People blog in a variety of fashions, and over the last month I set myself the challenge of writing a blog post every Monday-Friday about anything that came to mind. I also decided to incorporate photographs in them, and often the photographs were the inspiration for a post.
I took that first photo of myself in a restaurant on Saturday. It was with the forward-facing camera on my mobile phone so it’s not the best quality. The light wasn’t brilliant, and I’m looking a little rosy-faced – a lovely product of having sensitive, fair skin.
In the second photo I like the colour in my eyes, and of course all that extra light washes my skin out and renders my face blemish-free. Because of the frame, the blurring, and the extra pop of colour the image is signalling that it has been altered. It’s being honest about its subterfuge.
Most of us have the urge to rub off our imperfections and present ourselves in the best light. With photographic trickery we can do this. We can match the idealised image of ourselves in our mind. When we blog we can present our lives in a fashion that is honest or that is enhanced. Honesty in images or words is often difficult.
I’m interested in how uncomfortable it makes me feel sometimes to be open about myself. How do you live an authentic life when so much about you can be re-written or toned down?
This duo of images are an interesting contrast. The blue one has a sense of country and western somehow – maybe it’s that denim blue, or some association I’ve made in my mind with similarly tinted images. Perhaps the album cover it would grace would be called Honky Tonk McHugh…
The black and white photograph gets the gravitas vibe. This is Literary McHugh. It’s the kind of photo you sometimes see on book jackets, or used for writing festivals. There is nothing inherently unrealistic about the image, other than it’s leaning upon a certain tradition of ‘serious writer’ mode.
All these various versions of me. Which is the most real? Is the mimetic tradition the best?
Since I write speculative fiction I couldn’t agree with that. Sometimes altered worlds feel truer than the real one. Yet, when you step into a universe that’s got vampires running about, or where giant spaceships blow up planets, you accept it is imaginary. You are willingly embracing the lie.
That means the proper stuff of life, the joy and horror of living and interacting with each other, has to be authentic. You get antediluvian creatures or hyperdrives, but your characters have to act in believable ways to their unrealistic scenarios.
Or as Stephen King said: “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”