The Digital Journalist

What's It All About?
June 2007

by Beverly Spicer

The same question keeps popping up wherever I am: what is it all about? It seems many are wondering the same thing and I wish we had more answers. In today's climate of rapid & sweeping events, changing rules & convention, shifting landscape & evolving (devolving?) political climate, lips everywhere are puckering up not only for kisses, but in inquiry. The question really is, what is certain?

The answer is, nothing much.

Since mating has not lost its appeal to humans, we know that birth is inevitable---at least, conception is inevitable---but, not really. And just when we have contraception figured out, authorities have gone all retro about it—too bad for the CDC and the WHO—and now the debate has been reopened about Roe v. Wade, and the part about getting born at all is still up for grabs. There's always "no love, no nothing," and I'm talking about abstinence here—which is prescribed in newly edited school textbooks—but who can do that? More aptly, who will do that? That is asking a bit much of human beings. We just can't help ourselves.

We always hear two things are for sure: death and taxes. Wait a minute. It's true that taxes are certain for some, but not so for others…who…protect and garner their assets offshore, or perhaps in a nice little Swiss bank account.

So there we have it. We are left with life's one and only certainty: death. As far as I know, our eventual demise is not optional. There is something in between the beginning and the end of life, however. Though the outcome holds no certainty, we are guaranteed to engage in struggle after struggle from start to finish. In spite of all the pain and suffering and brevity of joy—and of life itself—I suggest we have entered a most fascinating new era of struggle. Whether in macrocosm or microcosm, the struggle is what it is all about. Click on the following photo to watch a clip filmed by amateurs in South Africa's Kruger National Park to see an incredible chase, capture and struggle between three competing life forces, with an unexpected outcome.

Struggle is carried out in a million different ways whether it is literal or abstract. It may play out through soldiers on the battlefield assigned to their respective roles of liberator, occupier, or insurgent—or it may be confined to an introspective search of the human heart, in the battle of mind v. emotion, dark v. light or the struggle for peace of mind. Some of us are warriors, and some are pacifists. Some become monks, artists or politicians, maybe teachers, journalists or photographers. Others are none of these things, and as the privileged among us search for inspiration and contemplate lofty philosophical realms, many struggle just to put food on their plates and keep the wolf—or hostile forces—away from the door. It is all a struggle, and it is all relative.

As the intensity of this era increases with each passing day, the struggle on all fronts intensifies as well. According to the U.S. Constitution, all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unless somebody makes sure habeas corpus is securely reinstated, I'm not sure about the liberty part. And it would be nice to have the right not to be terrorized by our own government. But, happiness? We are told again and again that the purpose of life is to be happy. Sometimes one of the greatest pleasures is the absence of pain. In a music clip that makes me think of the film "Koyanaskatsi," Soft Verdict performs "Struggle for Pleasure," by Wim Mertens. Click on the image to play the clip.

For many a photographer and artist, the female is the object of much adoration and fantasy. It works the other way around too, but the predominance of male artists who exalt the female face and form is indisputable. A correspondent sent me the following beautiful video that uses digital technology to merge and morph 500 years of female portraits in Western art, one into the other. Click on the image to view "Women in Art."

A lot of pleasure in life is fantasy, and we know that the best laid plans oft' go awry. I never thought I would say, "I hope so," to the possibility that somebody's big dream would awaken to an unexpected reality, but just lately as I look at efforts to shape the world, I can't help but think some plans are not laid very well. We all dream. It rarely turns out as we initially conceived. Sometimes, it's even better, but that is infrequent and exceptional. It may be privilege that allows us to fantasize a better life for others as well as ourselves, but it is energy well spent to visualize improvement, even if it is just a pipe dream. In our final presentation from animusic dot com, a clever digital creation is set to electronic music in "Pipe Dream." The inevitable question about this pipe dream is, is it real? No, it's not, but watch it anyway.

Sometimes all we can do is to observe the struggle going on in and around us. Oddly, according to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, things change when observed. Observing the struggle is what The Digital Journalist is all about.

© Beverly Spicer

Beverly Spicer is a writer, photojournalist, and cartoonist, who faithfully chronicled The International Photo Congresses in Rockport, Maine, from 1987 to 1991. Her book, THE KA'BAH: RHYTHMS OF CULTURE, FAITH AND PHYSIOLOGY, was published in 2003 by University Press of America. She lives in Austin.