Confluence Of Chance

Bob Lemmons, Carrizo Springs, Tex. in 1936. Lemmons was born a slave south of San Antonio around 1850. He came to Carrizo Springs during the Civil War with white cattlemen seeking a new range. He knew Billy the Kid, King Fisher, and other noted bad men of the border. (Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Bob Lemmons, Carrizo Springs, Tex. in 1936. Lemmons was born a slave south of San Antonio around 1850. He came to Carrizo Springs during the Civil War with white cattlemen seeking a new range. He knew Billy the Kid, King Fisher, and other noted bad men of the border. (Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Last night I was watching a live stream of a talk by the writer Junot Diaz. When you stop and think about it, everything that we do is the result of a confluence of chance. What do I mean by this silly statement. Well, this is how I got to be live streaming Junot Diaz on my phone. My passion for literature and for the idea of writing a novel about growing up as a Puerto Rican kid in 70″s Brooklyn, waxes and wanes like gigantic tidal waves in the South Pacific. Yesterday that passion was waxing after beginning Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, The Sleeping Giant. This literary momentum took me to reading Junot Diaz’s website. He is such a great talent and advocate for the unrepresented writer (read as writers of color) that I usually go to his site and twitter feed for inspiration and insights and sometimes revelations. I saw that he was giving a talk at St. Francis College that very day and so quick as I can I move over to the St Francis College webpage and see that the talk by Junot Diaz is overfilled. Which was actually a good thing since they were streaming it live to an overflow room. But that didn’t help me any since I couldn’t get to Brooklyn last night. Apparently they were using something called Periscope.tv  to broadcast to the overflow room and the College site had a link to the app. I download the app and configure jigger it on my old iPhone 4 and to my amazement and delight – Junot Diaz – live on my phone. Confluence of chance.

I always maintained that writing and photography have a lot in common. Yesterday a high school girl asked Junot Diaz a question regarding the meaning of a passage in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. His response was something wonderful, to the effect that it means whatever you think it means. If you sit down with a group and discuss the possible meaning then you will get more out of it than anything he could tell you. It’s the same with a photograph. It’s meaning derives in large part to the inner state of the viewer. The photographer like the writer can steer you to certain emotional or intellectual places, but the ultimate destination is yours.

I was actually planning on writing about something else today until I went on Junot Diaz’s Facebook page and saw this post on his timeline:

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 3.54.05 PM

I clicked over to the story in The Washington Post. There in plain silver was evidence for the value of photography (if it was ever needed). The documentation of the lives of slaves in words and photographs. With holocaust deniers and right wing historical revisionists running rampant I could imagine a time where the very idea that America was a slave advocating nation could be denied or distorted. Not with this online. Once again the confluence of chance has brought me around right here, right now to pass on these words, ideas and images.

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