I once dated a woman just after college for a short time. A very short time. Actually, if I recall, it may have been only one date. This woman had been highly affected by her readings of the existentialists. I can't say I liked her much, and I remember very little, except her assertion that "people were sheep." She suggested, "Let's do something different," as if difference, in and of itself, insured a better experience. I vaguely recall her quoting some French philosopher, a role model of hers I imagine, to substantiate her negative views of humankind and extemporaneous living as the only antidote.
Had it been 2010, her life would be considerably more difficult, if not near impossible. She would be a very unhappy camper for sure. Flash mobs, Twitter, email, texting, Facebook, satellite TV, blogs, ezines - everything conspires to disseminate information, literally at the speed of light. Whether it's the latest, greatest neighborhood, product or event, no stones are left unturned. Nothing of any interest to anyone remains secret for very long.
In 2007, when I first heard about the biannual solar event coined Manhattanhenge by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, I really felt privy to a very special near-secret event. And although I was not the lone photographer my first time seeing this spectacular New York City occurence, the experience I had in midtown Manhattan did not have the flavor of a feeding frenzy fueled by electronic networking or the feeling that one was part of a flock of sheep.
I created a photo triptych which I posted along with my article on this blog on May 21, 2007. The photo collage was picked up and featured by Gothamist online. This year, I see a massive amount of imaging online - it is doubtful now that any given photo would be easily singled out for a media feature as mine was in 2007. B & H Photo now organizes an annual Manhattanhenge Gathering for photographers. On the photosharing website Flickr.com, there are two special photogroups for Manhattanhenge alone (2009 and 2010), and a search of images returns over 3000 results. Websites abound with stories, photos, and information about this natural occurrence.
I have, of late, become very enamored of sheep - they are wonderful animals that do really appear to love the company of people. They may not be known as independent thinkers, but perhaps they are the new paradigm for our fast moving world. I have not given up completely on creative or independent work, but I am preparing for the future and learning as much as I can now about the world of sheep :)
Photo Note: I stumbled across this year's Manhattanhenge unknowingly. The photo was taken just before sunset, looking west down 23rd Street.