kitchen life # 37 ~ the cruel radiance of what is

It's been a while since I have pulled the following quote out of my quotes bag:

In the immediate world, everything is to be discerned..with the whole of consciousness, seeking to perceive it as it stands: so that the aspect of a street in sunlight can roar in the heart of itself as a symphony, perhaps as no symphony can: and all consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is. ~ James Agee

I have hauled it out of the bag in light of my recent failures to have photos selected for a couple exhibitions in order that I might reaffirm what my commitment to making pictures is all about. But, let me start at the beginning...

Back in my Jesuit education high schools days, a great value was placed on reading. Not only were there course reading requirements - especially in English and Literature courses - but there was always a Summer reading requirement. Now that written and truth be told, I was not a reading devotee so my reading approach at that time was to get by on the absolute minimum of reading required to, if not excel, at least to do well in a course.

That written, what nearly killed my desire to read was the fact that, in my classes, very little attention was given to the literal story to be had in a given book. It seemed that a book could not be appreciated based upon the experience of a good literal read. No, it had to be appreciated from the act of deciphering the meaning of a book as interpreted from metaphor, allegory and other literary devices.

To wit, nothing was what it was, everything was merely a literary device to be discerned in order to understand the "real" meaning of a story. And the simple fact was that I didn't "get it". For me, a story was just that, a story, and my relation with a story was with the sensuous experience of the reading of it ... its form, not its content.

Inasmuch as my experience of reading a book was sensual rather than intellectual, that taken together with the fact that the intellectual experience was taught as the important value to be had in a book/story, led me to the conclusion that I was "stupid" or somehow deficient. And I mean that literally because I just couldn't relate to book/story in that interpretive manner.

My relationship with books (I have been an avid reader for over 4 decades), as with all art, is to "perceive it as it stands" with all my consciousness "shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is."

And, that M.O. is what I bring to my picture making (and my life ) inasmuch as I believe that manner of seeing and experiencing is part and parcel of what I am.