The Rush of MemorySunday, March 25, 2018
Photographer Mark Peterson took an unusual photograph of Defense Secretary James Mattis for the cover of the NY Times Magazine. I was particularly attracted to quote of his when he was interviewed by Katie Van Syckle in her How a Photographer Got a Rare Shot of James Mattis.
The power of photography is it freezes the moment. What you’re hoping with a still image is to create something that is frozen, so you look at it, but you can see the past and the future in that moment.
I am wondering how the Pre-Socratic Heraclitus would have opined on that. Heraclitus famously wrote:
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. There is nothing permanent except change. You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.
As I look at this Polaroid reversed peel of my friend K sitting at my computer in the old Kerrisdale home I can almost imagine the precise moment when I pressed the shutter of my Mamiya. But then it took a while (a minute) before I could peel it apart. I have the nice print but it took until now (years later) for me to scan the negative and reverse it in Photoshop. It would seem that the moment of exposure (possibly 1/15 second) has been like the waters of Heraclitus. They flow and we see different things. Looking at the original print is it I ask myself different from looking through the viewfinder?
But the most difficult concept to grasp is the idea that when I was taking that picture I would find myself years later on the same desk as K but in a different oficina? When I look at this picture can I understand the rush of memory?