Free To Move

Sheep in The Lake District.
Alone together. Sheep in The Lake District.

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.

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5 thoughts on “Free To Move”

  1. Thank you, Rev. Mugo,

    It’s true that when one is sensitive and easily impressionable as well as open, to be moved in so many different ways. I’m grateful for your words here, as a reminder to return to myself today, to be present. Greetings and blessings of the season.

    1. Dear Julie,
      And blessing of the season to you. I am glad that the post helped. It helped me to write it. Writing helps to clarify the mind/ones thinking.

      1. Thank you for responding. I understand how that must be to write out the evolution of one’s thought, and this is one of the attractions I have to wanting to eventually do my own blogging. I appreciate so many things you share.

  2. “Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.” – Susan Sontag, quoted in “Sontag On Photography: Two Views”.

    The 2011 exhibition “Silent Coercion”” at the National Museum of Singapore dealt (aggressively one might say) with the role of commercial photography in the (Dutch) colonial exploitation of Sumatra’s East Coast. Sharp quotations from “On Photography” were features of the exhibition headings. Whether apt or balanced is another matter, but it did send me back to my copy of Sontag’s book.

    Last year someone told me we don’t take pictures, we make them. That must be why I feel like keeping perhaps one picture in a hundred! At the moment I feel that colour gets in the way.

    The late John Daido Loori was a photographer was he not?

    Thanks for this interesting post.

    With best wishes and good health for 2013. Let’s see where we go!

    1. Thank you Walter for your thoughtful comment, as always. I was never happy with ‘taking’ photographs. Making is so much better.

      Yes John Daido Loori was a photographer and I believe published a book.

      The article you link to in the first sentence of your comment is worthy of a separate post. I’ll do that. I have not read it however any discussion on photography is worth exploring, for me at least.

      And wishing you the best for 2013. Yes, let’s see where we find ourselves this time next year.

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