On blind accordionists

Geoff Dyer, in the Ongoing Moment, his divergent attempt at a taxonomy of photography, spends a lot of time tracking pictures of blind accordionists through the 20th century. It might seems an unlikely procession but, being blind, these accordionistas are the perfect subject for a street photographer who wants, above all, to take his or her photographs unobserved.

The first accordion player was photographed by the Hungarian Photographer, André Kertész in 1916.

Kertesz Accordionist

It’s worth pointing out that our man isn’t blind, just short sighted, but the photograph still inspired this poem by George Szirtzes:

The Accordionist

The accordionist is a blind intellectual
carrying an enormous typewriter whose keys
grow wings as the instrument expands into a tall
horizontal hat that collapses with a tubercular wheeze.

My century is a sad one of collapses.
The concertina of the chest; the tubular bells
of the high houses; the flattened ellipses
of our skulls that open like petals.

We are the poppies sprinkled along the field.
We are simple crosses dotted with blood.
Beware the sentiments concealed
in this short rhyme. Be wise. Be good.

Dyer’s book, The Ongoing Moment is well worth a read.

On blind accordionists

Learning to look

Dorothea Lange said that ‘the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera’

I recognise that in the photographs I am drawn to and why I am interested in taking photographs myself – though for me it is less about teaching others than teaching myself to look properly.

This is Lange’s photograph of children in San Francisco joining in the Pledge of Allegiance, just before the internment of Japanese families began in the second World war:

JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2

Learning to look

Coincidence?

Browsing in the best bookshop in Britain* (IMHO) on Thursday, I was nosing around Geoff Dyer’s book, The Ongoing Moment – a Book About Photography and found, in its opening paragraph, this quotation:

A few minutes later C came over to show me a book of poetry she was thinking about buying, called Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe. It’s epigraph was this:

Small coincidences are surprisingly satisfying aren’t they? I’d never seen the quote before, or been charmed by the idea of a Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge (surely something sorely needed in a world full of ill intentioned information), but I felt at once as though I was in tune with the universe.

Reader I bought the Geoff Dyer.

It’s only when I set the two quotations down in this post, that I realised the they are not identical.

*Topping and Company in Ely.

Coincidence?

Garden delights

What wond’rous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Ensnar’d with flow’rs, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.

From The Garden by Andrew Marvell

Garden delights