Monday, March 03, 2008

If you see a picture, TAKE IT

This is not the picture

On Friday I found myself wandering around campus contemplating heading home when the urge to go check out what was hanging at the Harry Ransom Center suddenly hit me. I had not visited the Ransom since coming back to Austin this semester, so I turned and back-tracked towards the constantly rotating collection. As I approached, I noticed a scene comprised of the elements above plus one additional element (not pictured) that (would have) proved the key to making an infinitely (in theory, at least) more interesting picture.

Just left the three elements pictured above of sat a woman on a concrete barrier in the foreground. She was facing the building and wearing a deep, orange shirt and a vibrant white headscarf. Because she was facing away from me, the shape she created was organic and surreal when juxtaposed against the wall with its line of pipes and hydrants. As I walked by, I picture popped into my mind: a longish-telephoto compressed the space between the covered womans' shape and the shapes it aligned with against the wall; everything lined up, heights all equal. The camera hanging across my shoulders though remained buried in the bag at my side. I did not stop, instead just walked by into the Ransom Center.

As I walked through the exhibit inside, all I could think about was that picture-possibility. I honestly can't remember a single thing I looked at in the exhibit really save a few pictures of Charlie Parker playing with Mingus. It took me about three minutes to come to my senses, turn my back on the walls of the Ransom, and walk back outside praying the woman still sat there.

OF COURSE she was gone. My much-more-than-momentary hesitation cost me the picture. I was instead doomed to stand around for 30 minutes waiting for something, anything to happen in its place. Nothing ever did. I took a few pictures more of visual evidence of what could-have-been than what really was while I watched longingly as the headscarf-clad woman sat reading around the corner of the Ransom Center in another courtyard.

My resultant restlessness did serve one purpose though; I found myself walking down 21st Street poking around for pictures, finally ending up in the PCL. There I finally sought out some of the Thomas Merton books I've been craving since leaving Virginia in November.

If I've never told you about Thomas Merton, don't get me started. The best way to not have me try and explain it to you and convince you that he is amazing though, is probably just to read some of his writing yourself.

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