Zooming in the Foxtail Agave, while thinking about Marcus Aurelius and time

These two things then thou must bear in mind; the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years, or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second, that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.-Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius (pp. 13-14). Kindle Edition.

When I began photographing the Foxtail Agave for my new series, I had a vision that I was going to start from the overall form of the plant, then zoom in for details that became more and more abstract until the plant was no longer recognizable. This approach can be taken with a lot of things you want to explore: start with the satellite map, then go on restricting your universe until it is very, very small. Then look at this very small part and try to make sense out of it without attempting to associate it with the whole. Imagine you have been helicoptered into a very small island while your eyes were covered, and now you are in this place you know nothing about.

Seeing things for “what they are” is obviously not easy for humans, because we label and categorize everything, but it is possible to use our brains to make different connections and associations when the old associations are temporarily forgotten or blocked out. I think this is one reason why abstract paintings and photography have an appeal. We look at them and look at them again, trying to make sense of shape and form.

What does all that have to do with Marcus Aurelius and time? Well, we can look at our lives as a “whole” and see that it has a lot of past in it, a short present, and a somewhat fuzzy future. We do that all the time. Things get interesting, however, if we allow ourselves to “zoom in time” to its smallest possible fraction, the very now, and try to discover it all over again without resort to or considerations about what came before and what is expected to come after. Remember when you were a baby? Of course not, but that wonder, that amazement at all the new things we don’t recognize or know, that is the only “thing” we actually lose when we die. The rest has already been lost, or was never ours to begin with.

I took the FEATURED PHOTOGRAPH with a 50mm mirrorless lens, at f/10, 1/100s, ISO 400, handheld.

My previous posts about my Foxtail Agave project can be found here.


Wall Art Botanical Images

Wall Art Photography projects

Wall Art Landscapes


12 thoughts on “Zooming in the Foxtail Agave, while thinking about Marcus Aurelius and time

  1. Steve Schwartzman says:

    What a great visual swish that leaf makes diagonally across the frame. You’re also good at coming up with a nifty title like “Zooming in the Foxtail Agave, while thinking about Marcus Aurelius and time”—as well as doing what the title says.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Gingold says:

    I love this shot! The contrast between the forward lines and the background really pairs well.
    I am not so sure we lose our past during our lifetime, rather that it is one thing that we have until death, hopefully learning from it and recognizing it as part of our whole being and utilizing it to improve our present, but it is the future that we never experience that is lost. Otoh, many believe there is no past or future, only now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alessandra Chaves says:

      I think it’s that the past is in our heads. It’s been demonstrated that a good portion of our memories are in fact reconstructed. The past, since it’s gone and only exists in the imagination, has already been lost, that’s how I interpret it. But I could be wrong. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Steve Gingold says:

        That’s certainly a good interpretation and I would never say wrong whether it is mine also or not. My view is that, even if we don’t remember accurately, the past is still part of our being in that subconsciously or not, we act in many ways based on those experiences. Sometimes we have an epiphany about a real something in our past that changes our present and future. I know that has happened to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres says:

    Of course, ‘past,’ ‘present,’ and ‘future’ imply a linear sense of time. The Greek word chronos, which underlies our ‘chronology’ and ‘chronicle,’ refers to that linearity. The concept’s especially useful when it comes to keeping dentist appointments or sending birthday cards, but the Greeks had another word for time that I’ve always been drawn to: kairos. It’s a time hinted at by Thoreau when he wrote, “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” And of course there’s Faulkner’s famous line: “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.” Some call kairos ‘eventful time,’ but I like to think of it as intrusive time: the breaking in of that different time into the predictable movement of our lives.

    Anyway. The curves in your beautiful photo reminded me of space and time, as the physicists describe them: or perhaps a representation of beauty breaking into the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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