Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I'm back. After twenty-two days, I'm back. Teaching has really been exhausting, and I've had barely enough time to even go online, let alone blog. It's been mostly e-mail and a little on Akouo these past three weeks.

Today Pn Darlilah returned, so I've been relieved of my duties as relief Biology and Science teacher. I have nonetheless been reincarnated as a Maths teacher, taking over Mr Rizaki's Form 1 and Form 4 classes; he's recently transferred to SMK Damansara Utama.

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This is an entry I wanted to write and put up as the final entry of 2006; I think the earthquake in Taiwan had something to do with my failure to do so. I can't quite remember now.

At any rate, it is a significant milestone as this entry is my 500th on ThirtyOne. Indeed if you calculate, 500 entries between the Decembers of 2004 and 2006 means an average of 250 a year: more than one in two days, but also less than one a day.

So yes, it's been three weeks since my last entry. Is it worth the wait? Is it worth waiting three weeks for a post which means so much to me? Is it worth waiting for some great things in life, knowing, or somehow guessing, that when they come, the wait would have been worth it?

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Two things defined 2006 for me: poetry and photography.

Of course, there was the Poetry Speaks calendar. There was also much reflection on, and quoting from, the songs of U2, which are pretty poetic; typically Irish! And Evanescent Shadows, my magnum opus of 2006, is really a poem written in prose.

As for photography, one word (well, three actually) sums it up: SLR (Single-Lens Reflex). I also learnt how to adjust details like brightness, contrast and saturation, and flirted from time to time with black & white photography and long exposure.

It has also dawned upon me that good cameras are hard to handle. SLRs generally don't have anti-shake functions and all those nifty mechanisms with which most digital cameras seem to come bundled these days. But then the quality of SLR shots makes it all worth it, and the camera is truly a tool for art, not a gadget for a consumerist market.

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Hence, this entry features a set of poems matched to pictures. These poems are among the best from the Poetry Speaks calendar towards the end of the year, and I thought of taking pictures during the three-day d'NA Seremban trip to go with them. I just asked God to help me keep my eyes open for interesting shots, but really, it is by his grace that these shots were taken and chosen.

I had originally planned certain shots for certain poems, but then as I was editing the photos, others suggested themselves as having better potential for visual accompaniment. All seven photos below represent my progress as a photographer thus far, and I've employed almost all the skills (both in photography and editing) I know to produce them.

But before that, a few words from William Blake; I was literally thrilled to find this poem in the Poetry Speaks calendar sometime in December!

To See a World in a Grain of Sand
By William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

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Two thoughts after d'NA Graduation 2006:

d'NA has not changed, but we have. even the younger ones are now already older ones.

Our lives are marked by surprises. I realised that the petal shower episode marked the second, and last, d'NA camp (2004) without a graduation ceremony; from 2005 onwards, every year would end with a graduation.

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I've decided not to comment on the poems or the pictures; they shall speak for themselves. Perhaps someday I will explain in detail how each piece was created, and why I chose them. But not today.

Faded Photograph
Aging together

(1/20, F4.5, 18mm)

from "You Are Old, Father William"
(A parody of Robert Southey's didactic poem, "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them," 1799)
By Lewis Carroll

"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head--
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

Moon Scar
Hurting together

(1/40, F5.6, 55mm)

By Walter de la Mare

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the wild breasts (sic) peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

The Mosque is a Mirror
Learning together

(1/10, F4.5, 22mm)

"True poetry has no great interest in improving or idealizing the world, which does well enough. It only wants to realize the world, to see it better."

--John Crowe Ransom

Psychedelic Vodka
Rejoicing together

(1/15, F3.8, 23mm)

from an Essay on Criticism
By Alexander Pope

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!

Lomographic Spin
Experimenting together

(1/2, F8, 22mm)

Delight in Disorder
By Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness.
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher,
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoestring, in whose tie
I see a wild civility;
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Dust to Dust
Worshipping together

(1/8, F4.5, 31mm)

Gratitude -- is not the mention
By Emily Dickinson

Gratitude -- is not the mention
Of a Tenderness,
But its still appreciation
Out of Plumb of Speech.

When the Sea return no Answer
By the Line and Lead
Proves it there's no Sea, or rather
A remoter Bed?

Salam Saudara
Living together

(1/13, F5, 31mm)

"Poetry gives the griever not release from grief but companionship in grief. Poetry embodies the complexities of feeling at their most intense and entangled, and therefore offers (over centuries, or over no time at all) the company of tears."

--Donald Hall

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I am especially proud of the final picture. It was very difficult to shoot, and I don't suppose it's too difficult to guess why. ;-)


tishtash said...

You know, I absolutely adore reading your blog posts. I have yet to figure out why though. ;p

Anyway, I was browsing through your archives and what caught my attention was that you actually completed the grade 8 piano examination. (albeit trinity but still, that's a rare sight for a guy). Impressed is an understatement =)

enilit said...

We should go hang out again. ;)