This Particular Now


Greg Bottoms pens an open letter to photographer William Eggleston:

I don’t write to dream; I write to stop dreaming, to be more present.  To tell my way toward clarity.  I think I would be a writer even if I didn’t write. I’d have that observational inclination towards the ordinary—that open-mouthed stare at unprocessed existence going by. I write mostly for the process—of looking, thinking, naming, discovering. I think this is why many who might loosely be called documentarians—essayists, memoirists, literary journalists, photographers, nonfiction filmmakers, even biographical or documentary fiction writers—do what we do.  We have an obsessive interest in presenting and pondering ordinary life, the day-to-day flow of things.

I bet you take photographs—of a light bulb in a red ceiling, a dinner table just before people sit down to eat, an old man sitting on a bed and holding a pistol, a rusty tricycle—not to dream but to come out of a dream.  To say This is, this right here is absolutely real in space and time, irreducible and ineluctable, and I witnessed it and I captured it; I lived deeply inside of this particular now.

He thanks Eggleston for a particular photo of a Mustang that triggers a vivid memory of waiting in a Sears parking lot with his father. That photo is used for the cover of the book William Eggleston 2 1/4, seen above.