Monday, December 14, 2009

If I Saw You In Heaven . . .

.
For some unfathomable reason
I've been hearing about alot of deaths of late
Guess that's part of life
A part we don't like to think about
Here today, far gone tomorrow
Over the rainbow
Across the river Styx
And those who remain behind
Must carry on
Waiting their turn
Getting on with the daily inanities, insanities
Of our oh so modern lives
Lives that maybe leave us poorly equipped
For the day that phone call comes
Saying someone close is gone
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Over at More Canterbury Tales, Amanda just did a beautiful post about a series of roadside memorials she saw the other day, and stopped to photograph. If I may echo her post here, on a road I take to work there is a cross I stopped to photograph not long ago . . . with similar thoughts in mind, on the vagaries of life. And Jo at a Majority of Two also just did one of the most touching, poignant posts I've ever read about the subject.
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Quoi que l'on fasse
Où que l'on soit
Rien ne s'efface
On pense à toi
A notre amour
Julien 18 ans
25 janvier 2006
.
Whatever we do
Wherever we are
Nothing is forgotten
We think of you
Our Love
Julien 18 years old
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And as we make our way through our daily lives, our various paths, we all have our demons, some have perhaps done a better job than others at exorcising them, but we all have demons . . . and sometimes, as seems to be happening here, the demons carry us off, to wherever, and they seem to be enjoying their work. Impacts on the wall would be from shrapnel or bullets from World War I . . .
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In a cemetery the other day, this broken stained glass, with traces of corroding copper on the wall caught my eye. Nothing lasts . . . this photo is the "natural" version . . .
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And this is the "un-natural" version . . . in the garish light of a nuclear explosion ?
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And on a slightly lighter olfactory note, in the comments on the post just below this one, @eloh (her blog is elohssanatahw) described a toilet she had seen in France years ago, which sounded to me to be the classic Turkish toilet, as they are called here, or Turkish shoe-wash if you like, and she asked if I'd ever seen one like what she was describing. Well, I have, they are rather common still in many places in France. I spotted a two-seater, lacking the seats of course, recently while out strolling in the Brittany city of Morlaix. So, this is more proof for those who doubt, there do exist some public toilets in France . . . even if they stink to high heaven . . .
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40 comments:

English Rider said...

Rien ne s'efface...I like that. Another reason to make our mark whilst we can.

J said...

Those toilets look like could belong in backwoods China - perhaps some unlikely cross country alliance could be formed?!

The gargoyles and bullet holes - what more can be said about war? I wonder what their creator(s) would've thought if they had known what their sculptures would see?

Jill said...

That "nuclear" photo hurts my eyes! Geez...just like in a real atomic blast :D

Patricia said...

I can't imagine the pain of having one's children die...I know that it was tragic for E. Clapton. This song is such an amazing and sad response to his son's death.

Liz said...

Very moving post.

Tom Bejgrowicz said...

Death; it's going to happen to us and everyone we know, just like it has to every single person born to this planet for all of time. And yet, it's crushing blow never weakens and always stings like nothing else we ever experience. No wonder its romanticized in literature, film and throughout history.

The Pliers said...

I must say, Owen, I love the "unnatural" one best! All my favorite colors in one shot!

The gunshot wounds to the stone reminded me of, naturally, the walls at Trotsky's in Coyoacán. Bullet damage looks the same all over the world, no doubt.

"If I Saw You in Heaven" is only one of the songs on my own private death soundtrack...

Amitiés,

Maryh K. said...

Hello Owen,
Passer ainsi sans transition du jeune Julien, 18 ans, parti pour l'éternité aux toilettes turques, il fallait le faire, surtout que sans m'en rendre compte je suis passée d'un coeur attristé avec les larmes au bord des yeux (à cause de la photo, de l'épitaphe mais aussi de la chanson que je connais si bien, tears in heaven) au rire devant les deux portes des toilettes ouvertes et ta note d'humour finale, "stinks to high heaven" ou something like that. (on ne peut que se souvenir d'odeurs que l'on a déjà eu l'occasion de sentir dans ce genre de lieux publics).
Comme je te le disais, tes posts ont quelque chose en commun avec mes rêves qui me font passer d'un milieu à un autre sans transition mais surtout sans censeur, ce qui ne me cause de l'étonnement que lorsque je suis revenue au "réel".

AmyR said...

This a really touching post, Owen. Decay and passage of time from a few perspectives...which actually, toilets fit in with quite nicely.

@eloh said...

Gargoyles and bullet holes, I love that shot.

For those who know the pain of the loss of one of your children, you never get over it, it never mends.


Oh, the toilets... but HOW does one use it properly?

Lulu Sorcière said...

Owen ton message est poignant, il trace le chemin le plus redouté, celui qui me terrifie, et à la fois il faut continuer à avancer, redonner du sourire à la vie, sans qu'il y ait place pour l'oubli.
Il arrive que cette si belle mélodie accompagne mes nuits blanches.
Bises.

Steve said...

The memorials were lovely... and comforting too for all they were so sad.

Peter said...

A lot (a bit mixed) in this post, as often with you!

The Eric Clapton song is fabulous, maybe one of his best! I understand he wrote the lyrics at least partly himself, not easy.

As for the toilets, frankly, I feel that some progress has taken place the last decades; fortunately what you show is not anymore the average standard. I always try to remind people that they can find what is probably one of the world's nicest public toilets, free of charge, just to the right of the Madeleine church! The Hotel Ritz ones are also fine! :-)

TechnoBabe said...

What a wonderful post, lots going on in this one. Passion and riots of color. Grace in bullet holes. Compassion in song. Nature in the various toilets found here and there. You must have spent much time working on putting together this post.

Stickup Artist said...

Dear Owen,

I've experienced those hole in the ground toilets in both Sicily and Turkey in my pre-camping days, and at the time, they came as quite a surprise to say the least.

On a more somber note, I think those of us who have experienced much personal loss get struck hard during the holiday season, and it is poignant to read of others' experiences and coping.

It is a difficult subject to take on, and you have done so with great sensitivity and compassion.

I am reminded of a line from the movie "Infamous" which goes, "You're in control until you're not."

jeff said...

Je ne trouve pas que la proximité de tes photos soient judicieuses sur ce coup mon cher Owen ! ! ! Pourquoi passer de ce jeune garçon à des chiottes à la turque ?...
Je me pose question et manque d'un coup d'air et d'oxygène ! ! ! Mais j'en suis désolé, je ne devrais pas te parler ainsi mon cher blogger ami que je cotoie depuis bientôt presque une année ! ! ! Que nous arrive-t-il ?...
A que je te demande des explications ! ! !...

Ciao amigopix !

*

Kris said...

Very moving. Sad.

Cildemer said...

Dying at such a young age is a tragedy beyond words for a family.
"Tears in Heaven" is so emotional that each time I listen to it I start crying like a baby.
I hope your next post will be much more cheerful.
Sorry Owen, I'm being too touchy.

Nevine said...

Owen, your photos... why are they so sad and so true? And the demons do always enjoy messing with us. They're getting a small taste before their huge feast when we're gone from this world. And where do we go, then? I've never found an answer to satisfy me. Maybe to some purgatory where we have to eternally crouch down over a Turkish toilet from bygone days and never straighten our knees. Wouldn't that be a fine way to live forever? I just want to live for right now, and not think about the ever after, if I may... I liked your few words at the beginning, Owen, the few words that looked like a poem, and read like something that could've come straight out of my mind.

Nevine

Dedene said...

My shoes have been washed far too many times by those Turkish toilets.
It does seem like there are many deaths right now. I'm keeping my head down for now.

Cildemer said...

I've just noticed that you are my first member! Thank you so much Owen.
I really feel honoured.

Owen said...

English... whilst we can... that's it, there is no definition, no guarantee about just how long that "whilst" may be... "and they say in the end, it's a blink of an eye"

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Hi J., I'll bet you saw some wondrous sights, of all descriptions in backwater China... I would love to go take a ramble around there, it must be an enormously disorienting experience, going to the orient...

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Jill, what was that song from a couple of decades ago, "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" ... ?
:-)

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Hi Patricia, too true, perhaps this song is the silver lining... it is a totally beautiful reaction to a totally tragic situation... it defies comprehension, yet to me indicates what a towering soul Mr Clapton is...

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Liz, Many thanks, there's been alot of poignant energy in the air lately for some reason...

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Tom, for sure... like Jim M. said, "no one here gets out alive"... And not only is it romanticized right and left, but in many cases we are also taught to fear it, with perhaps excessively irrational fears. Which is not to say that I don't think it should not be feared or respected... a healthy dose of respect for the certain inevitable nature of passing on is a good thing...

Owen said...

Dearest Pliers... the un-natural one is sort of like a goyave-mango-pineapple-passion fruit smoothie... to be sipped leisurely like... and no doubt there are some bullet marks in Mexico... too many bullet holes the world over imho... take care...

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Bonjour Maryh K, je sais que la transition en passant par des démons et des vitraux cassés était un peu brusque, il n'y avait pas vraiment une volonté de tout mélangé, c'est juste que je voulais répondre à la demande exprimée dans un commentaire la veille concernant les toilettes Turques, avant d'oublier de le faire... Mais c'est vrai, si on remonte l'historique dans ces pages, je touche plus ou moins souvent sur des sujets avec lesquels pas tout le monde est tout à fait confortable avec, mais bon, ce blog n'est pas une promenade dans un parc fleuri sous un soleil de printemps... il y a de tout ici, de toutes mes visions, de toutes mes reves, qui sont parfois un peu sombre, parfois un peu iconoclaste, parfois un peu blasphematoire pour certains, parfois un peu grossier... mais souvent avec le sourire, parfois avec des larmes. Le monde pour moi, est un endroit plein de choses bizarres que je trouve choqant, et parfois je trouve des associations ou d'autres n'en trouveraient pas forcement... je fais des expériences... qui sont parfois loin d'être politicalement correct. Mais bon, je n'ai pas dit que ce serait toujours facile de regarder ces pages, mais justement, elle sont sans censeur, en tout cas, je ne vais pas commencer à agir comme censeur de mes propres créations... en tout cas, j'apprécie beaucoup ton commentaire ici, qui est plein d'intelligence et chaleur, qui exprime des sentiments sans jugement... merci...

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Hi Amy, thanks so much, you reassured me that although the association of death related themes in the same post as a turkish toilet, which could have easily been separated into two separate posts at least, if I'd really wanted to try to dissociate the two, was a bit of a stretch perhaps, it was not such a totally far-fetched stretch that no one saw it... so I appreciate that you did... I suppose if I'd finished the text with something along the lines of "And sooner or later we all have a rendez-vous scheduled with that great turkish toilet, or that great white porcelain bowl in the sky", it might have been a little clearer, but hey, no reason to labor the issue either, and I'm not so sure that that is what I really wanted to say either...

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Dear @eloh, so, is that something like what you saw ? All I can say, from my own experience is, you squat way down and you lean way back, as far back as you can anyway without falling in ! And don't let any loose clothing dangle anywhere near where things are happening... an adventure...
:-)

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Chère Lulu Sorcière; tout simplement merci, j'suis content si tu as trouvé quelque chose de bon ici... cette chanson, je pourrais l'écouter sans arrêt pendant un bon moment, je ne me lasse pas de ça... et oui, c'est parfait pour des nuits blanches...

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Thanks Steve, and I'm glad if I could bring a little comfort your way, I know this must be a trying time for you. Best wishes for the coming days.

Owen said...

Hi Peter, well, there is no doubt about it, or no bout adoubt it, as we used to like to say, I'm a mixed up kind of guy, and this blog could be described as a mixed bunch, a potpourri in every sense... but I wouldn't have it any other way... when I look back through it, in strange ways this odd creation is pleasing me, and if it is from time to time pleasing a few other folks, then I guess I'll keep going with it.

As for toilets in France, I hope most everyone realizes by now that I am a serious leg puller, and am offering a distorted and inaccurate reporting on the state of public toilets in modern France simply out of a sense of twisted humour, that goes no doubt back to high school days long ago. For some reason, surely a bad one, France had the reputation, probably erroneous, as a place where personal and public hygiene was not all that advanced. I can remember reading articles in economics classes long ago which reported that the consumption of bath soap in France was the lowest of any country in Europe, there was the old joke about how the French showered (they just put on more perfume), and so forth, which are totally unjust today and are throwbacks to primitive attempts at humor long ago. The very fact that I emigrated from one country to become an immigrant in France should speak loud and clear that I love this country, and that I have always been able to find a toilet when I needed one. Well, almost always. Even if sometimes it was a smelly turkish one. But that's ok, I love camping out too, I don't mind digging a hole in the ground if I have to. And as you saw the other day, I tried the facilities at la Madeleine, and they were beautiful, and very clean. Haven't tried the Ritz though, will have to one day soon. Many thanks...
:-)

Owen said...

Techno B, thanks so much, I really appreciate your visits, you always bring a smile, I really appreciate your ability to empathize... you're right, there was alot going on in my (overcrowded) mind when I pieced this one together far too late last night... but this is a form of therapy for me, low budget therapy, it helps me work out some of the angst in life at times to pour it out here....

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Dear Stickup Artist, so, you have been to Sicily and Turkey ? Both are places I'm still only dreaming of getting to, but I hope to one day before too long. And if I do, I will be sure to bring back reports on the current state of public toilets there, I'm sure there must have been some changes since you were last there, maybe ? And many many deep thanks for your compassion and understanding on the rest... I really appreciate your company along this stretch of trail... where the sights, like Mt Cucamonga, are often breathtakingly beautiful... thanks, partner...

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Jeff, comme tu pourrais lire dans les commentaires avant et après le tien, il y a maintes façons de voir tel ou tel sujet, et maintes façons d'exprimer des réactions. Mais pour la plupart ici, ce n'est pas trop choquant, cette association, qui était plutôt le résultat d'un hasard que d'une volonté de faire une association direct entre les deux choses. Et mes réponses aux autres pourraient peut-être éclairer un peu tes lanternes à cet égard... Je ne comprendrais pas trop pourquoi tu sens nécessaire d'émettre un jugement de valeur avec le mot "judicieuse", mais bon, je respecte que tu pourrais bien avoir des opinions, et sentir un besoin de les exprimer si tu crois que quelque chose ici est choquant à ce point. Mais peut-être juste respecter aussi le fait que tes opinions sont les tiennes, et non pas forcement celles des autres, et pas forcement les mêmes que les miennes... Judicieuse ? Je ne sais pas, c'est juste comme ça que cela c'est arrivé, une question sympa d'une lectrice qui à inspiré une réponse un peu colorée de ma part, que j'ai collé à la fin d'une autre discussion sur un autre sujet, sans forcement vouloir mélanger les deux sujets... Saches qu'il n'y pas de volonté de choquer ici, mais ma vision du monde n'est pas forcement la même que celle que tu as construite pour ton propre bonheur... et parfois ma vision de monde va chercher des images dans des cimetières et des toilettes publiques, des animaux morts au bord de la route, des graffitis étranges, des bâtiments en ruines, des voitures déglinguées, comme d'autres vont allez chercher des feuilles colorées dans des vignobles pour illustrer une certaine vision...

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Kris, hi, many thanks, sometimes a small dose of sadness makes us appreciate that much more the next time we have something to really smile about... ?

Owen said...

Dear Cildemer, I promise, I shall seek something cheerful for the next one... it's just my idea of "cheerful" isn't always in tune with everyone's idea of it... but we'll see what I can come up with out of the deep depths of photo archives here at the magic lantern... merci en tout cas de ta compagnie sur ce chemin... oh, and you are very welcome, I'm sure there will be other "followers" in time... but it's nice to be the first one just once...

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Nevine... maybe those words did come out of your mind, and you just dreamed them there on my page, maybe each visitor here saw their own short poem about the vagaries and vicissitudes of life ? Maybe each visitor saw a different vision of a public toilet, their worst nightmare toilet where they have a black fear of having to spend eternity crouched over it... oh my goodness but you do come up with some wonderful notions !!! And the demons are waiting for all of us, to drag us away... But in the meanwhile, how good this life can be, even when all around us the proverbial feces is hitting the fan... Guess you're not too far from Mexico, I was just watching a movie the other night (for a few minutes) with Jennifer Lopez playing a journalist reporting on a series of murders in Juarez, and couldn't help thinking of Bob Dylan's song, "if you're lost in the rain in Juarez, and it's eastertime too, and your gravity fails you, and negativity won't pull you through, well don't put on any airs, if you're down on rue Morgue avenue, they got some hungry women there, who will really make a mess out of you..."
(Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues) What a poet that guy was/is... See you soon in another meeting of minds, feel free to will me more poetic inspirations across the distance...
:-)

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Dedene, sometimes it's best to keep a low profile, and one's shoes clean... or was it one's nose that one was supposed to keep clean, I sort of forget...
:-D

French Fancy said...

*the inanities of daily life*. This life thing - I don't know. Recently my mother in law who is in her early sixties said she had nothing really left to look forward to and at first I was a bit shocked; I began to think about it and I suppose life can get a bit monotonous. Something Julien never got a chance to even think about.

louciao said...

Flushed.

louciao said...

Flushed.

Owen said...

Hi FF, I guess it's up to each of us to make what we can or will of life, as long was we can, or will... For me, just blogging alone is creating such a large source of fascination, feel at present like I could try to surf on this wave for quite a while to come... and just living in France provides plenty of surprises too...

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Lynne,
If I read that correctly, you just flushed both of them ??

I hope all is well now in the universe...

:-D

Christine Robinson said...

You know, they say there are two things you can count on in life:

Death
and
Pissing

:-)

Only a truly creative mind can make those two topics work together.

Affectionately,
christine

louciao said...

No. I didn't flush them. Both topics you address deal with the subject of being "flushed away." That was my response. Word association.

I frequently don't know what to say about the things you post. I need to cogitate awhile, then come back. Perhaps still not knowing what to say. But wishing to leave a trace.

Not coincidentally, I heard this tune today which fits just so with this post, and with Amanda's. I've never heard it before, but when the mind is turning on a subject, connected information is often manifested.

Have a listen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RflSXMh97m4

Owen said...

Hi Christine... I though it was death and taxes that were inevitable... but I guess pissing can be added to the list.
And I'm not sure if "creative" is the right word... maybe, "mildly sick" might be better adapted ?
:-)

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Hey Lynne, big sis, it's ok you know, you can say whatever you want here, or nothing at all, no obligations, if you want to think about it for a month, take your time... I know I stretch things fairly far sometimes... but whatever, if the spirit moves you, let it rip, if the spirit is quiet, it's ok... did you ever go to a Quaker meeting ? No preacher, just members of the meeting who get up and speak if they feel like it, if not, they hold their peace... well, could be like that here...

But whatever the case, you know, I've been enjoying your crazy and warm and colorful company along the blog highway here, nothing is forced here, if it comes naturally, then let it flow... or flush...
:-)
yer lit'l bro...

louciao said...

Amen, Brother Owen, amen.

@eloh said...

Yes, your photo gets the point across... I remember being struck too that there was a drain like in a sink and not a "hole" like in a toilet.

The one I saw was a one piece blue unit like a shower stall and there were depressions in the shape of shoe soles to put your feet.

Yours, while old, atleast has the feet raised a bit.


If I had been panty-less wearing a dress... I could have used it...alas I was wearing slacks AND panties...

I used to joke that one day I would write a book on either toilets of the world or prostitutes around the globe... just as soon as I could figure out by which I was more intrigued.

Roxana said...

your graveyard posts are always so harassing, yes, i suppose it's difficult to face this thought with serenity (or so it is for me). but this one even more than usual, i don't know, perhaps your poem? or the broken glass? (i love the natural one better, the fading colours are so subtle)...

The Sagittarian said...

I'll just leave you with this little nugget. "This is certainly not a crappy post, a wee gem really. you should be flushed with success, which will be no mere flash in the pan." I've added you to my bog roll.

Cheers, from the Evil Twin.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Geez, I think I will just go behind a tree, thanks...

jeff said...

Mais Owen, il ne s'agit pas de porter un jugement de ma part ! Si je viens ici, c'est parce que "j'y suis bien"... de plus, j'ai envie d'y laisser ma trace... et non, pas tout le temps, je vais te dire, my God ! It's beautiful, c'est fantastique ( traduction )... Putain Owen ! C'est mon avis ! T'en fais ce que tu veux ! Mais c'est parce que j'ai de l'affection pour ce blog que je dis ce que je pense ! ! ! Non mais tu crois pas ! ! ! Un cheval et ce brave garçon, décédé et puis plus loin... bref ! Je te dis mon opinion ! Je ne juge personne ! Qui serais-je pour juger quelqu'un ? Putain ! Mais je suis bien grave et bien sérieux ! Aussi Owen ! On appelle ça... s'exprimer !...

Mais tu vois, je dois bien apprécier ton blog car j'y viens tous les jours pour y voir, y lire parfois (...;-)...) ce que tu y mets avec ton coeur et tes envies ! ! ! Bon ! Tu sers quoi ?... Un bon verre de whisky ?... Alors sans glace pour moi ! ! !...

Ciao amigo ! Bon week-end ! 'faut encore bosser demain ! Pfffffffoooouuuuu ! ! ! Vivement que ça s'arrête quelques jours !

Amitiés !

Owen said...

Bonjour Roxana... hhmmmm, harassing ? Interesting, I hadn't looked at such trains of thought and images as a source of harassment; for me there is something peaceful there, something deeply valuable, to remember those who went before, and to remember our common, collective fate... and to help me find the strength to try to climb higher, higher, before the final fall... may peace of mind be with you, let not such thoughts harass you...

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Dear Evil Twin Sister, I swear I had to read this about three times before I finally saw "bog roll" as opposed to "blog roll"... May your holidays be of the happiest kind, oh irreverent one...

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Dear Gwen, you are very welcome, and there is a whole forest full of trees, just over there... if you can see the forest, through the trees...
:-)

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Jeff... pas de souci... par contre, le whiskey et parti par la chasse, mais j'ai encore quelques tonneaux de très bon tis....