Once upon a time, there was a press club in the heart of a city where everyone lived in harmony. Photographers and writers were affable and comrades among themselves.
They had a clubhouse in the midst of a hill — oh, so magnificent, almost celestial but not fancy or exclusive. It was famous for its abundance of camaraderie and the glorious togetherness they all shared.
There is a pond so still below, that the trees reflected in it seems. The beauty is painted in its depth — so quiet, clean and peaceful. They savored the pageant of the seasons.
In spring, white clouds of blossoms drifted about it, above the green fields. In autumn, the oak, maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines.
Half-hidden in the mists of fall mornings are deers silently crossing the fields. In Winter, the roadside were places of sublime beauty. Birds came to feed on the berries and seed heads of dried weeds rising above the snow.
Here, a captious tribe, imaginers by trade and weavers of tales, would gather, write their stories, dash out poetry and push their pens in a gentle libation, their muses in abundance.
It was a work world for a pool of photographers, safe in their regressive sanctuary of male supremacy where one’s expectation far succeeds their accomplishments. It is hard to find the right words to describe their photographs. It is intangible but it is there. Beautiful. Courageous, Tender. Vigorous. Joyful and mysterious. You read and weep, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Breaking molds, going beyond boundaries as their craft rolls up graphic details in one coherent whole. The camera is more vicious than the pen. It can turn blood to smoke as it ignores conventions. The photographers carried out a dedication to their craft that goes beyond and transcends the littleness that separates the men from the boys.
They can see what everybody can see but not in the way they saw it. For the writers, some stories were without cosmic conclusions. Others write with the principle of ordinary telling — plain speech, others with images. Fables, echo, irony, certain obliqueness, double meanings. But through it all, the literati and hardcore news writers are kindred spirits, just as the photographers were, in their pursuit of beauty, truth and justice.
It was inspiration, the kidnapper of reason. The women did not pick on each other, the way one picked berries. They were harmonic. The men were always true to form, in their primal capacity for gentlemanliness, friendship and honor. They made the difference. It was supreme.
Coleridge, a century and a half ago, had written, “A woman’s friendship borders more closely on love than man’s. Men affect each others in the reflection of noble or friendly acts, whilst women ask fewer proofs and more signs that are expressions of attachment.”
In their clubhouse, they never had to show off. Though together, as true friends, some tried to keep the worst from each other. Some seek approval, some seek acceptance. The heartwarming truth was the men had been trained in restraint. No chip in sensibilities but considerate of each other’s judgement. Above all, as true friends and colleagues, they faced adversity together. What could be more true, good and beautiful?
They were admired, heard even from far away places. Collectively, these photographers and writers could shake and torch the earth!
Then a strange blight crept over the clubhouse and over the area surrounding it. Everything began to change, like a mysterious spell had settled. Suddenly, there was a strange stillness.
The mornings that once throbbed with dawn’s chorus of robins, catbirds, doves and nightingales; were suddenly quiet. There was no sound — there was just deafening silence.
The gaiety and merriment inside the clubhouse vanished. Where have they gone? Many people spoke of the poets, writers, news harbingers, especially the marvelous photographers, puzzled and disturbed.
Suddenly, there was only strange stillness. It was Spring without voices. As though swept by wildfire, the once so attractive were now lined with brown and withered vegetation. The green flowering was now nothing but heaps of rotting leaves, silent and deserted by living things. No enemy action nor witchcraft had silenced the rebirth of a new life in the clubhouse.
The fourth estate had done it themselves.
This press club does not actually exist. But it might easily have a dozen counterparts, here or elsewhere in the world. I know of no press club nor press photographers club that has experience the tragedy I have described. Yet every one of these lapses had actually happened somewhere and many real press clubs have suffered.
A grim specter has crept upon us, almost unnoticed and this imagined tragedy(?) may easily become a stark reality in Medialand. We all shall know — with shrinkage of the heart and the soul in escrow.