Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Creative Networking

Just as I write mostly for myself, my photographs are selfish too - but I don’t publish them, except the occasional few on my weblog. I give them away to whoever asks. Lately, I’m deriving more satisfaction from pictures than from words.

They’re related, though, words and images. Good novelists catalyze images which are, in turn, subjectively modified in readers’ minds. While reading a good story, there’s a movie playing on the back of my forehead that I view with my mind’s eye, so to speak. Conversely, “A picture,” goes the proverb, “is worth a thousand words,” but those words need not be spoken or written, necessarily. The picture might just speak for itself, as words are sometimes insufficient.Every day I expect to see beauty, so I take my camera wherever I go. If it’s not hanging off my shoulder, it’s not far away in my vehicle. Should my pictures capture some imperfect, but reasonable facsimile of a beautiful witness, some appreciation may then be kindled in others viewing it.Encounters with beauty quicken feeling. If nothing troubles me, the serenity helps me to see the beauty I might otherwise have missed if I were melancholic. When I expect beauty, it usually appears and when it does, it magnifies serenity, which helps me see still more beauty. “Beauty” defined is:

the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
As most of my pictures are attempts to capture beauty, there’s feeling associated with each. They begin with feeling, at least, but they don’t always render it. When my photographs fail to catch and arrest even a small portion of the beauty I perceive, I feel a loss. But when they do, it’s wonderful.My favorite poet, Robert Frost, wrote: “A poem begins as a lump in the throat . . .” and I get that. Frost went on: “ . . . a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” My pictures might contain some lovesickness - an immersion into feeling - but with more emphasis on love and less on sickness. I write about woe, but avoid photographing it. Frost went still further, saying: “. . . It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.”Beauty, when I encounter it, is transitory. Either it diminishes as light wanes, or I must leave its proximity and see it no more. I can preserve it - though always in attenuated form - with my camera. I carry some of it away. Strawberry preserves don’t taste as good as strawberries, but are good nonetheless. Serenity enables notice of beauty, and the camera enables me to preserve some. It’s all “an effort to find fulfillment,” as Frost described poetic inspiration.

The picture is a medium captured with a camera created by man, but operated by a photographer created by God. Properly executed, the picture captures created beauty, which is then triggered in viewers who are also created. Without the divine, there would be neither beauty nor perception of it. With it, our perception and attempts to capture it bring the fulfillment both Frost and the photographer seek. If we plug into the process, what we capture will resonate in the reader or the viewer, as we are are all components in the network of our Creator.Van Gogh

The more I work with pictures, the more I appreciate good painting. Some painters capture beauty exquisitely. They’re plugged into the network, consciously or not, and their work reflects it. Others don’t - not to my eye at least. I see it in Van Gogh’s work, but not in Picasso’s for example. Much of his work is alien to me and I wondered why, so I researched him. A few of his quotes were enough to understand:

God is really another artist. . . . He has no real style.

I am a communist and my painting is a communist painting.

Picasso

But this confession of his sealed it:

The 'refined', the 'rich', the 'professional do nothing', the 'distiller of quintessence' desire only the peculiar, and sensational, the eccentric, the scandalous in today's art. And I myself, since the advent of cubism, have fed these fellows what they wanted and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that have passed through my head. The less they understood, the more they have admired me! ...Today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone, I do not have the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand meaning of the word. ...I am only a public clown, a mountebank. I have understood my time and exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries.

No wonder I was repulsed. His were hardly efforts to find fulfillment. I’ll continue trusting my instincts with poets and painters and other image-makers.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Show Low Yaqui said...

Super piece, Tom! I forwarded it to my brother in Seattle, also a "Man with a Camera".

Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

7/25/12, 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Jules H said...

Wonderful photos. I think you captured what motivates so many of us to carry cameras. My own stock of photographs I've taken over the years numbers in the tens of thousands.

7/25/12, 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom, I was surprised by your column today, and delighted. My son was an artist from the time he could hold a pencil. He died in 2008 and today while reading my bible, I had a picture in my head of Jake painting a scene ( a scenic ?) in heaven for God. I believe God would love it! The picture in my mind made me smile and so did your article. Barb Miller

7/25/12, 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Guernica said...

A. No surprise you share the same views on Picasso as the nazi's.

B. That lengthy "quote" from Picasso was and is fiction.
Please be responsible. Especially when attacking arguably the greatest artist of the twentieth century.

"The Papini interview was a gift to Picasso's detractors who, for the past 40 years, have used it to discredit both his achievement and modern art as a whole. John Richardson, Picasso's current biographer, believes that the time has finally come for the 'confession' to be conclusively discredited. 'This story should be squashed once and for all. It keeps rearing its ugly head,' he says. 'It still takes in serious people...
It was an earlier Picasso authority Pierre Daix who first exposed the true nature of the Papini 'interview' in his 1977 book La Vie de Peintre de Pablo Picasso. While the origins of the interview were an intellectual joke, their diffusion, Daix revealed, was politically motivated and was aided and abetted by Franco's police. 'This nonsensical mystification,' wrote Daix, 'was taken as gospel by various easily-gulled simpletons and so-called experts.'

Picasso's 'confession' is now such a part of popular myth that it is frequently taken as genuine in otherwise learned journals. Last year, it appeared as such in the Spectator. Perhaps its most dangerous appearance, however, is in a key passage of Robertson Davies' 1985 novel What's Bred in the Bone: 'Picasso made a statement: . . . 'Mine is a bitter confession . . .but it has the merit of being sincere'.' As Picasso would have recognised, a fiction presented as truth within a fiction becomes twice as real."


C'mon......weak.....

7/26/12, 8:00 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Guess I must be wrong about what Obama said in Virginia too, huh? "You didn't build that." He's been denying it ever since, even though it's right there on video/audio. How dare those conservatives quote leftist heroes.

Deny them often enough and for long enough and their words go away though, right?

Only in weak minds.

7/26/12, 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Guernica said...

Uhm, not sure what Barry soetoro has to do with it?
Puzzled?

Still the quote is fiction. Sorry. Just the facts.

7/26/12, 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Guernica said...

To reiterate. You're quoting a fascist italian antisemitic author who wrote fiction. The interview is fake. He did the same thing with Freud, Hitler and Dali, Kafka, Tolstoy, Etc....

But rather than acknowledge that how about you deflect with a statement about Obama? Or whatever else?

Journalistic integrity anyone?

7/26/12, 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey genius, maybe research this stuff before printing it?

That quote has been debunked as fiction by every
Picasso biographer, et al.


Unbeliavable.......

7/26/12, 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you contacted the local rags that print this stuff? Ya know, to tell them you quoted a fake interview?

7/28/12, 8:20 AM  
Anonymous buttercup said...

An exercise in public onanism, with the added fillip of an incorrect quote, followed by a weak attempt (in the comment section) of diverting from the inaccuracy by pointing the finger at Obama.

Thank you so much, Educator McLaughlin, for showing us how Republicans take personal responsibility.

7/31/12, 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I guess every pictures would definitely give you a connection not just a mere beauty but seems could speak a thousand words. It makes you appreciate each image. :D

8/7/12, 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I really like the pictures above. Great capture of image specially the beauty of nature and the mother with her child. I could see that you have a great talent in photography. :D

8/7/12, 11:11 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

The first mother and child are my daughter, Annie and granddaughter, Lila. The second mother and child in the water are my daughter, Sarah and grandson, Alex.

Thanks for the kind words, Sarah.

8/7/12, 4:50 PM  

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