When I wrote “Some place in between” I thought I was posting my last photograph. Having not handled a camera in months and being extremely frugal with the shutter before that, getting to the last photo was expected. This photo on the other hand, was a surprise.
I took this shot in 2008 and misclassified it with family snaps. And there it stayed, completely forgotten until recently when I was in the process of moving family shots to the Cloud.
It’s not an especially good photo but it will serve the purpose of this post.
I have a strong attraction to blur in photography because I am fascinated with motion. After all, it’s an attribute of all things in our reality. From the smallest quantum particles to the largest galaxy, there is unrelenting motion.
As I sit here at my desk in Brisbane Australia (latitude 27º 30′ 00″ S), the rotational speed of the Earth is 1487.9 km/h (924.6 mph). The Earth’s orbital speed is 107,200 km/h (66,600 mph). Meanwhile, the Solar System is moving around the Galactic Centre at 828,000 km/h (514,000 mph). And if that’s not fast enough, the Milky Way is moving at a ridiculous speed of 600 km/s which is around 2.16 million km/h (1.34 million mph) towards the Hydra constellation. Amazing right? I mean, imagine being a navigator on an intergalactic spaceship and having to find your way home after being away for a couple of years. That’s some pretty freaky maths you’d have to do.
Anyway, there’s an allure to putting units and numbers and labels on things: kilometres per second, miles per hour, light speed, light years, E equals m C squared. Anything to make this seemingly crazy world seem more orderly, less chaotic, less frantic, more still. Of course all these units of measure are all arbitrary as Lucien Poincaré tells us all too clearly in “The New Physics and Its Evolution”.
But what does the universe care that two plus two equals four or that there’s a maximum speed limit or that Fibonacci worked out a cool sequence of numbers?
The best reason I’ve heard for humanity’s incessant need to measure and codify comes from a movie that came out last year. As the protagonist Lucy – in the 2014 movie of the same name – says in one scene: “We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale.”
Motion everywhere, never stopping. And yet …
… there is this one thing; so intangible that it can easily go unnoticed, but for all its elusiveness it’s everywhere I turn my attention to, perfectly still, completely unmoved by anything. I’m not sure what to call it but the best I can come up with is presence.
In the caption under the photograph I wrote: Consciousness is the thread in the fabric of space-time. When I first wrote this I was seeing consciousness as the element that separates space from time, the thing that allows duality to be perceived. I thought of consciousness as knowing or what allows us to measure and codify. The thing that is forever searching for answers, seeking understanding, wanting to create. Now however, I don’t see consciousness as the thread in the fabric so much as the entire fabric itself.
When thoughts are silenced and I am as still as I can be, when I let go of all my ideas, my beliefs, my labels and anything else that I consider self-defining, in those always-too-short moments – moments I have so often associated with making photographs – I become totally present.
Presence: the silent witness to everything.
And in that presence I sense that I do not have consciousness so much as consciousness has me.