Stan Freeburg’s comedy musical “The United States of America” contains a line where a Native American remarks to Christopher Columbus that they discovered the white man. “Whaddya mean you discovered us?” “We discover you on beach here…is all how you look at it.” “Y’I suppose…I never thought of it that way,” Chris replies.
Dualistic thinking, good/bad, right/wrong, is all about thinking, as my sister pointed out in a comment. It’s not about the actual thing in front of us. So it seems that often all we learn about the world is about how we are thinking about or perceiving it. Art and artists play around with this quite a bit, of course. And then philosophers ask, “What is real?”
Do we choose to look at things in a way that gives us pleasure of some kind, even perverse pleasure? Sure. I think we photographers get to do this now more than ever with all the tweaking technology allows. We get to illustrate the story going on inside our skulls. Here’s an example.
Sample inner monologue: “Rural life is a thing of the past. Flat, washed out, joyless and crumbling. There is no life left in the earth by now. Life is in the cities. It’s time we bulldozed these ruins and built something we can inhabit.”
Of course, you could be having a completely different monologue in your brain with this image. Go ahead, share it with us! Here’s another:
Sample thought: “Ah, the good old days! Blue skies, wood, stone, a farm. Life was simpler; it meant something back then to work hard on the land. All you need is within reach – your livelihood, your family, your pleasure. Who could ask for anything more?” Another:
Sample thoughts: “The world is an interesting juxtaposition of contrasting elements – texture, color, shape, pattern, organic and inorganic. There’s no making sense of it. The dynamic of life is about the tension and release we experience through our senses every day. Nothing more. I need a cigarette!”
There’s no right and wrong in this little exercise. “Is all how you look at it!” Please, have a go! Amuse me!