The Illuminated Tarot

A photograph, for me, is a reaction, not an act, not a seizure. I don’t take anything, or capture. The camera is like a wooden training sword, the photograph is but a parry.

I am not a stalker of scenes. I don’t search for objects. I move through the world and cannot help but see, and be cowed.

It’s been more than 5 years now and I still don’t know what photography means. I still don’t know what’s ‘happening’ when I use a camera. Someone said today that “Vincent sure knows his way around a camera.” but that’s not true, I don’t. What I do know is when I am experiencing a moment that is real, unforced, sublime. I have a knack for recognizing moments that speak to something beyond what the senses themselves perceive.

My instinct in those moments is to describe them to myself because in them I feel displaced, amok time. It feels like I’m dreaming. Writing is a means of catharsis that has proven most effective for that. Through my writing I can evoke those moments and convey those feelings. Writing helps me to understand the dream. My writing attempts to recreate the dream in gripping, lucid prose that will make the reader feel what I felt and see what I saw. I suppose that is selfish. But it can also be self-preserving.

I’m starting to see photography in the same way. A photograph is a translation of a feeling that occurs subconsciously. It is a means of seeing relationships. I believe the eye is relaying to the brain (the mind) much more than it is capable of processing in real time. We are like radios tuning into many frequencies and often we miss something potentially crucial to our understanding and growth.

The subconscious is like a dowser’s wand that jerks in the presence of water. When something is near that can further my understanding of life and myself I feel a tic in my chest. That’s when I raise the camera, compose a photograph, and open the shutter.

It’s a strange interrelated series of events, photography. Not unlike writing. Both arise from a subconscious impulse. Both attempt to reveal meaning beyond the senses. When I first looked up and saw that fern frond I was struck by its symmetry. I was also aware of the glass panels above, forming a grid of straight, perpendicular lines.

There are no straight lines in the natural world. No right angles. These are man’s contributions. And the juxtaposition strikes me, again and again. We too are curved forms. We too are irregular. Our bodies, our containers. Yet we insist on hard edges, predictable points, uniformity. We seem to cherish boxes, grids, an endless repetition of squares. An organic form locked with a cell. I understand efficiency, modularity, order. But nature is efficient too and it maintains its own order.

A photograph reveals ideas that are simmering just below the surface of awareness. It can peer into the mystic unknown, like the third eye, to convey more than a mere reflection. The interplay of light and subject formulates a language that reads like a Tarot. Light activates an alphabet, hidden everywhere, like the ultraviolet patterns that guide bees to flowers. And that is the crux of my procedure, be it as a writer or a photographer, which are two labels for the same thing. For both, in my book, seeks an evolving personal truth. A personal truth that it a tributary to one that is Universal.

o O o

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