Sunday, April 27, 2008

On freedom

I keep saying to everyone, 'I didn't waste a minute, all my life--I had a wonderful time,' but I know, myself, now that if I had it over again, I'd be even more free with my ideas, with my body and my affections."

--Lee Miller to Roland Penrose, as quoted in Lee Miller: A Life

Having just returned from a quick jaunt to Philadelphia where I visited the first-ever retrospective of Lee Miller's work, I've been turning this semi-inspirational quote over in my head, pondering how, exactly, one endeavors to become more free with one's ideas, body and affections. It certainly seems a laudable goal, doesn't it? Especially now that spring has sprung, both in Philly:

And in Poughkeepsie:

Birthplace of Lee Miller (1907-1977), and a brief pit-stop on my upstate tour, which occurred last weekend as I endeavored to recycle my old television, visit a flea market, and pick up my new-to-me television from my cousin's garage.

This idea of expanded freedom has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, as I've found myself feeling a bit constrained, both by the demands of my job, and what seem like endless requests from other people to do various things that I'm not all that interested in doing. After leaving the museum, Syllabub and her beloved "B" and I mulled over this problem. All of us are facing the prospect of months of paid leave from our jobs, during which we are meant to come up with Big Ideas...which is both thrilling and a mite frightening.

If I were Miller, of course, I'd just pack up my camera and head off to Cairo or Paris--or maybe, in today's world, Dubai or Shanghai--and just wait for the Big Ideas to come...along with the men, and the affections. I don't know if that's really going to happen, though. Instead, I might have to make due with a carrel in the New York Public Library and the affections of a bunch of corner boys, who have begun referring to me as "princess," for reasons I can't quite fathom.

In the meantime, though, it is lovely in New York this time of year. I don't know if I just never noticed before, or if this year has brought about unprecedented blossoming:

and especially distracting weather. That's how spring is though--suddenly, just when you thought you'd never eat an ice cream again, or discover a new freckle again, or have a Big Idea again...they suddenly come. And if they don't? Lee knows:

I think the first is to take or make freedom, which will give...the opportunity to become become concentrated again...and even if it doesn't the struggle will keep me awake and alive.
--Lee Miller to Aziz Eloui Bey (also quoted in Lee Miller: A Life)

The Germans, of course, are always more succinct:

(Kreuzberg, 2007)

1 comment:

Colleen said...

great first photo. it's always pretty florid here, but i keep hearing about all the cherry blossoms and other blooming going on up there in normal-land.

i also keep thinking about your post about the tv. i remember when a certain radio host pretty much shamed me into forgoing my old brick nokia phone (which i think your mom may have?) for something more modern. and when my razr phone was lost recently, i felt put out that i had to downgrade to a less modern phone, even though it works just fine. so the consumer madness even works on a hippahy like me.