A letter found me and entered into the pores of my being. This happens, sometimes. In these moments of word illumination, I start to wonder about the nature of words and how words are like living particle beings with unique energies all of their own. How can they not be when they have powers to illuminate. In such moments, I have no words to respond to words but respond I must.

This was the process I experienced when I created this image I know what love is. It was made in response to the words written in a letter by legendary American landscape photographer Ansel Adams to his friend Cedric Wright. I do love rising letters so this one came to me by way of Letters of Notes. Upon reading these beautiful words, I closed my eyes and drifted into the arms of another language. Words now within me. In infinities of space, I know what love is…

June 19, 1937

Dear Cedric,

A strange thing happened to me today. I saw a big thundercloud move down over Half Dome, and it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me; things that related to those who are loved and those who are real friends.

For the first time I know what love is; what friends are; and what art should be.

Love is a seeking for a way of life; the way that cannot be followed alone; the resonance of all spiritual and physical things. Children are not only of flesh and blood — children may be ideas, thoughts, emotions. The person of the one who is loved is a form composed of a myriad mirrors reflecting and illuminating the powers and thoughts and the emotions that are within you, and flashing another kind of light from within. No words or deeds may encompass it.

Friendship is another form of love — more passive perhaps, but full of the transmitting and acceptance of things like thunderclouds and grass and the clean granite of reality.

Art is both love and friendship, and understanding; the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of Things, it is more than kindness which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these.

I wish the thundercloud had moved up over Tahoe and let loose on you; I could wish you nothing finer.

Ansel

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