Introduction to Essays and Photosets

Two Quotes:

  1. “A man’s work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” – Albert Camus
  2. “A child is born into a world of phenomena all equal in their power to enslave. It sniffs—it sucks—it strokes its eyes over the whole uncountable range. Suddenly one strikes. Why? Moments snap together like magnets forged in a chain of shackles. Why? I can trace them, I can even with time pull them apart again. But why at the start were they ever magnetized at all. Why those particular moments of experience and no others, I do not know! And nor does ANY BODY ELSE!” – Richard Dysart, the psychiatrist in Peter Shaffer’s play and film “Equus”.

Two Intents:

  1. First, as long promised, I’m posting scans of slides I inherited from father that show family history across the decades from even before I was born; as well as scans of my own snapshots, and some digital photos, from the 1980s to present that may be of interest.
  2. Second, somewhat overlapping with the photosets, here’s a set of essays focusing on personal and family history but also to identify the key influences in my life—sometimes particular moments—that had great effect on me and made me the person I am. There is no why, just the randomness of the universe; but even to identify such moments can be very insightful.

Two Conclusions:

  1. First, that the early experiences that shaped my life came early on, and came entirely independent of any direction my parents (in particular my father) tried to supply. I think about that when I reflect on the notion of having a child. I suppose that most parents want to instill their children with their own values, as a way of preserving them; in effect, to create as-close-as-possible duplicates, since they know they’re not immortal except through their descendants. It works sometimes, half the time, I’d guess; but the other half the time children diverge or rebel in one way or another, because they discover things their parents did not know, or simply to establish themselves as independent people and not merely copies of their parents. So I’ve long realized that you can’t direct a child’s interests or beliefs; at best you can expose them to as many options as one can, and hope that…something strikes. Something that gives their own life passion and self-purpose.
  2. Second, more philosophically, acknowledging the contingencies of events that results in one’s adult life and beliefs, realizing how easily things might have gone differently, undermines the illusion of destiny or purpose or goal, and instead helps to appreciate the world as it is. Life is not predestined. Values and beliefs are contingent on circumstances. We do the best we can with the circumstances we’re dealt; the measure of a person is to what extent they blithely accept their childhood circumstances, or become open to the world and learn that there’s more to that world than their parents and ancestors realized. This is the arc of human history, at least for the few who can do this.

Two Reasons:

  1. First, I think my sister and brother, and their kids, (and my late other sister’s kid), will be fascinated to be able to see photos of their parents as kids, and photos of their ancestors who lived in ancient times when everyone wore heavy, stiff, formal clothes. In a way that wasn’t possible a generation or two ago, everything now can be recorded digitally, to perhaps last indefinitely. (Perhaps.)
  2. Second, I realize nobody, even my relatives, may care about my personal childhood experiences, or what the world was like when I grew up. On the other hand, I would have been interested about the stories of my ancestors—but aside from my father’s photo slides, I have no clue, no documents or narratives, of what their lives were like, my father’s, my mother’s, my uncle’s, my grandparents’ — what they thought, what the world was like in 1950 or 1900. So even if no one cares about me, perhaps my relatives, or anyone else who finds this site, will find the photos and essays here of some interest.