“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Magical Object Thinking

cell phone image from a few days ago.

A magical thing, a cell phone.  I just opened the door to the Jeep, stood on the edge of the floor board, steadying myself against the window and fired off a few shots.  The light was changing by the second, and unlike Ansel, I didn't know the moon's luminance, and it wouldn't have much mattered because to adjust the exposure on my phone takes too many steps and takes my eye away from the viewfinder, and I can't set ISOs or anything (when did it just become ISOs? - I remember when it was ASAs)  so, like I said, I saw the shot as the grocery boy was putting groceries in my car and began to fire away as soon as he was finished, complaining to myself that waiting for him to be gone had caused me to lose the lovely pink sky, but still, I was pleased and it felt quite a bit like magic.

Diane Schuller posted a link today on Facebook by Lauri Baker, in which she talked about people who tell her what wonderful pictures her camera takes, she, of course, having nothing to do with it, which made me nod my head in agreement, so understanding her frustration and annoyance, but also thinking there is more to it than photographers allow or understand.  I don't think it's personal, although it certainly is personal to those who know their craft inside and out, backwards and forwards, and it is certainly an insult to that knowledge and the time spent learning that craft, but I think it's more indicative of the culture in which we live.  A culture that gives power to objects.  We assign them magic.

I watch the news and there has been a vehicle accident - the journalist, in all seriousness, reports that " . . . the SUV jumped the curb, hitting three people, killing one . . . "  as if the SUV did this of its own accord, SUVs being such dangerous creatures and all, the person behind the wheel not responsible at all.  Guns do terrible things all the time, I hear, with apparently no finger on the trigger.  Magical objects, both of them.  We are a society full of magical object thinking, we  are not to blame, the object  is.  The less responsibility we assume for our actions, the more we shift our way of thinking - not only is everything that goes wrong  not the person's fault, everything that is done right,  done correctly,  done well  is equally not the person's accomplishment.  A subtle shift, but a shift nonetheless.  Kudos to the equipment.  Your camera takes wonderful pictures, not you.  Guns shoot people, not the person pulling the trigger.  And those SUVs are just girls gone wild on gasoline - no drivers needed.

Magical object thinking.  


  1. Oh, that is so well written. Shifting accountability ... so true.

  2. this is brilliant....contact your local paper and ask them to run this !!!

  3. Yes, well said! And certainly something we as a society should be far more cognizant of, especially the media! I agree with Beth, why don't you send this to your local newspaper in the Letters to the Editor? I love it.

  4. Yes, all so true, more and more this shift, I see it with my kids, right there in my face all the time, they are different, life is different for them than it was for us, not always in good ways. When I was eighteen I went out and got three jobs and supported myself so I could have my own apartment. I was responsible for everything I did. I was responsible for what I owned, or didn't, I was responsible, period. I don't see that in my sons, yet, and they are 24. And I don't think it is that I didn't teach them the right things, it is something society has become, maybe it is the internet, who knows? I keep waiting, hoping that they will get there, my boys and society both. Maybe I need to do more than that.
    But you, YOU, have the magic within you. I can see it. It flies from your fingers, through your camera, your brush, your keyboard, all just vehicles, what comes out is all you.

  5. Great post. I have question how people can sue for their irresponsibility, such as spilling hot coffee on themselves then suing the company that made it.

  6. All true. And I love your ending statement; we are all wearing the ruby slippers...

    1. i changed the ending - but we are all still wearing those ruby reds. :)

  7. So true, a failure to take responsibility and a failure to bestow credit where credit is due.
    I have been (blamelessly of course!) absent from visiting blogs lately, so am off to noodle around a bit here and see what you've been up to.

  8. blame is treated like a magic tool as well. given a life of its own to take over where we have left off. you are so right with these words.

  9. Wow..well written, very thought provoking. You are so right...these magical objects get way more credit than they deserve.

    And I love this photo...still with hints of pink...just the right amount of pink, me thinks.

  10. Oh, this is so true. Magical objects, shifting of blame, ruby slippers and all. You are on to something here, my friend. I love the fingerless trigger observation.

  11. so true!!!
    there was a guy in photography school (let's call him Andy) who took the most amazing photographs. another guy in class (we'll call him D), walked around permanently green with envy. One day in the darkroom Andy overheard D saying that the only reason Andy's shots were the best was that he had the nice 120 and we all had 35 mm. well, the next assignment rolled around and Andy showed up with his photographs taken with a pinhole camera he had made himself. they were by far the best in the class. andy just had this magic about him, some magic filter in his eye. and you have that, dear debi. yes, yes, you do.


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