Sunday, 31 January 2010

No Context Needed

Could we do without context? For moments, we can and we do. When we are in the real, that is. As Sharon Cameron put it in Beautiful Work: A Meditation on Pain (2000): "It is possible to think this: without a reference point there is meaninglessness. But I wish you'd understand that without a reference point you are in the real."

In order to feel not lost in this world we have created belief systems. We believe what helps us to feel safe. And above all: we believe what we want to believe. We have created a variety of systems - think of the legal system or of bureaucracy, for instance - that do what they are supposed to do: to make us feel safe and provide jobs and income for lawyers and bureaucrats "Tony Blair's government has created more than 3,000 new criminal offences during its nine-year tenure, one for almost every day it has been in power" reported The Independent in August 2006. Or think of money. Like the legal system or bureaucracy it does not exist out there in the real, it exists only in our created reality. As Robert Wilson in A Small Death in Lisbon put it: "We are all mad, Inspector, for the simple reason that we don't know why we exist and this ..." he waved his hand at the tissue of existence before him, "this life is how we distract ourselves so that we don't have to think about things too difficult for us to comprehend."

Excerpt from my essay "No Context Needed".
Afterimage, Rochester, NY, November/December 2008.



3 comments:

Becca said...

"It is possible to think this: without a reference point there is meaninglessness. But I wish you'd understand that without a reference point you are in the real."
- thinking about photography this quote takes me to memory-image vs. photographs as reference points of history. Krakauer explains how memory can shatter space and time (unlike the photographs), but Barthes again talks about how photographs can create 'counter-memories'. Which one then brings you closer to the real? I guess neither, but this quote would make the idea-image the winner, if the memory could in fact be freed from photographic reference.

Sorry for decontextualising your quote, but it met my thoughts. Thank you for the inspiration.

AcrossCultures said...

That it inspired you is all that matters.

AcrossCultures said...

An afterthought: We all are constantly creating our own contexts while at the same time there seems to exist, as Jung argued, a collective unconscious. On a certain, very basic, level we all seem to relate to photographs in a similar way - that was the argument in my essay from which the excerpt stems.

As to Krakauer versus Barthes - as always with theories: both are right.