Sunday, August 17, 2008

return to innocence

The photographs should have knocked me over the edge. Sepia photographs, smiles, bright eyes behind large, wide glasses; women with high hair and cheap, neat dresses; men with shabby suits, pint glasses, froth and pipes, the factories or the union clubs; the first innocent flashes of leg, arms, on the first trips abroad; the familiar face, growing old, growing friendlier, her voice in my mind...

I walked past her house. It knocked me a bit, seeing the empty frontroom through the blinds, hearing her voice as a broken echo. I did not want to act piously, dramatically. She would not have accepted me being over the top, not after all these years. The photographs should have made me weep, but I looked over them with pleasure, shock, amusement. The changing times, all frozen, and tangible, easily rediscovered. In this digital age, there is no photo album, no creased box-brownie shots of young couples, old friends, out of focus, finger print smudges. There is only perfection, re-shot after re-shot, tagged names, improved skies, imported or altered images...The physical photograph is a dream you can touch, a ticket to the past...

Everything reduced to faded prints in the back of a newspaper. It is humbling. It moves the heart, and should embolden the spirit. It is a very unusual time.