Beginning / Empathy - June 26, 2005

Recently I was reading back through MakingHappy, Gayla Trail’s photoblog. She as a lot of really interesting things to say, and when she writes that non-fiction is a much better way for her to learn about the world and the people in it, I find that I agree. And in one post, she says, “I find myself empathizing with every sad chair I come across. Poor chairs. So sad.”

Reading that made me stop for a second. Because I thought about something that I haven’t thought about for many years. I remember when I was growing up I used to have a great deal of empathy for things which once belonged to people but had been discarded. Any discarded object I would see I would instantly feel sorry for. Particularly objects that I had some implicit connection to. If I could imagine one of those chairs in our family living room, seeing it getting rained on on some street corner made me sad.

So going to places like NYC when I was a kid was really tough since at the time, NYC was just overflowing with refuse. It was unfathomable that so much stuff could have been rejected as worthless by so many people. So much rejection.

And yet, reading that one passage in Gayla’s photoblog made me think about where that feeling had gone. Because I rarely if ever think that way about things anymore. Sure, litter and pollution bother me. But I don’t feel sorry for the litter. I don’t empathize with it. Why should I? It's certainly not something that hip urbanites do.

But when I look at Gayla's photos, I can’t help but think it’s that empathy for her subjects which makes so much of it powerful. It’s possible that that is what turns her photography into art.


Love it ! The light reflected... the juxtoposition... the angles...the cloud...the colours....fabulous.

Only thing is I think the new building could have been skewed to make it straight, then again I'm overly finiky about such things.

Fantastic !

Posted by: Jeremy on September 10, 2005 06:59 PM