I spent some delicious time with a few hundred Ansel Adams photographs today. But, surprisingly, the most memorable moment came not in the form of an image but as one of Adams’s favorite quotes. It hit me head on:“People say that what we’re seeking is the meaning of life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. What we seek is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel that rapture of being alive.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
I started to wonder if this is the purpose of literature (and of all art), to send us to that place of rapture where we feel most alive? Adams’s photographs can do that.
Can a book, a poem? I would say “yes,” would you?
P.S. To be fair, “Moonrise, Hernandez,” a photo I saw again today, stops my heart every time I see it. I don’t think I can include it in this post without copyright infringement. Besides, looking at it over the Internet doesn’t do it justice. You can read Wikipedia’s fascinating account about the making of the photo here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonrise,_Hernandez,_New_Mexico
If you ever see a print of this surreal photo in person, you’ll understand.