It's the twenty-first century and I'm working with a bad set of assumptions.
The idea that one picks and chooses from one category or another like a Chinese menu is so foreign to me. I can't conceive of having lived a life as a university student and not have relished reading the works of Nabokov and Pope and Hemmingway and Wallace Stevens. Or the poems of Billy Collins. Can't imagine getting thru a tough month of work without having a novel on the bedside. Maybe a detective novel by Ian Rankin or short stories from J.D. Salinger. It's like getting a free ticket to other worlds and other universes. Getting to temporarily borrow another person's mind and point of view. I read Atlas Shrugged and was appalled.....but fascinated. Now I know where some of my acquaintances came up with some of the ideas that move them and scare me. But at least I understand them.
To cut one's self off from literary fiction is either some remarkable act of penance or folly. Like saying you only eat meat. No fruits, no vegetables.
So I marvel that we can even see making images in the same way. And maybe that's another construct that's in my head. Maybe while I'm walking around just letting images come to me by some sort of inefficient osmosis all those left brain people out there have drawn up matrixes and ven diagrams, plotted their "creative development" out on graphs and have measured their "artistic" productivity on a scale I can't imagine, all the while chilling out with a glass of chardonnay and a good book on The History of Iron or Understanding C++ Compilers or Nuclear Remediation for Dummies. But I may have it even more incorrect than I first supposed. Perhaps people who don't read fiction don't drink wine either. If they did, how would they converse about it? Would it be like, "I analyzed the chemical constituents of several Pinot Noirs, did a regression analysis taking into account weather, average soil acidity and the trade winds as reported by the Economist and decided I would be best suited to drinking only wines that start with the letter "S" and "L" and then only if I could find them within 6 miles of my home. That's the only way it makes scientific and economic sense....."
Maybe the need to do photography, take workshops, and to try and get in touch with the artistic side of your technical art is really your soul screaming out for you to pick up a damn fiction book and lose yourself in another way of thinking. Maybe it's the horribly repressed right side of your brain making a last gasping attempt to save itself (and a whole half of your own brain) from entropy and atrophy.
I end this column with a sense of despair. If my readers, who have come across to me as worldly and educated and socially sophisticated have given up on fictional literature, I fear that the Barbarians are already past the front door and heading for the library. Bent on destroying anything that can't be measured.
What does this have to do with photography? Apparently, everything.....and nothing.