Now visiting family my eye once again rested on Susan Sontag’s classic, On Photography published in 1977. This time I picked it off the shelf. It makes for interesting reading especially since so much has changed since her intelligent pondering on the photograph and photographers. Digital photography being one major change. This book alone had a huge influence on my decision not to continue on with my life-passion of photography, full time. There is much I would wish to quote from Sontag’s book. For now here is something from the end of the book quoting historic photographer, Paul Strand.
Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees. You may see and be affected by other people’s ways, you may even use them to find your own, but you will have eventually to free yourself of them. That is what Nietzsche meant when he said, “I have just read Schopenhauer, now I have to get rid of him.” He knew how insidious other people’s ways could be, particularly those which have the forcefulness of profound experience, if you let them get between you and your own vision. Paul Strand
I guess we all know how we become coloured by those around us. Moods are strangely catching as are thought patterns. Where ones attention is directed will influence, not only others attention field, it will influence their whole person including their felt sense of themselves. That might include feeling dragged down, lifted up, unconnected, floating etc. This is normal enough and I believe we have an inbuilt sense as meditators/conscious beings to return to ourselves and to move on. We would talk of this as bringing meditation into daily life circumstances, to keep on returning to ones sitting place.
Yes, Susan Sontag and her profound reflections on photography influenced me way back and I am glad of that. We can and do benefit from the insights and hard graft of others and being open to influence is crucial. However, and almost simultaneously, we have to personally put in the hard graft of moving on past our teachers and mentors, parents or guardians, friends and partners who have helped shape us. Crucially, without judgment or rejection.
I guess that simple ol’ instruction to bring meditation into daily life, to constantly forget, and move and breathe ones uniqueness is not so simple. Not easy either, yet essential to going deeper. Spiritually speaking.