From Pohanginapete, a mediation on what it means to be an artist in a time of slow-motion apocalypse:
The comment reminded me of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous remark, “The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks.”
I thought about the justification for comments like these, and my own pessimism about where we’re headed; our apparent failure to convert concern into action. Should we abandon esoteric research; should I stop photographing rocks?
It’s a hard one. It’s tempting to think we “should” act responsibly, but how happy would we be if we insisted on acting responsibly? Sure, some of us would — and do — feel satisfied and happy knowing (or thinking) we’re doing the right thing, but what about the rest of us who, if we sacrificed ourselves for the greater good, would spend our lives feeling thwarted by our sense of duty — in effect, resenting the conscience that denied us the right to pursue what we most wanted? Enough, I guess, to make the world a less happy place than it would otherwise have been.
— The end of the world as we know it
(Please leave any comments you might have over there, not here.)
2 Replies to “Photographing rocks”
Cartier-Bresson wrongly, but understandably (in my view) narrowed the reason for his art to one channel. That’s how his situation and temperament spoke to him.Adams and Weston responded to their situations in their ways.
I’d say there is room for it all, and a need for it all, although there are some strange artists making strange works “out there”.
There is a need for the temporal (Cartier-Bresson) and a need for the eternal (Adams and Weston).
Thanks for the publicity, Dave. The more that people think about these things, the more hope there’ll be. At least, I hope so. Nothing substitutes for action, though.