UrbanWeird Photography
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Photo Sketchbook

Thoughts on general photography and personal photographic process.

Top 10 Photos of 2014 - Photo #6: "Abelard and Heloise"

Abelard and Heloise

Number 6 of my top ten photos of 2014 is this photo titled "Abelard and Heloise". It originally was a very simple and not-too-interesting capture of a past-its-prime rose at a small local park near Sangubashi station near my apartment on 7 August 2014.

I knew I could do something with it when I saw this flower still trying to hold on to its beauty and resting on a stump. I remember trying to get as close as possible to the flower and stump (I did not have a macro lens attached) to leave out as much of the uninteresting background as possible. Of course, I could not get rid of all the background, so back in the digital darkroom, I converted the image to black and white and darkened down the background to have just the flower and a slight hint of the stump to be the focus. While I was processing the image,  it became more than just an image of a flower. The relationship between the flower and the stump became the theme.

I'm a history buff, specifically medieval European history, and I had just finished listening to an audio book about that era and on the scandalous and ultimately sad love affair between a free-thinking philosopher theologian named Abelard and his student, Heloise.

The relationship caused a scandal throughout 12th century Paris and incensed her jealous uncle - an official at Notre Dame. Heloise became pregnant and they escaped to Abelard's home province of Brittany for a while. They eventually married with the supposed consent of the uncle, but the consent was insincere and the uncle had a bunch of goons break into Abelard's room and castrate him.

The two came to the conclusion that they could never be physically together. He joined a monastery and she gave up the child and joined a convent. They were only to meet one other time, but very briefly. They continued express their love for each other through the famous love letters they sent back and forth.

I am not sure which is which in the image. Heloise was a woman ahead of her time and she was the one who basically made the hard decisions in their relationship and Abelard was the most famous thinker in medieval Europe who probably did do a day of hard labour in his life, So I like to think that Abelard is the flower and Heloise is the stump, but I'll leave that up to your interpretation.