Maurizio De Vita | Spirit Lifter

Spirit Lifter

September 01, 2014

Spirit LifterSpirit LifterGannet at Bass Rock. Adult Gannet off Bass Rock, Scotland.


At the beginning probably there was the wonder.

No tales to tell if there was no wonder.
No need to paint, write or compose music.
If there is no wonder, there is nothing really worth to be narrated and so there are no sources for photography, music, paintings, sculptures or songs.
No art...
One of the first thing I discovered about photography is its ability to tell moving stories. Using no words.
Maybe that was the key for me. Its eloquence, its silences.
And the fact that it may have no words, but you must have something like a tale to tell.
David DuChemin ( says “there are no rules”. I find this to be right too, in its own way. Maybe the only “rule” is that you must have something to say.
But: is this a rule?
I think it is not. Well, not in the common sense of the word. It is not a technical device you use to obtain interesting content as a result. It is not some sort of law the authorities could enforce on you, if you don’t want to conform to it.
So it’s a free for all. Isn’t it?
Well, no.
The reality is it does not come free or easy, at least to me. I have to be pushed to do it, to raise up from the couch and do the work.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just lie on my back on the carpet in front of the fireplace? I would be there, staring at the trees out of the window, sipping a good coffee, waiting for the stories to come to me, ready to tell: images ready to be transformed in pixels with just a lazy move of my index finger…
Honestly: it would be great!
Do you believe in fairies, elves, magic and all sort of sortileges? No? I hope you don’t mind if I do. Sort of.
I believe in Muses. When the Muse appears, she sprays some magic golden dust and suddenly the boring face you see every single day becomes interesting, the landscape you used to live in changes in something fantastic, you see stories worth telling all around you, images turning into photographs. It’s the Muse, her presence lighting the place and turning the grays into colours.
So, is she doing all the work for you? Does she make all the heavy lifting, leaving the glory to you?
Not mine.
Look, it isn't something new: it’s a well known truth, simple and unpretending. You have to be out there. Alive and working (f/8 and be there, remember?). You can’t lay on your back daydreaming, the Muse will go away.
She is jealous, powerfully so. You could say she is very self-conscious. She knows very well how precious she is, how rare and inestimable are her gifts. You just can’t have her favours for free.
You have to be active, to interact with the sources. You have to drink the life at the springs.
Well, enough with this new-ageish stuff. I am lazy and basically very self-indulgent. And I am prone to procrastinate, a lot. I delayed writing these words one entire year... And I really wanted to start blogging, I was eager to!
And what about the photography projects I took notes about? And never started? I basked in the sun, warming at the ideas flowing, even cheering myself for being so creative, but I didn’t take action.
And you know what, the flow began stuttering, the sun got colder, the colours desaturated through gray hues, all the way down to true nothingness...
Telling it in a romantic way, this flat empty motionless vastness is not a place for the Muse to come.
It appears that movement is life to her, just as some ancient philosopher said. The action seems to have some inherent capacity in stimulating further actions. And here starts the Wonder and here starts the War, too... (Steven Pressfield, The war of art. Great book.)
You connect to the sources, which are simply what surround you, right here and now.
But now you are not a simple observer. You take part, you are trying to catch a glimpse of the Muse, to surprise her in action. You do this by asking questions, not merely looking at. The idea is not to look, but to see. You try to break the surface of things, to go deeper. And this may reveal itself as a twofold movement, as while you try to plunge into and beyond the surface of things, they start to sink in you, breaking your surface, modifying your balance, changing your inner chemistry, ploughing your soul. As the soil is turned upside down, it breathes more and things start to grow. That’s something the Muse seems to like a lot: action, movement, breath and growth. She will spread her magic golden dust on all of this and the Wonder will reveal itself. You will be struck by it and probably by surprise, not on your own terms. The Muse and the Wonder will conjure with the sources and a story will be brought to life. Something to tell, images turned to photograph, pixel to content, instant pictures to art.
And the War will start, too. This is nothing new, either. It has already been said before, like the most valued things often are.
War and turmoil.
I am not changed. I am always the lazy person I was before, and still very prone to delaying things as often as I can. One big difference, though. I have felt the Wonder and savoured its grace. It is unforgettable. You will not be able to behave as nothing ever happened. You would feel enstranged, orphaned, cast aside.
And that is the War. The conflict between discovery and habits, between movement and laziness, between falling in love and falling apart.
I struggle with aperture and shutter like anybody else, but...
…the Wonder the Muse the War...
This is what this blog will be about, I suppose…

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