Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly — 1914 (Heft 47)

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A LETTER

While in Cuba this early summer the value of “291 ” came vividly before
me, and I intended writing to tell you of it.
I imagine my experience of seeing evil is similar to that of many people.
One as a child loves the sun, loves the good that touches him,—one has
an easy belief in the value of living—one feels this to be held in common with
all humans—then gradually as ideals of good begin to crystallize and take
definite shape the number of people holding these ideals seem to be few—
still one thinks there is room in the world—that they, no doubt, hold ideals
as good as one’s own—for them!
Then a lightning stroke of experience may come cutting in a flash, straight
thro all humanity and one realizes the evil in all men—the willful throttling
of life—the imperfection of the whole race. One may feel for a moment, that
nowhere is good as strong as evil, that everywhere the desire to live is counter-
balanced and finally overcome by the weight of weakness—perhaps even that
ideals are untruth.
One is shocked to the roots by the discovery. Man is a rotten seed
unfit for aught but cracked sound—would it not be vastly better for him to
die out that life may express itself thro fitter forms?
Gradually one becomes conscious of the definite realization in one’s self
of a good and bad of the inextinguishable need to health of mind and body,
of the consideration of and striving for good—and then finally the conscious-
ness that one is but a human being like millions of others, proving this need
to be common. Now—here suddenly comes the hot appreciation of those
few beings who realize and give their lives to the all-importance of con-
sidering the good. When oppressed with stupendous need of coming closer
to livingness in order to live, the immense value is vivid of a little room where
the quality of life one seeks in the upstretching of green things, the singing
of birds, shows itself thro human beings. That even one being believes this
life quality can be increased in people, and believes it so strongly that he
spends his life in trying to increase it, is heartening—it also illustrates in
that one man the strength of desire for good.
So whether one believes in his theory or not, when one is sick with too
much viewing of man’s failure to seek life—the remembrance of a little place
where the one aim and emphasis is toward life is health giving.
The pleasure to me of “291” has been the sights I’ve seen there—the
value to me has been in enabling me to touch close in spirit the spirit of
others thro their expression. The bringing together of these expressions
—the choice—the recognizing their value is what you have given me. You
have brought to me what it would have been difficult, and for years per-
haps, impossible, for me to have gotten otherwise. All this I’ve appreciated
for long. But now the value of you as a human being doing and standing
for things that may not affect me personally, is the matter of importance—
and this is the thing I overflow with. I have not taste for many things you
do—I think the continual republishing of criticisms which illustrate the

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