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Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann
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Hold Still Quotes Showing 1-23 of 23
“I tend to agree with the theory that if you want to keep a memory pristine, you must not call upon it too often, for each time it is revisited, you alter it irrevocably, remembering not the original impression left by experience but the last time you recalled it. With tiny differences creeping in at each cycle, the exercise of our memory does not bring us closer to the past but draws us further away.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“I believe that photographs actually rob all of us of our memory.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“As for me, I see both beauty and the dark side of the things; the loveliness of cornfields and full sails, but the ruin as the well. And I see them at the same time, and chary of that ecstasy. The Japanese have a phrase for this dual perception: mono no aware. It means "beauty tinged with sadness," for there cannot be any real beauty without the indolic whiff of decay. For me, living is the same thing as dying, and loving is the same thing as losing, and this does not make me a madwoman; I believe it can make me better at living, and better at loving, and, just possibly, better at seeing.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“think my father came to believe long ago what Rhett Butler told Scarlett: reputation is something people with character can do without. Character and character”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“You lost the remembrance of pain through inflicting it.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“…we can only hope that the evocative Welsh word hiraeth will be preserved. It means ‘distant pain’, and I know all about it…But, and this is important, it always refers to a near-umbilical attachment to a place, not just free-floating nostalgia or a droopy houndlike wistfulness of the longing we associate with human love. No, this is a word about the pain of loving a place.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“The proverbial hospitality of the South may be selectively extended but it is not a myth.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“The writer Lee Smith, who once had a New York copy editor query in the margin of her manuscript “Double-wide what?” tells a perfectly marvelous, spot-on story about Eudora Welty when she came to Hollins College, where Smith was a student. Welty read a short story in which one female character presents another with a marble cake. In the back of the audience Smith noted a group of leather-elbowed, goatee-sporting PhD candidates, all of whom were getting pretty excited. One started waving his hand as soon as she stopped reading and said, “Miz Welty, how did you come up with that powerful symbol of the marble cake, with the feminine and masculine, the yin and the yang, the Freudian and the Jungian all mixed together like that?” Smith reported that Welty looked at him from the lectern without saying anything for a while. Finally she replied mildly, “Well, you see, it’s a recipe that’s been in my family for some time.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“Before the invention of photography, significant moments in the flow of our lives would be like rocks placed in a stream: impediments that demonstrated but didn’t diminish the volume of the flow and around which accrued the debris of memory, rich in sight, smell, taste, and sound. No snapshot can do what the attractive mnemonic impediment can: when we outsource that work to the camera, our ability to remember is diminished and what memories we have are impoverished.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“The Texas Republic, whose constitution expressed an overheated enthusiasm for America’s peculiar institution, had been created in 1836 in part as a way for slave-owners to keep their human property by effectively seceding from Mexico where slavery was illegal. These are well-known facts, except possibly in Texas,”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“When I was shooting with collodion, I wasn’t just snapping a picture. I was fashioning, with fetishistic ceremony, an object whose ragged black edges gave it the appearance of having been torn from time itself.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“The act of looking appraisingly at a man, studying his body and asking to photograph him, is a brazen venture for a woman; for a male photographer, these acts are commonplace, even expected.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
tags: art
“I will confess that in the interest of narrative I secretly hoped I'd find a payload of southern gothic: deceit and scandal, alcoholism, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land, abandonments, blow jobs, suicides, hidden addictions, the tragically early death of a beautiful bride, racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of a prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder. If any of this stuff lay hidden in my family history, I had the distinct sense I'd find it in those twine-bound boxes in the attic. And I did: all of it and more.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“I smoked, I drank, I skipped classes, I snuck out, I took drugs, I stole quarts of ice cream for my dorm by breaking into the kitchen storerooms, I made out with my boyfriends in the library basement, I hitchhiked into town and down I-91, and when caught, I weaseled out of all of it . . . There is no need to switch on the fog machine of ambiguity around these facts: I was still a problem child.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“How can a sentient person of the modern age mistake photography for reality? All perception is selection, and all photographs--no matter how objectively journalistic the photographer's intent--exclude aspects of the moment's complexity. Photographs economize the truth; they are always moments more or less illusorily abducted from time's continuum.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“Part of the artist's job is to make the commonplace singular, to project a different interpretation onto the conventional.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
tags: art
“I'm going out on a limb here and say that I believe my morality should have no bearing on the discussion of the pictures I made. ... Oscar Wilde, when attacked in a similar ad hominem way, insisted that it is senseless to speak of morality when discussing art, asserting that the hypocritical, prudish, and philistine English public, when unable to find the art in a work of art, instead looked for the main in it.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“That's the way it sometimes goes for me: I start on a new series of pictures and right away, in some kind of perverse bait-and-switch, I get a good one. This freak of a good picture inevitably inspires a cocky confidence, making me think this new project will be a stroll in the park. But, then, after sometimes two or three more good ones, the next dozen are duds, and that cavalier stroll becomes an uphill slog. It isn't long before I have to take a breather, having reached the first significant plateau of doubt and lightweight despair. The voice of that despair suggests seducingly to me that I should give it up, that I'm a phony, that I've made all the good pictures I'm ever going to, and I have nothing more worth saying.

That voice is easy to believe, and, as photographer and essayist (and my early mentor) Ted Orland has noted, it leaves me with only two choices: I can resume the slog and take more pictures, thereby risking further failure and despair, or I can guarantee failure and despair by not making more pictures. It's essentially a decision between uncertainty and certainty and, curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
tags: art, doubt
“This kind of telescopic compassion is not an uncommon phenomenon, and has a close relative in the kindness one sees displayed toward pampered urban household pets, even as, a stones throw away, homeless people sleep on benches.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“But like a high-strung racehorse who needs extra weight in her saddle pad, I like a handicap and relish the aesthetic challenge posed by the limitations of the ordinary.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“photographs supplant and corrupt the past, all the while creating their own memories. As I held my childhood pictures in my hands, in the tenderness of my “remembering,” I also knew that with each photograph I was forgetting.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“If you want to keep a memory pristine, you must not call upon it too often, for each time it is revisited, you alter it irrevocably, remembering not the original impression left by experience but the last time you recalled it.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“Maybe you’ve made something mediocre—there’s plenty of that in any artist’s cabinets—but something mediocre is better than nothing, and often the near-misses, as I call them, are the beckoning hands that bring you to perfection just around the blind corner.”
Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs