Movements of the Heart

Back in the mid-1970s, when photography was still pretty new to me, a collection of a dozen images came together and crossed paths with an ancient Chinese oracle.

This was shortly after graduating from university with my BSc (Physics), while I was at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education in Toronto. I was living near High Park, and photographed there pretty often. I created some images of rocks and trees in the Park, and moisture on my apartment windows, and I felt that they were all strongly related in both composition and mood. There were four each of rock, wood and water. Not only did each image have a flow, leading the eye in a particular way, but also a kind of visual energy – a dynamism. The four images in each set (rock, wood, water) held a story arc through conflict, separation, coming together and resolution. It was as if the four sets were telling a repeated story.

I wanted a title for the twelve images, and came up with a working title of Movements of The Heart.

(Continued below image)

Oracle Movements of The Heart
Movements of The Heart

Around the time, someone gave me a copy of Legge’s I Ching, The Book of Changes. It’s an ancient Chinese guide to proper living, based on tossing coins to produce patterns. I have no idea why it was given to me, mysticism being pretty far from anything to do with me. Anyway, I decided to toss the coins, with the question in mind of what the title should be for my set of twelve images. Note that I had already found my working title: Movements of The Heart

The diagram that resulted was Hexagram 52 – Keeping Still, Mountain (http://ichingfortune.com/legge-hexagrams/52.php)

Oracle I_Ching Hexagram 52
Hexagram 52

Here are a couple of excerpts from the interpretation of the hexagram:

The Mountain denotes stopping or resting; resting when it is the time to rest, and acting when it is the time to act.

The heart thinks constantly… but the movements of the heart – that is, a man’s thoughts – should restrict themselves to the immediate situation. All thinking that goes beyond this only makes the heart sore.

So that kind of surprised me – having my working title appear word-for-word in the hexagram I had thrown as a lark. I have always loved coincidences like this, but this one has really stuck with me over the decades – 2/3 of my life at this point.

And I still love the images, and even though I still have some original prints (produced with my enlarger on a folding table perched over my apartment’s toilet, where I had to time my exposures for when the streetcar wasn’t shaking the building) I am happy to be able to scan the negatives and make new prints.

I even found a fourth set.  I had originally hoped for 16 images back then, because there are four chambers in the heart, and 16 images would be four images in each of four sets. If you look at the set “Flow”, you will be among the first ever to see them. I didn’t print them back then, and I still haven’t (Jan 2018).

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