, Joyce chose a middle way, not flying too high so that his wings wouldn’t melt under the sun, nor too low to be drowned by the sea.  And Daedalus was a master craftsman.  This is how Joyce reconciled his Catholic youth with his adolescent hedonism and his life as an artist.


Like most of the major religions of the world, Balinese Hinduism acknowledges the human crisis, caught between good and evil.  Unlike most, however, in Balinese Hinduism both good and evil are considered to be benevolent and malevolent forces.  Rather than trying to repress darkness, the Balinese see it as an inevitable part of life, and by acknowledging it correctly, you can live with and not be consumed by it.  Just so with the gods, who can be as fickle as humans.


Driving the streets of Yogyakarta can be a challenge.  In a word, chaotic.  Most drivers use motorbikes, and when approaching a red light, everyone is jockeying for better position.  When the light turns green, all the motorbikes are packed closely together, and starting again always feels a little nerve wracking.  As everyone starts, all the bikes swerve when accelerating and resuming balance.


In the end, it is all the same.  Life is really a question of balance.


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