The likeness of others in ourselves


By Arthur Gregor

How can you live, how exist
without assurance of
or at least the memory of
someone, something
fantastic, marvelous
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
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

myself at the door
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

family group
family group at 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

walking the sidewalk
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

out of summer's heat
Out of summer’s heat

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

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