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Self-knowledge

Reflections at high tide.
Reflections at high tide I

You can’t see yourself. You know what you look like because of mirrors and photographs, but out there in the world, as you move among your fellow human beings, whether strangers or friends or the most intimate beloveds, your own face is invisible to you. . . We are all aliens to ourselves, and if we have any sense of who we are, it is only because we live inside the eyes of others.

~ Paul Auster, Winter Journal

Reflections at high tide II
Reflections at high tide II

Back in February, Otto from In Flow posted Facing up to Yourself, an excellent essay about self-portraits.  In his post, Otto differentiates between selfies and self-portraits while leaving open the possibility that our selfies, when we add some depth to them, are self-portraits.  At the end of the essay, we were asked if we would be willing to turn the camera on ourselves and I responded, “Yes.”  Maybe not a resounding “Yes!!” because I am not fond of being in front of the camera, but a “yes” nonetheless.

Self_files
A collage of self

I originally thought I would drag out my tripod and take self-portraits using the big camera.  However, with the purchase of a new and smarter phone with a decent camera (I’m surprised by how good the photos can be from a cell phone camera!), I decided to use the phone.  It’s easier, it’s quicker, and with the Pixlr app, I was able to do something that I had in mind when I first said yes to making some self-portraits.  I wanted to use double exposure to incorporate something else about myself, to enhance the portraits with things I do and/or love.  In the collage above (that I created for this post), I started with a plain photo in the upper left.  Below that is a picture of me looking up from reading a book (and looking rather serious).  The middle photo incorporates a photo I took of the newly flowering maple and oak tree branches (and my newly purpled hair).  The top right is superimposed with trees from the park I was visiting on the day I took the photo of me.  And the last expresses joy and magic after a few days of joy and magic entering my life.

In the mystery woods.
In the mystery woods.

Self-knowledge is not fully possible for human beings.  We do not reside in a body, a mind or a world where it is achievable or from the point of being interesting, even desirable.  Half of what lies in the heart and mind is potentiality; resides in the darkness of the unspoken and unarticulated and has not yet come into being: this hidden unspoken half of a person will supplant and subvert any present understandings we have about ourselves.

~ David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

The studious me, stepping out of the collage and the double exposure.
The studious me, stepping out of the collage and the double exposure.

I think this is a project I will continue to work on from time to time and although it seems as if I’m hiding myself behind the double exposures, I’ve found that some of my self-portraits expose more about me than if I’d left them plain and simple.  I’ve kept those to myself for now.  Naturally.  It’s not easy for me to post self-portraits.

AutumnSelf

Thanks for stopping by today.  I hope to be back for this week’s coffee chat.  If not, I’ll see you sometime next week.

SelfwBirds-001

 

Be good, be kind, be loving, be well.  Just Be.  🙂

On the edge.
On the edge.
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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

16 thoughts on “Self-knowledge

  1. Nice to see you, Robin. The ‘In the mystery woods’ one reminds me of an illustration in an Alice in Wonderland book – of the Cheshire Cat in amongst trees. 🙂 I kind of think of you, sometimes, like that – whimsically within trees so it’s very ‘you’. 🙂 Well done with these.

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  2. Robin, I so loved this. Your portraits express something delicate, as well as hidden. It feels like a bud holding itself before it blooms in many of these pictures. It seems like there are so many different sides of the self with the physical body being only one of them. What’s been interesting me lately about being exposed is that, really, whatever another is seeing is mostly their projection. If this woman in the pictures wasn’t really “you”, what would you say to her? (No need to answer this, I only musing…)

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  3. I haven’t visited for a while and came by to find this one – which is wonderful Robin. Like you I abhor my photograph being taken. I have a camera face I am told by your children. They call it my ‘Downs face’. my teeth disappear and my eyes become slits and apparently I no longer look like me. I love the idea of layering and surrounding yourself with things you love – for somehow you become more the you I know through this blog when your eyes look at me from the trunk of a tree. These become more like what I think the best photos look like – those that are taken when we don’t know they are being taken. Anyway well done for being brave enough to do this – and congratulations on presenting yourself more intimately than any selfie can.

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  4. I love these! They are fun, and deep and serious all at the same time. I think it would be fun to experiment with double exposures on a lot of things. I’ll have to learn how.

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  5. Fun to see what you have been able to create. I believe you have created some strong images that says not only what you, but who you are, showing some of your personal character. I love the idea of using double exposure to superimpose thoughts about what is important for you. Finally, thank you for the nice words about my post. 🙂

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Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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