Friday, October 4, 2019

A night photograph.

Dear Shutterbugs,

I saw an inspiring movie about a photographer recently; it was all about stuff, and you know how I adore stuff, and as a corollary, I adore considering the meaning of the stuff we save, and the relationship between the things, the stuff, and the meaning of the stories that reside in the objects.

Consider, please, a glass duck shaped ashtray.  It's big, it's heavy, and it has a little mate, a smaller duck.  Consider also that the smokers who owned these items have departed this plane, and now there are just the ashtrays and no ashes.  Why keep these items?  Right now, I'd say, keep them because they telescope time and space.  One sees these ducks, and one sees a ghost of the table they sat on in the house of the smokers.  Mind you, I never saw them use these ducks to hold ashes; for ashes, they used a finny little sandbag thing, with a concave brass dish with a wavy brass strip attached.*

Which is another ghost image that lives with the ducks, the sandbag ashtray.  The little memory landscape map that these ducks reveal can grow and grow.  You step outside, beyond the table the ducks are on: the sky down there is so white, high, and un-blue.  It is nearly always warm and damp, and there are stringy, ungainly cacti clambering along a painted wall, and they bloom sometimes at night; huge, creamy, fragile trumpets of deliriously fine fragrance.  There are bricks, and a kind of feeling of scuffling along the grit of them near to the cacti.  There is a lot of light coming from the window, too, because now it is night.  It's all there, and how can this be kept with the ducks?  How can it remain in the ducks?  It cannot.  The ducks will go on perhaps, to tell a totally different tale, to people that I will never meet.

And that is the kind of story that stuff is telling all the time.

* A little like this one: