Layne Hilyer

Reading: The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England by Beth Allison Barr 📚

Reading: The Springs of Contemplation by Thomas Merton 📚

Reading: Bauhaus Weaving Theory by T’ai Smith 📚

Now listening: Nina Simone Sings the Blues by Nina Simone 🎶

From Little Women :

It was a comfortable old room, though the carpet was faded and the furniture was very plain, for a good picture or two hung on the walls, books filled the recesses, chrysanthemums and Christmas roses bloomed in the windows, and a pleasant atmosphere of home-peace pervaded it.

Leni Dothan: We Meet in Mutual Need

Beginning Natalie Carnes' book on images and presence brought the work Leni Dothan to mind. Dothan’s work is certainly iconoclastic as she “examines and critiques how motherhood has been presented in western art history”, breaking open iconic maria lactans images to reveal “a real-life mother, weak and exhausted, unable to live up to her own myth.”

What I am most drawn to in Dothan's work is the way these images tear up what she calls a "visual contract" between subject and viewer. The subversiveness of these images admits the complicated feeling between mother and child as subjects within a relationship that, in the end, needs to be abandoned if not busted in order to make room redefining desire, shifting feeling. Dothan writes of the image below: "The mother in this work seems vulnerable. She is no longer the nurturing figure but now needs the support of her child. The classical roles are being redefined..."

Leni Dothan. Middle Ages, 2017. Mother, child, wooden structure, photographic image.

Dothan's Middle Ages is a refusal to accept isolation in the midst of separateness. The arm around the shoulder keeps the two figures together as it keeps them from drifting apart before a dark future. Accepting distance, in Carnes' terms, breaks the images of indifferent relationships to reveal the complicated, subject to misunderstanding, messy dependence between mother and son. The above image makes the child's maturity and growing independence "visible in the way his arm covers his mother’s shoulder, a gesture of reassurance...The title implies the middle point between mother and child, their average, the place in which they meet as equals." Said another way, the child detaches from the mother in order to reaffirm that the place where they meet as equals is in mutual need.

Reading: Image and Presence by Natalie Carnes 📚

Natalie Carnes in Image and Presence:

…the condition of philosophy is having needed and desired the milk of another, or that it is having a mother. Reason is, in multiple senses, birthed from desire. We learn to reason because two people desired one another and gave us life, because we were so desired and so nourished, because we desired that nourishment, and because we desired to know the world that we loved even before we understood it.

Raspberry Picking | Ilford HP5 (+1) | Canon AE-1

Reading: The Word in the Desert by Douglas E. Christie 📚

Finished Reading: The Poetic Imagination: An Anglican Spiritual Tradition by L. William Countryman

Little more needs be said than this final paragraph:

The spirituality thus incarnate in the poem necessarily offers less than a complete set of directions to the reader. It is not a map. But it can serve as a road-sign pointing the general direction; it can act as a friend standing alongside at the moment of your own discovery of grace and helping you understand where you have come. To some seekers on the spiritual path this will seem a meagre offering; to others, it is all we could have hoped for –– and a blessing great enough to be received with thanks and rejoicing. It is a reminder that we can expect to continue being surprised by God’s love.

From Bandcamp Daily: A John Prine Listening Primer

From Bandcamp Daily: A John Prine Listening Primer. This note struck fresh considering the current changes underway at Bandcamp:

By 1981, immediately following his three Asylum albums, he’d founded his own label, Oh Boy Records and by 1984 he was self-releasing full-length records by mail order. That way, as Prine explained at the time to Bobby Bare on The Nashville Network, “There ain’t no middleman… no swarthy little character in Cleveland that gets the money from the people that want the music, and then… takes most of it, twirls his mustache, and sends me 12 cents.”

Simone Weil & Louis Kahn, side by side.

Putting Simone Weil and Louis Kahn quotes side by side for now:

Weil, in “Reflections On The Right Use Of School Studies With A View To The Love Of God”:

If we concentrate our attention on trying to solve a problem of geometry, and if at the end of an hour we are no nearer to doing so than at the beginning, we have nevertheless been making progress each minute of that hour in another more mysterious dimension. Without knowing or feeling it, this apparently barren effort [of attention] has brought more light into the soul.

Kahn, quoted in Christian Norberg-Schulz’s “Loss and Recovery of Place”:

The street is a ‘room of agreement’ and the city is an ‘assembly of places vested with the care to uphold the sense of a way of life.’ The character of a place is both determined by their spatial properties and by the way they receive light.

Reading: A Course in Christian Mysticism by Thomas Merton 📚

Doug Christie, Blue Sapphire of the Mind:

The contemplative was invited to notice everything and to experience all things as part of a sacred whole…By means of much patience, [monks] were convinced, consciousness could gradually be deepened, or––if viewed within the larger moral-spiritual framework within which they understood their lives––healed One could learn to live in the world as a healing presence, attentive and responsive to the lives of other beings and capable of helping to reknit the torn fabric of existence.

Suzy Hansen reviews Phil Klay’s search for language that would reach from war to citizens:

Klay is well aware that the problem of Americans' detachment from wars is also a problem of how we write about those wars, that the old cold war language many politicians, policymakers, and journalists use on the subject is a rhetorical prison that forecloses Americans' understanding. He has embarked on an ambitious project: how to fashion a new language and literary form adequate to the magnitude of what global war has become. In Uncertain Ground he quotes a soldier who asks, “Was I part of an evil thing?"

Luxuriating in Lee Fields' new singles: Waiting on the Sidelines / You Can Count on Me 🎶

Tobias Woolf receiving the Hadada Award affirms his life’s larger work, but also reminds me of the little lesson he taught me early on in my reading life: it’s okay to abandon a book. In other words, it’s okay to be shaken out of your intentions.

Here’s Woolf in a Paris Review interview:

If a story ends up fulfilling the design that was in my mind when I first sat down, it never seems to have much kick. I have to be shaken out of my intentions as I work; I’m always very pleased when something suggests itself that makes me do that.

Dayton, OH | Ilford HP5(+1) | Canon AE-1

Dayton, OH | Ilford HP5(+1) | Canon AE-1

Quite a roundup: Best Country on Bandcamp September 2023

Reading: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer 📚

Now Listening: Tramp by Sharon Van Etten 🎶

Bardsey Boats

From Image Issue 117: These Bardsey Boats are profoundly affective for me, especially framed by Clarissa Pinkola Estes' reflection on bearing one’s soul…

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these—to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.”

This essay pieced together by the artist, Jake Lever, bares his soul, too. The thing to note is that bearing your soul is a small thing that can be held in the palm of your hand, like Lever's boats. There's no need for flash or extravagance here. In time--rather, at time's end--these small things collect into a greater movement, greater light.

Because of my interest in participatory work, I decided to collaborate with Chris Thorpe, an Anglican priest and a seasoned Bardsey pilgrim. We agreed that he would give these works to people in his Shropshire parish who were journeying through the final stages of terminal illness. For many, the pieces served as catalysts for conversations with family and friends around death and dying. Sanded by ocean currents and illuminated in the deep stillness of the island, they served as transitional objects for the end of life, frequently entering the darkness of their owners’ coffins.

East 3rd Street (Dirty Scan) | Kodak Portra 400 | Canon AE-1