Sunday, June 16, 2013

Is This Scary or What?

In an article entitled Discover Your Own Personal Symbols, Ralph Hattersley, Jr. wrote the following:

“The great cry of the contemporary artist is, “Express yourself!” It rings loudly throughout the land and nearly everyone agrees that it’s important. However noble it sounds to modern ears, it’s only half a formula. The vital missing part should read, “and do your best to decipher the meaning of what you’ve expressed.” The object is Self-understanding.”

“For an artist to project himself into his art doesn’t guarantee he’ll understand in the least what he’s said about himself. Truly, a substantial understanding is the rare exception rather than the rule. The majority of people don’t seem to care. All over the country, people are making pictures and not paying the slightest attention to what the photographs could tell them about themselves.”

“Self expression for its own sake has its place in photography. When people first get involved in making pictures, they find that for a year or two they can express their feelings and at the same time avoid understanding what they are. Some, indeed, can do it for years. More power to them! May they long enjoy their fictional happiness!”

“Serious photographers, however, find that a preoccupation with photography is more often a kind of suffering, rather than fun. The reason may be that, intentionally or not, they’re using it in searching for themselves—a process that takes years.”

“It is a bitter fact that what we initially discover about ourselves on the long journey toward self-completion is very upsetting. We just don’t measure up the way we think we ought to. Often, we suspect we’re even horrible as human beings. Naturally, we are strongly inclined to turn away, which means giving up photography if we’ve inadvertently used it for Self-discovery and analyzing our motivation.”

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