The Barrister Fall 2017 - 18

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Do You See What I See?
Continued from page 17

that one method of seeking greater perception and appreciation
of one's environment might be to engage in perhaps a form of an
exercise that the Jesuits employ, known as Composition of Place.
This exercise does not need to be religiously grounded, despite
its use in spiritual contemplation. In fact, this exercise could be
of great assistance, I would submit, regarding the practice of
law. How might this work? Allow me to use one of John Elder's
photographs, Untitled No. 35, in my attempt to convey this
concept as I understand it. This photograph, one of my favorites
in this collection, depicts a man who is draped over a church pew.
His head is resting on his right arm, and his face is not visible to
the viewer. From the clothing that is visible, it would appear that
he is not a man of means. In the background, the viewer can see
part of the wall of the church, as well as a statue and other items,
including what might be a votive stand.
As you view the photograph, put yourself into it, and
contemplate the scene using all of your senses. Perhaps you might
sit in the pew behind the man. What do you see? What do you
hear? What do you smell? Can you feel the surface of the wooden
pew upon which you are sitting? Do you have the impression that

18 | Berks Barrister

the man needs help? Do you have the impression that the man
wants help? If you were to say anything to the man, what would
you say? What are you thinking? What are you feeling?
Should you be a lawyer, you might employ a similar exercise
as you prepare for cross-examination of a witness at trial, or for
a closing argument, as you put yourself into the scene as you
might envisage it. John Elder's Street Photography is particularly
conducive to, and deserving of, this type of contemplation. I urge
you to try it.
Mr. Duffy, a Philadelphia lawyer,
writes on cultural topics for The
Barrister, at the request of the
BCBA Executive Director.


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The Barrister Fall 2017

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