Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dipping into my Library

Dipping into two books of old, from my “library.” Keri Hulme’s Strands (1992), and Ansel Adams’ Autobiography.

There is no writer I know like Keri Hulme. Hers is a “signature tune” she sings, and that is the word for it, to me. Her words lilt and drop, rise and fall, stringing themselves into strands of pearls, fishnets, twine, and the trail of air that leads to heavy clouds. I have not read her words for many years. What comes to my mind is this:
There is no child like mine, this heavy sack of shore-finds I blend with the shells of years to make a beauty that comes from the deepest lull of ocean play.

Ansel Adams.
This is no review, but I will point you to pp. 34-35 in his Autobiography, where he writes about one “precious moment of an early summer, “ when the light was unforgettable. “ The most interesting to me is what follows this. Sharp visions of childhood are engraved in his memory with an intensity far beyond their factual experience, and he asks, Why should such situations create a lasting revelation? He answers: “Some might say that such memories are déjà vu, that we are building castles of imagination and nostalgic affirmations. I do not believe this. I feel that such events as this and the night I realized my parents’ unhappiness offer a glimpse into a world-pattern beyond our conscious awareness.”

He writes about “creative photography,” the differences between shoot, take, and and make, and shows beautifully why the life of an explorer is never dull.

He also wrote that what an artist creates is his (or her) message. Stieglitz taught him, he wrote, what became his commandment of life: “Art is the affirmation of life.” Once I read something about how we create art because we are disappointed by life. Mostly, it seems we think of art as something separate, what a few people do. This is another way to relate to the ideas of shoot, take, and make. We may trust a camera to capture something seen, something we choose to capture and consciously record. Our cameras only do this when we consciously use them for the purpose. Our minds do this all the time, yet how much do we consciously record, and why? How much do we even think about the process of choosing internal images, developing them, and processing them at the highest quality we can?

What a pleasure to dip into.

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