Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Looking for paradise

Side, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Road, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Frost, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Cross, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I have been reading about religion and human mind in the excellent Finnish-language book edited by Kimmo Ketola, Ilkka Pyysiäinen and Tom Sjöblom. (Uskonto ja ihmismieli, Gaudeamus, 2008.) You can have a look at Google Scholar for publications about this.

Maybe related to this book here are two chuch photographs in the above collection; one is a Mormon church and the other is Christian.

But how is this related to photography? Well, there was an extremely interesting article about the concept of paradise in various religions, how it is described and whether there are some common themes.

And it appears that there is. The common environment described seems a lot like savannah: big trees here and there, undulating landscape (but not too severe differences in height), river or some other source of water, access to food, and clear sight all the way to the horizon.

This is the preferred habitat of humans, programmed in our genes by evolution, and when we build pictures of paradise and describe it, we lift elements fitting this prototype picture from our living environment. In desert environments the picture is build around an oasis, when living by the sea we use an island, and so on, but the basic building blocks stay the same.

And maybe this is also apparent in the photographs we take. Programming at the dna level, revealed in the way we construct - or see - photographs. And maybe here is also an explanation why trees are such a fascinating subject for photography. We are programmed that way. So. Perhaps the paradise is - this moment.

1 comment:

Sven W said...

Yes, for most people - from early man to modern - the basic idea behind "paradise" is living a pleasant life ... surrounded by a pleasant environment & pleasant people.

Given this "paradise" we can certainly enjoy each moment -- and should!

As I like to say to people who claim to be religious: if you want an idea of the after-life then consider what your "life" was like before you were born.