Wednesday, February 14, 2007


"Don't lethargic...
You're a're the target"

That has nothing to do with this post, except for the fact that the name of the photo above is called "Target" and it reminded me of the old Husker Du song. I know it's the title because the photographer was gracious enough to email me a jpeg of the image for use in my blog. I was actually going to include the pic just as a companion to the previous post about the interview in the newest issue of The Sun with Richard Louv, armadillos, etc.

Really, though, it's in appropriate for that purpose, because the picture itself is...well, worth at least a thousand words, as the saying goes. It's a remarkable work of art that completely took my breath away when I first saw it. My first reaction to it was quite visceral, but changed almost immediately to another interpretation. And therein lies the beauty and genius of the photo. Like all great art, it's open to myriad interpretations...some simultaneous, others that form upon later examination.

The photographer's name is Margaret Fox and I cannot thank her enough for emailing a jpeg image of it to some schmuck with a blog down in Texas whom she's never met. I think there may be some kind of unspoken community that exists among readers of The Sun...a sort of inherent trust that allows you to feel immediately comfortable with your Sun reader peerage.

I hope you're able to view the photo and have some of the same reactions I did, despite my not being able to display it the same size it appears in the magazine. Upon first glance, I thought it was an instance of great timing...a child running and playing, the moon in the distance giving added perspective - literal and figurative - with a commercial airplane that just happened to be flying past. It looks like the child is almost chasing it. After a few moments, though, I noticed the angle of the plane and immediately felt the cold shiver of 9/11...the footage we all saw of that second plane as it banked sharply in the direction of the World Trade Center towers and the devastation that followed. I know to this day, I can't see any airplane in the vicinity of a skyscraper without feeling that same sick feeling. And I see it almost every day on my way home from work as I head south toward downtown Dallas. (Granted, I'm seeing it from miles away so "vicinity" is a term relative to my vantage point and lack of dimensional perspective. But still...)

Then I realized that the plane in the photo isn't an actual jetliner, but a model airplane that the boy has launched/thrown himself and is chasing after. He's just playing. And that gives the photo even more of an emotional punch...the polar opposite of what I thought I was first seeing versus what my rational mind was able to fight through and recognize. That recognition led to a very genuine questioning of "reality"...what you think or fear or hope is real in contrast to what is actually real. And which reality is preferable, for that matter.

There's also the additional visual commentary that all those contrasting interpretations evoke...the juxtaposition of the innocence and pure, joyful experience of youth in comparison to the fear and dread we've accepted, if not embraced, as adults. It just amazes me what this one photograph communicates so simply and so brilliantly. Whether that was Margaret Fox's intention...I have no idea. But it moved me in a profound way. I wish I could blow the photo up to poster size and hang it somewhere in my crappy little apartment because it's such an inspiration on so many levels. Not to mention the fact that it's yet another illustration of my own "learn/unlearn" philosophy...

Anyway, I know I descended into pretentious artbabble, but I'm unable to share my thoughts on this one without doing so. I tend to lose whatever articulation I'm normally capable of in the face of something really beautiful.

Thanks, Margaret, for sending me the image and for capturing it in the first place. I hope you all are able to enjoy it half as much as I do.

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Anonymous wendy said...

Awesome...simply a beautiful sharing of your thoughts and feelings about this wonderful photograph.

I'm still at least a month behind on my Suns, but I am going to run and open up the new one so I can study this pic and see what you saw...

Or maybe I will see something different...

8:53 PM  

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