Monday, December 31, 2007

Random thought to end 2007

If I hear a certain horrible photographer from Florida mention one more time how he wins all kinds of competitions and juried exhibitions with his work, I'm going to laugh myself senseless. Just saying.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mayhem (part 2)

Bullshit eventually walks. Sometime in the life of a model or photographer, you have to check your motivation. I’ll confine myself specifically to the models here. Maybe you’re a Muse, a hetaira as it were, and live to create. Maybe you’re a shrewd professional and have developed the acumen to market your looks. Maybe you just want to play dress up and want to be viewed as pretty. There is nothing wrong about any of these forms of motivation. You do have to be honest about them though. If it is just an escape for you from a life less ordinary, you’re going to find things difficult if you expect the same kind of reinforcement someone might get if they’re in it for the art or the paycheck. Keep it real. Yes it’s hard. But if you have unrealistic expectations, your disappointment will resonate. Then, eventually, no one will want to work with you.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mayhem (part 1)

Here’s the thing. When that lil’ old site MM was less than six months old, I had industry professionals telling me that the forums on the site were going to be the unmaking of many a photographer’s and model’s reputations. I believed these people then. I believe them now. I opened my own personal Pandora’s Box with posts I’d make after returning from the bar on my only night out of the week. This kind of posting started for me about a year ago. It started when I began to notice a new trend on MM: relatively new members whose only claim to fame was thousands of posts in a relatively short amount of time were operating in packs, ganging up on new members who might post something stupid or even dismissing site founders who didn’t kiss their asses. It inflamed me to the point where I decided to fight them. Fighting a mob is a zero sum game. You end up as a casualty. There’s no winning. Some things in this world are inwardly given: treating others with respect, fair play, paying your dues, knowing when to shut up and listen. There are photographers out there who command my respect. When they talk, I listen. They might be cold and brutal, but my silence is worth it. There are folks on MM who have been on the site for less than a year and have part of the industry not much longer. They show a lot of talent, creativity and potential. As human beings in general, though, they are more than lacking. Maybe it’s the artists’ curse, but they’re already legends in their own minds. I feel like telling them to see me in 4 or 5 years when they’ve paid their dues and know what they’re talking about. Funny thing is, model or photographer, most won’t be part of the industry anymore. Sooo, the next time they kindly feel like explaining the world according to them to me, I need to remember this.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Women are funny

Women are funny. The whole being enigmatic thing is probably why I like them so much. It drives my photography. WG is right, photography is my mistress. Then I watch a woman (a model to be precise) go from being an ingĂ©nue who I can shoot wonderful ideas with into a legend in her own mind – a self-righteous and spiteful one at that. Who knew? I am the sum total of confusion when it comes to women. Bahhh. I take pictures. Being single might not be so bad after all.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Blind Tiresias

“At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,”

T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My judgment of taste

A photographer friend speaks of the ultimate end of photography as the hunt for the perfect shot. Another way to put it is as the quest for the perfect signature piece. Such a photograph would not be a happy accident. Would it? It begins with the motivation and progresses through the steps which constitute my craft. It may be dangerous to say that what makes a photograph powerful is “inwardly given,” but the selection process normally doesn’t avail itself to a specific reason. Inasmuch as this is the case, that signature shot is a happy accident. To qualify this, though, I think the happy accident becomes more likely via an understanding of one’s craft and the eye to recognize something powerful and timely. I think of something Georges Bataille wrote in “The Solar Anus.” Bataille writes:
A man who finds himself among others is irritated because he does not know why he is not one of the others.
In bed next to a girl he loves, he forgets that he does not know why he is himself instead of the body he touches.
Without knowing it, he suffers from the mental darkness that keeps him from screaming that he himself is the girl who forgets his presence while shuddering in his arms.
Love or infantile rage, or a provincial dowager’s vanity, or clerical pornography, or the diamond of a soprano bewilder individuals forgotten in dusty apartments.
They can very well try to find each other; they will never find anything but parodic images, and they will fall asleep as empty as mirrors.
It is out of this confusion where my photography attempts to create some sense of order, meaning. The greater the confusion, the greater the obsession to find that perfect shot. I wander through ruins, a bleak landscape that permeates my consciousness, and I attempt to create something that resonates within and for an audience. I cannot give voice to all of the confusion I experience, but my photography can offer a fair representation of at least some of it. It acts like a mirror in that it is one location where, left exposed, I am forced to be brutally honest. The tools at my disposal may be depth of field or an extreme focal point. It may be use of negative space. Any tool at my disposal that helps to tell a story is of benefit. How the story I tell rises to “art” ultimately is a judgment of taste. This is a subjective experience for my audience. As for my self, one can look to Sigmund Freud to consider the question of the conflicted individual. In “The Relation of the Poet to Day-Dreaming,” Freud uses the example of the story writer and poet to articulate his views on the creative process. All artistic expression is served by Freud’s focus, though, as well as the audience and critic. According to Freud, all artistic expression is play, the creation of a world of fantasy or worlds of fantasy by the artist. As such, the aesthetic object is wish-fulfillment and conflict resolution on the part of the creator. It represents the diversity of human experience, the random and chaotic nature of the individual. Though its representations may be often quite similar, it bears the imprint of the individual, ever-changing and never quite the same. The same rationale applies to the effect artistic expression has on its audience. The pleasure the recipient receives comes from an infinite variety of experiences and interpretations, once again often similar but never quite the same.

My audience is quite varied in its reception to my photography. The formal art nudes that rely on depth of field are quick to receive artistic praise, while reception of my photography with extreme focal points is mixed. Consider Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to help me illustrate my point. No representation of the painting is necessary. The Mona Lisa is arguably history’s most famous piece of art. The individual with limited knowledge of the painting may ask why this so. One thing I know is that the Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre in Paris. I know as well that the Mona Lisa is “art” and a classic. I know these things because they are part of my formal education. On the other hand, Walter Pater’s appreciation of the Mona Lisa far exceeds that of mine. Pater’s appreciation of the Mona Lisa was so keen, that poet William Butler Yeats considered the prose written by Pater as an independent work of art and included it in free verse form at the beginning of his Oxford Book of Modern Verse (1936). What is it about the Mona Lisa that Pater finds so moving? Pater writes: “Hers is the head upon which “all the ends of the world are come,” and the eyelids are a little weary. It is a beauty wrought out from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions. Set it for a moment beside one of those white Greek goddesses or beautiful women of antiquity, and how they would be troubled by this beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies has passed!” What Pater writes is so moving – so much so that I wonder why I did not have a similar reaction. A poster of painting that did move used to hang in my room. Salvador Dali’s The Hallucinogenic Toreador does evoke strong feelings on my part. I see Dali’s vision, the marble busts and images of icons with auras surrounding them. I think of beauty, desire, God, and man-made religion. It represents my take on experience. I am conflicted, feeling the tug of different interests. What others may see in such a painting is beyond me. Yet, because of the emotions the painting evokes, I consider it a work of art of the highest order. I realize this is a judgment of taste on my part. I also realize that there is no standard that can validate my claim.

A mission statement just wouldn’t seem right without discussing aesthetics. Walter Pater writes: “Beauty, like all other qualities presented to human experience, is relative; and the definition of it becomes unmeaning and useless in proportion to its abstractness.” The key word is “human.” As long as humans are finite and conflicted creatures, my photography remains open to possibility.

The cruel practice of art

To die alone is such a terrifying prospect. To die without desire being fulfilled is even more terrifying. Am I the sum total of my frustrated desire? I am painfully aware of my mortality. There is the sense that my day will come, sooner than I’d like. There is the awareness that my desire for youthful beauty is more than likely out of reach. At the core of this angst is the desire to leave some sort of record that I was here. My photography is a mad race against time in achieving this. If I explore all the painful facets of my desire, perhaps I can kill it. Georges Bataille writes:

We know that possession of the object we are afire for is out of the question. It is one thing to or another: either desire will consume us entirely, or its object will cease to fire us with longing. We can possess it on one condition only, that gradually the desire it arouses will fade. Better for desire to die than for us to die, though! We can make do with an illusion. If we possess its object we shall seem to achieve our desire without dying. Not only do we renounce death, but we also let our desire, really the desire to die, lay hold of its object and we keep it while we live on. We enrich our life instead of losing it.

One of my favorite models used to correspond with me using the signature “expression equals life.” There is that duality chasing me again. Creation of erotic imagery supplements desire. It fuels it as well. It is within this conflict that I create. I don’t create for your masters. I create for myself. Bataille writes in The Cruel Practice Of Art:

Yet it is from this double bind that the very meaning of art emerges – for art, which puts us on the path of complete destruction and suspends us there for a time, offers us ravishment without death. Of course, this ravishment could be the most inescapable trap – if we manage to attain it, although strictly speaking it escapes us the very instant we attain it. Here or there, we enter into death or return to our little worlds. But the endless carnival of artworks is there to show a triumph – in spite of a firm resolve to value nothing but that which endures – is promised to anyone who leaps out of the irresolution of the instant. This is why it is impossible to pay too much interest in excessive drunkenness, which penetrates the opacity of the world with those gratuitously cruel flashes in which seduction is tied to massacre, torture, and horror.

Don’t let it be said that I worship death, though my personal demons have made this possible on occasion. The creative urge, properly fulfilled, gives my life meaning. The visions I capture are not for everyone. I am not trying to be in a magazine, have my work captured in an ad campaign or sell a clothing line. Not that these are not legitimate goals for a photographer. I am creating a world that makes sense to me, and the process getting there may be as important as the end result.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

That bitch called "reality"

Reality is the void. Reality is that we live and ultimately die alone. There is nothing harsher than this. Slavoj Zizek says as much in Welcome To The Desert Of The Real: “The authentic twentieth-century passion for penetrating the Real Thing (ultimately the destructive void) through the cobweb of semblances which constitutes our reality thus culminates in the thrill of the Real as the ultimate ‘effect’, sought after from digitalized special effects, through reality TV and amateur pornography, up to snuff movies.” We want to get to the other side of meaning, knowing we can’t simply transcend certain realities. Immerse ourselves enough in the terror, and maybe we’ll become immune to it. I cannot transcend harsh reality by immortalizing your beauty. Maybe I can come to terms with it, though, if I expose its flaws as I expose mine. I am so socialized though. Get too close to those flaws, and I recoil in horror. Zizek writes: “Is not the ultimate figure of the passion for the Real the option we get on hardcore websites to observe the inside of a vagina from the vantage point of a tiny camera at the top of the penetrating dildo? At this extreme point, a shift occurs: when we get too close to the desired object, erotic fascination turns into disgust at the Real of the bare flesh.” Dualities present themselves to me. The desire to confront reality and become immune to its horror is met by socialization and the wish to transcend, to be immersed in some beautiful universal ideal. Call me cynical, but the longer I photograph women, the more I reject this ideal. This is not to say I am not aware of it. It is with me every time I photograph a subject. Recent criticism of my work gives me cause to address it. For instance, a fashion photographer wrote of me: “Whereas the older pictures were more of a presentation of a scene, the newer ones appear to be a peek into your bizarre twisted mind. I would like to see more story telling, better production value, and wider shots so we don't feel like we're looking through a telescope like voyeurs. I know you claim to be a purist and stay away from Photoshop but damn, no model is perfect. Everyone needs a little help here and there to create a clean image.” It is a fair assessment of my work albeit the criticism is off the mark. What I am criticized for is exactly where I want my photography to be. The older photography was a presentation of a scene, a surface chronology of life around me. The newer work does mark me as a voyeur, because I do want you exposed to me. Flaws, imperfections, are a bonus. I want you to be desirable and imperfect. Extreme focal points achieve this for me. That point where I might recoil in horror extends further out than it does for my critic. I’m fine with this. Others are not. For example, another photographer writes: “Your images are incoherent and sloppy and are getting worse over time. You are halfway between crappy T&A glamour and half-assed art. You shoot to shoot and maybe to see titties. You have no focus and no passion. In other words... you are becoming a GWC.” My work of late is about extremities and strange juxtapositions: macro looks at facial features, odd juxtapositions of breasts and curves. No apologies forthcoming. It is a progression, and I know where this progression is taking me. In the language of our profession, a GWC (guy with a camera), is a pervert who gets a woman nude in front of a camera just for the sake of it. The subject’s nudity holds a purpose for me, though. As I am exposing myself here, the model exposing her self to me opens up her reality to me. I need to know. My art and its utility are about me. How you see yourself in the mirror is of vital importance to me. I need to get below the surface. Another photographer critic perhaps explained it best: “This isn't commercial photography. This isn't fashion. This isn't art. This is Boyd Hambleton's personal expression of the fact that the world is a cruel tease and that it is fucking with him on a deep and personal level. You are a sub. The camera is your mistress. And you make a good couple . . .one that's getting better with time, and experience.” I might disagree with the “art” part. What is art if not to provoke? If gallery exhibited works of mine are provocative enough to hang on collector’s walls, should I complain? I do know that I am individual who has been alone for the better part of his adult life. It’s a situation that creates competing thought processes. My relationship with women isn’t exactly adversarial. The majority of my friends are women. They just don’t desire in the manner that would lead to the procreative urge. I put women on a pedestal, while at the same time painting them as the cruel monsters that have rejected me. It is said that how we deal with our loneliness is what defines us after all. 

Move for me

Move for me. This is my first commandment. How beauty acts upon the stage is as important to me as the beauty itself. I recall a photographer whose work I admire and what he wrote in regards to his uneasiness regarding nude photography. John Dietrich writes: “I have always been intoxicated by female beauty in all its guises, I have never felt mature enough to tackle the nude. Metaphorically, I always preferred to stay in the wardrobe watching aunt squeeze into her girdle. To me, the nude is as uninteresting and inaccessible as the woman sealed from head to toe in rubber. My pleasure in photographing the female form is to enhance rather than expose; more unreal than real, implicit rather than explicit, a preference for the Rubenesque over the emaciated or silicon-desecrated.” Were it so easy for me. My aesthetic view was similar to this when I first began photographing models full-time in 2004. A woman in beautiful attire would have sufficed. The rituals of fashion and cosmetics made for interesting subject matter. The flow of an outfit created a snapshot worthy of posterity. The classic contours of a made-up face created an equally memorable image. Ultimately, though, such imagery represents the still-life I spoke of. It doesn’t speak to me. It sells a product. John Dietrich’s usage of the word “inaccessible” is the key. The gorgeous woman dressed to the nines is inaccessible. The spiritual figure nude is inaccessible. I need my subject to be accessible. This is accomplished first through movement and then by the subject bringing her personality to the session. Am I asking for too much from the model? Am I an exploiter? To argue that I’m a bit of a voyeur wouldn’t be much of a stretch. I would argue that for me to achieve my vision, I need to expose either the subject’s insecurities in front of my lens. I have been playing a bit of a game in an on line professional forum for photographers and models of late. I’ve been exposing my insecurities and offering up my work for criticism in hopes to create a mission statement for my photography. Photography, as much as many other art mediums, can be quite varied in its interpretations. A mission statement done properly exposes my motivation and insecurities for all to see. This is terrifying. It provides a glimpse of what’s real, and reality is a tough taskmaster.

et la femme sera mon sujet

A still-life is as dynamic as its subject. A photographer may seize upon something that enhances this representation, but the representation remains passive. This in part is why I decided to give my photographic efforts a name. I titled it Visions Of Excess Studio. I gave the studio its title remembering one of my favorite texts by French author/philosopher Georges Bataille. The idea of “excess” appealed to me in the context of going beyond that which is prescribed. And, of course, “vision” is intimately related to the artist and the representation they wish to achieve. My personal vision is a dance with structures one might consider all too real: love, death, violence and the urge for procreation. I put my subjects on pedestals and hope that they might transgress. As for my subject, I’m particular. “. . . et la femme sera mon sujet (and woman will be my subject).” I don’t approach photography from an egalitarian stance. I am entranced with the rituals that are utilized in creating the modern conception of beauty as we know it. I find it difficult to apologize for how I conceive or misconceive feminine beauty. It is an obsession of mine. My photography is my lover. It hierarchizes certain representations of women. The girl next door, the average representation of woman, holds no interest to me. I am not enamored with the glamour model, the beauty that hovers and mugs for the camera. The fashion model holds even less allure for me. She is selling a product, an unattainable social ideal. My representations are beautiful monsters in a sense. They excite and terrify me at the same time. These are the sort of thoughts that drive my craft on. Psychology, aesthetics, eroticism – these are the motivations that prefigure a photographic session.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sum total of frustrated desire . . .

. . . that's me. I have obligations through December, so I'll honor them. I'll be taking a break from photographing models in 2008. My fascination with beauty is destroying me. I am perpetually alone, even in a crowd. My abject failure in affairs of the heart is making me resent my friends and their happiness. I'm tired of not wanting to wake up. I need to do something different. My photography only reminds me of my failure.

I'll continue to do the group shoots as a host only.

Friday, February 23, 2007


“This is not a preface.” That’s what I would write. It is a jumping off point for my fervid dreams. Sometimes I think that all I have is my fantasies. They keep me warm at night while offering me my muse as well as my angst. So, in other words, there is no moment for me that can stand off on its own. Everything accumulates. Everything repeats as well. Uncanny, huh?

I find myself in this crazy space where everything old is new again. You’ll understand as I proceed. Before I became a photographer, I journaled and wrote poetry rather prolifically. I had the annoying habit of merging personal journals with literary criticism. Consider it part trying to show how brilliant I was, part trying to have folks really understand me and part really wanting to shock and horrify folks . . . especially the beautiful young women who were always just ‘good’ friends. I’d put the journals I wrote in ‘zine form and then give copies out to friends and some of the strippers I visited on a weekly basis. For instance, I published a few things of note in Confessions Of The Male Lesbian (issue 2) in August of 1999. My favorite author has always been William Faulkner. In that issue, I wrote a critical essay on Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury through the screen of philosopher Julia Kristeva’s theories on abjection. Kristeva writes:

The abject is related to perversion. The sense of abjection that I experience is anchored in the superego. The abject is perverse because it neither gives up nor assumes a prohibition, a rule, or a law: but turns them aside, misleads, corrupts; uses them, takes advantage of them, the better to deny them. It kills in the name of life – a progressive despot; it lives at the behest of death – an operator in genetic experimentations; it curbs the other’s suffering for its own profit – a cynic (and a psychoanalyst); it establishes narcissistic power pretending to reveal the abyss – an artist who practices his art as a “business.” Corruption is its most common, most obvious appearance. That is the socialized appearance of the abject. [Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. 16]
This was Kristeva’s working definition of abjection. Back then, when I quoted Kristeva, it was a definition that made me think of the serial killer or the corrupt politician and so forth. Into our lives a little corruption must come though, I suppose. I would much rather immerse myself in this working definition than to allow myself to be the true believer with that singular, righteous purpose. Those are the the people in the world who truly scare me. One must acknowledge the pointlessness, the limitation. It is as Quentin Compson’s father instructed him in The Sound And The Fury: “Quentin, I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciatingly apt that you will use it to gain the reductio ad absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” This is abjection. It is not a static thing but rather a road, an accumulation, a repetition, a dispersal. Abjection is “the other.” It, abjection, is something external that is out of the individual’s control. It repulses us as the sour milk in the carton does. Quentin Compson’s journey to the abyss is abjection at its finest. At the beginning of Quentin’s monologue, Quentin is remembering the words of his father that I cited above. Time is an issue central to criticism of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. In Quentin’s situation, it represents one huge external factor that Quentin has little control of. When Quentin breaks the timepiece, it represents a ritualistic gesture on his part to conquer what he has little to no control of. To return to the idea of sour milk, Kristeva writes: “Along with sight-clouding dizziness, nausea makes me balk at that milk cream, separates me from the mother and father who proffer it. “I” want none of that element, sign of their desire; “I” do not want to listen, “I” do not assimilate it, “I” expel it.” [Kristeva 3] The gesture of Quentin breaking the watch is Quentin demarcating the universe and creating one of his own. The question should be: “To what end is Quentin doing this?” One answer may be that Quentin is creating the one space that makes his suicide not only possible but inevitable. Kristeva writes: “The one by whom the abject exists is thus a deject who places (himself), separates (himself), situates (himself), and therefore strays instead of getting his bearings, desiring, belonging, or refusing. Situationist in a sense, and not without laughter – since laughing is a way of placing or displacing abjection.” [Kristeva 8] As this represents Quentin’s demarcation, this represents mine, a mission statement meant to accompany my photography a few months back:

I have a growing distaste for anything mainstream. Much of this stems from a reality that the majority of people will always allow the dollar to be their guide rather than passion or any real conviction. We live in a world where it is too commonplace to hate what you don’t understand, to label that which is different as inferior, wrong or perverted. We live in a world where to be different, unless that difference is co-opted by the mainstream, is to be rendered bound and gagged. So, as an artist I revel in shadow and light and that which rebels. Intricate ink over the human body, piercings, and plays of dominance and submission are but a small portion of my subject matter. My love of black and white imagery, I think, is an aesthetic choice. In a way, it mocks all of the binary oppositions that society holds so dear. In my world, there is only the beauty in the difference and expression.
Perhaps my thoughts and the artist statement that stems from them pales in comparison to Quentin’s gesture. Knowing my mind though, I will say that it reeks of death. I am a deject and I willfully choose to separate myself . . . to create a strange world that makes sense to me. I don’t feel as if I’ve adequately expressed my reasons for wanting to do this though. Here is where I elaborate further, going into that second piece of literary criticism that I engaged in issue 2 of Confessions of the Male Lesbian. As I wrote, fear is an ideal place to begin. For example, fear is at the core of all of Emily Dickinson’s poetry (another huge favorite). Fear is the entity slithering underfoot, the serpent preeminent in several of her poems. The serpent represents several things. All cause angst. It represents knowledge, male potency, and death. That the average student of poetry knows Dickinson was a recluse and that she never married should come as no surprise. Dickinson’s controlling fear ordains this. This fear exists for Dickinson in the shadow of the male. For instance, in Dickinson’s poem number 754:

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun-
In Corners – till a Day
The Owner passed – identified-
And carried Me away-

The stanza reveals a woman’s life as it relates to a man. I too know that the measure of my success with women defines me as a man. Though I am told this is untrue and unhealthy, this has not been exorcised from my consciousness. Dickinson’s story is that she lived in the shadow of her father. Perhaps, in some way, all of her suitors had to measure up to his presence. The fact that she never married seems to argue that no one did ever measure up.
Several of Dickinson’s works tend to have a relationship of companionship with one another. The instances of fear and the serpent are one example. Another example appears to be companion poems on truth and trust. Truth is another central theme in Dickinson’s poetry. Truth has an elusive quality. For example, in “I like a look of Agony”:

I like a look of Agony
Because I know it’s true-
Men do not sham Convulsion
Nor simulate, a Throe-

The Eyes glaze once – and that is Death-
Impossible to feign
The Beads upon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.

Dickinson, trusting no one, begins to see truth only in madness. How can everyone else be happy when she is not? This is how the litany usually goes. Dickinson in number 435:

Much Madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-
Much Sense – the starkest Madness-
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail-
Assent – and you are sane-
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous-
And handled with a Chain-

This is the point where Dickinson begins to demarcate the universe and create her own. She is approaching abjection, separating herself from all that she fears and doesn’t trust. Reality and truth are blinding. Reality has to be modified to become palatable. Dickinson in number 1129:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant-
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind-

Self-deception and creating a universe of your own demand that you create your own truth. Is it any wonder that my personal mantra is “let the mundane become the epic?” First, though, before I completely let go, I find myself bartering with God. “I’ll be good, I promise,” I say. “Just give me what I want, whatever that might be.” When there is no ready answer, isolation becomes a way of life. The ultimate fantasy is death. Death is romantic at first. There are the dreams of the elaborate ritual, the letting go. Then, as in everything else, reality interposes itself enough to let the dreamer know that the fantasy is a sham. There is nothing epic in death. Dickinson in poem number 449:

I died for Beauty – but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining Room-

He questioned softly “Why I failed?”
For Beauty”, I replied-
“And I – for Truth – Themselves are One-
We Brethren, are” He said-

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night-
We talked between the Rooms-
Until the Moss had reached our lips-
And covered up – our names-

Truth and beauty, the catalysts for fantasy, are revealed as finite concepts. They do not transcend the death of the individual dreamer. Once this is realized, something significant happens. The dreamer retains hope or retreats into a joyless, isolated existence. With hope, there is the chance for apotheosis, the death of fear. Without hope, there is only sadness and decay.
I would add an addendum to this some seven and a half years after I wrote it. Photography at one point saved my life. But as with anything, you reach a point where it is not not enough. I worship Beauty but find myself confronting the all-consuming spectre of Time.

“Subset.” Now we get to the point. As, I wrote in the beginning, “this is not a preface.” There is no point of origin. The words I wrote were playful reference to the theory of deconstruction advanced by French theorist Jacques Derrida. In a nutshell, Derrida’s philosophy was a an elaborate critique of Western metaphysics. Everyday thought and language is structured in binary oppositions: good vs. evil, being vs. nothingness, presence vs. absence, truth vs. error, identity vs. difference, mind vs. matter, man vs. woman, soul vs. body, life vs. death, nature vs. culture, speech vs. writing. We create hierarchies, with the second term in each pair being inferior to the first. Deconstruction as a method, then, is a form of textual vandalism that seeks to undo these meanings and re-construct them. For the longest time, I have been enamored with Derrida’s philosophy simply to be afforded the opportunity to play at the edges or in the margins with language (as I do in my own way with my photography). Ah, but belief systems are constantly modified.
As Camille Paglia writes: “In the beginning was nature. The background from which and against which our ideas of God were formed, nature remains the supreme moral problem. We cannot hope to understand sex and gender until we clarify our attitude toward nature. Sex is subset to nature [my emphasis . . BH]. Sex is the natural in man.” [Paglia, Camille. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. New York: Vintage Books, 1991. 1] There is no getting beyond it. Ultimately, everything is about sex and ultimately fear. Society is constructed out of this fear. Culture, religion, language, institutions – all are products of the flight from this fear. And, the irony of ironies, all prohibitions [imund] stem from the natural in man as well.