The likeness of others in ourselves
By Arthur Gregor
How can you live, how exist
without assurance of
or at least the memory of
always behind you,
a hand, grip on your shoulder,
a presence surrounding you
as a shell surrounds what lives inside?
Song closer to you, than flutter to wing!
Word more antique than age!
As published in
THE VOICE THAT IS GREAT WITHIN US
– AMERICAN POETRY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Hayden Carruth, (edit.)
Bantam Classic, 1970
Photographing others in places
Late in the process of taking photographs of places in the city, interpreting them in terms of indicators of sociability and/or cultural meaning, I have found an interest in photographing people in these places, free of programmatic concern except for the quiet, marvelous and comforting link of likeness I intuited between them and myself.
Myself at the door
Here is the camera, my recording instrument
Here is my face, stern, wondering, searching
Perhaps astonished at what it sees … a likeness
of Boubat’s moment-related self-portraits?
Family group at the pier’s end
An immigrant mother, in all likelihood, holding a child while the other snuggles to her, sitting at the edge of a boat mooring pier and pensively facing open water.
I am standing at a ship’s rail, looking at sea or ocean, in anticipation of reaching that somewhere else, just to be.
Walking the sidewalk
This couple is walking in locked step facing the same direction with hands balancing on the side … walking the sidewalk looking ahead toward their common destination.
Saint-Exupéry thus defined love: looking not in each other’s eyes but looking in the same direction … a fantastic balancing act!
Moving out of the summer’s heat at the Caravane Café
My companion sits across from me at a long wooden table while the other person in the frame is seated outside in the shadow of an upper balcony, next to an open set of windows.
We have come in search of a cool comfortably dark interior after leaving the exterior searing heat and bright light that seems to reach for us across the table … While I am facing my companion and the exterior view, the other person on the balcony faces sideways, talking to her company, in the surrounding quietness of just seeing.
About the search for likeness
Whether I am photographing places or people in them, the notion of likeness implies an attraction to the subject based on some kind of felt recognition of what that likeness is about.
It is not a process of conscious self-examination but one of self-revelation in an intuitive fashion, through the other.
Credit Maurice Amiel for all photographs
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maurice Amiel, M. Arch. (U.C. Berkeley) is retired professor of Environmental Design at the School of Design, University of Quebec at Montreal, where he was involved mainly in environment-behaviour teaching and applied research projects. In order to promote environmental awareness, he has turned after retiring to documenting and writing about various physical and human agents contributing to a sense of self, place and sociability ...THAT was for CulturalWeekly ... I wish to add to my activities the documenting of the fundamental role of light in photography.