Paul Strand: "That kind of life which has its being in the extension and projection of knowledge through the syntheses of intuitive spiritual activity, and its concomitant the vita contemplativa, is seen to be and no doubt is, a menace to a society built upon what has become the religious concept of possessiveness. It is natural therefore that the artist finds himself looked upon with a new sort of hostility which expresses itself . . . in the form of indifference or contempt."
St John River and the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
Peter Matthiessen: "Already the not-looking-forward, the without hope-ness takes on a subtle attraction . . . With the past evaporated, the future pointless, and all expectation worn away, I begin to experience that now that is spoken of by the great teachers . . . There is no hope anywhere but in this moment . . . This very day is an aspect of nirvana, which is not different from samsara but, rather, a subtle alchemy, the transformation of dark mud into the pure white blossom of the lotus . . . perhaps . . . the journey . . . step by step and day by day, is the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus, the Tao, the Way, the Path . . ."
Joseph Brodsky wrote about "switching off" and the way art can help to cope with the noise around one: "art is not a better, but an alternative existence . . . not an attempt to escape reality but the opposite, an attempt to animate it." Rachel Wiseman commenting on Brodsky's words continued: "(Art) can model independent thought and attentiveness, preserving not just the integrity of the self but also that of the culture one sees being degraded before one's eyes . . . Switching off is not about wallowing in silence or withdrawing into blissful ignorance; it is about making sure that the static doesn't deafen you to music." Given the climate of our time, our lives and our discourse need something to animate them. And attentiveness (paying close attention) to the music (art) in our lives is one way to do that . . .
I am thinking about a 2 week(!) bus tour of the Midwest. Plane travel is so god-awful that I thought I'd give this a try. I took such a tour (much shorter) to Savannah some time ago, and it was ok. I'd be traveling up through Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and into Michigan to Mackinac Island. Then on to the Wisconsin Dells and back through Illinois, Tennessee and home. It's during the peak of the hurricane season, so I might be able to bypass some of that . . .
I'm reading Robin Kelsey's book on chance in photography, and in one chapter he focuses attention on Julia Margaret's Cameron's allowing chance to show clearly in her work (he calls the chapter on her work "Julia Margaret Cameron transfigures the glitch." Chance certainly plays a (large) role in photography. Some time ago a barge became stranded on St Pete beach (the Gulf at low tide leaves a lot of beach just barely or not covered by water). I thought that might make an interesting image: I like old rusty hulks anyway so one stranded on the beach sounded like a good possibility. But when I got there, the tide was in and so instead of sitting on the sand, it was off in the distance. And yet . . . It's sort of interesting, I think. Especially with the strong waves and the light shining on the water—and the barely recognizable barge (and I think the other boat meant to pull it off the beach) there right on the edge between sea and sky. Not a "perfect" image perhaps, but still interesting perhaps because of "glitches."
First, an explanation. In reflecting on my trip to Wyoming, it sometimes seems to me that it was more like a trip into a world that can not be shown for what it is, unless one stands before it oneself. This reminded my of something Susan Sontag wrote in "On Photography:" "Americans feel the reality of their country to be so stupendous, and mutable, that it would be rankest presumption to approach it in a classifying, scientific way. One could only get at it indirectly, by subterfuge—breaking it off into strange fragments that could somehow, by synecdoche, be taken for the whole." I like that word "synecdoche"—one of the consequences of modern English usage is that we have lost grand old words like that. "Synecdoche"—a part of something representing the whole. I often felt like that was at best what I could do with an image: use some part of an experienced view to stand for the whole (which could not be shown in an image—of course this is in some sense always true). So the image below is a synecdoche of the Tetons: