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Jun. 25th, 2007

Because un_crayon_rouge made me think about my photography-killed-writing dilemma.

"Do you agree?" asked Margaret. "Do you think music is so different to pictures?"

"I--I should have thought so, kind of," he said.

"So should I. Now, my sister declares they're just the same. We have great arguments over it. She says I'm dense; I say she's sloppy." Getting under way, she cried: "Now, doesn't it seem absurd to you? What is the good of the Arts if they are interchangeable? What is the good of the ear if it tells you the same as the eye? Helen's one aim is to translate tunes into the language of painting, and pictures into the language of music. It's very ingenious, and she says several pretty things in the process, but what's gained, I'd like to know? Oh, it's all rubbish, radically false. If Monet's really Debussy, and Debussy's really Monet, neither gentleman is worth his salt--that's my opinion."

[E.M.Forster, Howard's End]

True or false, even when I read the novel for the first time some fifteen or more years ago, without much thought I instinctively knew I agreed with Margaret here. I don't really translate from one medium to another in my mind, either; I even slowly ceased immediately analysing any work of art I looked at, movie I saw or book I read once I'd ditched my ph.d. aspirations and academia, and found it actually liberated me and widened my horizon when I didn't feel obliged to file everything in neat categories, or even find words and descriptions for everything. I'm probably being unfair, because in all likelihood the fault was mine, not having the right words at my disposal, or enough of them, not enough intelligence or imagination to make them suit my own needs. (Then again, it was a brilliant writer who played devil's advocate here: "Was aber das >Wort< betrifft, so handelt es sich da vielleicht weniger um eine Erlösung als um ein Kaltstellen und Aufs-Eis-Legen der Empfindung? Im Ernst, es hat eine eisige und empörend anmaßliche Bewandtnis mit dieser prompten und oberflächlichen Erledigung des Gefühls durch die literarische Sprache." )

Writing and photography, even in the context of livejournal, are two very separate things for me; not because of some profound, deeply thought about principle, perhaps (and more likely) it's just lack of imagination: my mind works in very direct, literal ways most of the time. My pictures don't replace what I might have expressed in words otherwise. It's an entirely different way of thinking, of feeling, of looking at the world when I'm out with my camera. And at the moment, It's the more satisfying, easier one for me, the one that comes more natural, in a way. But it has reminded me to write more, too; to look at the world not only through a camera, because that's limiting myself, too. Different modes of expression are a good thing.

On a somewhat related note - I remember sitting on un_crayon_rouge's balcony last May and watching the swallows swoop in the evening sky and over the roof of the house across the street, and I thought how wonderful, how exotic, and how there weren't any swallows in Vienna. Yesterday, waiting for the bus home after a four hour walk-with-camera I happened to look up, and there they were. Not as many, but certainly swallows, in the sky above central Vienna. How have I missed them until now? Chalk it up to living on the first floor?

(Also, flight to Madrid for August booked! whee!)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2007 08:08 am (UTC)
prompte und oberflächliche Erledigung des Gefühls durch die literarische Sprache



Maybe what's false is that words/written language is the only medium that can *explain* things, while other mediums (painting, music, photography, sculture, architecture, you name it) give another "vision" as it were, another dimension that words cannot convey. If you want to be clear and direct, if you want to make someone else understand, words is what you use. So when you feel you can't say what you want to say with words, you immediately feel inadequate.

But Margaret is right, painting is painting and music is music and it's not the same. Just as painting cannot be expected to "cover" music and vice versa, why are words expected to "cover" for everything else? No one expects you to come out of an exhibition and write a symphony to explain how you felt about it, but you are expected to find the accurate words, a medium that may be just as inappropriate.

Maybe we should just learn to let it be. Not assault someone coming out of a museum or a concert or even a movie with the dreaded question: "How was it?" Maybe there isn't an immediate answer, and there shouldn't be. Then, three weeks later, maybe, you'll take a picture, and there it will be, that will be your reflection on the museum or concert or movie, what it did to *you*, how it made you maybe change your point of view, see the world in a slightly different way.
Jun. 26th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
Don't blame *me*! :) I couldn't resist quoting, it was still so fresh in my mind.

I don't think it's necessarily true, either; to some extent maybe, but not in this brutal absoluteness. Of course there's fiction I read for emotional gratification, but that's something different, because it touches/satisfies relatively simple emotions; it doesn't explain. And good fiction doesn't so much explain, as inspire, make me think, make me grateful that I'm allowed share this person's vision. Personally I'd never apply this to any of TM's writing.

And part of me still loves - and for a long time even needed - that aspect of language, the defining, the explaining and ordering. Everything else was too scary to consider.

Sorry, my brain is really dead tonight... I'll have to think about this some more, before I come up with some platitude about thow important it is to find a balance - which maybe it is, after all.

Love the last paragraph - I think you're absolutely right.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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