Faith and personal beliefs are dictated by several circumstantial factors. The environment we grew up in, the experiences we have encountered in our lives, the education we have received etc. I was brought up within a catholic family, with an atheist father in a predominantly protestant area. The mixture of catholic values, logical and scientific reasoning and outside expectations has influenced my own personal beliefs as well as my accumulated knowledge and exposure to theories and philosophies from literature.
I became aware a few years ago that belief wasn’t just about what you believe but also about who you are and how you define yourself. After reading Jonathon Safran Foer’s ‘Everything is Illuminated’ I became open to the idea that despite your parents and your cultural backdrop experiences can change your views on life. For example, in the book an old woman who witnessed atrocities during the holocaust in the Ukraine is quoted in saying ‘I do not believe in God and if he does exist, he doesn’t deserve to be believed in.’
Faith and belief do not stop with religion, for many it starts there but it extends to how we look at the world. Those people of my generation, who grew up in the same environment, will perhaps share my experience of feeling distant from the occurences in WWII. However, those of the same generation who were raised in the Ukraine, Russia or Germany will have a very different view.
This piece in the first stages of the project is to demonstrate the intricate nature of how different environments colour our perception of one subject. Taking a found photograph of jewish ghetto orphans during the German occupancy, I layered upon it an extract of facts and figures found on a website displaying the percentages of deaths brought about through the holocaust. Using different levels of filtration to represent the varying degree of exposure and connection to the subject, I found that there is a direct correlation between, words, numbers and images. Our emotional connection to the subject varies with how much information is between us and how much exposure we have to the subjective nature of the happening.
The literature of Foer is coloured by an ancestral connection, the words of those who were there the atrocities are shaped by the emotional trauma and suffering and the opinions of those who had little to no connection are influenced by the facts, the figures and the secondary evidence. None gives the whole picture, none is a whole account and the varying viewpoints are but the view from through the facet of a gem. Altered, shimmering but never clear.
What purpose is there for love? If it were merely in order to ensure procreation we would not see the social dramas which can tear apart groups and structures. Love exists in a purely non-sexual form; that of a mother and child. Love and sex are not linked in reality but thrust together in a media bombardment. If we were not shown love portrayed by Hollywood, would we sacrifice so much of our time in the pursuit of it?
Love can be explained as a rush of endorphins used to ensure protection of another being that is not ourselves. Chemicals place attachment on another being over ourselves, but what for? How does this explain the love for a husband over a wife after a child is born, or the love of a father after his daughter has grown? What use is it? It can be seen as unnecessary attachment and often is by those wishing to rid themselves of responsibility of another. This could be it; are we wishing for responsibility for another?
If this is true, it also does not make sense. Why would we as a species spend so much of our time hoping for increased responsibility? The answer to that is this: We are not looking for responsibility but looking for someone to take the responsibility of ourselves away from the individual. Most of the time, we wish not to love but be loved. This explains the sting of rejection and the hurt one feels when we are alone. It explains religion and hierarchy. We all just want to not be responsible for ourselves. Life is hard, we want someone else to live it for us.
Unconditional love, as that for a child, is different. We love without the thought of being loved in return and often suffer the years of abuse and emotional neglect because we shoulder the responsibility for them. They ensure our species survival and our personal genes. They will live for us when we are gone. This is a good reason to love.
Being lonely is an obvious part of life. When we get excited over potential romantic contact, it is not at the possibility of love but at the opportunity to not suffer personal responsibility. We forget that we are not unselfish creature. We are scared and alone. vulnerable children. When we grow our responsibilities grow to the point where not even a mother can shoulder them. So we look for a mate. However, we cannot rely on another shouldering our pain for us because they have to shoulder their own pain too. If you want to love, then care for another without fear of rejection. Shoulder their pain and carry their weight but don’t expect the same in return. If you love someone you don’t want to give them your pain too.