You might remember a picture of my fallen oak that I posted a month or so ago:
Yesterday George Fisher turned up, was here for a few hours, and now look:
And look how different those two photographs are. Years ago I listened, in the car, to a tape (yep, right) of a lecture by Alan Watts, the British writer and speaker who was an interpreter and popularizer of Eastern religions and philosophies for Westerners. I remember where I was when I heard it and what car I was driving, but not what year it was or what the title of the talk might have been. But he spoke about the desire of people to "lean on the world," thinking that the world was mostly solid and dependable, and instead asserting that even the apparently solid world was a river of change. You think an apple is real and has physical presence, but in a hundred years, where is the apple? Even the mountains rise and fall.
Jay Maisel talks about this in relation to photography in his simple but excellent photography tutorial books, especially Light, Gesture & Color and It's Not About the F-Stop. The same picture seldom presents itself twice. In Watts' terms, the river has moved on. Permanence is illusory. It's one of my faults that I'm always thinking to myself that I can come back and take a picture later; Jay would not approve. I'd be better off as a photographer with the opposite mindset.
Well, let's not get too deep. I've been behind on the comments all week (I'm still not back up to speed here, if I'm honest), but note the tracks on the grass of the heavy equipment George brought in to move the fallen oak. And note that the title of Jay's second book named above is already becoming anachronistic—he meant that the things photo enthusiasts care about aren't as important as they think they are—but the majority of young photo mavens these days have only the faintest vague clue what an "ƒ-stop" might be. Still, we take the old Master's point.
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Featured Comments from:
Wayne: "'Sooner or later...we have to risk everything in order to gain everything. We have to gamble on the invisible and risk all that we can see and taste and feel. But we know the risk is worth it, because there is nothing more insecure than the transient world.' —Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (from the Thomas Merton Daily Quotes Facebook page, March 13, 2017)."
Peter Wright: "I have to say, I was surprised to see Thomas Merton popping up on TOP, even if it was just in the comments! But how very appropriate a quote—thanks Wayne! He has to be one of the most profound writers of the 20th century. Not many people know that Merton was also in later life, an enthusiastic photographer. I saw an exhibition of his work in Toronto some years back."
Francisco Cubas: "One of the first humans to talk about this was Heraclitus, with his famous quote: 'No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.' It was a favourite of J.L. Borges. I'm glad you are better Mike."