Thursday, January 21, 2010

When You Are The Camera

Thanks so much to Laura at her Wardrobe by Sam blog for inspiriting this post!

I liken pictures to an autobiography of sorts, this is me, this is who I was, this is where I have been. Was in a discussion the other night about whether knowing something is autobiographical automatically takes away from the artistry. I think not, though others disagree. I think it's a question of taste (for instance, I usually prefer photography to painting and that in some ways mirrors my taste in literature) because all writing comes from somewhere and it ain't thin air. You're pulling out the deepest parts of yourself, trying to understand or at least tell a decent story. And as Joan Didion pointed out not so very long ago, We tell stories in order to live. I can survive without a lot of things, but a story isn't one of them. Even if it's a story about not having a story -- my brief flirtation with meta, I suppose.

For me, writing is where artifice meets honesty, paradoxical bedfellows. Sometimes we are most ourselves when we are posing as someone else. When I was a little girl, I used to imagine myself as someone else, usually one of the popular, effortless girls, tried to see what it would be like. I'd choose a new girl every week, imagining her reality to be far superior to my own. But I never quite made myself believe it. I remember a lot about that time, but not everything. My favorite picture of myself from these years is one of me lying on my stomach, reading the Bible, dressed in a nightgown and pom-pom socks, looking as serious as can be. As if I could midrash those stories, find out what I needed to know in order to be whole in the world. I don't know if I ever made it, but I have the proof that, at least for a moment, I was seeking it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"And as I've gotten older, I've had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things." Martin Scorsese

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: The Woodsmen

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! And thanks so much for the reminder about Robert B. Parker -- rest in peace, writer extraordinaire!


Anonymous said...

After all the bad things Raymond Carver did in his life, it seems that somehow his story "Cathedral" redeemed him. And nobody edited it but himself.--Herman Northrup Frye

Charles Gramlich said...

I never thought a lot about pictures until Lana came along. She's gotten me to look at photos in an artistic way, where before I just thought of them as a nonfiction record of an event. I'm probably more influenced now by them as a writer than ever before.

stephanie said...

Are you the teacher from Macomb, from 2006?

Lana Gramlich said...

Back in the day I used to change myself on a regular basis, always trying to fit in some way. And I mean change EVERYTHING; clothes, attitude, handwriting, EVERYTHING. I didn't know then that it didn't just wasn't going to happen & that THAT didn't matter either. No surprise that I ended up diagnosed with dissociative personality disorder (among other things,) I s'pose.
I learned a very valuable lesson in the end. Now I am just me. All the time. I even had friends comment that I'm always the same person, no matter who I'm with or what I'm doing.
Finally, I am Me. :)

(BTW, haven't had a chance to mail your pkg yet, but hope to do so tomorrow.)

Anonymous said...

BTW, buy Wifi blocker to disable all secret devices in your room or office.

the walking man said...

Are you the teacher from Macomb, from 2006? Or that Dufus from Detroit 2001?

I come from that Orgy School of Writing...pick a partner from all the nudity in the room and go with it.

Here are some different photo’s worth a look

jodi said...

Michelly Bell, I, like you will pour over old pics--not only to see how much I weighed and what I had on, but also to try to deciper WHO I was at the time. It rarely works. xoxo

Christopher Isherwood said...

I am a Camera

John Lennon said...

I am the Walrus

Sean Penn said...

I am Sam

Anonymous said...

You lying f*ck!

The walrus was Paul!

John Lennon said...

I was the walrus, but now I'm John.

Richard Matheson said...

I am Legend

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Who copped my schtick?--Rodney Dangerfield