I love this passage from German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche (1844-1900) on how to find your identity: “Let the soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: ‘What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?'” Answer these questions, Nietzsche says, and they will reveal your fundamental self.
Obviously, I’ve been thinking about these issues a lot recently. It’s 12/12/22, and I’m just back from another visit to the hospital and then ‘recovery’ at a hospice home; hospice homes are where people go to die. Mine is coming soon. I’ve had another bout of intestinal blockage which has left me on a liquid diet till I die. I’ve told them the next blockage is probably the end. I don’t intend to seek further treatment but rather want to simply be sedated and allow the inevitable. I suspect, given the amount of cancer eating away at me, that that should be in the next month or so. If I suddenly stop posting, that’s probably the reason – I’m dead. I’ve made arrangements for a post notifying readers of the fact; whether that get’s done I can’t say.
I bring up the Nietzsche quote because it applies to the role photography has played in my life. For some reason, even as a kid, photography resonated with me in a way nothing else did, which is wonderful, because I somehow chose an avocation that’s allowed me to reveal something of my true self, affording me an intense means of expression for intimate concerns I may not have been able to articulate in my thoughts, in conversation, or in writing. That’s a remarkable gift.
What do I want my legacy to be? I’m not sure. What I am doing now that time is short is putting my entire photographic corpus in order. I’ve digitized everything I can, negatives have been discarded, old prints thrown out. I’m printing 50 of the photos I like the best – a lifetime distilled into 50 photos; try to do that – all 8×12 mounted on 16×20 matts. My intent is have have my estate exhibit them at a memorial for me at one of the art spaces in Raleigh – maybe the CAM Museum here downtown. I can’t think of a better way to say something about who I was.
In doing so, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about what gets in and what doesn’t. It’s one thing when it’s simply an exhibition, one among others, that you’re mounting. It’s another when its purpose is a summary of your life. And old habits die hard – its incredibly difficult to be tossing books of negatives and prints accumulated over 50 years, but the reality is if I don’t do it, someone else will once I’m gone. At least this way I have some control over what survives me.
So, back I go to pruning and printing…..
Which leads me to a question for you readers: What do you want to see happen to Leicaphilia when I’m gone? Should I pass it off to someone else? Should I just let it sit as a memorial until someone neglects to pay the hosting fees and it vanishes into the ether? What should I do with all the (admittedly) good things that I’ve done with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.