So here it is, the first roll (well, surviving roll, I broke the first actual roll) of film with my Leica. It is kind of fitting that I shot it at my favorite place ever, the barn. I thought I would take today to kind of explain why I like this so much. Maybe you can garner something of value from it. I’ve never told you all about this before, but I talk about this a lot with my family and friends.
One day, I had my horse at the cross ties and I was grooming him. Brushing him, cleaning out his feet (RHONJ style) when he went #2 right there on the cement. They don’t usually do that. They usually go in the stalls or on the sand or something. So, I looked around, and I was alone in the barn. I went to the place where they keep the shovels and I shoveled the shit away and carried it 50 feet into the pay loader they use to haul it away. This is heretofore known as THE DAY I SHOVELED SHIT.
My horse trainer was IN SHOCK when she saw me carrying the shovel. DID YOU JUST CLEAN THAT? She asked. YES, why? I said. You’re husband would probably freak out to see you doing that? HA! YES, I said. I may be the most city-prima-donna in here, but for a New Yorker, I’m pretty rugged, I told her. She laughed in my face.
Guess what, I shoveled the shit. Big deal, it had to be done! What was I going to do leave it there and ask someone to do it for me? That’s lame! But the real shocker here is: I LIKED IT.
When I realized that I actually enjoyed the act, it was like a little mini brain explosion for me. I hate changing diapers, I hate cleaning mostly anything. So why did I find this to be a soothing and calming activity? Then I realized, it was being outside. Alone, under the sun. Doing something for myself. Without a cell phone, without anyone caring, without the GAZE of other humans, un-self consciously doing manual labor because it had to be done.
Sometimes I find myself thinking “I just want to be a human being.” What does that even mean? I think it means, that sometimes I just need to exist in aloneness with my humanness away from THE LOOK. I know I talk about Sartre a lot, but his concept of The Look, the transformative gaze of other humans stuck with me from my college years (I was a philosophy major). The basic concept is: when as a human being, you realize that you are being viewed by another, it inherently objectifies you. It robs you of yourself in a way. It takes away your freedom and your existence for your own sake and it forces us to falsely self identity. You know you are an object to the OTHER person because they are an object to you. The gaze of the other is objectifying; for example, if you see someone building a house, you simply see A House Builder and not a whole person and when someone looks at you, you are inherently aware that they see you in that way too. He gives an example: imagine the feeling when you see a mannequin and you mistake it for a real person for a second. Suddenly, the world snaps out of your control and you are self conscious and aware of being objectified by another person. Then you realize it’s not a person and you’re all WHEW, and you feel that woozy comfort of aloneness and the world is yours again. Or imagine that you are running alone in the park. It’s your world to daydream in. SUDDENLY there is another person there, and BAM The Other becomes the focal point to which all objects-in-the-world relate to. You can’t stop starring at The Other person until you pass each other. Sartre argues that we, as human beings, can become aware of ourselves only when confronted with the gaze of another. Not until we are aware of being watched do we become aware of our own presence.
Is too much of that awareness harmful? I don’t know, but escaping it is heaven!
Maybe living in New York, with so many people around, puts me in a constant state of existential discomfort, and it is the rare moments of aloneness that I relish? The moments when the world is mine alone? Or maybe its the internet, even this blog, that is putting me perpetually in a state of self objectification.
Russell Brand recently quoted John Updike’s “Celebrity is the mask that eats into the face” and I thought it was a really brilliant quote. Maybe I feel that social media eats into the person it represents. Maybe THIS decaying sense of self is why older generations are so fundamentally worried about millennials. There has never been a generation thats so self conscious before.
So that’s why I like the barn. I feel like a real person there. Sometimes I just want to be a human being.
Hope I didn’t bore you, and enjoy the photos! I LOVE film. SO MUCH.