A Letter I wrote in 1999 About the Suffering Nation of [Any]

This morning (Aug. 29, 2013) I searched through old documents that I hadn’t read for many years. I didn’t find the one I needed but I did happen across a forgotten email I wrote on April 11, 1999. I reprint it here exactly as I wrote it 14 years ago. It was just an email, not a polished piece by any means. Why is this relevant now? Because it could easily be a lament for the suffering people of the nation of Sy… and because nothing has changed. The word gypsy that I used 14 years ago is now anachronistic and rightfully so. I wanted my old email to appear exactly as it was back then.

Subject:    Thoughts While Waiting for the Ballgame
Date: April 11, 1999

Last night I watched the ABC Evening News to pass a few minutes. I was channel surfing while eagerly waiting for the Atlanta Braves game to start.

I watched a three minute story about an elderly Albanian couple who live on a meager pension in a tiny three-room apartment. They’re Christians who took three families of Albanian Muslim refugees into their home. Three families of women and children. Three families whose husbands, sons, and brothers have been “cleansed” by implacable troops of devils. In halting English, the old man told the reporter “I took these people into my home because they are my blood. If I don’t take them in and feed them, who will do it?”

That made me think about my own blood ancestors, the European Jews. I thought  about the multitudes of people who took the Jews in during the Holocaust. So many Christians and members of other faiths acknowledged Jewish suffering, exile, and imprisonment. They felt moved to shelter them. So many nations went to war to protect the Jews from atrocities. Jewish torment and annihilation was public every night on the news because so many people cared about them and wanted to help.

Except that it didn’t happen that way.

Virtually no Christians acknowledged their common humanity with the Jews in those days. No nation went to war on their behalf. No one publicized their annihilation. Nations offered countless reasons to go to war but protection of the Jews was not a whisper among those reasons.

Many, like the Bosnian Christians and Muslims cursed the Jews, blamed them for their miseries, stole their possessions, and raped their women. They eagerly turned them in to the implacable troops from Hell when they marched in.

In addition, there are no records of people crying out en masse, “You cannot imprison or exile the Gypsies because they are my brothers and sisters. But if you must cleanse the land of them, I will take them in.”

In the immediate past, no nation or coalition of allies righteously rose up to protect slaughtered victims of civil wars in Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, or Rwanda. The starving or dead became brief sound bytes on the evening news. So many people shook their heads for a moment. They watched those nightmarish scenes for almost 90 seconds. Then, for the next two minutes they watched vital announcements about weed killers, mascara, hamburgers, and soft drinks with just one calorie as they waited impatiently to hear college basketball scores.

It is probably too banal or obvious to wonder about Kuwait and the price of gasoline.

Did any nation rise up to go to war to defend the oppressed Chinese minority of Vietnam? Nations offered many reasons to go to war but protection of oppressed minorities was not even a whisper among them.

No nation stood up for the Tibetans or Mongolians when the Chinese conquered and absorbed them.

I don’t remember learning about any nation that went to war to protect or defend slaughtered Okinawans, Koreans, or Philippines. No nation considered that a reason to go to war with Japan. Nations offered many reasons but protection of ethnic minorities wasn’t even a whisper among them.

Before that, no nation went to war to protect the tens of millions of slaughtered Russian Kulaks, the entire peasant class of a huge nation. Many nations lusted for a reason to declare war on Russia but protection of oppressed minorities wasn’t even a whisper among them.

Did any nation rise to protect India against British atrocities?

A century and a half ago, nobody stood up for the martyred Baha’is in Iran. How many said, “They are my brothers and sisters so if I don’t take them in, who will do it?” Who outside the worldwide Baha’i community stands up for them now? Many leaders eagerly pronounce reasons to go to war but protection of oppressed religious minorities is not a whisper among them.

I applauded the Christian Albanian couple I saw on the evening news last night because they are the rarest of all creatures on earth. They are human beings.

Then I switched the channel to the Braves game.

Cary Enoch R., Peach County, Georgia, April 11, 1999

Sept. 1, 2013, Looking back:

To be perfectly clear on why I posted that old email message; it was not in support of any warlike actions or “interventions” on the part of any nation against the people of another nation. In the future there will be legitimate ways of handling atrocities, aggressive actions, and massive injustices. For far too long we’ve witnessed a world civilization spinning wildly towards chaos and collapse. The last thing the world needs is more bombs. Nobody ever expressed it better than Baha’ullah did when he wrote: “We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned.”

Here’s the entire quote:

“The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.

“We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.

“Incline your ears to the sweet melody of this Prisoner. Arise, and lift up your voices, that haply they that are fast asleep may be awakened. Say: O ye who are as dead! The Hand of Divine bounty proffereth unto you the Water of Life. Hasten and drink your fill. Whoso hath been re-born in this Day, shall never die; whoso remaineth dead, shall never live.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)

‘Abdu’l-Baha with Flowers

In 1972 I took a close-up Kodachrome photo of a painting of ‘Abdu’l-Baha that hung in the home of Margaret Gallagher, a Baha’i Auxiliary Board Member in Hayward, California. Then I went out to her garden, noticed bright red flowers with sunlight streaming through them and double-exposed them on the same frame. Several years later I made a high-resolution scan from a color negative copy of my original 35mm slide. The original had been irretrievably damaged by a flood.

The original painter’s name was Samimi. Download a document in Adobe PDF format for more information about the painter. The right half of the image consists of the flowers I added when I took the photograph. The photograph was a close-up of the painting. The entire painting shows a 3/4 length view of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

When I was on pilgrimage in 1974, I brought 200 copies of the photo with me at the request of Hand of the Cause A. Q. Faizi. He gave them away during his many teaching trips around the world. Though he asked me to sign the backs of the photos I preferred to remain anonymous. Among my treasures are some hand-illuminated letters that Mr. Faizi wrote me in the 1970’s including a comment on the image of ‘Abdu’l-Baha with Flowers. You can find the letters online at the Bahai-Library site in an unpublished book of his letters edited by Shirley Macias.

I offer this image to everyone for free with certain conditions. I don’t accept payment for copies for any reason. You may freely distribute it as long as you don’t change it in any way and you attribute the source (www.enochsvision.com, Cary Enoch Reinstein). You may not exploit or sell it for any amount of money or any reason. You may not publish this image on any website or social network without my prior permission in writing. However, please feel free to link to this page.

There is an important reason why I want to protect this image. It’s simply because I’ve seen so many low quality or badly faded copies of the image over the many years that it’s been circulating. I’ve also seen people try to make a profit from poor quality copies. Except for minor printing costs if you don’t print it yourself, you should not have to pay for it. The picture is essentially just a derivative image (and a serendipitous one at that) that became very popular over a long time and acquired some distinctly odd and wildly inaccurate lore along the way. Some of it is pretty amusing. This assures that you’ll get the best quality for personal printing because it’s from the original source. This image, though it will always be free of charge, is not in the public domain. You can read the terms of use in the downloaded files. Do not change or edit the accompanying text documents. If you find an error then please feel free to contact me about it.

There are many quality printing sites where you can make your own prints both online and in retail stores. Download a 10MB Zip file containing three different size copies suitable for printing at high quality on standard  photographic papers. The Zipped collection also has expanded commentary on the image including permitted usage statements as well as guidance on portraits of ‘Abdu’l-Baha from the Baha’i World Center. They explain yet another reason why not to sell or exploit it in any way since real photographs of ‘Abdu’l-Baha are preferable.

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Ministry of Flowers

“‘Abdu’l-Baha’s personal wants were few. He worked late and early. Two simple meals a day sufficed Him. His wardrobe consisted of a very few garments of inexpensive material. He could not bear to live in luxury while others were in want. He had a great love for children, for flowers, and for the beauties of nature. …”
In Galilee, p. 51.

“The ‘ministry of flowers’ was a feature of the life at ‘Akka, of which every pilgrim brought away fragrant memories. Mrs. Lucas writes: — ‘When the Master inhales the odor of flowers, it is wonderful to see him. It seems as though the perfume of the hyacinths were telling him something as he buries his face in the flowers. It is like the effort of the ear to hear a beautiful harmony, a concentrated attention!'”
A Brief Account of My Visit to ‘Akka, pp. 25-26.

“He loved to present beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers to His numerous visitors.”
Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era


Meanings of the Baha’i Ringstone Symbol

My prayer book cover illustrating the ringstone symbol

My prayer book cover illustrating the ringstone symbol

Common Religious Symbols

Seven common religious symbols in approximately chronological order.

Designed by `Abdu’l-Bahá, the Baha’i ringstone symbol, as its name implies, is the most common symbol found on rings worn by Bahá’ís, but it is also used on necklaces, book covers, and paintings. It consists of two stars (haykal) interspersed with a stylized Bahá’. The lower line is said to represent humanity, the upper line God, and the middle line represents the special station of Manifestation of God; the vertical line is the Primal Will or Holy Spirit proceeding from God through the Manifestations to humanity. The position of Manifestation of God in this symbol is said to be the linking point to God. (cit. wikipedia)

Excerpt: This part of the symbol comprises three levels, each level indicated by a number. Together they represent the underlying belief which is the basis of all the religions of God. They are as follows:

  1. The World of God – The Creator
  2. The World of the Prophets or Manifestation – Cause, or Command
  3. The World of Man – Creation.

“The followers of all religions believe that man, left to himself, can never recognize God and attain His presence; nor is man able to fathom the mystery and purpose of his own creation. God, in His unlimited bounty has singled out His Chosen Ones and will continue to do so, sending them to man at different times and ages in order to grant him penetrating insight and to enable him to have a glimpse of the unfading glories of the innumerable worlds beyond.

“The Prophets accept descent from their realms on high and suffer the abasement of living in human temples, walking amongst men and speaking their languages. The Manifestations are invariably denied, ridiculed, humiliated and even put to death. Were it not for their spiritual upliftment and leadership, man would have continued to live as a wild beast and would have been eternally doomed to deprivation and loss.

“These functions of the Prophets are clearly demonstrated in the design of the Greatest Name by having the world of the Prophets (shown in horizontal line) repeated in vertical line, thus joining the world of the Creator to that of His creation.”
A.Q. Faizi, Explanation of the Symbol of the Greatest Name

“Since the true bá, which is the universal reality, passes down through the three grades from the highest summit to the lowest centre and shines forth in each grade, it is the unifier and revealer of all the worlds. On the horizon of ancient grandeur, two brilliant stars are shining and luminous: one star is on the right, the other on the left. And this great mystery is the two shapes that have been drawn upon the left and right of the Greatest Name on the ringstone symbol. The mystery concerns the manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. Although the two shapes on right and left are in the form of a star, they refer nevertheless to the Temple of Man, which consists of a head and arms and two legs.” (Read the Tablet on the Birth of the Greatest Name II written by Baha’u’llah)

Is my personal interpretation illustrated below valid? It is clear that some of the corresponding shapes may be coincidental though they still have some significance. I see the concept of Progressive Revelation illustrated in the symbol.

Thus it is recorded: “Every knowledge hath seventy meanings, of which one only is known amongst the people. And when the Qá’im shall arise, He shall reveal unto men all that which remaineth.” He also saith: “We speak one word, and by it we intend one and seventy meanings; each one of these meanings we can explain.” (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 255)

Far from being limited, Bahá’u’lláh asserts that “knowledge hath seventy meanings”, and that the “meaning” of the Word of God “can never be exhausted”. (The Universal House of Justice, 1995 Jan 31, Questions on Scholarship)

Ancient Hindu SymbolAn ancient Hindu symbol that symbolizes Peace and Harmony, Lord Ganesh has it on his right hand. Differs from other uses of swastika by the four dots inside each of the four arms. Also, it is always drawn with the four inner arms at 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees on the compass, unlike other inscriptions where the inner arms are in the form of an ‘X’. The swastika was traditionally used in India by Buddhists and Hindus as a good luck sign. In East Asia, the swastika is often used as a general symbol of Buddhism.

Lotus with 7 Petals A seven petaled Lotus. Eight petaled lotuses are also common.

8 points of the symbol's design overlayed with lotus petal symbols. Illustrating the eight points of the symbol’s design overlayed with lotus petal symbols.

Lotus Flower A Lotus Flower

Star of david Hebrew Star of David

Zoroastrian Guardian Angel Zoroastrian Faravahar (guardian angel)

Buddhist Symbol The eight-spoked Dharmacakra. The eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.

Buddhist Symbol Widened Widening the Dharmacakra makes its ‘fit’ more clear.

Christian Cross The Christian Cross.

Star and Crescent The star and crescent is a symbol consisting of a crescent with a star at the concave side. In its modern form, the star is usually shown with five points (though in earlier centuries a higher number of points was often used). The two signs together or the crescent only is often regarded as a symbol of Islam.

First Day of Spring, The Baha’i New Year

In the calendar of the Baha’i Faith, the new year begins on the equinox, the first day of Spring.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Naw-Rúz in the Holy Land in 1909, 100 years ago

The most joyful tidings is this,” He wrote later in a Tablet announcing to His followers the news of this glorious victory, “that the holy, the luminous body of the Báb … after having for sixty years been transferred from place to place, by reason of the ascendancy of the enemy, and from fear of the malevolent, and having known neither rest nor tranquility has, through the mercy of the Abha Beauty, been ceremoniously deposited, on the day of Naw-Ruz, within the sacred casket, in the exalted Shrine on Mt. Carmel… By a strange coincidence, on that same day of Naw-Ruz, a cablegram was received from Chicago, announcing that the believers in each of the American centers had elected a delegate and sent to that city … and definitely decided on the site and construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

Mashriqu’l-Adkar: Literally “the Dawning-place of the praise of God”,
the designation of the Bahá’í House of Worship and its dependencies.
Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas


Yesterday, about an hour after the equinox passed here, I walked to my front door for no particular reason and looked outside. A Robin alighted on my lawn and soon there were several of them. This has happened all my life. I even remember it as a child in the dull, treeless and blighted Bronx. I’ve always seen a Robin on the first day of Spring. Sometimes that’s the only day that I see one. You might scarcely notice a little Robin amongst a flock of other birds but to me this pretty little bird has always been a harbinger. I feel they are something wonderful.

Turdus-migratorius-wiki-commons “The Robin is considered a symbol of Spring. A well-known example is a poem by Emily Dickinson, “I Dreaded That First Robin So”. Among other 19th-century poems about the first robin of spring is “The First Robin” by Dr. William H. Drummond, which according to the author’s wife is based on a Quebec superstition that whoever sees the first robin of spring will have good luck.” (wikipedia)


The Name Enoch

In the sacred writings of the Baha’i faith we read, “How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain! How vast the number of such verities as no expression can adequately describe, whose significance can never be unfolded, and to which not even the remotest allusions can be made!”
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)

Enoch is my true name and my given name, Cary, fits me well also. Cary derives from Germanic pre-English and means “dweller in a castle” or a fortified town. Its various forms are similar to Carl with assorted spellings and derivatives. Some of its feminine forms are Karen (with multiple spellings) and Carla. Cary rhymes with Harry, Larry, etc. It does not rhyme with “hairy.” People frequently mispronounce or misspell my name though it should be quite simple to say. The ‘a’ is short like in cat or have, the second syllable rhymes with ‘eee’ and the first one is accented.

Cary Grant This is my namesake. My parents told me they named me after Cary Grant.

Shortly after I became a Bahá’í in 1963 I took the middle name of Enoch. My parents had failed to give me a middle name and I wanted one. I eventually made it legal so it appears on my passport and other documents. Enoch who received only the briefest mentions as a prophet in the Old Testament occurs frequently in Apocrypha and related works of unknown origin. One of the translations of his name is Wise teacher which was what I aspired to be.

The Prophet Enoch sees a vision of a future Bahá’í House of Worship. (My personal interpretation! I am not a Biblical scholar. Nevertheless I’m aware of and sensitive to some of the inner symbolic meanings.) I feel it is important to stress that some of the Fundamentalist Christian views of Enoch are purely superstitious and mythological. Enoch did not physically enter into heaven because it is impossible and has never happened in the literal sense. Such stories contain symbolic rather than literal meanings.

“If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station…. The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men.”
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)

…the habitation wherein the Divine Being dwelleth is far above the reach and ken of any one besides Him. Whatsoever in the contingent world can either be expressed or apprehended, can never transgress the limits which, by its inherent nature, have been imposed upon it. God, alone, transcendeth such limitations. He, verily, is from everlasting. No peer or partner has been, or can ever be, joined with Him. No name can be compared with His Name. No pen can portray His nature, neither can any tongue depict His glory. He will, for ever, remain immeasurably exalted above any one except Himself.
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)
Bahá’� House of Worship in Wilmette Illinois

O Son of the Wondrous Vision. I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover. – Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words

This was what I read that directly inspired me to take the name Enoch:

And the vision was shown to me thus: Behold, in the vision clouds invited me and a mist summoned me, and the course of the stars and the lightnings sped and hastened me, and the winds in the vision caused me to fly and lifted me upward, and bore me into heaven. And I went in till I drew nigh to a wall which is built of crystals and surrounded by tongues of fire: and it began to affright me.

And I went into the tongues of fire and drew nigh to a large house which was built of crystals: and the walls of the house were like a tesselated floor (made) of crystals, and its groundwork was of crystal. Its ceiling was like the path of the stars and the lightnings, and between them were fiery cherubim, and their heaven was (clear as) water. [ … ] I fell upon my face. And I beheld a vision, And lo! there was a second house, greater than the former, and the entire portal stood open before me, and it was built of flames of fire. And in every respect it so excelled in splendour and magnificence and extent that I cannot describe to you its splendour and its extent.

And its floor was of fire, and above it were lightnings and the path of the stars, and its ceiling also was flaming fire. And I looked and saw therein a lofty throne: its appearance was as crystal, and the wheels thereof as the shining sun, and there was the vision of cherubim. And from underneath the throne came streams of flaming fire so that I could not look thereon.

And the Great Glory sat thereon, and His raiment shone more brightly than the sun and was whiter than any snow. None of the angels could enter and could behold His face by reason of the magnificence and glory and no flesh could behold Him. The flaming fire was round about Him, and a great fire stood before Him, and none around could draw nigh Him: ten thousand times ten thousand (stood) before Him, yet He needed no counselor. And the most holy ones who were nigh to Him did not leave by night nor depart from Him. And until then I had been prostrate on my face, trembling: and the Lord called me with His own mouth, and said to me: ‘ Come hither, Enoch, and hear my word.’ And one of the holy ones came to me and waked me, and He made me rise up and approach the door: and I bowed my face downwards.

Bahá’� House of Worship in Wilmette Illinois

BOOK OF ENOCH, Chapter 14
From: The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament
by R.H. Charles, Oxford: The Clarendon Press

Note that the inner and outer walls of the 19-story tall Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois are constructed of concrete embedded with crystalline quartz.
Exterior Detail
Two of the images here are from the Bahá’í Media Bank which allows them to be reposted on the Web. I lived in the Wilmette vicinity for two years. That was what directly inspired me to get into photography. I made the exterior detail photograph above.

Fragments of biblical references to Enoch are scattered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is one of them.
Fragment of an Enoch scroll
One book is part of the Eastern Orthodox version of the Bible and not considered apocryphal by them. There are many possible and equally meaningful interpretations of these passages. If you question mine then read on.

There’s a unique circumstance that enables me to put forward such a free interpretation of scripture. The historical Enoch –assuming that one ever existed– wrote nothing that has survived and that’s verifiably from the historic Enoch. What comes down to us is called Pseudepigrapha because later writers took the pseudonym of a prophet to give weight to their writings. As an example, many Biblical scholars attribute the entire book of Isaiah to three authors from different time periods. That shouldn’t detract from their symbolic spiritual validity. They sound and feel inspired. There is historical evidence that the prophecies contained in that book were fulfilled.

I feel free to do the same thing with poetry and to some extent with nearly any insightful writing I come across. Another example is the e-mail signature line I’ve used for many years.

“Behind all these manifestations is the one radiance, which shines through all things. The function of art is to reveal this radiance through the created object.” — Joseph Campbell

The author doesn’t mean the same thing that Bahá’ís mean when they say “Manifestation.” To be brief, he doesn’t accept the individuals Bahá’ís know about as necessarily revealers of sacred text (Founders of the world’s great religions) but only as wise or enlightened teachers. But when Bahá’ís read the quotation they immediately leap to an association that’s meaningful to them. Such words and associations transcend the life of the writer. Thus those words may endure for a very long time.

“Countless works of art have been truly inspired and that inspiration stays in association with the work and is mirrored in the heart and the mind of the receptive viewer.” — Otto Rogers

Save to Del.icio.us, , , ,

An Afternoon With Monet

In the writings of the Baha’i Faith we read: “I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paint brush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha)

How often have you seen a contemporary soft-focused photograph that was designated as “impressionist” by the photographer or a magazine editor? So-called impressionist photography is a recurring theme in mass market magazines. Does blurring a photograph by using a diffusion or fog effects filter make it impressionist or is it just kitsch?
kitsch n. “Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts.”

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism comes a definition we can work with plus a bit of history. Renoir, Degas, and Monet did not use soft focus filters. Degas was an avid photographer.

The rise of the impressionist movement can be seen in part as a reaction by artists to the newly established medium of photography. The taking of fixed or still images challenged painters by providing a new medium with which to capture reality. Initially photography’s presence seemed to undermine the artist’s depiction of nature and their ability to mirror reality. Both portrait and landscape paintings were deemed somewhat deficient and lacking in truth as photography “produced lifelike images much more efficiently and reliably”. (wikipedia)

In spite of this, photography – actually inspired artists to pursue other means of artistic expression, and rather than competing with photography to emulate reality, artists focused “on the one thing they could inevitably do better than the photograph – by further developing into an art form its very subjectivity in the conception of the image, the very subjectivity that photography eliminated”. The Impressionists sought to express their perceptions of nature, rather than create exacting reflections or mirror images of the world. This allowed artists to subjectively depict what they saw with their “tacit imperatives of taste and conscience”. Photography encouraged painters to exploit aspects of the painting medium, like colour, which photography then lacked; “the Impressionists were the first to consciously offer a subjective alternative to the photograph”. (wikipedia)

The main influences on my art are Monet and Kandinsky. That may seem difficult to reconcile but it works for me. For an example see “Near the Edge of the Kingdom.” and “Flowers On The Sun.”

A sunrise by Claude Monet, 1872
Soleil Levant 1872


“My only desire is an intimate infusion with nature, and the only fate I wish is to have worked and lived in harmony with her laws.” – Claude Monet

A greatly enlarged detail from one of my photographs. This image was not manipulated in Photoshop in any way except to selectively modify large areas of color. This is the texture of the original 35 mm slide after some darkroom manipulations during development.

Greatly enlarged detail

Greatly enlarged detail

These images are part of a series I made called Afternoon With Monet In My Head. Like most of my images the sun was directly behind the birds which accounts for their luminosity.
Image (C)Copyright by Cary Enoch Reinstein

Image (C)Copyright by Cary Enoch Reinstein

Art distills sensations and embodies it with enhanced meaning. — Jacques Barzun

Here are a few quotations about art and artists from the Baha’i writings:

Save to Del.icio.us, , , ,

After the Flood

A flood destroyed the great majority of artwork and photography that I made from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. My ex-wife belittled my photography as a waste of time and space. She put nearly everything I had done in the damp basement of our rented house in Albany, Oregon. I was unaware that she had moved my numerous boxes of slides. A sudden torrential Oregon rain caused the water table to rise about five feet filling the basement with sewage and destroying all but a few boxes of my images that sat on a high shelf. I waded through chest-high mud to retrieve them. I was so discouraged and upset by the loss that I abandoned photography for almost 19 years. I continued to take snapshots of my children.

Wading through the flood was a grossly disgusting experience. I saved about 400 slides, three-fourths of which are now on my website. About 50 of them were pictures of my first child, David, who passed away from a brain tumor when he was three years old. Only about a dozen slides from my pilgrimage were salvageable. The rest numbering about 1500 were buried in mud and lost. Following the flood, I was preoccupied with my high-pressure jobs at Intel and Microsoft for a period of 15 years. I barely had time for anything else besides work and my two children. I was their sole custodial parent beginning when they were ages eight and ten respectively.

Nine years ago, I acquired a pro-level film scanner. The scanner had built-in capability to remove small defects and scratches from film transparencies. It took anywhere between ten to 40 hours per image to restore what survived from that period. That represented about 400 images out of many thousands. The scanner can’t do anything about large gunk stuck to a slide or negative. I learned how to restore and retouch images mostly by trial and error. The effort took almost a year.I was self-taught in both photography and computers. I never took any classes in either one preferring to learn from books and simple explorations of the medium itself. When it became a necessity to learn how to restore damaged film I obtained the software and hardware tools and read books on how to use them. I scanned and rescanned many slides repeatedly until my skill level improved and I was able to make better quality scans.

I had to let go of hurt and grief in order to move forward. I began to think of every image as if it was a completely new creation. I was using new tools and no longer relying on a camera, slide copier, or darkroom. I disdain computerized effects and don’t use them. They’re too easy and look fake. When I paint digitally, I use a pressure sensitive pen tablet as nearly all artists who work with computers also do. You can make it work exactly like a real pen or brush so it feels very natural.

Because of a personal tragedy, I acquired certain skills that enabled me to perform a service. These pages are examples of what I’ve done recently: Pilgrimage to the House of the Báb, a faded and restored filmstrip, and Views of Akká, a website that presents a book of historical interest. Those web pages get 1000s of visitors.

The prizes of our society are reserved for outer, not inner, achievements. Scant are the trophies given for reconciling all the forces that compete to direct our development, although working toward such a reconciliation hour by demanding hour, day by triumphant day, year by exciting year is what underlies all growth of the personality. The proper artistic response to digital technology is to embrace it as a new window on everything that’s eternally human, and to use it with passion, wisdom, fearlessness and joy. – Ralph Lombreglia, in Atlantic Unbound

Bestow upon me a heart which, like unto glass, may be illumined with the light of Thy love, and confer upon me thoughts which may change this world into a rose garden through the outpourings of heavenly grace.
Compilation: Baha’i Prayers, p. 71