Archive for May, 2010

The Proper Punch

Book Smart © Jim Korpi

My grandfather consciously taught me a few things. I can remember one such lesson. We were resting after a long day’s work. He was smoking a hand-rolled cigarette and kneeling down when he said, “You want to know how to really throw a punch?” Of course I did. I was a boy with a future of possibilities. So he stood up and stuck his barrel chest out and put up both his fists as if he were preparing for a bare-knuckle brawl. The cigarette was still pursed between his lips as he exhaled the next step in the proper punch. “It’s all in your body,” he said as twisted his torso and right fist in my direction. The impact was jarring.
There’s so much I wish my grandfather had taught me other than how to properly put a whoopin’ on someone. Learning often came in the way of watching and mimicking like a child learns language.
My neighbor just started gardening, actually a number of my neighbors just started to grow their own food. They’re learning from books, from friends and from neighbors. When I made this photograph, I thought about the importance of passing down knowledge and how peculiar a predicament it is to learn the magic of growing food from a book.


Ticket Out © Jim Korpi

“Once, in a self-pitying frame of mind, I was comparing my background with that of an English novelist friend. Where he had been brought up in London, taken from the age of four onward to the Tate and the National Gallery, sent traveling on the Continent in every school holiday, taught French and German and Italian, given access to bookstores, libraries and British Museums, made familiar from infancy on with the conversation of the eloquent and the great. I had grown up in this dung-heeled sagebrush town on the disappearing edge of nowhere, utterly without painting, without sculpture, without architecture, almost wihout music or theater, without conversations or language or travel or stimulating instruction, without libraries or museums or bookstores, almost without books. I was charged with getting in a single lifetime, from scratch, what some people inherit as naturally as they breathe air.
How, I asked this Englishman, could anyone from so deprived a background ever catch up? How was one expected to compete, as a cultivated man, with people like himself? He looked at me and said dryly, ‘Perhaps you got something in place of all that?”

Wallace Stegner from Wolf Willow

Infinitely Insignificant

Pebble Beach © Jim Korpi

It’s humbling to look out at the stars.
There’s a similar feeling when looking at an endless ocean.
I can remember the first time I jumped off a boat into the open sea. We were far from shore, and, wading in moving waters, I could feel the immensity of the world below. The realization of my insignificance was enough to take away my breath. I panicked and could barely swim. I quickly reached for the ladder of the boat and pulled myself up.
It’s no wonder we grasp for reasons to believe our lives are in some way significant.