jacktellslies: (this machine)

Ages ago, before I left to travel, my friends Penny and Liam and Lady Tapestry allowed me to dress up like a clockwork conductor, brought me to an abandoned steam train overgrown with plants and home to spiders and a beehive, gave me a sword and a mask made of brass, and allowed me to pretend that the train was my TARDIS while they took my picture. I can't actually imagine a better day.

This series of Penny as a (the!) Cartographer, however, are flawless:



Her new Flickr account, clearly, will be one to watch.
jacktellslies: (papa's in heaven)
Darlings, I have fantastic news. I've been sent a picture of my sister's first ultrasound. Behold!

The first ultrasound!

She is either having a guinea pig or a peanut. Either way, it's going to be adorable. I couldn't possibly be more pleased.

(That's my sister's womb! Neat!)
jacktellslies: (jeanne mammen)
A picture of me was recently featured on Genderfork, a blog that focuses on androgyny in photography and includes remarks about gender submitted by viewers. I took the picture in question while perched on a branch in a tree in the centre of a hedge maze in a garden in Brussels. Far too many of my self-portraits feature that absurd facial expression. My camera is obviously rarely chastened by it.

The site is entirely worthwhile simply as a convenient collection of pictures of people who are often quite attractive (please see here and here), but some of the images are more nuanced. Golf Suits would not be seen as playing with gender were it not for the positions of the models. Back and Forth and Clothesline both work because the subjects toy with and take command of the idea of the male gaze. The images that interest me most are consistently the ones in which attitude and posture are wielded as dangerously as an excellent suit and a flamboyant haircut.

I'm not impressed by most of the text, however. Perhaps I'm being unrealistic or unfair, but while I encourage and enjoy honest discussion of the ways in which living in a binary gendered society is painful for most humans, I am opposed to whining. I want more subversion, more laughing it off, more fighting back, and more people who are too smart and too gorgeous to bother worrying about the kids who don't get it. Throw your heels at the rude bastards. Respond to their braying by telling them that every cock you own is bigger than theirs while you adjust your pack and swagger off. Do both in the same evening. And then call me, because I'd like to buy you a drink. Or simply have nothing to do with the commentary of idiots, because you're honest and you're brave, and their rules do not concern you.

This isn't the fault of the creator of the blog, Sarah Dopp, who has a delightful name and compiles a fascinating collection of images I'll continue to follow. It's the tearful conversation that happens every time two or more trans or genderqueer folk stumble into a room together, and I'm bored with it.

By the by. Have you heard that Blur is getting back together?
jacktellslies: (opium den)

A brief train ride the other day brought me to Haarlem, a small city, older than Amsterdam, and beautiful. It seemed at first to be all shops: bland, modern, expensive things. Their content may have bored me, but the buildings themselves certainly did not; even the McDonald's was ensconced in an architectural work of art, something from the early 1600s. I wondered for a moment if it were blasphemous, and decided that the degree to which I enjoyed the idea likely indicated that yes, it was.

I'd heard tell of an old science museum there. I enjoy such things a great deal, so I hoped that I might run into it. While wandering one of the canals I stopped to admire a truly grand building, and I took three pictures before I noticed the flag bearing the name of the museum for which I had vaguely been looking.

The outside was a suitable shell. The inside was spectacular. I entered into a room of marble, columns, and stately wood, flanked by classical statues and carvings of cherubs engaged in the sciences and the arts. (That ever there was a culture that could make a representation of such a thing not only appear to be serious, but even noble, is delightful. Score one for humanity.) It contained a ticket and information desk that looked as if it belonged there. Such a thing is no small feat for a museum. In fact, I doubt I'd ever seen it correctly executed before. It looked into a round chamber capped with a dome, warm, glowing, and golden. Next one comes upon the museum proper, beginning with the natural history section, then rooms devoted to antiquated scientific instruments, followed by two art galleries. It was another one of those private collections that eventually became a museum proper.


With every new space I entered I gasped, not only impressed, but actually moved. I've never seen a museum I loved so instantly, so intently. Not only the collection, but also the space itself, were everything I could have asked such a place to be: gentlemanly, tasteful, inspiring, and beautiful. I photographed everything. I wanted desperately to give you some sense of the place, so thrilled was I to find it. This place moved beyond simply archiving certain achievements of human culture, a high aim in itself. It became one of those achievements. It was a palace of art.

I found this place on the day on which the Large Hadron Collider was first activated. I hope those of you who have been listening to me sing about it for some time will forgive me for mentioning it one last time before October arrives and my love affair begins again, but I'm afraid that I now intend to discuss it in a bit more depth.

I enjoy the Large Hadron Collider as a symbol as much as I appreciate its use as a tool. I'm pleased with the panic into which it seems to have thrown some people, and not simply because it is amusing. It is very human, I think, not only to fear the end of all things, but to expect to see it. Every generation has its apocalypse, it's ever-present threat of destruction. We anticipate some distant failure or attack; we wait to be important and frightened and final. I might be so bold as to suggest that our fear is a longing for a personal and internal spiritual destruction. We want to be confronted with something immense, alien, and devastating, to be laid bare by it, scraped to the bones. We want to fight it, or be taken or changed by it. Surviving the zombie invasion and being taken in the rapture mean the exact same thing. To expect it to be an external, collective thing, indeed, to expect it to be done to and for us, strikes me as slightly childish, but perhaps I oughtn't judge.

The fear surrounding the LHC is warranted, not because it might destroy the world, but because it might destroy the universe as we know it. This is the same fear felt when the earth lost its place at the centre of a created, clockwork dome, and when the sun became another small star. And I do propose that such fear is legitimate. I hesitate to describe science as truth. The frequency with which it is replaced and augmented and endlessly perfected and scrapped and perfected in some other way demonstrates that it isn't truth as much as it is a particular narrative, or the best we can do at the time. And that is precisely why it is so terrifying. Science means admitting that we are not searching for truth, that we cannot search for truth. It means peeling back the veil to learn the smallest of things. It means dedicating lives, obliterating ourselves again and again, to discover minutia that will certainly one day be replaced, and then be replaced again. I can think of few pursuits more worthwhile, and admirable.

And obviously, modern science having constructed a great circle with which to raise up energies that will help us to cross boundaries humans were not meant to cross, to peek into the inner workings of all things, to risk destruction in the name of knowledge, would appeal to me.

Still, I think something is lacking. My fascination with antiquated science relates once more to the spirit of these faded enterprises rather than their usefulness. These are artefacts from a time when brilliant men, dabblers, collectors, and scientists, sought not simply to probe, but to seduce a mysterious universe into revealing its hidden charms. Modernity disappoints me. I still cannot bring myself to silence my repeated complaint: given the systems and materials required to produce things with an ease never before known to the world, we've turned to ugliness, to functionality and nothing more. Science was beautiful once. The seduction was carried out with the use of pretty devices, as all seductions ought. Specimens were gathered not simply to be labelled. They proclaimed that the complexity and variety of the natural world rivals our art, but that arranging them and displaying them and attempting to understand them could be an art in itself.

I returned to Amsterdam that evening in order to visit the absinthe bar where I intended to raise a glass or seven to science. It was a dark place, underground, and nearly empty when I arrived. It only meant that I quickly befriended the Surinamese barkeep and the other patron, a gentleman from Jakarta. As the place filled up I somehow managed to remain the closest thing to a lady present. So I spoke to nearly everyone there, and enjoyed it a great deal. The flame and sugar filled concoctions with which I toasted the Large Hadron Collider's first adventure were often bought for me, as a result. Of the several varieties available my favourite by far was a caramel flavoured absinthe, which sounds improbable, but was actually delicious.
jacktellslies: (rasputin)
I've finally been able to begin uploading pictures! They can be found at my Flickr account.


I'm new to this photography thing, but I'm really quite enjoying it. Criticism would be welcome, if you should happen to have any advice you wouldn't mind sharing.
jacktellslies: (bee)
Stopping to consider the mostly unopened morning glories, wondering if I was awake earlier than they or if I had just missed them, I watched a bee squirm inside a few of them, bulging the sides out, barely welcomed. I like the insides of flowers. It's like looking up someone's skirt with absolutely no idea of what one might find there: a thousand identical but seemingly separate buds, imitation insects, sweet poison and small dead things, colours horrific and obscene, curving pistils and stamens both, or nothing but petals, twisting inward endlessly, perfect and disappointing.

Meredith and Rebecca and I walked in gardens on Saturday. We kissed stone goats and orchids, climbed a tower, tested water lilies, and illicitly ate berries and tomatoes and peppers. They were bold Eves; I only ate what they gave me. My rib is theirs to do with as they like.


jacktellslies: (Default)

August 2009

23456 78


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags