“Integrity and the Pursuit of the Numinous” by Puddi Kullberg


The documentaries Bill Cunningham New York (2010) and Birders: The Central Park Effect (2012) tell the stories of two New Yorkers who epitomize a certain kind of pursuit of the numinous. Bill Cunningham, now in his 80’s, for decades, has taken off on his bicycle each morning (and still does) to photograph New Yorkers for the “Style” section of the New York Times. Starr Saphir, also for decades, has set out most mornings of spring and fall (and still does) to lead birders through Central Park.

For each of them, clearly, their given objects of attention are numinous. And while it’s hard to resist some sort of “plumage” comparison, something much deeper strikes you as you watch these individuals. I was struck by the quality of a certain kind of purity of pursuit, or integrity, that each of them, Bill Cunningham and Starr Saphir exhibits. The Jungian analyst John Beebe has written, in Integrity in Depth (2005), that what individuates is integrity. If you would like an example of this, I highly recommend these two unique documentaries.                         .Birders_ori (1)