|Errol Morris recently signed my DVD copy of The Thin Blue Line. Morris is in the background in the orange coat.|
One of my favorite filmmakers, Errol Morris, recently stopped by his hometown of Cambridge, MA as part of a tour to promote his newest book, Believing Is Seeing. Morris is basically all the things I endeavor to be: an incredibly talented person at his craft, who is concerned with the nature of truth and the mysteries of the mind (especially as they relate to photography). For a brief taste of what his book is like, check out his series of essays for the NYTimes on the Fenton cannonball photographs.
I managed to see Morris when he spoke at the Harvard School of Design, but Morris just posted on his site a full transcript of his talk at the Brattle Theatre (a place near and dear to my heart) and it’s well-worth the read. I enjoyed his answer to a question about why the book is titled “Believing Is Seeing”:
Why the title is Believing is Seeing instead of Seeing is Believing? Well, one seems to be far more clever than the other, although much to my chagrin it’s been used by several other writers. I felt I should read their books. One is a romance novel about a ménage à trois, which was satisfying for a short while, but quickly got kind of tedious. The other is just a straight ahead art book, not to disparage art books, but it did not seem to be terribly interesting. And the third, of course, is my effort. Why Believing is Seeing? Because we somehow think that vision comes to us in some pure native state, as if we don’t bring anything to it. It’s a reminder that what we see is often based on our preconceptions, misconceptions, we don’t come to the world as neutral observers. We come filled with bias, prejudice, vested interests of every kind. Why not occasionally be reminded of that fact?