Aging and appearances

In our culture we're terribly caught up in appearances, and somehow that means we fail to find aging attractive.  We prefer fresh and pretty, or the illusion of fresh and pretty, to broken down and imperfect.

Thinking that, as I looked at this picture, I made an immediate leap to "Oh, THAT's why you photograph old broken-down things; it has to do with aging."

I suppose that might be true, but I've been photographing broken down boats, barns and faces for almost 20 years now.  Of course, I've also been aging for 20 years.  But still.

I find something enormously appealing in these images, and I think it has to do with the power of nature.  No matter how perfect, or beautiful, or huge the masterpieces we create, wind and rain can slowly turn them to decay.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and along the way a kind of beauty we might never have predicted.

I think I'm supposed to find that discouraging, but actually I find it reassuring. 

Which somehow ties in with the difference between painting and photography.  Painting is sort of scary for me: it's a responsibility, to create.  But photography is much easier: you simply see and appreciate...  Maybe I just find it easier to be present and attentive to what's outside me than to be present and attentive to what's inside me?  Or maybe -- since writing is a way of paying attention to what's inside -- the problem I have with painting is simply performance anxiety.  It's far easier to see and appreciate than to render a likeness.  But does that mean it's all about appearances?

I seem to be thinking in circles today; time to take a break!


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