Photographs reading us...

Daryl Barnett (dbarnett@CATS.UCSC.EDU)
Mon, 8 Jan 1996 14:00:57 -0800

Well, in response to my original query under this title heading, (what
explains the *psychic* connection that devotees have through pictures of
their guru's) I have found one reference that alludes somewhat to what is
happening here.

Freeman, James M. 1977a. Scarcity and Opportunity in an Indian Village.
Menlo Park, Ca.: Cummings

The author speaks of witnessing a two day long "Durga" ceremony, where, at
the finish, devotees discard the images they have worshipped by throwing
them into a river or pond, symbolically removing the spirit of the deity
from the image.

How is the spirit "activated" into the photo? Are incantations and mantras
enough of a tool to spiritualize a photo or icon? Is this belief based? Or
in the case of a photograph of a living guru, is something of their spirit
or personality transferred to the medium?

I have also heard of a group of devotes that burns photos of dieties when
said photos are not longer going to be used.

In regards to photos of landscapes, can there be a parallel experience where
the viewer is "projecting" their sense of desire to "be there" upon the
image? Would this in part "reflect" a sense of fulfillment back upon the

Daryl Barnett
University of California Santa Cruz
Anthropology Major