Monday, February 06, 2006

Surfacing, Briefly -- Reconstituted

My original entry seems to have disappeared, though it's still in Blogger's system, accessible here.

Close-up of an audiocassette tape, converted to b&w.

I've begun a hefty freelance job so will be here sporadically over the next three months. Tape transcription is part of my communications business. I picked up my first transcribing machine about 20 years ago, inspired by a project done in the course of office work. A colleague with whom I still keep in touch had conducted interviews, each lasting several hours, with people being profiled in a book. They'd spilled their life stories to him.

I was hooked.

Since then I've transcribed interviews, speeches, conferences, roundtables, focus groups, book dictation, radio programs, and other varieties of speech covering a broad range of disciplines. It's better than a free education. It's an education I get paid for....

Below is a piece I did for the free-writing group I facilitate, based on the walk I took with Mary several days ago. In addition to writing on the spot, we take a prompt home each week and begin each meeting reading from those. This was a take-home, using the prompt word "Light".


Mary and I turn from the post office and a flock of robins soars overhead, dozens of them winging toward the west. The males' red breasts are glowing; crimson light seems to come from within. I had not known their feathers could do that - could pick up the setting sun and carry it with them, cherry bright.

They are too swift to photograph in the air but I catch one in a tree, partly in shadow but his right side gleams. The limbs catch the sun, too, become their own unburning hearth, wood not consumed by but reflecting flame. Not far away sycamore seed balls hang, riotously orange against crystal blue.

The moon shines, sickle-thin and barely visible in a still-bright sky. Every cloud has fled. Heading toward it a jetliner reflects the sun, contrails double-underlining its path.

The light stuns. This morning reflections from a puddle danced on the ceiling, frenzied intersecting planes on stucco. Except for polarized interference patterns that some movie theaters showed in the 1960s before the feature, that shimmering is the closest thing I've seen to the aura I get during a migraine. Luckily my migraines occur only once or twice a year and are not painful. But I cannot see past the aura, which grows if I don't dim the light, take ibuprofen, and preferably lie down. In that sense my migraines make me partially blind.

(Watercolorized and color-enhanced. A QuickTime video in true color (approx. 10 seconds) is posted here.)

The first time it happened in the mid 1980s I was fascinated. I didn't know what I was experiencing but I had written in my journal how I was unable to see the letters I had just put down unless I moved my head to the side.

Now I aimed my camera at the ceiling. Still shots told part of the story but a brief video showed the effects of fluidity gone awry. For I have captured manic sparkles dancing against the stucco's rough, random gouges. Taken a piece of my brain and put it into phosphor.

Elizabeth Hay's character Lucinda in her novel A Student of Weather is hit with a migraine while driving. "Had she been thinking more clearly, she would have turned back," Hay writes, "but she wasn't thinking clearly, and soon she wouldn't be seeing clearly, either. Scintillating, pulsing light always made it happen faster, the darkening on either side as her peripheral vision grew dim and the pain took over."

My aura has never appeared on the road, but I know to pull over, and quickly, if it ever does.

Meanwhile I breathe in the crisp sunset air and capture other offspring of light. I download the shots, try to immortalize transience, like gluing a sand painting into a solid mass. Sand paintings were traditionally meant to wash away, revealing a truth we cannot ignore no matter how solid our footing. I would like to think I am not stealing the soul of Nature, only pretending that I can hold her in my hand, carry her in my pocket. Save her rays even as the Earth tilts into dusk.

Tomorrow I teach. The rest of the weekend belongs to the tapes.


Blogger Brenda Clews said...

I tried 3 times to leave a comment, and wasn't allowed, until I thought to try coming into your site and entering the post from there. And it worked! Only I can't remember what I wanted for all those days to say -:)

I watched the video a bunch of times, and, while I get headaches, sometimes debilitating ones, I've never seen auras. That video of the light dancing on the ceiling gave me a vivid sense of what it must be like when the occular system is in chaos and the mind is trying to comprehend the world that is known to be there. Oy.

No, don't drive when one is coming on!

Though the world, its various landscapes, interior and exterior, as seen through the auras of a migraine, as dissembling as it seems, might also be an interesting perspective to explore. Meaning adding that modulating light to other scenes.

I want to play with it like a child who has no idea how debilitating it can be, nor how painful!

And then I thought that maybe it was better not to leave a comment, until I figured out another way in-


5:33 PM  

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