City Pulse

By Irene Fogarty

In my career as a “writer,” I suppose I’ve written quite a lot: ads for dangerously fast Italian snowboards, numerous cover letters, emails and green card applications for my European friends, not to mention many articles on organic living for Beauty News NYC. But when faced with the challenge of putting words to a photography book, a visual memento of a woman from the West whose relentless curiosity took her to the Far East, my “way with words” got lost somewhere.

After many unsuccessful attempts to complement the rich photography, I decided why rely on my own literary skills when there’s someone else’s. Whose exactly? Just about everybody’s – from Buddha to Bono. “Scattered Joy“, is full of provocative and perceptive insights from provocative and perceptive people like Katherine Hepburn, Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Ghandi, John Lennon, Confuscius, Yeats, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, the late John Paul II, Picasso as well as ancient Indian and Chinese proverbs and prayers.

Hours and hours pouring over quote books, reading up on Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, checking the spelling of Rhajistan over and over, and almost 18 months of many late nights after long days working in a big ad agency, the text of “Scattered Joy” came together. I can’t say this journey was anything like that of the photographer’s, but it was nonetheless one worth enduring.

Perhaps the real reward of “Scattered Joy” is that there are many lessons to be learned from these simple encounters. Lessons about humanity, kindness, and understanding that only cultures poor in material wealth, yet rich in “spirituality”, could imbue. It’s also responsible for my fascination with Asia and my three trips in one year.

Through dignifying, colorful and joyful images that distill the essence of our humanity, “Scattered Joy” captures moments of the daily lives of women (and children) in some of the world’s most remote places. To add to the book’s visual richness is a selection of accompanying proverbs and provocative insights from Buddha to Bono.

What emerges is a realization that whatever religion or language, tribe or tradition, the women of the world are simply women: feminine, powerful and mysterious. “Scattered Joy” is a visual journey that transcends cultures, barriers and customs. One that reminds us no matter where we are in the world we all have the same needs, beliefs, and sentiments.

To see the Beauty News NYC podcast of the launch of Scattered Joy at the Tibet House on Oct 12th, click on Scattered Joy Podcast. To buy a copy of Scattered Joy, go to http://www.scatteredjoy.org and for more of the beauty news for today visit the City Pulse.

Originally published November 2006
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