Monday, September 3, 2012

Coney Island


Jackie, Rockie, Anna, Jessie, Lissy, and I spent yesterday afternoon in Coney Island, a place that, despite my location here in the NJ/NY area since birth, I had strangely never visited before. Though the skies looked apocalyptically stormy, the boardwalk and amusement park had the quintessential, neon-light-and-cotton-candy glamor that I was expecting, or rather, that all people expect. Quaint, charming, and ostentatious in the most deliciously self-conscious way.

Perhaps the more mystifying allure of Coney Island—indeed, all beaches like it—is the disparate coexistence of something so man-made, materialistic, consumeristic, and boisterous as the boardwalk, lined with yellow restaurant signs and live musicians, with the entirely natural, unchanging beauty of the water a short distance away. It is as enticing as it is mildly indecent, almost blasphemously perverse. Then again, it all perfectly reflects the amalgam of disparate emotions and thoughts that beaches in general seem to exude for me.


The feel of hot, yielding sand or the scent of saltwater or the sound of waves crashing against mossed boulders or the dizzying downwards view of advancing and receding tides all construct a sense of nostalgia, at least in my experience. A quiet splash reminds me of the time a secretly malicious wave took my plastic green pail and carried it too far for me to chase after it, while I was busy digging a moat for my sandcastle. Running children recall for me the excited cries of my sister and I as we would egg our father along the boardwalk in the hopes that we could buy a cheap souvenir whose gaudy luster was made for the ephemeral excitement and subsequent abandonment that would characterize its possession (as is the case with all childhood toys). The nostalgia is sweet but tinged with the sharp consciousness that it is all part of a past that has been blurred into one solid chunk of time, with the infinite horizon serving as a timeline.

The endlessness of water and sky fill me with the same childish wonder—and fear—as when I was six years old, only now the grand scope of a beach fill me with a humbling sense of my own insignificance, but also power. These are neither vain nor self-deprecating thoughts. They are simply truths. You are, ultimately, alone, and what do you have over the infinite expanse of rolling waves and clouds? You are small. But you have a mind and a heart and the mere fact that you can engage in such cognitive and metacognitive pensees of something as simple as a beach vista is enough to realize that our power is internal, quiet, but very mighty indeed.

It could simply be the power of nature to leave one in a state of introspective contemplation, or at least a pervasive yet elusive feeling of general existence, of consciousness, a feeling of feeling itself. It is stimulating as much as it is calming, and it makes you as conscious of time as it seems to erase it. Minutes are waves and tides lap your toes with vague recollection mixed with new introduction, a desire to remember and also keep you.

You may be rolling your eyes at how ruminative I can get over something as simply as a beach, and I don't blame you. I'm practically rolling my eyes right now (or rather, I'm typing with one hand as I eat a cookie, which I think suggests the same practiced self-patronization as an eye-roll). The truth of the matter is I simply can't keep my mind from reeling forward and back whenever I am presented with—well, anything at all, really. A curse wrapped in a blessing shrouded in convoluted and muddling thought.

Not to switch tracks so suddenly, but I think that's why I love photography. It gives me the ability to capture with such stagnant simplicity a range of thoughts and emotions. When words fail, pictures can succeed, and vise versa. Yet I like to rely on both, in equal measure.

Here are all the other pictures I took from the wonderful afternoon and evening spent at Coney Island with the best company one could ask for.

















11 comments:

  1. Your pictures look like stills from a movie. Beautiful images, beautiful words.

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    1. Oh wow, thank you so much, that means a lot to me.

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  2. these tones are perfect tbh your editing is so thoughtful and always spot on.
    also i continue to get a chuckle out of this blogs url.

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    1. Thank you, Anna! :3 hahaha the blog URL is literally how I have to introduce myself in real life all the time

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  3. Your work is probably some of my favourite to look at. The images always tells a story, and being able to do that in every single image is why I really admire you as an artist. Just wondering, what camera did you use to shoot these? Thanks!

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    1. What a wonderful thing to say, thank you so incredibly much. I shoot with a Canon Rebel T1i. :)

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  4. You should study film-making. There's something incredibly romantic about these photos.

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    1. Oh wow, thank you! That's very, very kind of you.

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  5. The photographs are absolutely beautiful and have this sort of nostalgic note to them. Your thoughts on the island and the beach are really interesting and enthralling.

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  6. the last picture oh my god perfect

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