One winter morning two years ago, I visited my favorite bookstore. It was — past tense, as it closed that spring — a cozy place that struck just the right balance between old and new, rare and common, the sort of place you visit to just be around books. Every few weeks I’d go in the hopes of finding something I’d overlooked on all my other visits … which, inevitably, was the case.
Of late I’ve felt ambivalent about my own photography. As Juhani Pallasmaa wrote in The Eyes of the Skin, we’ve elevated sight above the other senses; we regard the world — see the world, in that telling metaphor for understanding — in a disproportionately visual way, diminishing our other senses and the fullness of lived experience.
In the opening essay of When I Was a Child I Wrote Books, Marilynne Robinson writes of the miraculous improbability that is every human being: each mind containing more neurons than stars in our universe, arranged in patterns complicated beyond our reckoning, loving and hurting and thinking, floating through a vast vacuum gulf; if from a certain scale even a chair would look like a cloud of energy, what might each of us appear to be….
I hadn’t planned to watch the New York City Marathon but was caught on the far side of Bedford Avenue, separated from my house by the runners, and fortunately so. Having only watched the highly competitive runners before, those at the front of the pack, rather than the great mass in the middle, I had not realized that the marathon is an allegory: The elites, beautiful as they are with long strides and holy focus, are an outlying fringe, like Broadway actors introducing a community theatre. Everyone else is — everyone else.