Dalat, Vietnam | 2010
“Without us, Earth will abide and endure; without her, however, we could not even be.”
From “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman
My friend Holly and I took a long drive today around the vicinity of Tucker County, West Virgina. After spending last year in Southeast Asia I’m finding myself drawn to different things visually — things I may have overlooked, or just taken for granted. The USA is a strange place; and the more I look around the more I appreciate its oddness. Some of the things I see genuinely frighten me; other things I find charming and uniquely “American”. The photograph above is one of the frightening ones (obviously). I’m not sure what the blood splatter & hand prints are all about or trying to say. As I was photographing a big red truck passed me and pulled into the driveway of the house whose property on which these wooden symbols sit. I figured the owners wouldn’t mind me photographing since they obviously want people to see their strange display of faith — and I was right . . . after hopping back in the car they gave me a big wave and smile as we sped off past.
Below is something I find more contemplative and serene. The drive today made me wonder why so many people choose to turn to abstract ideas befitting of a horror film to open themselves to some sense of faith while being surrounded by this mysteriously breathing landscape. I suppose the power of our imagination to usurp the world surrounding us does say something hopeful about the power of the human mind — but this hopeful ability is also our primary source of suffering and terror. I can’t think of many things more important than the study of art appreciation and self-expression. I’ll admit, I actually like seeing bloody crosses on a lawn — they’re strange and I like my world weird; but bloody crosses very easy become symbols that flare people to intolerable actions that adversely affect other beings. Perhaps it’s a matter of feeling disconnected from our creative power that makes people strike out against those who create the world in a different image — and a noble pursuit would be learn to relish our own odd reflections and appreciate the bizarre shadows cast by others.
To further explore some of the themes touched upon in this post visit Holly’s photoessay on vacancy & hope in modern America HERE.