We are all on a pilgrimage towards enlightenment and engagement with the human experience. But it is rare that we can catch an intimate glimpse into the pilgrimage of another. I will offer up James Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword, which beyond being a remarkable exposition of the history of anti-Semitism in the Christian world is Mr. Carroll’s own odyssey of inner awareness. And if you really want to raise the hairs on the back of your neck with the realization that others have been their before, read Heloise’s letters in The Letters of Abelard and Heloise written in the twelfth century.
This sort of intimacy of experience is rare, and I highly recommend that you make the effort to catch Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage somewhere on its national tour. It will be at the Concord Museum in historic Concord, MA until September 23, 2012. Ms. Leibovitz has already given us her remarkable portfolio A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005. In Pilgrimage, she touches our collective past and, I think, significantly reconnects the humanities with the sciences. We have Thoreau’s cot from Walden Pond, Freud’s couch, Annie Oakley’s boots and a cardboard target card with a little printed heart pierced by a bullet. And then we have Julia Margaret Cameron’s lens. Significantly too, the exhibit places each of these in the context of place: Concord, Massachusetts, Vienna, Austria, Darke County, Ohio, and the Isle of Wight. The pilgrimage is through mind and time and space. The pilgrimage is at once personal and collective. Intimate artifacts of our collective past connect us.
This is what I take home. I highly recommend that you experience it for yourself.