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Clouds, rain and light over sea.


What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.

Attributed to John Berger

The nature of mind is elusive...But one thing we know about it indispensably – its power of discrimination...the power to discriminate is the essential work of mind, and this power above all is what light symbolises.

Wheelwright (1962)


Light, photography’s raw material, symbolises so much. Shafts of light on the hills near Sa Pa in northern Vietnam. Not least among the symbol of light is its expression of the wonder at what we see. An idea expressed by Bill Brandt.
All major religions use light to orientate us towards their core messages. In this way it is used as a mythic symbol: Lotus buds rising above muddy water. A page on symbols.
a symbol found across cultures, arising independently and repeatedly and accordingly it becomes an archetype. We also meet it often in secular symbolism Light streaming into woods. Leonard Cohen uses the symbol of light which comes to us through the cracks of our supposed 'perfections'.
as in ‘an understanding dawned on him’, it signifies that essential ability which thought has to be able to discriminate. A boundary marker deep in the jungle of northern Vietnam. The discrimination which light enhances, lets us see differences; a page with more on this mixed, but necessary, blessing.
We see the objects of our world as they emerge out of the darkness into the light: out of the gloom of the forest into the brightness of the clearing. And this notion of bringing light to our musings is the aim of many philosophers. They see a parallel between the effect of light on vision and an increase in understanding. Indeed Phenomenologists, including Heidegger, have explicitly claimed that their studies are concerned with the totality of that which can be brought into the light of day. A picture which is meant to be difficult to read at first. Being clearer is part of understanding, but how do we ever get to know new things - more on the process of emergence.

In Metaphor and Reality (published by Indiana University Press) Wheelwright is considering the way devices such as myths, symbols and analogies help us understand our worlds better. The John Berger quote is un-referenced on the internet.

The picture was taken from a ferry in north-west Iceland while passing near the island of Flatey - the light was caught by some showers that were also passing.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 9th January 2021

Murphy on duty to this site