On Seeking the World’s Soul

The last trip got to me. Just a bit, nothing too bad, only traveling two weeks around Turkey, where I’ve now lived for 5 months. It left me exhausted, though, and I’ve spent the last three days since getting back to Samsun in the house, all burned out and anti-social.

I always try to go… further. Deeper into a place, to grab its pain and love and history, to wrap it up around me and get it under my skin. How can you understand something without getting too close to it? Too close means the barriers fall, you get past the polite masks, the illusion embraced by the uninterested – ignorance’s safe haven. Too close means you get touched. You get muddy, soaked, exhausted, afraid. It’s when it’s trying you, though, that you see the real face of a place, begin to touch its soul, to have your own soul exposed by it. Not safe. Not comfortable.

I named my blog “Seeking the World’s Soul” because that title describes what I’m doing, in this long wandering path around the globe. I’m trying to understand these places, the people, the reverberations of history on the present, to understand this crazy lovely heartbreaking world of ours. I’m trying to catch glimpses of its soul in my viewfinder, to share its darks and lights, its wildness, its sacredness, its desecration, and sometimes the glimpses of that shuddering beauty that shines through its pain.

Of course I do more normal photo projects – various shoots with fantastically costumed models, weddings, the odd product shoot. But I rarely try and shoot ugliness, because the world has enough of that already.

The artist’s role is to burn with Promethean fire, and its fuel is Promethean pain – to have your guts pulled out for all to see, picked over by the vultures of the world, and still to keep breathing, keep being reborn. To keep dreaming, and to keep the fires alight. “Art” that is only a commentary on ennui, on boredom, on apathy… fails.

Good art alchemizes reality into truth. It takes the world and shows its deeper heart, the eternal balancing the transient.

But the process itself can be exhausting.

2 comments

  1. Beautiful. I feel that way too, like I must go *deeper* into the world, to go past what is psychologically, physically and emotionally safe, so that I can fall in love with it, to go mad from it, to see the beauty in it and to gain wisdom from it.

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