This is an interview by The Bleeping Herald with Endre Ballogh
At the Launch of The (not so) Little Book of Surprises at The Sacred Space in Summerland, CA on December 9, Will Arntz read the poem “In the Honey Jars” from the book, Deirdre played her crystal bowls and lead a meditation and Endre played JS Bach’s Preludio from the Partita No. 3 in E Major (BWV 1006). Here is an iPhone video of that piece. https://vimeo.com/197962027
Herald – The photos you provided for Will and Deirdre’s new book are gorgeous. How did you get involved in The (not so ) Little Book of Surprises?
Endre – Deirdre and I’ve known each other for probably twenty years. We met because we went to the same synagogue and we’ve been friends ever since. So, obviously, I met Will. And he had the thought of doing this book. And one thing lead to another. The project was a lot of fun. I had a large stockpile of pictures to choose from and I created a number of images for the book specifically—for example all the pictures of honey and the bees.
Herald – I loved the honey poem and images running through the book. What was that about?
Endre – Honey is a deeply spiritual poem and quite long. So we broke it up into six parts. The Cabbalistic symbol of honey itself is complicated.
Herald – Isn’t one interpretation that honey is a symbol of the biochemical secretions of the pineal gland—the third eye—bathing the body?
Endre – That’s certainly one of the interpretations. There’s a Cabbalistic book that was written several years ago called Honey From the Rock that talks about how we are bathed in this sort of liquid light that flows like honey and is part of God’s creation… seeping into all the cracks and corners of things. That image guided us. Deirdre bought the honey jars and we filled them and shot all over the place.
Herald – One of things I love most about the book is the juxtaposition between the abstract mystical “out there” versus the apparently more mundane aspects of the physical world. The way the book works it makes the mundane more mystical and the mystical more mundane.
Endre – That’s the whole purpose of the surprise! You really get a sense of the mystical existing within everything. For example, there is a picture of a Chinese girl I took at the LA County Fair on page 70 … the acrobat is balancing everything on her nose. Being a modern-day mystic means bringing the divine into every mundane moment. And of course that’s a balancing act. And that’s what the picture and quote tell us: if you’re going to be in the world and still do something remarkable you have to balance the two.
Herald – I know the deeper I go into life the more I’m astonished that any of this, including me, is even here.
Endre – Yes, that’s all up for debate isn’t it? How much of this actually real anyway?
Herald – How do you define the real?
Endre – “Real” is an interpretation — we’re like a radio receiver stepping down the various kinds of frequencies into something we perceive as being tangible. Science is showing more and more that an electron doesn’t appear here until you look at it. Probably nothing really exists until we look at it.
Herald – My ex-husband said as a kid he used to walk down the street and jump around as fast as he could trying to catch ghostly stagehands behind the scenes erecting reality behind him because he sensed nothing existed when he wasn’t looking at it.
Endre – Exactly that!
Herald- Do you have a favorite image in this book?
Endre – I must admit I’m partial to my flower photos and the one on pages 74-75 is one of my signature photos. Flowers are so mystical in themselves. How does the reality of that variety of flower with that geometry come about? It’s not by accident. It moves me most profoundly to realize all of this geometry just grows out of the ground like that.
Herald- The stamen in the middle of that shot is just amazing! What’s your process for capturing such beauty?
Endre – That particular magnolia flower came off a tree in the backyard. I recognize I did not create the flower and therefore make no attempt to arrange it … that’s for God to do! So I just put it there and let it be as it is—I allow the flower to tell me how it wants to be photographed. They’re all shot with natural light and it’s a very simple process of letting the chips fall where they may.
Herald – One of your national award-winning photos, the one of the egg, (pp. 23-29) is in the book. How did you shoot that?
Endre – Same thing. I cracked the egg and watched as it all slid around on the glass and the shell moved into the position you see and I didn’t touch it after that. I have a secondary mystical hand involved in helping me with these photos. I just allow nature to take its course and do what it is going to do and stay out of the way!
Please check out Endre’s website at http://www.endresphotos.com/-/endresphotos/