March 31…

In the West today is Easter.  It is also the end of Passover, I think.  In Greece we are still in the midst of Orthodox Christian Lent.  Our Easter Sunday is not until May 5, over a month away.  Spring has sprung.  Here at the Aegean Center we have two more weeks before our spring break and then, when we resume, only a month before the end of term.  Time certainly flies when you are having fun, and I must admit, I am having fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I am full-bore with work, but as a wise man said a few weeks ago, “Fun isn’t fun…work is fun!”  I have to agree.  Nothing makes me happier than to be either a) working with students in the darkroom b) printing my own work in the darkroom c) painting in my studio d) photographing people in my neighborhood with my 4×5 e)…Where do I stop?  Yes, much work, many challenges, much fun and more to come.

As I write this at Pebbles Jazz Cafe, looking out on the silver-grey sea, I am reminded that Confucius wrote “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  This is not to say that I have a job or that such tasks are not without difficulties and trials, but that the rewards from walking through the fires of such experiences are greater than their immediately perceived headaches.  We are galvanized by venturing into the shaky unknown and facing what we fear.  Hence, the definition of courage: embarking on a course of action despite our fears.

I have been reading Homer’s The Odyssey, in a class taught by Jeffrey Carson, here at the Center.  I have read it before with him and a couple of times on my own.  I prefer reading it with a group and meeting once a week to discuss the reading.  I enjoy the interaction.  It is a simple story, really: the tale of a man trying to get home to his wife and family.  Nothing more really.  On the way he confronts dangers and strife, some of his own making.  Some emanates from external forces which he cannot control, i.e. the gods.  That’s it.  Not much else goes on.  The rest is more for flashy adventurous color thus keeping the guests interested while they eat.  Homer’s script still works.

A few of the other students have read it before in either high school or college.  They have taken classes in which Homer’s work has been dissected and rearranged to fit with post-modernist theory or some other deconstructive dialectic.  In the academic study of history this would be called ‘revisionist history’,  a plague of inaccuracy to historiographers.  I wonder what Homer would have thought of these interpretations?  It reminds me of this scene in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for differing opinions.  They make us interesting humans.  They are what attracts me to people.  For me, simplicity is complex enough.  This applies to my photography as well.  I have been printing some 35mm images I have made while on our Friday Hikes.  Upon review I find they are all the same, and I mean that in a positive sense.  They are textures, light and shadow–wide expanses of Zones.  Subject matter isn’t as important as it used to be.

I was going to quote some Emerson in today’s blog, but the entry is too verbose.  In keeping with Homer, I will borrow something from The Odyssey instead.  Shortly after the beginning of Book VII, Odysseus is walking through the seaport of the Phaiakians accompanied by Pallas Athene.   She encourages his bravery by saying, “The bold man proves the better for every action in the end, even though he be a stranger coming from elsewhere.”   Re-interpret that.  I dare you…


One Response to March 31…

  1. Caroline April 2, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    Thank you for this, John. Beautifully written ideas worth thinking about while falling asleep at night!