I always found it ironic that filmmaker Errol Morris was dropped from his Ph.D. program in philosophy for “lacking focus.” Focus, after all, is a filmmaker’s stock in trade. A bookseller’s life, on the other hand, is almost all words — written words on pages, spoken words in bookstore conversation, and screen words, like these, in e-mail and on various online platforms. Narrative or argument, poetry or prose, on the page or in the air, my daily world is words, words, words.
Morris’s problem while researching his dissertation was that he found the world outside his topic too interesting not to investigate. That feeling I know all too well: an ever-fascinating world tempts me to explore it, and my new camera invites me to explore, to focus, and also to escape from words now and then, seeing what is right in front of me instead of being pulled hither and yon by associative thoughts and memories.
I don’t even have to leave my front porch to get away from it all for half an hour. After a break from words, I go back to my world of books refreshed in mind and spirit, exploring far afield through time and space.