Thursday, July 31, 2008

I have eaten the plums

click photo to enlarge
Development in the arts often seems to follow the principle of Newton's Third Law of Motion: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Thus, Post-Modernist painting eschews traditional oil paint, technical proficiency and representation. In their place we find elephant dung, dead animals, diamonds and running men (among other materials), with teams assembling an "installation" or "piece" under the artist's direction, and works being described as "ideas". Similarly in music, the Minimalists led by Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass cast aside the complexity of Modernism for austerity, small ensembles and repetition.

In poetry, the British and American poets of the Imagist school of the early twentieth century reacted against the "genteel" style, florid description and imagery of the Victorians and their imitators, preferring pared down verse that captured the instant and used the natural object itself rather than an abstraction. This condensed poetry is best exemplified by Ezra Pound's work that (according to the author) began life as a thirty-nine line poem, was cut to half that length six months later, and a year afterwards achieved its final form as a single sentence:

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

However, it wasn't Pound that came to mind when I was photographing the bowl of plums above, but another Imagist, William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). This, probably his best known poem, features that particular fruit:

This Is Just To Say
I have eaten

the plums... (click for full poem)

This work is also one of the most parodied of poems, particularly in schools, where pupils are frequently asked to write their "own version". What a dull task!

Oh, and yes, I have eaten the plums!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f16
Shutter Speed: 1.3
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off