on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Rocky Mountain Pursuit Of “Aboutness”

Gerald Rowles

Gerald Rowles

As a clinical neuropsychologist I was trained in both the physiological and interpretive aspects of human experience - the physical sensors and the interpretive sensation that we bring to our experiences. In more than thirty years of self-training in photography it struck me that clinical neuropsychology is an apt metaphor for the photographer and their camera.

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The question I was asked by an associate when I extolled the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains was, “What do you do with it?” implying that some universal utility function needs be applied to any natural landscape or structure, or aesthetic object in order for it to have value. This is the kind of question that might be suitably posed by a farmer, a manufacturer, an architect or, in this context, heaven forbid – a developer. These are the questions that spring from the material world, not from that of the spiritual.

So I undertook a journey to revisit the mountains, that were my home for seven younger years, in pursuit of what my mentor, (More Than A Rock) Guy Tal, has aptly named "aboutness". When I first viewed the wonders of Kebler Pass I thought: I don’t wonder how this came to be; I wonder why – why is this here? Why are mere humans given a gift suitable for the pagan gods and goddesses of Greek lore? What is the purpose, the message, the epiphany that inheres in its creation? Well, there’s a legalist adage that says, “Don’t ask a question unless you already know the answer.”

Upon entering a vast, ornate Cathedral we don’t ask “what you do with it”; – as if it was an empty box in which to place a retail outlet. We know that the intrinsic purpose is “What you do in it.” Its purpose lies entirely within the spiritual realm. The aesthetic features of the Cathedral are there to instil a sense of wonder; a sense of being in the presence of that which is larger than our material selves; something ethereal; the realm of the soul.

The belief/answer I confirmed revisiting the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains, in the pursuit of "aboutness" is in a word, Wonderment – to marvel at, to reflect on the mystery of, to refresh the soul.

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