Thursday, August 16, 2012

A harmonious inconsistency

I woke this morning to find an email from David Byrne about a new book he's publishing, called How Music Works.  There was a charming intimacy to the note, the enthusiasm that makes his work so unique spilling over the edges as he said, "The physical book is truly a lovely object, so if you like to touch things, this is your best option. It’s large and slightly squishy. I gave my mom my advance author's copy for her birthday. 

The enhanced eBook has short audio snippets embedded to help you understand the kind of music played at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, for example… but you can’t touch an eBook. Each format caters to different senses."

Something about the way he said that caught my eye, even in my pre-coffee morning haze, so that when I read this passage in Soul Making, two sips later, I felt a little burst of ignition in my heart:

"Mozart understood the miracle of unity in diversity. The device of the vocal quartet, becoming a quintet, becoming a sextet, and on and on -- until everyone is singing is a vivid metaphor for the truth that each of us sings our own unique melody, and all contribute to one great and glorious sound: all sounds mix and rise together to become unending music.  It is thus that I find my home in harmony with all all other creatures.  Soul making, in the end, is not an individual affair.  It is concerned with our all being one, and yet each remaining unrepeatable and distinctly unique."

As someone who adores singing and is always searching for ways to harmonize, I found these words incredibly heartening; a metaphor that resonated beautifully within me.  And one of the things it helps me understand is this odd habit I have of taking so many different approaches to photography.  I wonder if it isn't a bit like finding ways to harmonize?

We have this saying in our little family: "You can't put Walkers in a box."  And now I see that it's not that we are rebellious spirits -- though we each have our impish streaks we are, none of us, radical or revolutionary -- but rather that the imp in us is always seeking harmony -- in both senses of the word: harmony in the sense of peace, and lack of conflict, but also harmony in the sense of balance; all sides heard from, high voices as well as low.

Because each situation, each moment, is different, there is never just one way to do that, so it might look to the outsider like we're waffling, shifting sides, inconsistent.  But now I see that there is a deep and resounding consistency to our inconsistency, just as people tell me there is a consistency to my work even though I photograph so many different kinds of subjects.  And the consistency lies in the determination to provide a constant counterpoint, even to our own music; to always be open to another way of seeing, another way of hearing; to give the voice that can barely be heard its moment to shine.

... and omigosh, I just realized that when I created this image last night, from two images (driftwood and sand) I'd collected over the weekend, I called it "Improvisation."  How cool is that?

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