Annie Leibovitz, legendary photographer and author of Pilgrimage, discusses her journey through this country, taking photographs of American pilgrimage sights.
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Each year, I make a small pilgrimage to the two Turner paintings at the Frick -- my first Turners. I have since seen many of his works throughout the world, but I will always come back to those two old friends.
This quote, from ON PHOTOGRAPHY, has inspired me for over 30 years (Images are more real than anyone could have supposed. And just because they are an unlimited resource, one that cannot be exhausted by consumerist waste, there is all the more reason to apply the conservationist remedy. If there can be a better way for the real world to include the one of images, it will require an ecology not only of real things but of images as well). The photographs in PILGRIMAGE embody it in ways that are equally - if not more - inspiring. Thank you, Annie Leibowitz.Through you, Susan Sontag lives on.
I made a pilgrimage to the NYC sites associated with two seminal spiritual writers. In fact one of them wrote newspaper column entitled "On Pilgrimage" -- Dorothy Day, publisher of the CATHOLIC WORKER. The other figure is Thomas Merton, who studied under Mark Van Doren at Columbia and published poems in NEW YORKER, then became a monk and hermit in rural Kentucky. Dorothy Day's sites include the Greenwich Village park that recalls the legendary Golden Swan bar, which she noted in her autobiography THE LONG LONELINESS as the watering hole for a crowd that included her soulmate Eugene O'Neill. In the wee hours she then found herself migrating up the block to the lovely church of St. Joseph. Merton's sites include his apartment at 35 Perry St., the White Horse Tavern nearby (so well known for Dylan Thomas et. al.), his apartment on 114 St., and the classically beautiful Corpus Christi church at Broadway & 121 St. An epiphany associated with Dorothy Day and Merton -- one of the few such experiences in my life -- has led me now to be writing their comparative biography. Thanks and Happy New Year!
Jerusalem is calling
I would love for Annie to visit Stepping Stones, the historic home of Bill and Lois Wilson in nearby Katonah, NY. Bill Wilson was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the house has been left with his and his wife Lois' posessions exactly the way it was when they lived there with their actual possessions. A pilgrimage indeed for the over 2 million people who consider themselves members of AA.
I've always meant to go to Guayaquil, Ecuador, because that's where my mom is from and my cousins used to promise to take me there, but all forgot about it by the time I grew up. I used what I called my "Ecuador money" trying to save my old dog, Carmen, in 2002, but she was worth it.
But ever since reading Joseph Mitchell's books, I've always wanted to go to all the places in Staten Island and the areas of New Jersey along the Hudson River that he described in his books. That's a little more realistic than my Ecuador pilgramage at this point!
My favorite place of pilgrimmage has been the isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland. Beautiful, remote, full of history and heartache. Many kings buried there, many monks murdered. And they say the Book of Kells was produced there!
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