Imagery and Imagination…
It seems to me that the human mind is a vast and hitherto unexplained territory, capable – I believe – of so much more than we have been led to believe. The mind and the brain are not the same. Of this I am certain. You can’t convince me, no matter how many neuroscientists you wheel out, that six pounds of hamburger is capable of thought, imagination, memory, invention, and all that human beings have created down the centuries. The brain is a car battery. It generates electrical impulses that travel through the central nervous system. Yes, it controls glandular function, heart rate, blood pressure and the myriad things that make the body work, but does it dream? I don’t think so. Is the ‘brain’ the driving force behind a man’s intellect, his passions, his self-belief, his self-destruction? No, I really don’t think so. I believe the brain – as an organ – has no more to do with our thought processes than the heart – as a muscle – has to do with who we love.
Perhaps this is neither the time nor the place to voice my theories about the relationship of spirit, mind and body. But, simply stated, I believe Man is spiritual in nature; he possesses a mind which is capable of recording the sum total of all his experiences, and it is from the relationship between spirit (which is the person, not something he has, but something he is) and the mind that is borne imagination, personality, character, idiosyncrasies, and the million other qualities and attributes that make each and every one of us unique. For there is no doubt that we are all unique, and no one will convince me that singularity and individualism is down to nothing but neurological differences. Sorry, but it just don’t wash!
And so, to imagery and imagination. When you buy a camera – at least this is the way it used to be, especially with a single lens reflex – you’d get a standard fixed focal length lens of 50mm. What does that mean? Well, 50mm is near-as-damn-it the lens which gives you a view that is the same as the human eye. You take a photograph with a 50mm lens and you’ll get what you just looked at, no wider, no more narrow a view than what’s right there in front of you. The 50mm lens mimics the field of view of the human eye. A ‘telephoto’ lens brings things closer, but you get a narrower field of view; a wide-angle lens does the opposite – it will give you a much wider view but everything will appear slightly further away. Essentially, lenses other than 50mm encompass a view that it not restricted by the limitations of the human eye.
That, to me, is fascinating. You can take a photograph that is more than the human eye can embrace. You can take a detailed and precise photograph of things that the human eye cannot see. Therefore, if nothing else, photography lends itself – as both a science and an art – to seeing beyond human parameters, both microscopic and universal.
As for time itself…well, photography serves to capture and preserve so many moments that would otherwise be forgotten, if not emotionally, then visually. But that is another gift, for those moments – once captured – have the power to bring back the most vivid memories and the most profound emotions.
Photography is an interest that has travelled with me for the better part of forty years. I don’t doubt that it will continue to travel with me until my own journey is done.