I do not cut my life up into days but my days into lives, each day, each hour, an entire life.
—Juan Ramon Jimenez
Space in my apt demands I do something about keeping papers, etc. So many pieces, however, are interconnections to friends and issues that still are vital. I can’t begin to remember all that these pieces demand, but before recycling the paper I send these sheets on to you to recycle.
My ability to think about and communicate the critical elements you have been moved to photo and think about over these last 10-15 years has definitely declined—frustrating. I can understand the critical important of seeing the situation as a whole—and the power of you as a photographer to catch bits of the whole in one blink = which the viewer may or may not see as the whole you do.
For instance, the rejection by Americans of the League of Nation in 1920± is a crucial part of any effort to see the situation in Israel/Palestine/Middle East. The efforts of the Arab community to drive out the Jewish settlers in 1967 by force that was defeated. The power of dedicated Jewish activists in American political life to dominate American funds and force use in the Middle East, etc. To have some more coherent view than mine about all these parts of the situation in which you have been making dramatic photos of current life in Israel-Palestine is necessary. What a gift for the photographer—and the viewer!
—Andy Towl, April 22, 2008
Andy Towl, photo by Lynn Wiles (2003)
Thank you for your very thoughtful—as always—letter, and for returning the papers I sent you many years ago. Those papers bring back the moments of writing vividly.
I’m sorry to read that your ability to sort out the complexity of certain political situations like Israel-Palestine and to communicate your many profound thoughts and emotions is in decline. But then: we are all aging, you’re just a little ahead of me, not much, and by the clock of eternity we are side by side.
I thank you for all your mentoring of me. It has been a significant fact in my life. Actually a turning point. I’ve had two other important mentors in my life, Tom Shirley, my math teacher in high school who recognized a decent fellow hiding beneath a tough exterior, and Dan Turner, former priest, current writer and editor, who I met on the Auschwitz to Hiroshima pilgrimage in 1995. We’ve stayed very close, alter egos for each other, and he’s one of the few friends I can share my valued and problematic Catholicism with.
You have attended “religiously” almost all my public photos events (you and Patricia Watson), an enduring and endearing presence, something I’ve been able to count on. And you’ve served on innumerable clearness committees for me, always astute, always honest, and always whispering to me as we end the meeting, “Skip, ultimately it is up to you to decide.” That I value very highly. It encourages me to listen and heed the still small voice inside— conscience, deity, spirit, light. I believe in it fully and you radiate it.
I’m enclosing a photo to express my appreciation. Please feel free to return it or recycle it if it is a burden.
Thank you and love to you,
—Skip (May 18, 2008)
Andy, now in his late 90s, has mentored me for more than 15 years at the Friends Meeting at Cambridge. We met in 1980 when I began attending Friends Meeting at Cambridge. I am now a few years younger than his age when we met. His unswerving attention to my sometimes fitful and fruitless endeavors has sustained me. I thank him here publicly.