How Do We Add Up – Ultimately?
July 26, 2009 by rtwsenior
What will your life’s art add up to? A fancy, but disposable, commodity? Or a perpetuating garden of flowers?
In the previous two posts, I have been analyzing Robert Silvers’ great composite portrait of The Titanic, which I bought eight years ago as an object lesson to my, then-toddler, grandchildren. If you haven’t read my last two posts, please take a minute to do so, or this might sound quite confusing. Robert Silvers is an amazing photographer who has fashioned many large photomosaics, some of them copies of the Great Masters’ Works, by positioning tiny pictures together using their color values to create the bigger scene. I compare his technique to the way each human being creates their own master work made up of a mosaic of all of their own life’s smallest moments.
Now, to continue my imaginary analysis about the person, who upon examination after their death, learns that this rendering of The Titanic is the accumulation of the life they have just lived. The Analyzer is now making assumptions about the person, based upon the evidence contained in the tiny pictures making up the whole:
“1) Obviously, they were wealthy. Very wealthy, to have lived such a glamorous life. Their wealth allowed them to travel and they did do so, but, strangely, they limited themselves severely to only places of water.
2) People were not important to this person. There are many more fish in the photos, than there are people… more boats and ships, than people. Though we can safely assume that people occupy those boats and ships, they are simply not important to the person living this particular life. Where are the family shots? The babies? The best friends? I find a beautiful girl or two, and a few men and women indulging in water sports, but they seem to be in passing, as a fellow tourist would be.
3) All of these photos represent an easy life. There are no storms, no bad weather, no discomfort, no ugliness. Nothing but pleasure. So, this person whom we are analyzing had protected himself from anything unhappy or difficult. Life’s path had been greased by the ability to buy one’s way along and the person hadn’t been toughened up by the “College of Hard Knocks.”
So, to look at our big picture of the Titanic, we see how the wealth and luxury fits in; the disregard for human life, except as it can adorn or enhance an object; and the egotistical assumption on the part of the Titanic designers that their creation couldn’t be touched by disaster. Hard Knocks were not taken into consideration because those designers must never have been humbled by diversity.
Now we can see how life’s yin and yang fit together. The yin, being the tiny pictures or those snapshots which have been made by our own life’s hidden security camera. The yang, being the huge mosaic that they combine to form, all unbeknown to us. That huge picture is completely impossible to discern while one is still alive, shooting their own picture collection. But, it might be guessed at, if we ever thought about what makes up our life.
Script-writing is something like this mosaic too. I’m particularly aware of this now, when I’m trying to dream up the right little chips of scenes to stick in the scripts I’m actually working on these days. How do you build meaning and depth, beauty and significance into a movie and not distract from the main story? At this point in my writing, the story is still so fluid that I could come up with just about anything. I could take it so many ways. What I decide will ultimately affect the whole mood of the movie.
That is also easily true of any young life. Which direction are we going to send it? What little scenes do we fill it with? And how do those affect the overall mood of the movie we are creating…or that Bigger Picture we will have to look at with The Analyzer, once we leave this world below? Let’s just be careful not to put together a big hollow fantasy like that highly-touted ship that sank on its first time out the gate.
I’d rather you build a good strong rowboat and use it for many years. Or plant fields of pretty flowers that come back strong every single year. Pay close attention to the little photographs and the big one will take care of itself.”