A letter from Henwar Rodakiewicz, November 7, 1932


November 7, 1932 Buzzards Bay, Mass.


Dear Ned:

I have been putting off writing to you, partly because I was a little timorous, partly because I was not quite sure of how to express what I wanted to say.

Your work and your attitude toward it made me feel many deep and fine things—things for which words are difficult to capture—and the captured words—out of shyness—difficult to express. First of all, I want you to realize steadfastly that I am but another average human being with a limited understanding and sympathy for the things around me. But your pictures struck a note which rang very true indeed—and what I said at the Camera Club that day (if you remember at all) was as true and sincere as what lay before me. There is a freshness, an honesty, a straightforward feeling, that gives one courage. Surely it must give that to you. I know it does—though you hide it behind a basket of tangled words and halting phrases. After all, when I have done something that is-well-right—I am the first of all to recognize it—the first to denounce it if it misses—I am my own severest critic. So it must be with you. Among the pictures there are three or four that are more than fresh and honest—they are also concise—and because of this they reach far above the others. They are as pure and clean and unhesitating as the line of wind-blown sand against a deep blue sky. Each is a sharp-cut mint, seen with all your faculties, meaning one unswerving thing, and saying that thing in one steady flow. That is why they strike deep within—they have an edge that pierces the shrouds of confusion. The others, fine in spots, are scattered in their feeling—and so spend their force in many ways instead of driving home. This is no cause for discouragement—it is a sign of progress—a sign of better understanding. We all see many things in many ways—all at once sometimes. It is only by sifting, eliminating, uncovering that we discover the naked truth. And though a thing may have a number of truths—we can express it but one at a time—for as we do it, we express but one truth about ourselves. So it is that from your pictures I know as much of you as I have learned in other ways—perhaps a little more—for it lies there before me—and all I have to do is look and see. We are all struggling toward some goal—what we do are but steps along the way. If among them one step creaks, it is not therefore unsound. Perhaps it merely wants to be heard and recognized. But the creaking may not reach other ears—for it is really meant along for you.

Buzzards Bay,Mass.

Henwar

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