A moment’s take on the world

(A forest of mushrooms. September 2006.)

Sometimes one sees the world in a way one is not aware of at other times. We’re never really seeing the world, we’re only seeing a moment’s take on the world. This is true of images. Images are a way of seeing the world which you didn’t notice before, and something you cannot make by an act of will; it’s something that is suddenly revealed to you. The world has layers, and you start seeing that these layers happen all at once; they’re all together. I think that’s what is startling about images. At the moment of seeing, they seem so obvious. Why didn’t I see that before? Mandelstam wrote wonderfully about images. He said that an image is not an act of will. A real image is something that occurs to you. He said an image is like running across a river on a bridge of boats, and when you get to the other side, you look back and see that all the boats have moved or drifted and are in different places, and you realize it would be impossible to do all over again. That’s always seemed like a great image right there.

— W. S. Merwin
The Pedestal Magazine



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