What say the slain?
One day, months ago, during a brief respite from political ranting during a drive into town with Gamma, we listened to a radio program about a
sensory deprivation / isolation / floating tank business in Vienna.
“I’ve always wanted to try that,” I said.
Gamma filed that information away neatly and guess what my daughters gave me for Father’s Day?
This is how I found myself sitting on a shady bench in a Vienna cemetery yesterday evening. I was early for my appointment at the Sargfabrik, an apartment complex in Vienna with a theater instead of a parking garage, and down in the cellar a room with a floatation tank.
Floatation (or floating? not sure) tank is what used to be called an isolation tank, and before that sensory deprivation tank.
I prefer sensory deprivation tank, but understand one must market the things.
Like I was saying, I was early as always and took a walk around the neighborhood and disliked the park (too sunny, for one thing, and generally unlikeable, at least yesterday evening, for me, at that spot) so I continued onward and found the cemetery next door and went in and found a shady bench and watched the gravediggers work, and read the dates on the headstones, as one does.
Then I thought, Ah! Cemetery – Sargfabrik, I get it!
I guess the Sargfabrik used to be an actual coffin factory until it was converted into housing.
Then I texted the floating tank guy that I was already in the neighborhood, in case I could get in early, and I did and there I sat, no longer in the cemetery, in the cellar, in a dimly lit, cool room, being orientated.
Epilepsy? he said. Claustrophobia?
Nah, I said.
Goals? Hopes? he said.
Curiosity, I said. Father’s Day.
He looked a little disappointed, (but I might have been making that up, there in the dim light) so I added, maybe get an insight into this deep sadness I lug around all the time that is kinda the mortar holding my world together? Or into this yapping I have been doing with my wife?
Okay, he said. I dunno, he didn’t look real relieved so maybe it really was the dim light after all.
He said he’d knock on the outside of the tank when my time was up, and left.
I took a shower and got into the tank and shut the lid.
I spent a long time getting comfortable which is weird because what could be more comfortable than floating naked in a shallow tub of super dense saltwater in the dark?
But such is life.
I floated there in the dark listening to something hum. Something was fucking humming! What kind of sensory deprivation is this? Maybe it was the ventilation.
More of a buzz than a hum. And not loud, but still.
It wasn’t me.
Then either I got used to it or it stopped.
I listened to my breathing for a while, and to my heartbeat.
After a long, tiring day, I was surprised I did not fall asleep, or even get sleepy. After lunch I had been nodding off at my desk.
I sort of meditated for a while. I hummed a little. My mind was pretty blank a lot of the time.
At some point I woke up, or regained consciousness, or something. So I was out for a while, in one way or another.
Toward the end, trying out different ways of holding my head and comparing relative comfort, I got salt water in both eyes and was really glad the orientator had showed me where the kleenexes were in case that happened. I opened the hatch and wiped out my eyes and closed the lid again and eventually the stinging stopped.
One’s ears are submerged in the tank, so sounds are muffled.
I lay there listening to my heartbeat.
Thump-thump-thump! Then after three thumps it stopped again. Weird, I thought. I tried various positions to hear my heartbeat clearly again like that. Then I did, I heard it again. Thump-thump-thump.
After doing this a few more times I realized it was the guy knocking on the outside of the tank that my time was up.
He went away again and I lay there for a minute, thinking, Well that was an anticlimax.
No jumping out of the tank and running around like a caveman like William Hurt in Altered States. No hallucinations, no epiphanies.
It didn’t even seem all that different from my normal, daily life, I thought.
Then I thought, my normal, daily life is like an isolation tank.
Then I thought, there’s an epiphany for you after all.
Monthly Archives: June 2015
What say the slain?
It was windy today but calmed down long enough to make three plates of flowers – a red hollyhock and lavender, both picked in front of the house.
Allow me to
change your life.
Sit there on that
Put that phone
away for a second
this will not
If you are like many
bedevils you. Things
than you plan or
hope, or intend,
Someone stands you
A child disobeys.
A feeling is
You following me?
the product of
the imaginary and
to be the same
so when what you imagine
does not happen
you perceive that as a loss
in front of your face.
There is no
The real is
all there is.
Examine it closely.
The next time you
find yourself abandoned
on a street corner,
look around for
nickel on the
sidewalk the pretty
clouds. The Sikh’s
Watch for the
chance brought you there
to have. Watch the
as it wakes up,
or puts on its lipstick
to go out.
Or goes to bed.
When a child disobeys:
regard the real child, not
the perfect one you had
Put your phone away.
The real child is
than anything you
could make up.
Have awe for the
even that in
This moment is more than
what you had hoped for.
It is all there is.
That will be two hundred dollars.
Shot on black aluminum plate, 13x18cm (5x7in). It is hot out this weekend, supposed to hit at least 32c today (about 90f) so I used sugar developer, which slows down development, because my normal developer has been working very fast lately anyway, resulting in overdeveloped plates. One aims for 15 seconds developing time, and for previous plates with normal developer the midtones were out after about 8 seconds, and if I went longer I ended up with fogging etc. The sugar in the sugar developer mechanically (I believe) slows development, useful in hot weather.
The two plates I shot today of the allium in my back yard took 12-15 seconds and were, overall, of satisfactory quality, at least no overdevelopment.
The only two problems I ran into this morning, besides something or someone spilling a small beaker of developer (the cats were around, and someone was watering the garden) were: 1) there was a slight breeze, which resulted in the long-stemmed, heavy flowers swaying/moving and so blurring during the 2-3 second exposures. For the second plate, shown here, I stopped the largest flower with my hand before shooting, but it still moved a little.
2) The second problem was the plate itself. There is a scratch at the middle of the left edge. I would assume I had done this removing it from the silver bath, or in the plate holder, but other plates from the same source also have this scratch. Also there is a sort of texture to the plate, that kinda grid pattern on the right side, which I think is connected with the protective plastic layer over the plate, or something else from the production process. If this turns up with many more plates I shall find myself forced to contact the seller.
Otherwise, I am happy with the image.
The weather is no longer trustworthy like it used to be back in the old days.
Now it’s different. Now it’s winter one day, summer the next day.
Odin is a-walkin’ down the sidewalk trying to figure out if both hearing aids are on.
He’s trying out hearing aids. The left one keeps cutting out, and he’s afraid he’ll walk in circles if they don’t fix it.
Actually, they’re making him new ones but it takes a while. He was at the shop yesterday and the guy squirted putty into his ears to make templates.
The putty was nice and cold, and made everything quiet.
Odin enjoyed sitting there in the silence while blue putty hardened in his ears.
Then the man removed the putty and the world re-became its old normal self.
Later, at the wine tavern, Odin and his wife and Loki were talking about sports and when swimming came up Odin described swimming a length of a pool underwater and, upon reaching the end and not being out of breath, turning around and swimming all the way back.
He realized that is why the putty felt so good in his ears, it was the same sensation.
He had even held his breath.
There on the corner the grey crow brushes him with his wing and lands atop a black car and regards.
Here you go, pal, says Odin and gives the crow half of half of his salami sandwich. The crow dissects it and hides a piece of bread with salami in the gutter, carefully covering it with leaves.
What say the slain?
No one, when they die, regrets not building more pyramids.
They regret not engaging in enough monkey business.
Ergo: monkey business is the highest human activity. And shenanigans, and hanky-panky. High-jinks, lunacy, antics, pranks and hoaxes.
What say the hanged?
One so often finds oneself in situations externally dictated that it is really nice now and then to be able to say, this is weird, i don’t know what it is, but it’s all mine. Sustain whatever crazy little shard of creative oddness pierces your heart.