25.12.20

Christmas Day Photography Journal: Romantic Musings On Found Objects (And Some Tibetan-style Momo)

Inspired by the Romantics, I find inspiration in the everyday material world.

Chained bicycle on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens

A bike covered in pigeon droppings. OK. That’s ewwwww. But. Look. 

Cheesy grits, egg, and green onion

A bowl of grits, green onions, and cheesy eggs. 

Greig Roselli at an art bookshop

Me looking at art books. 

A snapshot from my favorite mobile game @taptapfish

Homemade Tibetan-style dumplings (known as “Momo”) and a pretty portrait shot of the famous penguin sculpture in Jackson Heights, Queens. It’s my way of finding beauty, elegance, and looking up from the gutter to see the stars (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde).

17.12.20

Quote: Isaac Watts Admonishes How Idle Hands Are the Devil's Work (And a Reflection on How I Got Into the Habit of Collecting Quotes)

"In works of labour, or of skill, I would be busy, too;

For Satan finds some mischief still 

For idle hands to do."

— Isaac Watts, 1674 - 1748
Nacer Eddine

Photo by nacer eddine on Unsplash

I do this thing where I look at my old journals. 

It's the greatest accomplishment of my youth. That I wrote a lot of entries. It's an activity that I tell my students to do often (as I am a high school English teacher), and I wonder if it must be a thing of adolescence — to inscribe one's thoughts down on paper. As an adult, I am not as prone to journal writing. I've lost interest in my own subjectivity!

That's sort of a joke, but I have done one activity consistently — collecting quotes. I found the above quote about idleness in one of those old journals from my youth.

It's easy to scoff at Isaac Watt's suggestion that one ought to stay busy. It's a sentiment ingrained in the Puritan notion of "work ethic" that has so often infused every aspect of American culture and history. In the current dispensation, productivity is rewarded, and idleness is looked down upon as indicative of a rotten soul.

I guess that is why the devil is co-opted in this dialectic between work and inactivity — since the devil is the symbol of perversion. Therefore, the lack of work, the absence of productivity is an abomination in this worldview.

There is a lot to be said for idleness, though. Even when the devil is idle, I suspect, they are having a good time! 

11.12.20

Photograph: A Scene of a Winter Gloaming in Queens

A million years ago I spotted the gloaming on a Summer evening in Brooklyn near the Gowanus Canal. Fast forward into the future and here I am in Queens, on a Winter evening, having spotted the gloaming.
Winter Evening Sky in Queens
The Gloaming As Seen from 37th Avenue in Queens Looking Southwest

Words to Describe the Period of Sunset

In the English language there are a few words that can be used to describe that moment between day and night. The most common word is dusk — which I feel like is a broad term to describe that temporal zone in which the sun has dipped below the horizon but a sliver of light remains. 

It is part of the larger sunset process, that process seen from an observer on Earth as the day and night cycle. The sun seems to dip below the horizon line, never to be seen again. Our ancestors hoped for another new day — and especially in Wintertime, as the sunlight grows less during the day, we pine for more light — hence the origin of almost every Winter holiday celebration from Diwali, to Hannukah and Kwanzaa, and to Christmas. We look and pray for the restoration of light.

Twilight or Gloaming?

Twilight — which is closer to what the term gloaming means. It is that precious moment where the last dots of lights appear in a reddish, bronze haze of light — and then slowly descend into night.

I imagine gloaming is the more poetic term. Twilight is reserved the scientific view of the event. Read this nice article from the British newspaper The Guardian for a thorough review of the different terms.

I like this time of day — while it is just as likely to capture a similar picture in the morning, when in reverse, we see a similar process in the dawn.

When have you seen a gorgeous dusk? What do you call it?

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