Archive for August, 2012

Photographic Perspective

Photography is like religion in the sense of how we view it. We can all look at the same photograph but still see it in a different perspective. This is a lot like religion in the sense that everyone can look at a specific religion but still see it in a different light. Like an abstract photograph, all we can do is interpret the true meaning without learning the actuality. Everyone can have an opinion of what makes a photograph beautiful, some may share the same opinion and some may not. The photographer decides the angle and perspective that they want to view of their subject. In this sense we are all photographers of our own belief system and we all define our own meaning of each photograph or religious belief. We, as unique individuals, can capture what we believe in an aspect that carries an artistic element for others to perceive and interpret. Others will see things from a different angle and some may argue that one angle or perspective is better than others and may try to get that individual to see things in their perspective when it is ultimately each individual’s choice on what is right and wrong. In comparison with religion, we have to will to follow our own belief system. There will be others who will argue against your beliefs but since you are the photographer, no one can change what is seen through your lens but you.



Beliefs on Picturesque Beauty

The belief about what is picturesque and what is beautiful differs between people, religions, societies, and even amid different time periods. William Gilpin’s essay on the picturesque describes that beauty varies amongst spectators as does the standards and importance of its presence.  In the 19th century Britain’s religious faith found beauty in God’s word and the nature he had created around them. William Paley’s Natural Theology of 1802 stated that God’s natural design is both beautiful and influential to the British people. Their beliefs in God and his works gave importance to his creations, making them extremely beautiful to those who believed.  Believing in the existence of God generated their idea of beauty.

Those, however, who accepted nature versus the idea of religion found the objects around them to be picturesque. Gilpin describes picturesque as ruggedness which directly opposes his belief that beauty is smooth and neat. Beauty is the representation of an object while picturesque is nothing more than the object itself. Nature and all its flaws are what make up the picturesque.  The belief in physical objects rather than in ideas allows those who lean toward nature to find beauty in the imperfections and the roughness of the world.



Gilpin, William. “On Picturesque Beauty.” Essay I. Web. 27 August 2012.


Paley,William. Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity(1802). Internet Archive. Web. 27 January 2012.

Death at a Distance

Part I, Section VII of Edmund Burke’s “A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful with an Introductory Discourse Concerning Taste, and Several Other Additions” is a piece detailing his personal view and definition of the sublime. His belief was that pain is unbearable when it is too near, but at a certain distance pain can become enjoyable. He also argues that there is no joy in the world that can overcome the greatest pain, and yet almost any type of pain is preferred to death.

Reading this piece with the theme of belief and religion in mind, we thought of how this idea might apply to a martyr. A martyr would not only endure pain for what they believe, but they would die for it. This contradicts Burke’s theory that “there are very few pains, however exquisite, which are not preferred to death.” A martyr would prefer death to the pain of denying their beliefs; Burke, however, writes that death is the absolute most frightening idea—it is the ‘king of terrors’.

Burke does write that “when danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at certain distances, and with certain modifications, they may be, and they are, delightful.” This definition of the sublime could very well define the other party involved in martyrdom: the persecutors. In the case of Joan of Arc, for example, there were many people there to not only witness her death, but to enjoy it as a show. Even today we study her life and death, and find it fascinating. In a sense, this fascination and interest can be seen as a sort of enjoyment derived from her pain.

Although martyrdom opposes Burke’s social theory, it is possible to argue for and against his opinion of death and pain. It is hard to know what we truly believe until we are facing death itself.

–          L.G. &  J.W.

Burke, Edmund. “A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful with an Introductory Discourse Concerning Taste, and Several Other Additions: Part I Section VII” Project Gutenburg.  n.d. Web.  26 August 2012.