Old Friend (black and white photo)

Old Friend (black and white photograph)
Old Friend (black and white photograph) by Paul Politis (2019)
Untitled (black and white photograph)
Old Friend (black and white photograph) by Paul Politis

I recently came upon this translation of a poem by Hermann Hesse which I like a lot:

Pruned Oak
by Hermann Hesse

Oh oak tree, how they have pruned you.
Now you stand odd and strangely shaped!
You were hacked a hundred times
until you had nothing left but spite and will!

I am like you, so many insults and humiliations
could not shatter my link with life.
And every day I raise my head
beyond countless insults towards new light.
What in me was once gentle, sweet and tender
this world has ridiculed to death.
But my true self cannot be murdered.
I am at peace and reconciled.
I grow new leaves with patience
from branches hacked a hundred times.
In spite of all the pain and sorrow
I’m still in love with this mad, mad world.


    • No, I can see why you would say that (RIP, Dave). I took this photo several years ago but I’ve let it sit along with some others that feel too unlike me in some way. It feels too … classical? I’m not sure the proper word. But it holds metaphorical meaning for me, so I haven’t discarded it.

      Do you like the Hesse poem? I know you are quite familiar with Hesse’s work. I love the last few lines though I’m struggling to embody them in my own life.

      • Many of your recently published images are rather different than yours man made again mad man situations.
        About a poem: I didn’t know this one and I like it a lot. I also see the challenge to be like him, especially in those last lines. I am struggling there too. Often I feel I am there and then I am thrown by myself back to my I. But I am smiling 😉 Not making any images though.

        • There’s certainly not a lot of stylistic consistency from post to post here in the blog, or in my work in general taken as a whole. Thematically there is more consistency if you look. A Jungian might have some fun 😉

          In this blog, it’s partly because I’m posting images that have value to me that are from different times over the past few years but I have not posted before. One week I may post an image from 3 years ago and the next from 3 months ago. But it’s also because I’m simply kind of schizophrenic in the streams of work I am creating in general. I never know what mood I will be in when I go out, what will catch my eye, if anything at all, and the work tends to accumulate and filter over time into separate piles. The types of work that I value most tend to happen mysteriously and on their own schedule, so I try to just be open and take whatever I get and allow time to do its sorting.

          I still have work in a few “piles” that I haven’t made sense of for myself yet but that hold some magic for me, there is something there I’m after but don’t know what. These may never show up here on the blog or if they do it may be years from now.

          Like they say, life is lived forward but understood backwards 🙂

          Keep smiling, better than the alternative 😉

  1. It is incredible that you still taking pictures. I was not able to understand it (mainly because I was thinking more about myself) few years ago when we had rathe intensive email correspondence. I am pretty sure I understand it “now”. 😉

      • Excuse me. I wanted to say that I didn’t understood at the time, why you are so persistent in capturing images. I understand it now better, I think.

        • “My composition arises out of asking questions. I am reminded of a story early on about a class with Schoenberg. He had us go to the blackboard to solve a particular problem in counterpoint (though it was a class in harmony). He said, ‘When you have a solution, turn around and let me see it.’ I did that. He then said: ‘Now another solution, please.’ I gave another and another until finally, having made seven or eight, I reflected a moment and then said with some certainty: ‘There aren’t any more solutions.’ He said: ‘OK. What is the principle underlying all of these solutions?’ I couldn’t answer his question; but I had always worshipped the man, and at that point I did even more. He ascended, so to speak. I spent the rest of my life, until recently, hearing him ask that question over and over. And then it occurred to me through the direction that my work has taken, which is renunciation of choices and the substitution of asking questions, that the principle underlying all of the solutions that I had given him was the question that he had asked, because they certainly didn’t come from any other point. He would have accepted the answer, I think. The answers have the questions in common. Therefore the question underlies the answers.”
          – John Cage

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