Saturday, October 17, 2009

Totems, Questions, Philosophies

Philosophies is probably too strong a word since most of mine, both photographic and personal, are simply conclusions I have reached over time. They are not only simply conclusions they are simple conclusions. I am a simple-minded person.

Tonight I was doing a photograph of a light pole and it brought to mind Paul Saltzman’s question about some recent light pole photographs that did not have the order/chaos theme I had previously mentioned in my artist statement about Totems.

I appreciate questions much more than statements because they often make me consider aspects of my actions/statements that I may not have previously put much conscious thought into. A statement only tells me what someone else would do or what someone else thinks I have done or should do. A question forces me to think about what I am doing. In looking at the light pole I was photographing I was aware that the order/chaos theme was there in only a very minimalist way so I had to again question its importance.

Many years ago in the time of employment and in the time when finding answers was of some importance, I reached a conclusion, a philosophy, that the question was more important than the answer. That conclusion came from years of seeing answers applied that proved to be of little value. It was not that the answers were incorrect. For the questions that were asked, they were correct. But the answers were the correct answers to the wrong questions. It doesnt matter how many correct answers you have if they are all to the wrong questions. Before answers are of any value you must first get the question right; that’s the hard part. Answers are easy; it's the questions that are hard.

I have more or less tried to apply that philosophy ever since. I am still amazed how often I worked diligently to arrive at the correct question only to be rebuffed or ignored by a person or persons that wanted to only answer the wrong questions. From that I concluded that often we have a tendency to have the answer that we wish to give if we can only get someone to ask the question to which that answer is correct. Questions and answers to a great degree are pretty much the same as the chicken/egg. I still find questions to be more relevant than answers.

Okay, so much for that. Janet and I toured some of Acres Homes today. Janet also has a philosophy which as I recall she first stated in Jacksonville, Florida. This has no bearing on today other than I find its accuracy somewhat humorous. She says that regardless of what metropolitan area we find ourselves in, Woodard (she always called me Woodard) can always, without error find the correct exit from any Interstate directly into the heart of the colored section of the city. The accuracy of her philosophy has been proven many times. What brought it to mind was that I got lost in Acres Homes so we got an interesting tour (Janet calls them Woodard tours) of a predominately black area of Houston. There is a unspoken rule during a Woodard tour that you are not allowed to consult a map in order to shorten the tour—you are only allowed to set back and enjoy it.

I had driven through Acres Homes a few times on Tidwell and once on West Montgomery when I took a wrong exit off of 249, actually I failed to turn with 249 and found myself on West Montgomery and had to abide by the rule of not consulting a map. Today I was somewhat surprised at the diversity of dwellings all surviving quietly next to each other. There are some very nice homes as well as some that are obviously in need of upkeep. I guess that was not what I was expecting because you do not see that along the business thoroughfares like Tidwell or West Montgomery.

When I think about it, it should not have been a surprise. I could have taken a look around the neighborhood where I live and seen pretty much the same situation. I suppose it is a situation of any lower income area without a homeowner’s association (the biggest reason I like living here; had my fill of that in Bellaire.) I guess what I find surprising is that anyone would invest as much money as they do in some of the homes either in Acres Homes or Hawthorn Place. Or is there a property tax advantage of building a nice home in such areas? Interesting question. Personally I don’t like to see it happen near me because the property values automatically go up and thus taxes go up. Side note: With the current housing market I wonder what all those people who thought when their home appraisals went up that they were actually getting richer are thinking now with exaggerated assessments and lowered values.

I was headed to the Acres Homes Branch Library which I did eventually find after it closed. I forgot it was Saturday so I will have to go back Monday.

Afterwards I shot a couple of totems and we stopped at Denny’s for coffee and cheesecake.

1 comment:

  1. Gary, in the late 80's, we lived in the Champions Park area (near Willowbrook Mall) and our kids went to school off of West 34th and 290. The most direct route was to drive down Houston N Rosslyn which at that time had not been widened and was still only 2 lanes that backed up every morning with commuter trying to cut over to 290. After awhile, I discovered that the only cut through was through Acres Homes, so I made many "excursions" through that neighborhood. Keep in mind this was pre-Garmin Nuvi days.

    I had to laugh about you getting lost in Acres Homes. I honestly don't believe I have ever driven through Acres Homes that I didn't get lost!! And somehow, I ALWAYS, without fail, ended up on WILBURFORCE. Once I got on Wilburforce, I was somehow able to wind my way out of the tangled maze.

    If the question is "why?" the answer is "I have no idea". So I'm not sure which is more important here - the question or the answer! But I could definitely relate to the many times I shared your same experience. I'll never forget the time one of the kids in the back seat leaned over the front and said "look - a drug burst!"