Monday, September 20, 2004

An Idea So Good My Head Would Explode If I Even Began to Know What I Was Talking About

For once, a coherent explanation of
Why I Hate Photography (Excluding The Professional Kind, Which Is Pretty Sweet)
In Three Parts
1. It’s obnoxious. I, Allison Clarke, as of September 20th 2004 and for a great percentage of my life, am and have been a tourist. I do not like being a tourist. As a matter of fact, I can think of few things I dislike more than showing up somewhere and obviously not belonging - still worse if people can tell from whence I’ve came (the next time some well-intentioned waiter starts taking my order in English I will cry). However, despite my status as the global equivalent of ants at everyone else’s picnic, I am a good tourist. I learn the language of the places I’m going and even if I’m not proficient in it, I try. This means I resist at all costs speaking English to non-English speakers. Duh. However, more important to me still than not being an arrogant American (or trying not to be one) is contrasting myself with the bad tourists by not standing in the middle of the street (or the park, or the plaza, or the whathaveyou) with a crappy Nikon and an idiotic grin. The idea that everyone around you should have to stop walking and look out for you while you make a fool of yourself makes me cringe. Still more cringe-worthy (and Clarkeian to boot) is the thought of everyone looking at you, period. Don’t look at me, I won’t bother you, I’ll spend my money and finis, ok? No pictures (and especially no pictures of places of worship).

2. It’s expensive. This isn’t so bad, really, but I’m cheap and...and...yeah, we’ll just leave it at that. If I’m going to take pictures, they’re going to be good pictures - arty pictures - and I’m not going to use the crappiest digital on the market to do it. I might even buy myself a real film camera and develop my own pictures, but until that is a financial possibility, I’ll abstain.

3. And most importantly - most importantly of all, this one - it’s inadequate.
Here’s the thing. I can take a picture of a mountain or a tree or maybe even a sunrise, if I get up that early. But -
The quiet whisper of the breeze through forests of fern and eucalyptus -
The scraping feel of barnacles underfoot in the search for tide pools -
The taste of a grape I picked off a vine hidden on a dirt path -
The cool of a morning whose principal theme is mist rolling over the valley below -
The smell of a mountain road lined with apple trees so overladen the fruit rolls, unpicked, onto the pavement -
The mysterious, adventurish feeling of hiking 45 minutes through fog so thick you can’t see the road -
The novelty of eating lunch on a rock at the end of the world afterward-
The unassumingness of a village in which every house has, by requisite, at least a grape arbor and a goat -
The everpresent and underwhelming grumble of a rocky sea far below -

A picture can’t express that to you.
And neither can my writing.

And that is why I cannot blog to you about Galicia.

11 Comments:

Blogger Rita Xavier said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

9/20/2004 2:52 PM  
Blogger Coral Clarke said...

I take it you had an enjoyable trip.....

Does this mean you won't be embarrassed when I try to speak Spanish??

9/20/2004 3:25 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

If you try to speak Spanish while I am around, I will bean you. Do it when I am not there to be embarrassed.

9/21/2004 4:20 AM  
Blogger Chris Clarke said...

And that is why I cannot blog to you about Galicia.Good thing you didn't try, then.

About being a tourist: 1) give up. nothing you can do about it. You're doomed to be a tourist everywhere you go, even if you live somewhere for fifty years, because you, my dear, will always be noticing the new stuff and marveling at it. Been there, done that, got the "Poperty of Alcatraz" t-shirt. 2) a couple years before you were born I was in NYC and refused to let myself look up when I realized I was walking past the WTC because I didn't want to let all the Nyawkahs know I wasn't one of them. Now it's too late. Of course, the WTC was nothing much to see, but there might have been an interesting bird up there somewhere: who knows?

I'd write more, but apparently I'm short one goat, and so I have to go shopping.

9/21/2004 8:58 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/21/2004 11:31 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Oops. Playing with buttons.

Is that sarcasm, Uncle? It would not be nice to inflict cybersarcasm on your poor adoring niece who cannot write. Not being, you know, the EDITOR of a MAGAZINE and such, I would mess Galicia up.

What would Zeke do if you got a goat?

9/21/2004 11:38 AM  
Blogger Chris Clarke said...

Sarcasm? Moi?

It was sarcasm, but not the way you fear: I just wanted to say that you captured it incredibly well... but your grandmother already posted something like that, so I had to say it in my own special way.

I think if I got a goat, it would get Zeke's goat. And the rabbit's. You should have seen Thistle react to the tiny baby kitten we had in the house for a few days.

9/21/2004 5:17 PM  
Blogger Chris Clarke said...

If you try to speak Spanish while I am around, I will bean you. Do it when I am not there to be embarrassed..
En Español, sobrina querida. "Hágalo cuando no estoy allí ser embarazado."

9/22/2004 1:54 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

There will be NO embarazadoing on this trip. We've already filled that family quota.

9/22/2004 5:18 AM  
Blogger :D said...

that was beautiful, my darling. personally, I will remain a photographer, and continue fighting not to be (completely) a tourist (except in the sense that Chris mentioned, which allows one to take advantage of a place as but even better than the locals), because my photographs are reminders to me of those kinds of things. I am so desperately afraid of forgetting... my actual biggest fear in life is Alzheimer's.

I could have written that first sentence better but it's 6:24am and I'm only finished with ONE Fulbright essay. I'm going to bed; you can parse it out.

9/22/2004 5:26 AM  
Blogger Rita Xavier said...

I guess Craig and I would be classified as tourists. We are always looking up at wonderful old architecture, everywhere we go, even in Buffalo. Chicago has great old buildings.

9/23/2004 3:29 PM  

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