Until Diane Arbus' major retrospective at the Met several years ago, I never really was a big fan of her work. What got me was her writing. I got Arbus in my top ten best photographer writers. She kept extensive notes and journals and these were all on display at the exhibit, along with her Filson field bag (I've wanted one of these forever, I think one of my grant money purchases will include one, finally!). The following are excerpts from the book "Revelations" which was the book that accompanied the show which began at SFMOMA before coming to NYC.
"Everyone concocts versions of themselves for the world, which the world sees through, and in the end we see ourselves in how we see each other."
"The farther afield you go, the more you are going home, it's as if the gods put us down with a certain arbitrary glee in the wrong place and what we seek is who we had really ought to be. In the end we are all drawn together by our different flaws."
"The world is a Noah's ark on the sea of eternity containing all the endless pairs of things, irreconcilable and inseparable, and heat will always long for cold, and the back for the front and smiles for tears and no for yes with the most unutterable nostalgia there is."
Fucking brilliant! In many ways her writing is more interesting to me than her images. Clearly Arbus saw the world unlike anyone else and this razor sharp insight and perception must have been a gift and curse. For all the greats Proust, Hendrix, Cobain, Basquiat, Carver, Arbus, etc, I can't help but to think that there grew a time when the world was just too much to handle, they saw too much, felt too much, and in the end what made them great was also what tore them apart.