Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Winter Window Writing
A woman writing in the moving van. Is it about job, is it about family, herself, is it a letter?What to write about? That's it! Sometimes you just stop in front of the paper and have no clue. You want to write, but you have no idea what about, what for, whom to. It is so different from photography. Not necessarily more difficult just totally different mind set. In photography the content is there, you take it, you play with it, you shape it, you present it. Yes, as Depardon is writing, one still has to make a decision at the beginning of a photographic project: it will be about this or that, I will use this or that equipment and treatment, it will be colour or black and white, etc. In this respect every artistic project has a basic set of ideas. You need to achieve a certain minimal clarity over what those are in order to embark on the series of actions that lead to the finished product. Creative process requires it just as sometimes it requires a turnaround and renunciation, a shift in those original ideas. In writing all these are more acute, more intense, more permanent. Certainly you can start throwing words at the page the way you wander with a camera and snap. But that is not a reportage, that is not a book, that is not a story. In photography the relationship is more material, it requires and implies senses and tools. In writing it all comes form within ones-self. Why do people need so badly to write? Of course you may come up with elaborate or not psychological explanations about the desire to share, to tell it all, etc. Still there is this urge to write that is not easily matched by the ability to be honest, straightforward, simple. Because of this difficulty to express, most of us do not to write. Some do it terribly badly and are still awfully pleased about it. Others, very few, do it exceptionally well. Some struggle in between constantly doubting. Its not just a matter of style, exercise and prose. It is a matter of ideas, ideals, idiosyncrasies. Who gives a damn about your blabbering? Who could be bothered? Why would you be bothered? Do you Really believe you have something worth while telling. No it is not it. It is definitely not about relevance. I have read a few astonishingly good pieces on utterly irrelevant topics. So do you write for others or yourself? I remember somebody, it may have been the great Saul Bellow, said something about that. I do not recall his exact words but it was in the line of: it needs to be for yourself but knowing others are reading over your shoulder. The diary is a good example. I suspect one keeps it mostly for himself or herself. Still a good few diaries have ended up being famous books. I believe the same applies to blogs. I am constantly amazed how many there are and how wacky some are. Like this http://russelldavies.typepad.com/eggbaconchipsandbeans/ or this http://belledejour-uk.blogspot.com/2004_09_01_belledejour-uk_archive.html . What do I do? I guess I am only trying to unite a personal narrative with a personal perspective. I stay away form all the big subjects on purpose. No debate on cartoons, Iran, climate change here for now. I am just snapping away with that camera and write slightly off-key comments for the pictures. The result is pretty eclectic but as I am not bored yet it must have some positive value.