“all in context” – Thomas Merton, on sitting for a portrait

The patient, human work of sitting and talking and being understood on paper. How different from the camera! I am incurably camera shy! The awful instantaneous snapshot of pose, of falsity, eternalized. Like the pessimistic, anguished view of judgement that so many mad Christians have – the cruel candid shot of you when you have just done something transient but hateful. As if this could be truth. Judgement really a patient, organic, long-suffering understanding of the man’s whole life, of everything in it, all in context. – Journal entry, November 17, 1961


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