What is the definition of a fool?
According to a great Russian author Saltykov-Shchedrin, it is “anybody who thinks differently”.
Why would anybody bother thinking differently? My take is that their picture of reality is different then yours. They see what they see, and you see what you do. Since the two of you can’t agree, and since you know for a fact that you have reality to back you up, the other guy is a fool and his opinion can be dismissed. You’ll find somebody else who sees the world the same as you do, who is not a fool, aka a soulmate.
This can work pretty well as long as you have the luxury of associating only with people who see a similar picture and as long as you can change them at will when their picture changes. Our contemporary world is based on this assumption, one reason why the majority of our relationships are so unsatisfactory. Of course, the minute you have people who are permanently installed in your life, you have trouble.
Limited as you are in time and space, you take in reality as a series of photographs. Only the one available to you right this second is the one in sharpest focus, and it is a two-dimensional static representation of a three dimensional changing world. It is reality all right, just one facet of it. What are the chances that anybody else has the exact same picture at exact same moment of time so that you can compare notes and agree? If this miracle happens to you, it’s one of these rare instances when tension resolves. It can be likened to finale of a music piece, when the dominant chord changes to the tonic, and the music stops triumphantly (Pop, goes the…???… WEA-SEL! (ahhhh)). This moment only lasts as long as you hear the echo of that last resolving chord, while the strings are still vibrating, while there is resonance in your being to that last blast of harmony. After that, there is no more tension. No more movement. No more music. Silence. Rest. And if it drags on too long, then emptiness.
Or you can pick up a new tune. It might be dissonant. It might interweave with another tune in polyphony. Nature abhors vacuum, that’s why these moments of complete agreement and unison are so rare – it would be too boring.
So back to our first question, who is a fool?
I submit it might be a person who insists that his brief photograph or reality actually is reality. He then sees no reason to slow down, look for truth in other people’s representations and see how they dovetail with his own, giving a new picture that has depth, richness and detail lacking in his own view. He will be stuck with his limited little polaroid print, forever on the hunt for that elusive other person with the exact same polaroid.
Coming up next – learning to compare photographs based on knowledge of how they are produced.