Saturday, May 30, 2009

every age sees itself as modern

studying the history of photography, i find this discovery fascinating. look at those peculiar hats. and horses and manure dominating the street, what a concept (not to mention messy). yet those very people of 1850 paris experienced themselves in the present. nothing around them felt peculiar.

and so, someday, we ourselves will be quaint. that slick car, that dashing haircut, that swish of the hem, how outdated they will be.

the beehive haircuts of the sixties strike me as ancient and odd as the courts of the pharaohs, the linear art of the assyrians. and i was there!

i remember going into a local museum in willits, california many years ago. they'd a kitchen on display as though it were a stage for ancient artifacts. well, i can tell you, those very plates and spoons were used by my family in the forties. and that's not all, a black and white photograph of a california indian woman at her fire looked exactly like my mother, who was born in oakland, california, april 14, 1920.

one of the most refreshing of thoughts: we can believe whatever we want (as long as we don't force it on others): a final heaven, a return in another disguise, a black hole into which we disappear with all our appetites and memories. take your pick, whatever consoles you, it's yours.

i choose to believe nobody dies as long as we remember them. o yes, roland barthes felt every photograph a reflection of death. and one of my favorite, most desirable of females is a young woman in a long dress stepping off a paris street into a doorway in 1945, a photograph by robert doisneau. my immediate thought: she's beautiful and i will never meet her, she's most likely deceased.

decease and desist, must we really, as along as we have the photos, as long as our living room exists in a museum? who's to say time is linear, that it doesn't exist all at once? in our mundane way we travel point to point. yet last night in my dreams... perhaps everything in the universe exists now, in this very moment, and we can pick and choose?

what a shame photography didn't exist in the time of the romans, the hovels of the visgoths, the creamy marble palaces of crete! i think we would be much less afraid of time, more enduring in our loves, explicit in our passions. time may be a mere fiction. even if it is what makes us human.

yes, back on the lookout, i'm thrust into an ancient frame of mind. see the latest photographs at

and you might remember nature towers above us. we can never be sure our reality is the only one, and that's the way it should be.