Tuesday, June 5, 2012

presence and absence: looking at found photographs

the death of a young friend continues to haunt me. sudden, final, an absence of someone you could never imagine dying. she planned, worked, never really taking an incautious step, while being very adventurous and traveling the world. something so simple as pushing a grocery-cart in front of a pickup. here and gone. not for her friends and parents. yet she too will become part of a solid yet vague photographic record.

browsing books of photos found without a name, i feel the opposite of Barthes, who felt all camera results view of death. to me, as i look at them, these people live on. not in my world so much as in their own. every anonymous photograph carries the implication of a story, which i can supply. recently i read

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs  an actual best-seller among the young and old alike. the author wove his story around a collection of pictures, piecing together a memory of what might have happened. 

that's what i find myself doing all the time. yes, certain people make their presence very much felt and their 'absence' echoes in the halls of history. for most of us childhood where we demand the most, of parents, teachers, other kids, and for that reason i find the early days the most dramatic, the most mine, where i controlled the world. unfortunately, gradually, i lost control, as i suppose most of us do. i adapted, scaled down my expectations. and now what? 

everytime i find a photo i've made that i like, a poem of mine that excites me, i wish the world knew them! alas, i do have tons on line. the number of viewers goes up and down like a yo-yo. my blog, for example, 127 hits on a day, whereas it's usually twelve. what happened? my photos, a huge day, 37,000 hits, yesterday 293. the flags and maps show people all over the world wandering in and out,  yet what makes a real 'presence', and how long should it reverberate?

a story of chang-tzu tells of his going to a funeral. people wept all over the place. and chang left, disgusted. "if he'd led a good life, people wouldn't even notice his vanishing.' while chekov said, 'a person without passion, an adventurous spirit, what good has she done?' i admit to being stymied. maybe the best absence i feel when i'm absorbed in a creative task. then i become part of these people in the 'found' photographs, their world, wherever it might be. 

here are selected poems. oddly, i find words last longer than pictures, despite the the caves at lascaux. maybe you'll find something to stick up on your mirror: http://www.pbase.com/wwp/poems2