Thursday, March 16, 2017

O-ku Nsu-kun No-ko


So!  It's 1946.And  Louis Armstrong is found looking  at himself in the  mirror ..............and this is   the  week's sepia saturday   prompt photo.........Say "Cheese"!

[Some of what follows  is a sort of  Open Letter to one of the main  protagonists in a rather messy ,current, personal drama.But it has universal truths too.........]
What i am saying  here  ( to quote a line from the movie "The Sixth Sense")  is that "I See   Dead People....."!
Which, sort of , of brings me onto what I will clumsily  attempt to explain in this post.
Namely , my rather particular relationship to the viewing of photographs.
Maybe i see photo differently to others ?
(remember!) I See Dead  People............
For me, snapshots can be a portel to The Other.( i know this must  read like a load of pretentous bollocks  ,but maybe you can get my drift  here ...?)
 I wasnt there, but to my way of thinking ,if someone took the trouble to point a camera in the first place, then they must have intended to share & communicate.Surely? I mean, why  photograph a secret?
I  find myself   "reading between the lines........" although the lines are in body ,not in text.......
I could never understand the idea of privacy in picture (let alone copyright) .It's a  THING , its not the actual event.
(Look   my  protagonist, I not saying  I'm 'right' :I'm just telling you the way  it is for me . This may not be the same thing!)
 Looking is sharing,right? It's not excluding? A photo is something you create   to try and make another person  understand?
Look.I share on this blog a photo of my dead Grandmother.I am happy to do this ( yes, I mean "happy").It makes her life still  real somehow.It make her Still Significant.Still Important.Still powerful How could this process possibly diminish her?
Exiled abroad and  never having  a British passport marked my dad down as a Soviet deserter . Simply, he was afraid to go home.
The  only photo he came to Scotland with was on his passport.
For 20+ years his only contact from home & family  came via letters .Sometimes these  contained  the odd photo.
Home was reduced to a series of these 2nd hand 'souvenirs'
Births ,Marriages and (increasingly) Deaths came his way  in snapshots.
He saw his mother's ( my grandmother) death -a month later-via this photo of her in her coffin, with his sister sat looking on, in the flesh.
He got older......as did the  endless procession of a family trudging  through the snow into the cemetry.........
So.What I  try  to say here is that I come to your photographs differently.
My family didnt have any  luxury of privacy......no notion of secrecy.
Photography ,albeit out of neccessity ,was inclusive.



At the same time,.my Mum's fractured family  revealed itself  mysteriously to me in similar fashion..........
.From afar,my maternal grandfather beggered -off to North America ( with a different family) at the turn of the century.
Gold Digging!Literally, it seems..a tad late ,the 'Rush'must have been over by then?
What little I know of him/them  was learned from such pictures...........A Rum Crew!Although not that disimilar in posture and bravado to any modern day British ex-pats in ,say,Benidorm
*One of many of my Aunty Brenda's North American photos :*
see others
 https://zimnoch.smugmug.com/My-historyfamily/Saranac-Lake-in-upstate-New/
Infact my maternal grandfather only left me himself in photographs.
He was a sailor.He learned of my birth in 1952 but never saw me in the flesh.
.He died that same year. 
This is a photo of his grave in Malta.
I have never visited.I never wished too.What would be the point? This photo is more than enough.

When a western man loses his best friend many days are spent in years 
And without belief he knows his empty grief is a name for his own fears 
Oh, the eyes are still.
 Oh, but even sleeping 
My dearest friend till we meet again and ever, we'll be blowing 
Maybe weep awhile for those below; until then I'll keep on going
 But oh, the heart, the hurt keeps on keepin' on, on and on 
 Let them alone for those down there speak our sorrow 
While we can't share the joke together, yeah, we keep on going 
My dearest friend till we meet again
 O-ku Nsu-kun No-ko The dead are weeping for the dead 

10 comments:

Little Nell said...

Goodness, what an absorbing post Tony. Thank you for sharing these somewhat strange, but addictively interesting, photos. I hope your family differences are resolved soon.

La Nightingail said...

We like having pictures of our forebears - to see what our grandfathers and grandmothers and greats looked like. There they are, smiling at the camera. We think maybe we know a little about them from the photograph that captured their expression in less than a second. It's nice to have that picture - to see their face. But reading something they wrote would give you clearer knowledge of who they were than a photograph.

tony said...

Very True L.N....... We Become Obsessed By Image .....to the extent all else is denied.
Thank You Nell Watch This Space! :)

Barbara Rogers said...

Ah letting the dead speak! We are all connected, even as we walk upon an earth formed from our ancestors' bones. I guess your more immediate family have faces in your mind, where the ancestors have long lost theirs, the ones from 5 generations or 15 generations ago. Good thoughts to consider.

tony said...

Barbara a thought to juggle with ! I wonder , the further back we go....do the faces get more,or less, familiar.......?

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

I've found myself "in the scene" in my imagination while writing about family photos for the prompts. By the time I finish doing the research about what was going on, I feel almost like I was there too. It's one of the great gifts of Sepia Saturday to me—changing me from a distant observer to feeling engaged in the photos.

ScotSue said...

A very unusual and thought provoking post!

Mike Brubaker said...

My dad was our family's photographer and many of my childhood memories are not of the actual occasion but of my reflective image in my father's photos. Now I take very few photos, instead I have become an enthusiast of other photographers' printed images of dead people, rather than struggle over my own poor camera efforts. A bit like being a musician or a listener.

By chance last week I found one of my late father's many gadgets, a cheap flash drive audio recorder for dictation, etc. I thought there was nothing on it but when I put batteries into it and hooked it into my computer there were a half dozen sound files, very short 5 - 10 seconds of my father's voice trying out the recorder for the first time. "test, test, one, two, one two." It made me cry.

Jo Featherston said...

Very interesting concepts and ideas.

tony said...

The Past Finds Us Again At The Most Unexpected Times:In The Most Unexpected Places......