Merely thoughts prompted by events – no more, no less.
The Colours Of Fear
I like to accompany an entry to Getting Directions with a photo. Mostly, I’ll take/pick something obviously connected to whatever thing it is I’m thinking about. Occasionally, it will be more ambiguous but there’s always an at least fairly easy-to-see link.
Lately, fear has come to the fore as something to grapple with. How do you photograph fear? I might as well have smeared a peculiarly thick axle grease over the lens.
For many emotions there are the tired images, the obvious. Something bright red for ‘love’. Yawn. Something black for ‘in a bad mood’. Yawn. Black again for being ‘in the dark’ and ‘the unknown’. Yawn. Something bright white to signify ‘clarity’. Yawn. And so on.
Are those associations damned by their own baggage? They are learned; culturally specific. How many are dodges? Misleading, or lazy, or perhaps a deliberately evasive tactic?
I mean, supposedly, being ‘in the dark’ is scary. Perhaps ‘clarity’ is scarier – depending on what you apply it to. Clearly revealing yourself, to yourself, could reveal otherwise ducked truths. That could be a tough context to find yourself in. That could make clear bright white scarier than anything black. (Though I’d argue truth always wins out as the best option in the end.)
I suppose you can argue that colour associations are valid and fine if explained, fine if they’re shared widely enough, fine if they’re accessible, fine if they’re relatable. Colour associations can still be usefully communicative if they’re clear.
But, but, but. But some things, some emotions, seem to me somehow beyond a strong and readily shareable visual representation. They are too confused, too confusing. Fear is one such emotion. It seems to me to be beyond any easy illustration. Too many things create it. It appears in so many different guises. What people say is frightening varies wildly, and what people actually find frightening varies wildly too, and to different degrees as well. And thus fear is hard to visually illustrate for a whole range of different reasons.
And that’s all compounded by fear being something we don’t really want to talk about, let alone admit to ever feeling. Jokingly? Maybe. Honestly? Rarely. And that’s both in public and in private. Do we dare look at ourselves and the fears that we truly feel? Really?
And among everything else, that led me to try and find an image to accompany thoughts about fear. A picture not of fear, but of thoughts about fear. And the best I could come up with is trying to depict unspecific complication. And I have been on this planet long enough to know that my attempt to be neutral in that depiction is bound to fail to some extent, for some people. After all, I’m a long way from a tabula rasa, and so are you. So it goes.
Arguably … key to understanding any society is understanding how much we share our experiences, our world views. The over-emphasis of the individuality of each and every one of us can easily be a destructive, and largely false, belief. After all, we might be individuals and not ‘blank slates’, but we share life’s emotional realities.