T W O M E N To see two men together – working, walking, talking, eating, embracing, at play or simply sitting or standing side by side – is to experience a certain physical tension that is unique to the male. This tension manifests itself by way of an altogether compelling combination of strength and vulnerability. From the first, men have been assigned the role of leader, provider, decider, protector, instigator, fighter and wooer. These attributes have been thrust upon them since childhood –attributes that little boys barely understand or know what to do with. To be a child is difficult enough. To suddenly be told that boys don’t cry and that they must be strong and that they have special responsibilities that must be developed throughout their lives is, to say the very least, daunting. I myself recall being subjected to parental prodding that insisted on certain kinds of behavior, mainly directed away from the behavior of little girls. How to deal with this pressure is every little boy’s dilemma. In school, we boys get a belly-full of boy-behavior. It’s a rough world out there – in the classroom, in the halls and in the schoolyard. But a lot of us relish the sensation, of boy-power and gleefully embrace it. Others of us observe it all and keep our own counsel. The quieter boys among us look forward to a less boisterous or less aggressive manhood. Yet all of us will continuously and forever be subjected to what the world, itself subject to chaos and confusion, thinks a man should be. Thus it is that so many boys, when they reach manhood, offer a poignant portrait of emotional strength and frailty – the inborn or learned “manly” qualities of stoicism and self-confidence in perpetual conflict with an equally persistent sense of uncertainty, innocence and bewilderment. In this book, I offer a glimpse of some of these qualities in men from many walks of life. My aim in these photographs is to capture a wide gamut of professions as well as revealing men unafraid to show their deep love and affection for each other. Too, I wanted to show what men look like, how they interact and how they see themselves and each other. I tried to provide a perspective into the awkward logic of their psychological makeup. Given that they owe their existence to that mystery known as WOMAN, I also wanted to offer a vision of man as a lone, perhaps happily liberated, traveler in a world bereft of women. Mostly, however, I wanted to celebrate male togetherness as a very positive and quite beautiful force – a moving and comforting fact of life that is by no means the whole truth for everyone. John Jonas Gruen New York 2012
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