Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Histrionic Trees

This morning it was very foggy and San Francisco looked just like a Highland Moor in a 1940s Hollywood movie. The histrionic trees above are in the front yard of the Harvey Milk Recreation Center at Duboce Park. I passed by on my way to a routine appointment at the California Pacific Medical Center at Duboce and Castro where I sat around for the usual half hour in the examining room before the doctor showed up. These delays never vex me because they are ideal for getting on with the novel in hand, whatever it may be. Today it was the sixth and last of Trollope's Parliamentary Novels, The Duke's Children. Now that his irreverent and humorous wife is dead, Plantagenet Palliser seems to be turning into a thorough domestic tyrant and snob, but I do not think that Trollope intends to let him get away with any such behavior in the long run. Below is a photo I found (later on, at home, with the sun coming out) on the web site of the National Portrait Gallery in London – a portrait I had never seen before – taken of our author by none other than Julia Margaret Cameron. It has a pleasing, otherworldly look – almost like a spirit emanation. As Mrs. Cameron said of her own work, "My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty."