Gentle Gaze

The name of my blog is “Looking Back Now”, but it does not mean that I cling to my old memories. It’s as positive as “Looking Towards Tomorrow.” Memories do not come in pieces. One past journey influences another. They propagate like ripples, and the fluctuations in memory lead to the present as a lingering memory. Looking back, I can fondly remember, for example, how curious I was then, or how I was still not used to travelling.

I feel a special bond with the places I have been to. I remember the routes I walked through the town and the local atmosphere so well, as if I have taken photos of the scenes and committed them to memory. At a moment’s notice, I am reminded of such a casual scene. The smiling faces of the locals, the noisy streets, people passing through the station, the scenery from the train window, etc.

I am just a tourist, I do not stay in the same city for a long time and I usually do not proactively initiate a conversation with the locals, so I probably only look at things superficially. Nevertheless, I have always kept the following poem by Hermann Hesse in my mind when I travel.

My solace, as a traveller, is to look here and there through the windows of exotic dwellings. I gently gaze at the lives of the locals and their sorrows and joys, and carry them with me.

Quotes a passage from a poem by Hermann Hesse. Translated into English from my own language by me.

Furthermore, I stumbled across a book in the library about gazing. I’ve always valued what I feel and see visually during my travels, not just taking pictures with a camera. The book I found was an interview with a renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, which was also about my interest in gazing. Particularly memorable passages are presented below.

I have not the slightest bit to say about photography. All you need to do is just gaze at it. Gazing is a really difficult matter. People have got used to thinking. They think incessantly – that in itself is good to a certain degree – but it takes a tremendous amount of time to learn to look. You need a gaze that allows you to scrutinise the object and ask some questions.

Entretien avec Alain Desvergnes, diffusé en paralléle d’une projection de ses photographies pendant une soirée des rencontre d’Arles au Théâtre antique, juillet 1979, 49′ Publication partielle : Alain Desvergnes, << HCB à question >>, Photo n 144, septembre 1979, p.86,87,98. Translated into English from my own language by me.

Finding the appropriate distance on a journey is not as easy as it might seem. There may be truth in the invisible. In the end, what won’t change forever is that I am always tingling with excitement before a trip.