Springing of Life

There was a moment between language and feeling 292 weeks ago, according to Instagram. On April 3rd 2017, I was driving through the mountains at sunset, after working a weekend at Christian camp. It was right when I was coming out to a few people around me, and I had no idea what to do. And I had just failed out of school and quit my job, and gone back to school, hoping that going through the motions of classes might give me a direction. In the mountains, I experienced a moment where I felt like I had failed my family (who here hasn’t felt this!), and I was creating a life made of sand.
    I took a photo. I wrote, “Not doing too well, so here’s a pic. #vscofilm” 
    And I felt a complete lack of expression; that the picture was moody, but it had nothing to do with me; it could not speak for me--it was a picture dumped into an endless stream of content: one moment in the infinite feed. The picture, supposedly expressive, reflected back the inadequacy of expression, the muteness of language. 

    I think of this moment of inadequacy--that photography, for a time, became a longing practice, trying to express a life that the medium could not contain. Fit the world into a frame, I dare you.
    Georges Bataille is more dramatic about it: “humanity as a whole lies by omission, and language itself is founded upon this lie.” It is an omission of experience that makes language so peculiar, that makes it, for Bataille, a lie. Some other thinkers, along the same lines, say that language simultaneously covers up what it seeks to express. Here, to trust langauge so completely, as an expression of life with no opacity, clear in its meaning, is to miss the omission that language is blind to. 
    The best we can do, Bataille says, is to prefer the “springing of life” to the neutral indifference of language, recognizing that words, or the expression itself, are not enough. There is an experience hidden in the silence beneath language, a world beyond the frame of the photo, that will always remind us that art is never enough. 
    There is no space for resignation though. Taking the picture was better than not, for the pic is inextricably and invisibly bound to that “springing of life” from which it came. I was not doing so well, and so I took the photo as a fragment of that experience: it is as simple as any fragment, greedy for the whole.

-Nov 7, 2022