From the papers found on the desk of Thomas Sarebbononato by his nephew a week or more after the former’s funeral during a summer when a lot of rain fell.
The past is not past, interrogative or declarative? Yet–by now or then? Up until what? No! Moreover–of course! As a further matter (and we do remember that further and farther are not synonyms). The present is not present–it is always something more, else, another and another creeping in the petty tick-tock of conventional clocks. Digital clocks do not tick.
Is the future a tabula rasa? I ask. I do. It is relevant here. it is important elsewhere. What will be will be is indicative. It is neither conditional nor subjunctive. Mood is one thing, tense quite another–tense, though, has never been time. No, we must not confuse time with tense or tense with time, and I am speaking of the three orders of time, or the ordering of time we do out of vanity. Yes, vanity I think I recall having read that Einstein had said. More matters of course–yes, the three orders of time, this past, this present and tis future, all of them, they do not exist except as states of mind. Now if past were really past and future really future, neither one of them would be “this,” but could only be “that.” That past; that future–but then this here consideration. See the difficulties?
The three firmest yokes of our oxen-like existence? We are oxen when we are not baboons when we are not the highest ape.
The greatest yoke ever put on humankind . . . what was it? Marriage or the twenty-four hour clock? Ah! Flying in the face of convention–a convention is just as often an unwanted finger up the ass. Conventional people are all of them proctologists.
The clock with minute hands, then the one with second hands . . . have you ever glimpsed those digital clocks counting 100,000ths of a second? Nauseating, aren’t they? Yes? No? Perhaps?
Is Time the moving arrow? The moving arrow? Not ‘a?’ If so, then shot from where? Or is it the tunnel we move through–and we do move through tunnels everywhere. What is passing in our hours? Yes, time flying by. Time is something we pass through, like shit through our intestines? Life a great beast and we the waste of its digestion.
What slows it down? What speeds it up? Time is a multiple of relatives–not what you might think.
Can time be frozen? Except in metaphor? Much the way Music was for Goethe in Architecture, yes, music frozen in stone. Does photography freeze time? Can it, except in the ways we imagine? To imagine or not to imagine–what are we without this imagination, I hope not yet dead.
Photography? Light graphics; light etchings; images etched by light, not into light, yes, by. Literalness here helps us to reimagine photography.
The fact that all vision is dependent on light, that all color is a matter of optics–what do we see when we see and the seeing is what we know when we understand; to stand under, no? Yes, post to lintel; architecture again, living architecture, the fundamentals. Metaphor once more. All of it is, you know, metaphor–this thing language–all of it is metaphor on metaphor extended and extended.
There is no color in the dark. Without light, everything is black. Etymology is not the first and the last of meaning, of what we ascribe to our semantic comprehension–no! But it does help. Words never escape the effects of their history anymore than nations or a people or a person does, right? There is always residue in a word of all former meanings and uses. We are heaped by residue following residue.
Digital photography has no more presentness about it than film photography. Barthes is wrong about photography, although he does not discuss digital photography when he wrote what he had a written about photography–or his interpreters have been wrong. But then it remains a puzzle to me how much American semi-literacy has been fostered by its contact with French Post Structuralism? Am I too harsh?
Ah! The lucidity comes across more clearly now. Still, though, the camera is dark within, much as memory is dark until we shed light–the apertures of mind in re-memory and that of the dark box in etching film with light. The light in memory is the light in film, the light of the stage, all of it everywhere, my life is a theater. How could what I remember not be this, theatricality presented with a certain lucidity?
I am, therefore, I think. Please! No referrals to Descartes. I have flipped the Cartesian syllogism–that is obvious enough. Why do I imagine that my readers will miss the point and draw a semi-literate conclusion–because I do condescend from time to time, and I no longer have faith that my culture has enough faith in literacy to maintain it, support it, teach it, train it, foster it . . . what have we in words to say what words no longer bear from us, respect.
Digital has no more presentness than an old polaroid might have had when it was taken–how it is immediate as we want to mean when we say, immediate–but immediate what? Immediately is always a future time realization.
Polaroids are no more present with their implied presentness than the film I shoot today and have developed today after having shot it.
The camera is not lucid. It is dark and remains dark. It will always be the dark box–digital has removed the dark box, the chamber within which it all happens. Digital has side-stepped all relations with Camera obscura.
This light etching–yes, graphic, is it not? But what of digital in this Photo Graphy? Can I ignore what happens with digital photographing? I can do whatever I want in writing–but my saying something does not make it so. I am the final authority over this text, no–yes! So then, does digital etch by light, with light as traditional pre-digital photography did? What is it that happens when I take a digital photo? I am really not sure. I know what happens to the film I still shoot–and they are different, will remain different, the sense? that is, the feel? Even when prints are made you can tell–film re-presents skin more naturally, we have said.
Yes, camera obscura, always.
My AE-1 in hand, manually focussed with black and white film. Lucidity is a state of mind. What means this? Pictures on a computer screen; photos printed on paper and in hand examined, looked at, pawed over, what then happens in the handling that does not by right clicking a mouse? This question is not incidental, is not irrelevant–relevancy is often debated without thinking, so therefore is not debated but played with as in a ping pong match of slogans and received ideas.
I wish I could say what it is or was that I feel or felt for photography, my photography, to shoot or not to shoot was my most pressing question dozens of times a day, day in and day in again for years.
[to be continued, T.S.]