“I made up my mind to live with my head bowed and to pursue my destiny towards darkness, in an opposite direction to yours, and to exploit the underside of your beauty.” — Jean Genet
The hobo beard has returned and along with it—another sojourn into the literary unknown. Thanks to my day job, I’m afforded a considerable amount of drive time—allowing me to devour audiobooks & podcasts at an alarming rate (i.e, 8 to 10 hours a day). Subsequently, I pack my brain as full as a squirrel’s cheeks—all on the company dime. Doesn’t seem like a bad gig right? Perspective. This season’s subject matter has thrown me over the boat—I’m still swimming towards the life saver, but it’s not looking good. The fact is, the more I learn about the world we live in—the less I want to return.
“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” — Steve Jobs
As I write this, I’m sitting in a temperature controlled house, sipping on a beer, and typing on an [ al-yuh–min-ee-uh m ] machine that allows me to communicate with the outside world. Civilization has given us an astounding amount of luxuries—most notably the hoppy beverage I’m drinking. However, once we take a peek behind the curtain—Mr. Oz is no longer so great & powerful and/or the emperor wears no clothes, as it were.
“If we walk far enough,” says Dorothy, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”
Which brings me to the point of this writing—the mode of being in which I find myself existing in is the role of the holy fool. Toto pulling back the curtain—the young child who’s not afraid to question the very nude emperor. I’ve always thrived on the peripheral—in fact I see myself as some sort of social outcast—a reject, a fool.
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any farther than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” — L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of OZ
I started out this year thinking that in order to gain success as an artist, I needed to somehow check all the boxes—I needed to achieve what society defines as success. I know I’ve beat this horse to death but — making money & gaining notoriety don’t make an artist — ask Van Gogh or Vivian Maier. I agree with Kurt Vonnegut in that the role of the artist is the proverbial canary in a coal mine—meaning we are the feelers & the seers.
We are the watchers—the holy fools.
“Have I gone mad? You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland
The more I try to “market” myself as an artist, sell myself, promote my work—the more I feel disingenuous. I’m sick of trying to find the right hashtags to garner “likes”. I’m sick of exiting in a world where the hollow feeling of a “thumbs up” is the supposed ultimate reward. I don’t care if people like my work, I’m not doing it for them. No digital digit gesture is going to dictate where I aim my camera. I don’t care anymore and that’s when I died.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde
I died every time I learned something new that changed my perspective on the world. I died when I stopped trying to become known. I died when I found out the world could end at any minute—and we’re all just chasing some fleeting intangible dream. I died when I learned there’s more to life than photography, art, attributions, the internet, black Friday deals, goals, etc/etc.
When was the last time you died?
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” — Lewis Carrol, Alice In Wonderland
Every artist has their own path—it’s taken me a very long time to figure out what art & photography mean to me. Death is never easy and it’s hard letting go of the people we once were—the dreams we once had. I’m just trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. In order to grow we must be open to learn—we must tear away the parts of us that are no longer relevant in order to move forward. Photography is no longer a career that I wish to pursue and so, that part of me must die.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland
This realization has left me with a lot of frustration and uncertainty—but at the same time it’s a new sense of freedom—a revelation.
After all these years I’ve come to learn that my camera is merely a way of squeezing down the rabbit hole and getting a glimpse at wonderland—and for me, that’s all I really need it to be.