I sometimes wonder why it is that I connect with George Forss, he is important to me. Maybe it's because he is such a warrior for creativity. Perhaps it's because he is so generous, even in discouragement and displacement. Maybe it's because he never quits on ways to be creative. Or maybe it's because he has mustered so much grace and ease in the face of disappointment and travail. George has had as many troubles as almost any human being I know, but he does not lament his life, speak ill of it, or talk of his struggles. He does not whine or complain about his fate. When you find fame and glory, and then lose it, life can become bitter and hard, just read about any fallen Hollywood star.
George walks through challenge after challenge. He keeps creating. Taken from his home and put in an orphanage. Life as an agoraphobic, a family struck with mental illness and crisis, a mind that hears voices every day. A father in jail for robbing banks, a half brother whose brain was damaged by drugs, a partner who sometimes fled to other cities, a lifelong passion for capturing New York City, his dreams shattered by a terrorist attack and the onslaught of digital photography.
Whenever I call George up, he is cheerful and upbeat, chronicling the victories of life. They might seem small – a print sold, a bookmark ordered for $1.50, a movie he is showing in his new theater of the arts, a visitor who has seen alien life, an e-mail hailing his curious view of the universe, a good word from his gallery in Brooklyn. His small triumphs are as important to him as his bigger ones. He is larger than his accomplishments. A few weeks ago, George called me up and told me has written a new e-book, his fifth, about the nature of the universe, about God-force. He was mailing it out for free, because he doubted anyone would buy it.
I've written about George quite a bit on the blog, and he has been surprised and delighted that so many of you have visited his own blog and many have bought his prints, photos, even his bookmarks.
Beneath this determination lies layer after layer of genius and bravery, boxes and boxes filled with great works, most of which will never be seen, let alone bought. He has been taking great photographs for decades, he takes them every day. George reminds me every day what creativity is, it is not something selected by a jury of one's peers, it is the expression of emotion, of the innermost consciousness, of the light and emotion within us, of the light and images around us. George rediscovers the beauty and images of the world every day, when the light is right and the composition set, he is pure joy, he dances with delight. George's works are all about grandeur and majesty, and while they reflect the power of the world outside, I suppose his real genius comes from the fact that they reflect the grandeur and majesty inside.
In another kind of world, he would be holding forth in his East Village townhouse, profiles in the New Yorker, people on staff to help him deal with some of the rigors of life, drive him around, cocktail parties celebrating his works. Just last year, congestive heart failure, this year a broken angle, problems with his eyes for years. George takes care of himself. Life happens, George's life has contained just about all that life can be, his being a slideshow of crisis and mystery.
George makes the nasty and angry and constipated people of the world seem small, even if the beam of fame and glory has sometimes seemed to pass over him. I hear voices in my head, too, and they say the same thing that George says. Create, create, create.
"It is my lifelong ambition," George told me yesterday, "to be here when the aliens come, and while everybody else is running the other way, I will be running to them, waving my arms, shouting "take me, take me, I want to go." I can picture that scene, I believe it is how George will end his life on the earth, and as he is beamed aboard the alien ship, he will be waving his home-made light meter and adjusting his ISO.