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mountain notes

Working on my writing today, I had a moment of joy after transcribing & then randomising my mountain record journal, and seeing what came from that.

Some strange (very strange) and heart-catching beauty has been revealed, and I feel like I can do something wonderful with bits of it, (ie. combining parts of the text with my drawings or prints, as part of my book of the mountain).

Here are three examples:

   Golden light, ravens, later 
   Surpassing beautiful. Sky 
   
   in flocks, closing the day low 
   
   Such cold. Such 
   water, black peat opened 
   
   All quiet and softened 
   on its shoulders. Colours 
   high blue clear.  

Or

   Sea breeze. 
   East. Northwind cold like a knife 
   Stillness. A raven lifting up 
   moon through haze. Quiet and 
     
   on the other side. 
   but it must be the clouds 
   Darkening. 
   lit as we leave.  

Or

   glooming. 
   Storm coming tonight. 
     
   yellow to blue above. 
     
   south of west, north of 
   West. All dampness. Colours 
   out the voices of the others. 
   
   and gorse, greens and reds bruised 
   glow up as the light dims. 
   Paying respect to this, the 
   beauty. What does it mean? 
     
   High cloud, brittle ice, 
   Sun setting yellow 
     
   in us. 

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scrolls – watercolour and ink

To see better. To see better more often. Like a child sees, open and learning. And to communicate this intensity, this openness, this vulnerability.

In as much as we all have potential for connection, and in as much as the ordinary can unfold into being suddenly extraordinary, the work is to open a door onto that possibility.

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night photos

Been going through my photos and videos, putting them in order so that I can find things.

Found some interesting things.

Found these night photos to share.

This one, a long scroll, a book of the dark.

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reflection Uncategorized

writing a quilt

These photos are from a visit to the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter in 2018. These are quilts to inspire, made by itinerant quilt-making women.

I am writing. And I am modelling my writing on a quilt that I once saw. I don’t know how she made hers. But I start with pieces and colours, and sort them into piles. I place the fragments as best I can. I cut the shapes to fit. I sew them in side-by-side. I work and rework every inch. It takes a long time and I train my patience on it.

My quilt will tell a story about my skills. I admit that it is a bit raggedy. There are a few holes and the shape is not true, the colours are off in places.

My quilt will tell a story about my history and my hopes. So it will have beautiful moments and it will have ugly lumps.

My quilt will speak from the fragments of time that I inhabit. It will be a work of repair from a time where repair is a calling.

And because it is a quilt from this time, it will be a quilt where contradictions meet and fail to meet. There will be patterns and there will be places where the patterns dissolve.

My quilt will be a work to keep us warm and bring us joy.

I am writing. And when I am finished with writing this quilt, I will start another.

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reflection Uncategorized

three good things

Today
I am grateful
To you
Full Moon and North Wind for showing yourselves.

And I am still grateful for the fingerless gloves which were a glorious gift
Knitted for me in soft moss-green wool and repaired with silver green around the thumb-holes.

Also I am grateful for
The Christmas cake recipe given to me a long time ago
Which I keep in a plastic sleeve in a folder in the kitchen
And which I adapt and alter so much
That the only thing which stays the same each year
Is that it is always such a very good cake.

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christmas sounds

A short audio recording from the beach at Amroth, Christmas day.

Tide coming up to meet the tiny stones, salt air in the nose, sea soft like a mirror, sun coming through the clouds low and gold, woman paddling an inflatable surf board with her greyhound.

Us sitting on a wall, drinking tea from separate flasks and eating mince pies from a box, talking about covid, about brothers and sisters and christmas, enjoying the order of things just as they were.

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reflection Uncategorized

winter solstice

Mynydd Llangyndeyrn was misted low into cloud with Westerly sideways-driving rain yesterday evening. No sunset, no once-in-a-lifetime astronomy event, no birds or animals to be seen or heard, only the chance to feel the air, to become cold and wet, to listen to the rain, and to watch the evening greying down to dimness and disappearing.

It was strangely joyful and lovely, and when I got home I was inspired to make home-made mince-pie mix for the holidays, and roasted vegetables for food tonight – just for the pure joy of contrast of cosy-inside-kitchen-world to damp-outside-mountain-world.

As I left the street lights started to come on one by one. I love that moment.

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on hope

Hope is also a verb, an action, (not a thing that you feel)
and this means that it is on a different axis to optimism and pessimism (and also anxiety) –
to my mind, this distinction is important to notice and pay attention to, here in the dark months.

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light photography Uncategorized

on perception : information and noise

These photographs are taken with a mobile phone camera this evening on Mynydd Llangyndeyrn.

In digital photography, something called ‘noise’ appears in photographs taken at low light levels, making the image grainy.

What we are seeing as graininess is randomness in the image. Either the constantly present randomness in photography – a question of which particular light photons hit the camera sensor in the instant that the photograph is taken; or digital randomness caused by electronic noise from the sensor and the device itself. The conditions were dark this evening, therefore my camera was not able to collect a lot of light, so the randomness or ‘noise’ – which is always present – was this evening overpowering the image or ‘signal’, and the photos were grainy.

I am finding that I am very interested in grainy photographs, and have been deliberately making them – and also experimenting with introducing extra noise into videos and images.

I think especially, I am interested in how low light levels start to break down the camera’s ability to make images, and I find it so interesting to compare that with my own gradual loss of vision over a period of half an hour or so, as the night draws across the mountain from the east.

I have recently been doing some reading about vision and perception, and today re-reading and wrestling with a part about information and noise in perception. These walks on the mountain, and the images that I am making are helping me with making my understanding more practical.

One author I am reading, called Mark Taylor, explains aspects of the neurology of perception, and says that in our perceptual processes, information emerges from noise through progressive processes of ‘screening’.

He also says:

“There is no such thing as absolute noise; or, in different terms, chaos is not the complete lack of order but an alternative configuration that generates static for established schemata. Noise is information in the process of formation. What counts as noise and passes for information is relative to the level at which processing occurs.” (Mark Taylor: Refiguring the Spiritual)

The author points out a number of interesting aspects of these screening processes. Firstly, that the unfiltered data (the light in vision), which is not a ‘complete lack of order’, holds patterns that ‘sculpt’ the eye and brain. Secondly, that when information passes through our perceptual and cognitive screens or filters, the filtered parts do not ‘disappear’, but create resonances which ‘cannot be clearly articulated’. The author likens this to a penumbra, the partial or fuzzy area on the edge of a shadow, between shadowed and lit places. Thirdly, the structures of the filter, the structures distributed across the brain, very much influence and determine the perceptual experience – so seeing both takes a little time, and is made possible through accessing and using memory of past experiences.

This gives what I think is a very interesting model of how perception and thinking work, which the author states is very different from the ‘traditional philosophy of the cogito that informs much of modern philosophy.’

It is a model which includes a ‘cognitive unconscious’. (A way of describing these incredibly complex networks and processes of filtering and processing the information (and noise) which happen outside of conscious awareness).

The model is non dualistic – it doesn’t divide things up into mind and matter. It treats the various processes: light, chemical, mental, as similar – ie. as information and screening processes. Consciousness, thinking, is understood in this model as something which is an ’emergent phenomenon’ of these information processes.

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light Uncategorized

on hope

Exploring hope again.

So I am continuing work on my essay, writing about hope in the work of visual artists, but I’m also thinking about hope in my own work. How that might be.

I have started a short writing workshop , and have been introduced to a powerful poem by Denise Levertov, ‘For the New Year, 1981’, starting with the line

‘I have a small grain of hope-‘

The poet also compares hope to a piece from the root of an iris, where she says

‘Please share your fagment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase’

Feeling my way towards the fine-grain texture of things, and the surprise of colour up close, and how that feels like hope.

For example, the flower of gorse in December, how a plant can flare up yellow in the grey-blue dusk light.