Le Monde - French keychain - Perspective series
“I was walking in Bali, and I saw a bunch of people in a clearing, having a ball,
because somebody had just died.
And I realized that everything was just how you decided to think about it.
Sometimes people let the same problems make them miserable for years
when they should just say, ‘So what?’
It’s one of my favorite things to say. ‘So what?’
I don’t know how I made it, through all the years, before I learned to do that trick.
It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.”
How we look at anything - is everything.
We make it big or small, important or unimportant by our perspective, our view of things.
That’s the key.
The images this week are all of keychains - purchased at several Paris flea markets in June, 2013.
Harrison Judd - futureHistory.com
Me at 6 as "Secret Squirrel"
"We are always the same age inside."
Acknowledged or not, we all wear masks - social masks, family masks, masks disguising our selves to our Self. Many are necessary and useful, and when they fail us, our social structure and sense of interior meaning can also begin to break down.
We wear these masks because they help us make sense of the world and our place in it. Welling up from our unconscious, thunderstruck with an image from the heavens, put in place by the prevailing social and religious structures - masks are mythic embodiments representing our powers and potentialities, our hopes and fears, our inner monsters and heroes.
As children we can put on and take off the masks with ease, it's still a game. Children have direct experience of the fearful and fascinating mystery life is. The monsters under our bed are still real, as are the heroes that can come to our aid.
But as we grow older we're indoctrinated as to what's real and what's not, what matters and what doesn't.
So we put on a new mask, a mask fashioned for us by our parents and their beliefs and fears, by our society and its needs. For the fortunate few, the mask fits and our life is blessed and supported by it. But far more often it chafes and has little to do with who we are and what we want, and we can begin to confuse the mask with our essential selves, with tragic consequences.
Mid life crisis is just such an occasion, the impending loss of our powers and our inevitable death is another.
When I last saw my friend Maurice Sendak, he was in the hospital after suffering a stroke. He was about to be moved back up to the intensive care unit. I'd just returned from a trip to Japan and we held hands and made small talk for a few minutes about how remarkably different their world view was. Having seen the movie "The Tree of Life" on the flight back - and knowing he had recently watched it, I asked him what he thought. He said, "Don't you think the actress who played the mother was..." - and then he made his eyes very, very large, referring to main actress's big eyes. I laughed. Of course he was right, but I was trying to get to something else. "Yes" I said, "Of course, but don't you feel the movie said something important?" He said he really didn't think he understood it, which I was only half convinced he meant.
So we talked about how he was going to be moved to another unit and he looked at me for a long moment and squeezed my hand really hard, and then whispered - "I'm scared". "You'll be OK." I replied, and I still believed it - then I kissed him on the lips and went to leave. Before we said good bye, he looked at me for what seemed like a long moment and said "I love you." "I love you, too" I replied.
It was the last time I saw him, he died less than a week later.
My relationship with Maurice was like having a relationship with an extraordinarily brilliant eight year old. We connected as boys, with direct and unfettered experience of our emotions. He possessed, and was possessed by - his direct relationship with his own inner child. Putting masks on and off with abandon. He created the eternal boy, "Max" in "Where the Wild Things Are", who was able to befriend and rule his inner monsters by donning the mask of a king, and was then able to sail home to be a boy once again.
Maurice never stopped being a boy, he was always the same age inside.
In the end I'm afraid Maurice was once again possessed by the monsters he played so freely with, but he took off his mask for a moment.
Harrison Judd - futureHistory.com
My backyard - Prospect Hill Historic District - 09/2014
“We shape our buildings and afterwards, our buildings shape us”
Last weekend I celebrated a birthday, and my wife insisted we do something to mark the occasion, which is an excellent idea.
We live in a society often empty of rites of passage, so we must create our own. Annual events are a chance to assess, review, look around us.
I'd noticed Wikipedia was have a "Summer of Monuments" challenge. The goal, to gather as many images as possible of Nationally Registered Historic Places - and one of the places that had no images was the very neighborhood we live in, the Prospect Hill Historic District. So we walked around and took photos of some of the unique architecture in our neighborhood and posted them to the Wikipedia page.
You can view the current images here. http://futurehistory.smugmug.com/Prospect-Hill-Historic-Section/n-85Hc6/
I intend to document as many of the 993 buildings in the district as possible in the coming months.
Straightforward images - letting the architecture speak for itself. They don't need any help. These are remarkable homes. Stately, large, sturdy, majestic, they exude elegance and grandeur. Most of them are over 100 years old.
A few of the homes are in excellent condition - many more are not. To keep them in good shape, their size and age requires ongoing maintenance. Consequently, few people are willing to put either the time or the money into them. So they are being taken over by landlords and divided up into smaller apartments, or slowly deteriorating from time and the ravages of New England winters.
“This is your native domain, your own ancestral, natural habitat.”
My wife often jokes that she wants her next house to be plastic. Many new homes are. Vinyl siding, melamine surfaces, laminate floors.
The houses in this neighborhood are made of wood. Living inside them is a beautiful feeling.
Keeping the original plaster walls, the casement windows with the original sheet glass; trying to have an ongoing conversation with the house as it was built and the desires and requirements of modern life. Slow work, unpredictable in scope, but with the reward of a house that becomes a home, a space with warmth and grace that only a historical structure can provide.
Has it been worth it?
Harrison Judd - futureHistory.com
First Impressions, Old New York - Natural History Series
"The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth? - Because one did survive the wreck."
Herman Melville - Epilogue - Moby Dick
How I came to meet and work for Maurice Sendak.
In 1997 Maurice was looking for someone to organize and make better sense of his vast art, book and Mickey Mouse collections, as well as his own substantial body of artwork which dated back to his earliest journals and sketches.
He was looking for someone who had a knowledge of computers and databases, as well as a familiarity with and sensitivity to art. A friend of a friend made the introduction.
When I met him for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I was of course familiar with “Where the Wild Things Are” and his children’s books, but not with his opera sets, or what his interests and tastes were. My primary occupation at the time was as a photographer and computer consultant, and I wanted work. We met at his home, in the evening for dinner. He was not yet 70 and though small in stature, was a very powerful figure. I was given a tour of the house and its contents. The necessity for organization was painfully obvious. When flat file drawers were opened to show me the contents, artwork was bent backward from being stuffed past capacity. At the time he relied solely on his assistant and nearly constant companion, Lynn, to remember where things were when he wanted them. Sometimes that could take hours or days and he was looking for a better way, though he distrusted computers.
Over our meal we talked about what he needed done and what my skills and approach to the project would be. However, the connection we made was a literary one. During our conversation, I asked about his book collection and he asked me if I was a reader. I’d just finished reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and Melville’s “Moby Dick” and told him so. He slowly straightened up in his seat, his eyes lit up and he looked me straight in the eyes and asked, “Really?” I could tell he only half believed me, as if those books were mentioned merely for his approval. So we talked for the rest of the evening about books and literature and Ishmael and Pierre. We had formed the beginnings of a friendship.
As a freelancer, potential clients would be concerned with my skill set, past jobs and my approach. Maurice never asked about that. What he did ask was that I respect that I would be working in a house, not a business, and he wanted to make sure I knew he was gay - in case that was a problem for me. But Melville and Tolstoy had secured the job, and I was off on an adventure that would last for more than 15 years.
September 26, 2014
Harrison Judd - futurehistory.com
Attention - Paris, France
"To show the moment to itself, is to liberate the moment"
We all have cameras now. On our phones, on helmets and dashboards, inside and outside stores, hidden away and out in full view. We are bombarded by imagery for virtually all our waking hours.
But what is it we're looking at and how can we train ourselves to look, to see, to, as Steiglitz states "to show the moment to itself"?
I would like to propose four steps to put the odds in our favor.
“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long.”
Have a concept, an idea.
This is critical.
If you expect to wander around all day waiting for inspiration to strike it's like spending 20 bucks on lottery tickets.
You may be a winner, but not likely.
"Why (you ask) should anyone want to be here, when (simply by pressing a button) anyone can be in fifty places at once?"
e.e. cummings - i, six non lectures
Turn off your cell phone for at least one hour before, and for the entire time you are taking pictures.
I don't care if it's a smart phone or not - to encounter the moment, on any level, you have to be in the moment - and cell phones do just the opposite - they constantly bring our focus and our consciousness somewhere else.
So put it away, better yet, leave it at home.
"Simplify, simplify, simplify."
Henry Thoreau - Walden
Use a camera with a fixed focal length lens.
Zooms are just another distraction, and they separate us from the environment we're in by encouraging us to constantly change our perspective.
How can we know what it is we're seeing if we don't have a consistent and specific perspective?
They are also lighter, smaller, easier to carry - and faster.
"Having lots of choice might seem like a good thing. But in fact, it can lead to unhappiness."
Jonathan Clements - WSJ - Dec. 2006
Shoot no more than 50 images, total.
It will make you really look at what you're photographing, and it will force you to make hard choices, which will also help make you happier.
Harrison Judd - futurehistory.com