Catching the Present

Fennel in Flower
Fennel in Flower
Bright sun on the umbels catching the morning dew

The clouds are moving fast this morning, sweeping up from the south in cotton wool masses, and then diving behind the shelter belt of trees just near my window. In the slight gaps between, the sun bursts out onto the yellow umbrellas of the flowering fennel, from every angle hangs a raindrop, dancing in cut light as it sways in the breeze. The sun goes, reappearing at a new angle. The wind tugs, the drops scatter and reform in shimmers.

I hasten out to catch the light in a photograph - it seems little better than trying to scoop it with a fishing-net. It cannot be taken from where I watched, the water droplets are now too few, and the sun's angle has moved too far. How could a picture 'capture' that moment? Why do we say capture like that, what is it we think we might catch, our memory? And anyway is it possible to both witness a moment, and take its image? And how does the image relate to the moment? Is it like a hint, like a thread to haul back the experience - the experience which was obscured by taking the photograph, so that we never really had it? What is being brought back, hauled in by the image? It seems like a hint to a mental construction: "The past". A thing seen from another, a novel, perspective. Not from where it was seen. The present, without any complications of an image, is slippery enough, seeming forever to disappear; reaching to grasp it, we lose it.

These ambivalences trouble our intellects; our understandings try to ween us away from the immediacy of the present. How could we live in a present that is so ephemeral? What could it mean to stay in the present; a present which is changing and fleeting, and yet also eternal and exclusive?

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  4th October 2014 ~ 7th June 2015