Sunday, November 22, 2009

Aspects of Error and Illusion

Believe it or not this is Chapter 19 of the Book Passages Series. This chapter was another very tough one to visually interpret. I received this passage submission early in the process, March 17 to be exact. I would read and re-read the words sent to me struggling to keep the character names from distracting the overall concept of the passage. I thought of skipping this passage and picking one a bit easier to interpret but to stay loyal to my initial intent of working close to the order that I received them I finally excepted the challenge and here are the results. Obviously this passage comes very late in the order that it was received but better late than never. As always, I enjoy and appreciate the dialog created from these passages and images so as we close in on the end of this visual journey please share your thoughts.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed results of a young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventional life, and more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in daring all for the sake of a brother's burial: the medium in which their ardent deeds took shape is for ever gone. But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorothea's, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorthea whose story we know.


Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effects of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.



10 comments:

Frieda Babbley said...

Hah! Fabulous. I Think I like the first photo because it puts who I am assuming is the main character in more of a forfront. I think the fact that she's smoking a cigarette is wonderful. It's such an oddly private moment you've created here.

JB said...

I personally think that this is one of your strongest efforts. I love the fingernails, which tell us a lot about the unseen smoker. Also the fact that she's in the act of smoking a cigarette says something. Again, it reminds me of the old Hollywood Glamour. The spoon really takes on a presence in these photos. I prefer the top image because it could be either a reflective object that she's using narcissitically to see her own image, or it could be a weapon, or it could be both. It really reminds me of the T.S.Eliot poem "J. Alfred Prufrock" for some reason JB

Anonymous said...

Wow. Middlemarch. That is a killer assignment.
I like that your interpretation puts the passage into a contemporary context. The upside-down reflection is a nice touch. I have no preference between the two images in terms of the interpretation of the passage, but I think I prefer the composition on the second.

serenemireles said...

Great interpretation! That was definitely a challenging passage, but I think you nailed it. I really like the reflection in the spoon and how it represents her reflection on her day to day life. I also like the soft focus on the man in the background. It makes you wonder if she's happy, or if she has just accepted this as her everyday life. I like both images, but I like the top one where she is holding the cigarette a little more.

Naomi said...

This is one time where I'm having trouble connecting both the passage and the image. I like the second image better: the smoke creates an interesting haze. And she's engaged (with herself?), but her fiance is ignoring her. Is this supposed to be a comment on the nature of marriage — about illusions and hidden lives? I am only half kidding.

suejayne said...

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this passage, but I find the images fascinating. There's so much to examine in each of those images, just as there is in this passage.

eddee said...

Wonderful image! I like the top one better for its tighter composition and the gesture.

Patricia said...

Strong narrative in both images, but I like the first one for the more complete presence of the foreground person, plus the smoldering cigarette seems to me to fit the tone of the passage. Still amazed at what you can do with these passages, as the passages often feel disjointed to me. Often the image works on its own without the presence/knowledge of the passage. Am wondering if there will be an image that takes on a life of its own and suggests a series from its own applied narrative. This one could certainly make the leap.

Bill Zuback said...

Thanks to all who have offered very provocative comments on this passage interpretation. You all suggest very valid observations between the imagery and the text. Anonymous points out how hard it is to get the mind around the complexity of these two paragraphs. If you pull out the phrasing that stays away from the characters talked about you begin to get a good idea about the context of the passage and possibly the novel? I see the text speaking about ones life choices, societal influences and the inability to separate the two. Speaks, in my opinion, beyond that but that's it for now.

Patricia, we need to get together sometime soon and talk about your series, your comment on the collecting photo question and my series. I look forward to what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

looking into unread 'Middlemarch' I read this review from Arthur George Sedwick of the Atlantic Monthly..."It would be a mere waste of time to go into a minute criticism of 'Middlemarch' .The plots are too numerous,the characters too multitudinous, and the whole too complicated..(...) An author whose novels it has readily been a liberal education to read, one is more tempted to admire silently than to criticise at all." Your photos admire silently, you believe as I do 'that the Unconscious Looks Backwards' and the spoon of life gives more than belly sustinense. A great job of visual interpretation! Have a great bird! anonymous

b. s.