Sometimes it’s better to just start a story just after a big thing has happened. It worked well with the first Harry Potter book, for example. It’s not good to avoid the big thing entirely, but this is just a thing I am not bringing up publicly for the foreseeable future*. Generally, what happens after a Bad Thing should be the most important part, anyway. It’s as true for fictional kid wizards as it is for us. So this is what is going on after the Thing That Will Not Be Mentioned (Here).
I took about three “real” photos over summer. I classify “real photo” in this context as something that fits into this specific body of work I’ve been playing with for about two years. Schedules are tricky and the summer’s slow work wasn’t entirely by choice, but it’s primarily what happens when you’re fully consumed by doubt. It’s what happens when you’re in a Leiningen Versus the Ants situation**. I was at the point that I had flooded the plantation and was on the ground covered in ants. The ants were biting, and it seemed not ignoble to just realize it was too late to get back to safety. I had assured myself a noble demise with my integrity intact.
But I got back up, and here I am, in my recovery bed. I’m rehabbing and slowly getting back out. I still feel like ants are crawling up my legs. That thing where you think you have a spider or insect on you after you see a household invader that you can’t dispatch. That’s where I am photographically.
I worry about the ants every time I plan or take a photo. I think about them every time I pause to consider the photo. This line of thought ends with my plantation consumed, and I’ll find out that my dam scheme was just Deus Ex Machina - that there will not be another lucky break.
But at this point, I can't go on like it was, and I just have to do as I’m compelled: To take these pictures, and to follow that twist in my chest – which makes me think a decision is empty and wrong – or that soaring high of getting it right. My brain tries too hard to wait for logic to unpack everything instead of just staying ahead and realizing that logic will be there in the end.
And so this might be another moat – just another line of defense which gets overwhelmed after a few nice tries. The ants might be crawling up me before I can do anything meaningful. They might eat me and leave me behind with the other dumb animals. Or maybe I’m on to something like I believe, and I only have keep moving my feet.
Both decisions might lead to my failure, but only one will lead to my success.
So here I am, making that decision.
*We say foreseeable future as if we can actually foresee anything. Sure, we can guess likely outcomes, but our skill there is also dubious.
** The classic short story about a Brazilian plantation owner who stands his ground against an apocalyptic swarm of army ants and nearly dies in the process. See this for more. It was also adapted into a film called The Naked Jungle, starring Charlton Heston, which was the source of the above photo.