Und Schlag auf Schlag! Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen:
Verweile doch! du bist so schön!
Dann magst du mich in Fesseln schlagen,
Dann will ich gern zugrunde gehn!
Dann mag die Totenglocke schallen,
Dann bist du deines Dienstes frei,
Die Uhr mag stehn, der Zeiger fallen,
Es sei die Zeit für mich vorbei!
If ever I to the moment shall say:
Beautiful moment, do not pass away!
Then you may forge your chains to bind me,
Then I will put my life behind me,
Then let them hear my death-knell toll,
Then from your labours you’ll be free,
The clock may stop, the clock-hands fall,
And time come to an end for me!
Goethe – “Faust”, lines 1698–706.
While walking by some noteworthy places, you are bound sooner or later to bump into something like what you see above. Coins in a fountain or metal locks gripped to a bridge or railing. Why?
Intuitively, it has to do with an idea, that you lock yourself into a beautiful moment, that the pleasure deriving from being in this place here and now can last forever. Why?
Well, we lust for pleasure, actually, the relentless research of pleasure is a central point around which most of our lives evolve. Why?
Can you imagine how uninspiring the world would be, if the pleasure from eating, drinking, winning, meeting friends, having sex, listening to music or even taking drugs, lasted forever? Nobody would be motivated to do anything, as we would all be laid down somewhere in a state of permanent bliss. The short lived nature of pleasure makes sure, we are busy rat racing during all our existence. This has been noticed a long time ago by eastern philosophers, and has found a reaction in the buddhist rebellion against the suffering ensuing from this “futile” pursuit.
I’ve caught myself recently on converging toward the idea, that what intrigues me the most in photographs is the testimony of the existence of life. The reason is probably to be found in my process of aging: the less life I have left the more it interests me – this is probably a known phenomenon.
The forms this can take are infinite: from portraits to street photography through observing non human forms of life. Anything that depicts life here in an interesting and possibly honest way can serve the purpose of creating a reminder about how we exist here and now.
The simplest way of looking at it would be to imagine that we want to document everything which gives relevance to the presence of life on this planet, as if we wanted to prepare a photo album to send to somebody who has never stepped on Earth, and is looking at us from afar, quietly orbiting in outer space.
One of less known parts of Monaco, is Fontvieille – a big piece of territory, built on land artificially created on sea at the beginning of the eighties. One of its landmarks, is the pier, which spans almost from La Rocher de Monaco to the nearby port of Cap d’Ail, with the frontier passing in the middle.
In order to enjoy a walk spanning across the entire pier, it is necessary to bypass the heliport, with its landing approach half suspended over the sea, like a big plate with lobsters sticking over the edge of a table. You can get from here to the nearby Nice airport in 7 minutes.
The pier is popular with people walking the dogs, jogging, strolling and fishing. There are some benches here and there, where you can just sit and relax watching the sea, but in other parts there is a motorcycle riding school and a cage with obstacles for kids playing on skateboards. Recently a local firm has used one of the internal pier spaces, to create a successful oyster and seafood growing farm.
For me, the nicest moment when to go there, is in the evening, at dusk, when the lights are being turned on, but you still see some clear sky to the west. The unique combination of beautiful light and the murmur of the waves are conducive to reflecting, as you walk.
I hope you all enjoy your long weekend. As to the photo – this is a new (sic!) sculpture on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. I think I’d like to redo this shot, as the framing is a bit tight and also, there was a flaw in the film, which makes it unsuitable for printing. Even the music has some slight hiss in the recording, but I could not find a better version…
Monte Carlo is a steady witness of visitors who come here to fulfill a dream, be it to play some chips at the Casino’, make a round speeding up on the F1 track ( yes, I can hear you making noise at night !) or simply to walk the same pavements of many rich and famous while celebrating some personal event – often a long planned cruise of the Mediterranean opening the retirement, or even a honeymoon.
Scenes like this one are particularly tender, seen through the eyes of a middle-aged person. Are these kids going to do well? Will they find balance in their relationship, satisfaction from their careers? Will bad spells spare them along the way? For now they are busy looking up and making plans. I wish them luck.
Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle
E questa siepe che da tanta parte
De’ll ultimo orrizonte il guarde esclude.
(Always dear to me was this lonely hill,
And this hedge, which from so much part
Of the ultimate horizon the view excludes.)
Ma sedendo e mirando interminati
Spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani
Silenzi, e profondissima quiete,
Io nel pensier mi fingo, ove per poco
Il cor non si spaura.
(But sitting and gazing, boundless
Spaces beyond that, and more than human
Silences and profoundest quiet
I in thoughts pretend to myself, where almost
The heart is overwhelmed.)
E come il vento
Odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello
Infinito silenzio a questa voce
Vo comparando; e mi sovvien l’eterno,
E le morte stagioni, e la presente
E viva, e’l suon di lei.
(And as the wind
I hear rustle through these plants, I such
Infinite silence to this voice
Go on comparing: and come to mind the eternal
And the dead seasons, and the present
And the living, and the sound of it. )
Così tra questa
Immensità s’annega il pensier mio:
E’l naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.
(So through this
Immensity is drowned my thoughts:
And being shipwrecked is sweet to me in this sea.)
I love the way in which our imagination works. A simple combination of a calm and sunny seashore with a human invention like this, and your mind wanders immediately to exotic holiday destinations , and most likely a smile will appear on your face. Almost all is true in this subtle message, except that I made this photograph while having lunch at one of the beach restaurants in Nice in February.
Thinking about Surrealism, one might think that it has been invented by the likes of Salvador Dali, but I think surrealism is as old as our world. We organize the mental images according to some order, naturally look for patterns that are familiar, and oddly paired circumstances tend to amuse us by default,