The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” ― Fernando Pessoa
Susan Sontag mentions in one of her Journals “My library is an archive of longings”. I guess for photographers, either some of our images or images of other photographers we admire play that role of “archive of longings”.
Most dictionaries define longing as a strong feeling of need or desire for someone or something, however, what I sometimes see in my images is probably a feeling more than — or probably I should say different to — just a need or desire for something. I found in a passage in “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis, something that I strongly related to regarding this topic, I cite CS quote below:
“The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that really excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of that which would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, at that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us.”
In my case, that longing feeling that sometimes comes from either my own images or from other photographer’s images, that “something” that I grasped in the first moment, that sometimes gently, and others suddenly fades away over time, is exactly, I believe, what Lewis talk about, and in my book, that is also what Fernando Pessoa articulates as “All these half-tones of the soul”.
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