I’m sitting here in the San Francisco airport, waiting in the United lounge for my flight to Paris to have its mechanical problems fixed. The current estimate is a six hour delay from the original departure, which will mean we leave at 8:30pm in San Francisco and arrive at 4:30pm Paris time. I feel my patience being tried.
But what does it matter really? I have tickets to Moulin Rouge at 6:45pm (tomorrow) night, just 4 minutes walk from my hotel in Paris. Cabaret is not my scene me but I figured that if it is just a 4 minute walk, how can I pass it up? I’m still worried I might miss it because of my flight. I’m in Paris for a business conference on Monday — I thought I would take the weekend before to have fun, but it doesn’t really matter in the end if I am late.
Speaking of Cabaret, there has been a confluence of events around me on the theme of exploitation of girls and women. A travel guide I have been reading, “100 Places in France every woman should go“, by Marcia DeSanctis, 2014, describes what it is like to enjoy France and Paris as a woman. This is a wonderful book, her stories are rich and poignant, and give such feeling to the country. The stories also include tragic historical accounts. For example, of Camille Claudel, who became Rodin‘s mistress as a teenager; or Heloise d’Argenteuil, who fell madly in love with her philosophy tutor when she was 15, with the story leading to his castration and her grief. I did not anticipate these stories when I picked up the book, but they move me.
In a separate event, a friend Bryn was decrying the Marquis de Sade for relativism and pornography, among other things. I knew nothing about him, and knowing nothing, I was curious. I purchased an electronic copy of the book Justine, planning to read it on this flight to Paris. I didn’t even see the cover. To my pain and horror, it is a study of sexual exploitation of a child.
With some synchronicity, I have been directed to awareness of systematic exploitation of girls. At this time, I don’t know what to do, except wait for the signs to converge into a clear message. Sometimes patience is relatively easy, like waiting for a plane that is 6 hours late, and sometimes it is difficult, as it is with these truly difficult problems in life. Yet, acting without knowledge or understanding is foolish. There are times we must wait for a clear direction, and there are times to act. Figuring out which is which is not always easy.
I think one of the reasons why use, abuse, and exploitation exist is because we are blind to it. It is sometimes easier to let our vision lose focus so that we don’t have to see what is around us.
In a series of photographs a few years on bokeh, I explored what it was like to deliberately lose focus, in the camera. The following images are of traffic signs and stop lights, deliberately defocusing. I placed a simple steel template in front of the lens, similar to a Celtic cross. The blue images are shots of a Chevron gas station sign, on the corner of Lawrence Expressway and Pruneridge Ave. here in Santa Clara, and the colored images are of the stoplights at the same intersection.
This is shot with a 100mm macro lens, set at the closest focusing distance. When this happens, the lights in the distance become balls, and the shadow of the cross appears in each. The shots are are night, so that the background is black, and it is easier to see.
The resulting images have a strong feeling of Christ’s cross, replicated in each object, part of each object. Perhaps by defocusing our attention on the material world, we can see the divinity clearly, reflected within every object and every person. Or perhaps the time will come to shift our gaze from the divine within, to refocus our attention on the world, and to act.
In the meantime, I’m leaving for Paris, eventually.