Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Yay! A new camera at last with decent film ability. Had to grab a wee Canon Ixus 75. It was literally only a couple of years ago when I got given my first digital camera, weighing in at an unprecedented 3mp! This was to photograph hard climbs in black & white & stop other climbers going on & on about the lack of stills available, of any of my new routes or boulders. I'd never really bothered with photography before then, always working on the premise that since I don't have Alzheimers & the brain records images that convert into tales & myths with age, any digital camera is surplus to the act of being out there, simply living. Kind of a - I have a visual record, because I was there. If you want that as well, get out yer bed- philosophy. I also grew up in an age of film cameras & a vast array of disappointments, that ranged from trying to salvage film from seawater exposure to whole films being out of focus or just plain flat. The most visually stunning apparitions drift across your eye when you are either hanging from a few fingers above a death drop or tubing through a monster rogue wave, nails dug into the skin of your life. Try getting a camera out then. You also can't really just nip back up the Eiger becuase a few photos are naff... With the digital age upon me, the other thing I noticed, was the amount off shots I could waste, bin & retake, which ran into 100s on 100s. The anxious, twitchy, nerve sweated fingery executive decision that comes with pressing a film powered shutter release, & knowing you only have 23 more chances to get that shot & then a week to find out if you did, had suddenly vanished. I remember feeling like the holy incarnation of guilt itself, & can still recall the acute adjustment involved in realizing a wrong frame no longer mattered. A hundred & ten, two hundred & twenty frames, the shackles were off - enter the digital madman. Add that when you are at the peak of enthusiasm for climbing or kayaking, your thoughts are with the next day, or the next bit of kit or scrounging enough money for a ticket to god knows where...I wish we had cared more, taken time with film cameras, that I had kept the slides a year or two, a decade longer, recorded more moments with more intricacy, more Wadis more Himalayan odysseys, more river ascents & more expeditionary sea kayak adventures, more smiles of those who are now missing, but the priorities of youth differ from that & those with a greater longevity.

Film speeds or cameras rarely crossed my trivial mind, barely even registering as essential equipment. I still view it as non-essential, whereas the world beyond seems to have to record itself doing everything, every minute. Here's me, wearing shoes, two in one go...on my feet! Here's me standing up, sitting down, walking, Here's me & a random fence post, Japanese person, kebab, goat, taxi... Get a grip. The Bisy Backsons have records of doing everything & being everywhere without actually seeing or living any of it. Rather than supplementing a life in motion the Bisy Backson uses his camera to stand still & prove he is alive.
Well anyhoos, since converting under duress, my next camera having been a Minolta Dimage 7i, -which broke earlier this year in the Cuillin- it's been said I have an eye for the art, getting top gallery votes from the climbing world, whatever top gallery infers. The header artwork on this blog was put together by myself & again, a couple of years ago, I never knew I could weave light like this. A digital camera in conjunction with something like PSCS can produce some great results & when it's stormy force 10 outside, & the wires & the tiles are droning, & I've got the collie as a foot warmer, I'll tinker all night, sometimes days, by the fire to produce a black & white freeze frame that captures how it felt or how it can feel. The tools are reflective in that sense, almost an introvert meditation & celebration of the recent past - a time-out to recharge for the near future.
I see photography as a soundboard, a tool to express rawness with, a confidence booster & it's certainly become a new addiction. If a photo or digital still makes you want to be out there, if it sparks the soul, then it's a good photo. I'm building a collection on a limited budget. Next another Canon...an EOS 350D maybe, or a Ricoh GR, then a submersible web cam, kayak mounted. I should be able to hide the Ixus 75 in my armpit, under my Tuiliq when rolling! It will also get a DicApac house for deck mounting so I can see the bizarre facial gurns that plague paddling inverted. I'd review some of the pro-sumer underwater cameras by strapping to the belly of the kayak & going for a sea burn, play sandball with them ecetera, but I don't have the funds to buy them all.

The subdivision site will be called The Digital Darkroom & cover sea kayaking, movies of technical rolls, gymnastics, frame building, explorations & some rash decisions. Happiness is a black knife Anas Acuta, or an equivalent skin on frame of the same name after all, not a photograph of one.
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 12:44:00 | 0 Retorts
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Now - grab Norsaq &...

Exercises in orientation can become totally bampot from this position. Normal everyday tasks such as pouring water & object stacking within, beyond, left or right of the body arc, rolling the Norsaq or paddle around the torso. When unfamiliar with its surroundings, this motor process is capable of hindering any series of complex & traditional qajaq roll or reverse paddling. It asks us to question subtle coordination engraming. Immersion in a naturally occurring or sequencial change of perception gives a more confident approach to problem solving when you most need it. With enough buffered understanding of your own wiring, you'll get pitted in an opaque sea throwing surf over your head & relax, breathe & self right, rather than stiffen, thrash & scream for rescue. When a kayaker has it in hand, getting flipped & staying under can sometimes be great way to get a bit of peace & quiet from the surface barrage. A way to take a look around, nose to nose with a jellyfish, while an insane orchestra of squabbling bubbles sound off. After a while, work these coordination tests blindfold, then try wet rolling blindfold, or at night, or with a disorientating strobe, using the Norsaq, or just a stick from the forest. In the end, the tool is your body, not the perepheral item - lifes a toolbox, use what works for the job at hand. You don't take a spoon to a knife party aye... Becoming familiar with the inner feel of a roll, the key triggers that tell you where you are within the sequence is all but essential as you adventure into phenomena at your limit - especially if you intend to go it alone.. Training inner gyroscopic balance while starving out visual referencing, will reward a great confidence advantage & core stability. Invent, experiment, & discover joy inside what was alarm.

I have a dynamic version of Urdhva Dhanurasana set up in the tall trees - a great place to practise & a Sgitheanach off-ramp version of the horizontal Qajaasaarnaq, pronounced, kiya-sa-nook. Amongst the leaves & occasional deep beams of sunlight that blind you momentarily on a spin, you forget the world beyond the enclosure & work on momentum, sets, alternatives, & the rope creaks with gentle familiarity on complex sequences, until rain starts to filter through the canopy...There was a faint smell of autumn in there today, the first time it slipped through & I found I had green dust from the trees on my face & under my eroded nails. Time had shifted silently into late morning, the bacon under the grill was cold, & the collie was developing a twitch from staying in one place too long...
This rope arrangment is different from my setup of Qajaasaarnaq horizontal twins, its mimicry is more through a vertical axis, almost forcing the body to accelerate from the hips outward, like an uncoiling whip, while constantly pushing off balancing the exercise & testing your lateral response engramming. I used to apply this knowledge in very technical climbing, with results of physical ingenuity that baffled others high in their field. Experience & doing, is everything. Weakness teaches with an equal veracity to strength & questioning is healthy. If you can swing into Urdhva Dhanurasana on the ropes & exercise some control over the momentum, you are doing well. If you're not doing well, that's ok also. Not everyone has to be an expert at everything. In a world of willy-waving idiots, not enough people tell eachother that what they have achieved, is a success. It's an intense if not funny way to spend the morning anyway, even if it goes wrong. I'm still not sure how I got tea up my nose...twice. Being an insatiable conquistador, I'm doing everything I can to distraction from this insistant itch, clawing me to rodeo the new Quaarsut 550 in an Atlantic storm surge...gimme gimme gimme..

When you do get it wrong though, ropes & storm surge alike, & we all do from time to time, you will find movement & centre mocking Descartes & his wisdom with the phrase: I think - therefore... I am confused about who I am.

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posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 13:04:00 | 0 Retorts
Thursday, 16 August 2007
Enlightenment after Death

What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?
How should I know? the master replied.
Because you are a master...
The master smiled.
Yes that's true -but not a dead one.

Atop of the giant northerly arcing archipelago of Lewissian gniess, there waits a million year old stone wave, carved out at a time when planets shouldered for order across skies we have never seen. Built of stars & the dust from the origins of the stone works, this wave is dynamic inside a long stare, stationary to man's glimpse. What faith we install, to scamper black toothy volcanic incisors such as this. What ludicrous self admiration we bestow upon ourselves, to feed like Egyptian Plover, amongst black boned fractures of the planets own skellington, piercing it's skin & call ourselves conquistador.

I say skellington becuase Molly & her 6 years of vast planetary wisdom, is utterly unyielding in attitude or opinion, despite all my appeals. It's skellington & who am I to argue - She's right, I should learn my place aye..

Faith though is a great thing. Faith in the experience of others to guide you through precipitous overfalls, faith in knowledge & the passing on of that knowledge, & seeing a oneness, an ancient connection to your surrounding elements. The sea for many, the Northern Atlantic rollers, are something to be feared, & fear in turn, is deft at stopping a person living & experiencing. A little is healthy to keep your humility in check, but fear should not have bigger shoulders than the wave in your sights. I have recently been body rolling in some sizeable waves & a fierce rip, demonstrating balance brace, underwater perception, limb position & buoyancy & incremental effects, explaining one on one, the economics of moving with the flow, using that dynamic to aid self-righting rather than forcing a result of out an individual preconception of what may happen or what is about to happen & greeting it with rigidity. Muscling your way through isn't always the best way & trying to constantly pre-empt an invisible or unknown factor can become physically & mentally exhausting to a person before they have rolled or kayaked in joy. It takes faith & often, literal submersion, for an individual to trust their own bouyancy, their own engram reaction to that imminent capsize or wave impact - to have a response so intuitive, it is second nature. Just as in Aikido principles, there are ways to deflect direct impact by rolling it over your hips or inverting your centre of balance. When it gets to much, I shift the focus to play. Playing is an underrated teaching tool. We are covering ground, at the speed we are, although it sometimes frustrates me when people are not instantly, half porpoise...

Kayaking is simple, especially by it's origin of tradition. If the Inuit hunter could not hunt & return home to feed his family, that family would simply die, as would the existence they cut out of the ice & fashioned into a thriving culture, as would myth & generation. When sound principles are tattoed in, the Western white european approach often confounds me with its seemingly endless need to profit from burdening a simplicity with technology. It parades it's equipment, complication, rules, guidelines, qualification, insurance, pre-packaging & sterilized deals with engineered concepts of risk, adventure & discovery, set routes & acceptable quotas designed to run on a time schedule. Thus a falsehood, which attempts to turn the untamable elements into an offshore Butlins for labotomy patients. Do I believe this...or do I have some sort of cabin fever? What the hell do they do to relax? To connect with the rawness of a soul food, the blood seeping out of the earth? What happens to common sense, the human ability to read ahead, develop instinct, the brains inventive solution finding process, when a new generation of kayakers are taught absurd technology reliance? The best equipment you will ever own is your investment in physical & immediate enviromental self awareness, your ability to roll & self rescue effectively. One should no so much invest in Greenlandic sea kayaking skills per say, nor in climbing, & solely the translation or teaching of those skills. Nor should an individual corridor his focus into pre-determined definitions of gymnastics or Aikido or parkour. Rather, an individual should invest in understanding the physics of body geometry & it's universal application. Just as there are consistent laws of gravity, there are consistent laws of physiology. Not that an individual shouldn't specialize, or train intensely, but they should understand the source, the curl, outward from the centre, through the limbs into the finger tips, through the paddle, the kayak, & feel the waters response. There should be no seperation. Difficult water is an illusion in that sense, a fear formed from lack of enforcable understanding & applicable abilty, yet with the body mechanics tuned, a calm physcology in place, core response is underwritten & explosive joy is allowed to stream through attempts at sea going experiences that might otherwise, be retreated from. The individual who understands those core elements & truths of movement, no longer goes out to become a master of climbing, or kayaking, or parkour, or skiing, but simply exercises a profoundly dynamic understanding of the required physics to excel within the arena he/she happens to be frequenting at the time. With those rules in place, he/she will be able to specialize with a great, focused & fluid intensity. This is what the absent minded, the asleep-at-the-wheel, call naturally talented. It's a far more enlightened & less restrictive process, when your speciality is merely dynamic self-effaced application, rather than the constriction of that principle. They should be able to walk softly, but carry a big stick. They should be insatiable.

I think all I meant to say was, an uncarved block has more potential. That movement should notify the intellect but assail the soul, the core of emotion - that the race in bizarre rhetoric, will often try to think out simplicity, over complicating it, & miss key truths on the path to brilliance.

But then, talking about kayaking & rolling is a wheelchair for the brain, after the actual event - keep the faith.


posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 18:09:00 | 0 Retorts