After reading Toni Morrison’s “Strangers” I felt like I had a huge revelation guided by her insights. Why is it that our immediate reaction to meeting someone new, whether conscious or subconscious, is to note the differences. We see a woman on the side of the street and look at her raggedy clothes and make a judgement “she’s homeless”. And then we develop complete back stories to what she is and how she got there. Meanwhile we could be thinking that that woman walks on the same street as me everyday, she could’ve gone to the same school and saw the same people but those aren’t the distinctions we make. It’s a weird connection our brain creates, but in strangers we do see little parts of ourselves that we just deny. We see people we’ve been, want to be or have become. There are overlaps among all people, and since we know ourselves the best it’s only natural that we would recognize our own traits in others.
The inclusion of Robert Bergman’s portraits really increased the intensity of this point about strangers. With each picture I was first thrown into a story that could have been theirs. Then after reading this paper I reversed and took in the mindset of what I appeared to have in common with these individuals. They are all versions of myself, the more different they seemed, the harder I worked to draw a parallel. I have had tired eyes like theirs and I have been youthful. I will grow wiser like them, and even if I don’t age with the same experiences I just may cross paths with things they have encountered as well. Those pictures embody me, and I am just as familiar with those strangers as I am with myself.