Bruce Spear

Location Berlin
Occupation photographer, teacher, tango dancer

About Me

I'm a photographer, teacher, and tango dancer (!) living in Berlin.

Why do you write?

Hell if I know what fuels my creativity, apart from sleep, coffee, and angst. It must have to do with childhood traumas, but my Gestalt therapist refuses to talk about it, offering some theory about the past being past and the future being where it's at.

I write when I can't sleep or sit still or go out and photograph or concentrate on the other things I am supposed to be doing. Sometimes after writing I can get back to sleep or resolve to do something or see the world with what I think might be more clarity, and sometimes I'll spend all morning writing about everything else but the thing I am supposed to be writing about and then, with only an hour or two, finally get to the point of it as if I had been doing the research all along -- which I guess is what I'd been doing.

Any favorite authors? Books?

After my first semester in art school I flew to Cambridge, rented a room down the street from where I used to live, and before calling up my old friends read Moby Dick, and then to be sure I understood it read it again, and then I spent a week visiting my friends and doing temp work for my flight back, as it happened, for only $35. on an empty Northwest jumbo being ferried from Boston to Detroit: "We'd like to welcome our twenty-five passengers to deluxe 747 service to Detroit.." and so I returned to my photography.

A few years later I was teaching photo and decided to read Proust, and for the same reason read that twice, too, first the Moncrieff and then the Kilmartin translations. I thought the writer wrote like how I had learned how to walk through fields and gardens, paying attention to the light and form, enjoying the play of memory and desire, and waiting for the moment when the attention and play struck gold.

My absolute favorite book in the past couple of years is "Tango: the art history of love", by the Yale historian Robert Farris Thompson, because this book helped me to see how this wonderful dance which I took up almost five years ago and have been training, practicing, and enjoying many times each week ever since incorporates the energies, feelings, images, gesture, and music of African, Caribbean, European, and South American cultures, and has been learned and transmitted, as I have been learning and sharing it with others, through imitation, play, and good fun. I love reading, writing, cooking, and caring, and photographing is my art, but this business of dancing is something else entirely, and I think it is because then I get to move, practice standing and walking, get to connect with others rather intimately yet safely, enjoy fabulous, and be a part of something larger than myself -- this urban culture that, as Thompson (and others) show, reaches back, decade by decade, to people enjoying the very same things, in many places, over a very long time, connecting me to African village cultures even, what with the dancing counter-clockwise, the drummers commanding, daring us to dance, and so taking from and adding to the collective fire.

It all fits together. After work and all this writing, the dance offers a break; having danced, sweated, and pleasured, I am relaxed and have something else to write about. There is an odd loneliness to the writing (and for me, the photographing), which the dance helps correct; conversely, when dancing, we dancers are airheads -- which is half the point, of course -- and so must go back to our "day jobs", and for some, our writing. These businesses, then, are complementary.

Anticipating a community of writers on the web, this one, is for me new.

Bruce Spear's Wall

Marcus Speh – Dec 21, 2011

thank you bruce. we need to get our hands dirty, i think.

Marcus Speh – Jun 21, 2011

thank you, bruce, for this funny & wise comment on "under the apple tree".

Robert Vaughan – Jun 15, 2011

Welcome to Fictionaut, Bruce. Please post some work. Any friend of Marcus's is friends with tons of writers here!

Marcus Speh – Jun 06, 2011

thank you bruce for coming out to play & for commenting on "in the nude" - many of your shots are like stories, too...and you could post some here.

Bruce Spear – Mar 17, 2010

What you hold before me, Flaunt: challenge, dare, temptation, opportunity... I'll settle on encouragement. Thanks! You are right, I write all the time, and I am even supposed to know something about Literature, which is what is taught and likely not something that is done, as in, here, in this community of accomplished writers. Eeeks! I'm blushing! Can that be? I must ask my wife about this. I can't remember when I last blushed, I've not thought I had blushing in me (it is something my therapist recommends that I cultivate). I should take this as a sign ... but first I want to photograph: Friday morning if I don't stay out too late. Maybe I should write about that? Or the dancing and the dancers ...

Finnegan Flawnt – Mar 17, 2010

just realized your bio suppresses your indelible past as a literature professor ( however relevant it may be in the context of this community. looking at your work also makes me realise that i'd like to see some visuals on fictionaut, as much as the minimalist style appeals.

Bruce Spear – Feb 17, 2010

Thanks for the greetings, Darryl, and I'm looking forward to visiting your writing (I'm working my way to this community slowly, but surely).

Darryl Price – Feb 17, 2010


Finnegan Flawnt – Feb 14, 2010

hey bruce - no, you have to write on my wall. unlike facebook, there is no linking everything you ever participated in to everything else. it incurs a little more legwork but overall it sharpens the senses of the hunter for information bits ;-)

Bruce Spear – Feb 14, 2010

On the close reading: I love metaphor, and its shaping and smoothing: it's one thing to go bla-bla-bla, which I love to do, and another to settle on something, sit with it, carve, polish, or? It is also a beautiful metaphor (the falling figure, the energy transferred to legs, chocolates, and floor: so beautiful! I tried to imagine it like I work on the dance: very complex movements we learn in slow motion, a hundred times, before we get it down, like this: And then there is the quality of the figure itself. For instance, on Friday, the pieces we'd been working with for 90 minutes were finally explained: "he moves in my space, then I get to move in his, it is only fair ... "

Finnegan Flawnt – Feb 14, 2010

you know, there is a non-fiction group on the fnaut as well and some of your outstanding pieces of writing on blogging might go well there.

Finnegan Flawnt – Feb 14, 2010

thanks for your close reading of 'rose petals', bruce - so well observed, it adds to my own appreciation of this extremely recent shooting...

Finnegan Flawnt – Feb 12, 2010

welcome to the fnaut! Love what you wrote in your profile. Go wild now, please.

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