Today is my Dad’s birthday! Here are some pictures I took on a recent outing to Paris Mountain State Park with him and Danny.
Antonio Milian is an artist and photographer living in Greenville, SC.
I am 200,000 years old and I will never age
In yesterday morning’s traffic my eye caught this truck, with its distinctive signage. It occurred to me that I should capture this in a photograph, and I fortunately had a camera with me in the front seat of my car. But by the time I had the camera switched on, the truck had pulled far ahead in traffic, and innumerable cars were between it and me.
So I did what any sensible photographer would do and wove in and out of traffic, speeding and slowing down until I was finally close enough to take a picture.
I don’t believe in spirit animals.
But that doesn’t keep me from having one. Several, in fact. They include the snake, the wolf, and the phoenix, that glorious bird of ancient Greek myth that burned itself to death and came back to life over and over again.
And then there’s the hawk, like the wolf, an outlaw. A true bird of prey, unlike the carrion-feasting eagle, the hawk often has negative symbolic connotations. Ironic, huh? That’s why it’s my favorite bird.
And also because it will just shred a squirrel or other small prey animal, as seen in these pictures I took when a hawk decided to have its lunch right outside our office today.
The Unity Paradigm (UP) is a framework in which all my work - past, present, future - may be placed so that it may exist within a common context. It is a function of Harmonic Theory, and attempts to reconcile various structures, some of which are apparently at odds, through juxtaposition and hybridization.
UP is an attempt to define, demonstrate boundaries, and on occasion dissolve them. It is essentially Buddhist and poetic because it seeks to identify analogous forces, parallels, parities, comparisons, metaphors, and so on, and show the relative oneness or sameness of disparate, often seemingly contradictory, contrasting, or paradoxical things. It is also a Daoist thought structure, or even Manicheanist, as it is sometimes a bringing together of opposites, and shows essentiality of all things, and the impossibility of polarities to eliminate each other or achieve some final victory over one another.
To approach work through the UP is to have a skeleton on which to hang all the organs, the muscles, and the skin of said work so that it forms an organic whole in terms of form and content in poetry, fiction, music, photography, philosophy, video, assemblage, sound art, graphic design, and so on.
It should be noted that successful unity between forms is neither universally sought or desired. At times, the unity displayed may be the contrast itself, or often a deliberately incoherent, dissonant effect.
In a fundamental way, the UP is an application of the musical Drone Principle, meaning that a single things is presented for a duration. In music, that means a recurring or sustained tone, as in the music of the Indian sitar, or Western Drone music, which begins with LaMonte Young. The monotone is also applied to ostinato figures and vamps.
The Drone has within it the implication of the mathematical and spiritual infinite. Under UP, I permit myself sustained monomanias. In this way it is also a framework for creative behavior patterns - indulgences and deprivations, and the attempt at balance between them.
I have sustained a monomania for poetry for half a year, leading to rapid development and learning. I believe I have reached a true breakthrough via this method of sustained attention, having increased my comprehension, close-reading technique, and facility with a few technical methodologies. I have read more poetry as well as criticism, which has deepened my hermeneutic practice. I feel as though I am now on the cusp of producing actual poetry.
All that being said, the most natural course to pursue at this, the beginning of a new year, is to leave the intensive and extensive practice of poetry momentarily.
To clarify, I won’t quit writing poems, but I will pause my study of poetry. Instead I will produce poems to the best of my current ability and focus my learning elsewhere, specifically on image-making, treating it as an aspect of the core pursuit of writing poetry.
Now the real poetic practice may begin. I will study again in the future, but for now I must apply all that I have learned and direct my curiosity to vision, a fundamental aspect of poetic experience.
Last June the kids and I went on a trek across the great state of North Carolina, and when we reached the Triangle we made a stop at the North Carolina Museum or Art. I did a blog post about it at the time, but came across a few more of the pictures I took of the place and must say that seeing these really does conjure the old wanderlust and insatiable thirst for culture in all varieties in me.
Since it was so misty the other night and I was otherwise unengaged, I took the opportunity to do a little night shooting. This year I’d like to branch out in photography and shoot something else in addition to the people I’m close to.
I look forward to developing as a portraitist, and find inspiriation in various places, but this one is the most recent. Jenny Schäfer is a Hamburg-based artist working in a variety of media, and her portraits I find striking in that they seem to elevate the subject in unexpected ways. These are not typical glamour shots, and the models are not of the glossy magazine type. The photographer makes her subjects look interesting and attractive without excessive makeup or overt eroticism. Instead I find it more cerebrally appealing, or perhaps it’s libidinous in that it appeals to a certain sapiosexuality (and yes, everything is about sex with me, even when it’s not about sex).
Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures I took at night when I had a “foggy notion” to do so. Some are edited for effect, and others are left pretty much as-is. Some of the editing here is shit. What ya gonna do?
Dad has always been an inspiration to me. His humor and ingenuity and fiery spirit are in my blood, and his selflessness when it comes to his family are inestimable and inimitable.
I have my Dad to thank for many things, but one gift I’m particularly grateful for is that irrepressible energy of his. He hasn’t had it easy. He went through a rough divorce when he was young and lost a son to that. He’s cared for my brother Danny for almost 30 years now, since the car wreck he had in 1990 that left him permanently and totally disabled. For the past 10 years or more, our Mom has been more or less bedridden with a variety of ailments, from rheumatoid arthritis to cataracts.
The best laid plans are often undone by unforeseen circumstances such as these. But through all that Dad somehow maintains a sense of humor, and manages to stay active physically. He always finds the energy to play with his grandkids.
Maybe the best lesson Dad has taught me through his example, one that I hope to show my children through my actions, is to keep going, no matter what. We do not give up, Dad and me, and his grandchildren will be the same, thanks to him.
I like to write satire and take the piss from everthing and everyone at all times, but I’m also the type who makes pilgrimages to cathedrals and basilicas and ancient ruins and volcanoes and baptizes himself in the sea annually.
A recent minor, ambiguously successful quest took me to the nearby city of Asheville, North Carolina where I indulged in a few snaps inside this gorgeous centenarian edifice, erected in 1909 and designated a basilica in April of 1993.
Shot on disposable cameras around Costa Rica, Summer 1999.