Eric Peters has a talent for calling to lost and discarded things—as anyone who loves his music can attest. Turns out that gift extends beyond his skill as a songwriter. His photo collection in the recent re-publication of Far Side of the Sea: A Photographic Memory reflects twenty-five years’ worth of wandering and watching for fragments of civilization that the rest of the world has forgotten. Here, he gathers them like cast-off scraps and builds them into something new.
Each photo is paired with a thoughtful vignette, often told from the viewpoint of the picture’s subject. Those who are familiar with Eric’s album Far Side of the Sea will find its songs woven through the words and photos, connecting them to a larger narrative. The book in turn expands the album, illuminating points of inspiration and adding to the contemplation behind the songs. In that way, it serves as a lovely companion piece—like world-building for a record.
A personal favorite is the photo-essay pairing titled Gravity that calls to the song of the same name (alternately titled “Vincent In Reverse“). The picture looks over a pair of tombstones set against a wheat field, as the passage beside it muses on the life and legacy of Vincent van Gogh:
Did he own any hope that his impasto heart, the thick swabs of Cobalt blue and confessional ochres, the gilt moons, the birds—my God, those crows!—and the many slants of light would one day shine into countless souls who would be just as much in need of that gravity and radiance?Eric Peters
Eric Peters gathers lost and discarded things and builds them into something new.Shigé Clark
Just as Eric does through song, this work draws attention to the unnoticed and seeks to give them story. It heralds the neglected and strives to imbue them with dignity and hope. The passage for Gravity begins, “I thought of him alone with his oils”—a beautiful encapsulation of the unique way in which the author approaches the world. Of course he did. Of course he walked by these nondescript headstones with their unexceptional backdrop and thought of Vincent van Gogh. Of course he stopped to take a picture and reflect on the intersection of despair, and legacy, and beauty, and hope.
In one of my favorite fantasy series, there’s an order of knights who live by the ideals, “I will remember those who have been forgotten. I will listen to those who have been ignored.” I can’t help but think that Eric could be a proud member of this order—because these are exactly the ideals that this book inspires. It encourages the reader to stop and interact with the world in a deeper way. Take note of the seemingly unremarkable. See beauty in what others would call ugly. Find meaning in what would otherwise be ignored. And that’s a shift in perspective most of us could use—I know I could.