Lighght by Douglas Lowell

Issue 105

The title for this photographic work—lighght—is a one-word poem written in 1965 by Aram Saroyan, who has graciously given me permission to use it.

The structure and subject matter of this photographic work, originally conceived of as a book, comes from The Zohar, a seminal 12th-century text from the Jewish mystical tradition known as the Kabbalah.

Central to the Zohar is a diagram of ten spheres—the sefiroth—with each sphere (or sefira) representing a different attribute set found within God. (Wikipedia has a good explanation of this, if you’re interested.)

The sefiroth is seen as a flowing emanation of God from the undifferentiated Ein Sof above and moving downward towards the world we inhabit. The scholar Arthur Green has suggested that the sefiroth, while being the hidden structure of the universe, also represents the inner structure of our psychic life.

I have used these ten sefira, and their corresponding natures, to direct my hunt for images as well as to organize the resulting photographs. I initially studied Kabbalah under the poet David Meltzer at New College of California in 1982, and over the last three years have been (slowly) reading in the excellent new Pritzker translation of the Zohar while photographing and editing the images for lighght.

Douglas Lowell lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
To view more of Douglas' work, please visit his website.

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