The past semester for me was a brutal one, in that it consumed all my available time in addition to displacing the nearly the rest of my life.  However, that was to be expected, taking a full-time graduate load while remaining at full-time status at my place of employment.  All that, and a family of four.

It was a good semester and the grades were decent.  Because of the Beijing Now photography class, I was introduced to the Chinese students from Beijing Film Academy, and their professor.  They visited us in Minneapolis in the first week of December, right before the snow hit the fan.  It seemed cold then, but that was only our introduction, as those early-season introductions are usually felt in their more extreme while we acclimate, albeit slowly, as this season progresses into the depths of darkness, snow and lower temperatures.  It was only within a week of their leaving that the snow came and with a petty vengeance.  It was late in coming this year, or shall I say ‘that’ year because now I am speaking of the other.  That petty vengeance was followed by the real one in the days leading up to the 25th, with well over another foot of snow layered on top of what had already accumulated before.   (I have photos, and will try to publish them as soon as I can.)

One of my big accomplishments of 2009 was finishing the book Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce.  I actually read the whole thing!  To anyone not familiar with this work, that accomplishment in our literate society might not sound like much.  I believe it was 628 pages which took Joyce 17 years to write, about half of his creative life.  The book is a fictional depiction of a dream.  Its language is twisted with double and triple meanings (maybe more), multiple and layered voices (often competing), and a highly disconnected flow (this sentence pales by comparison).  Finnegans Wake is psychedelic.

These mechanisms succeed in creating a dream like state.  But the book is a very slow read.  It crawls, and when I return to the bookmarked spot I end up re-reading the page I knew I read previously, only to reinterpret in yet another way.  The highly ambiguous text yields many interpretations.  The meanings are deeply layered.  All this is why I find this book so inspiring.

Of course there were many other accomplishments and highlights of 2009, other books finished (Name of the Rose, to name one other, and many text books and non-fiction which work like text books, such as Roland Barthes’ Semiotics), acceptance and entrance into graduate school, camping in the Porcupine Mountains last June, to list a few but not exhaustively.

What this reflection has to do with New Media or Photography is yet to be revealed.  Suffice it to say, the seeds of inspiration are about to germinate.