Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Sing The Body Photographic



I have a reverence for old brownish vintage photographs. I've always marvelled at portrait daguerreotypes of the 19th century. They are the closest thing we have to time travel. I can stare at a collection of historical photos for hours on end. I enjoy trying to guess the exact year they were taken. I work like a detective. First thing I do is recognize fashion styles that might narrow down any proper chronological identification. I also identify architectural features, vegetation, geography and the sort. Then I go to my reference books and encyclopedias to classify what I see. The photo then becomes a living petridish that captures the essence of an era. I do own some vintage photos of my family that have been my first and only encounter with my heritage. One of such photographs is that of my French great grandmother. I am mesmerized by her portrait (isn't it interesting I use the historical present tense when referring about her as if she was still living!) because it is proof that my ancestors really existed! There is a famous philosophical question made by various thinkers along the centuries: Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt? , meaning where are they who came before us? A pervasive mood all throughout my life. It is a puzzling statement. All the people of this world that built and created our civilizations where have they gone?, they are both dead (physically) and alive (intangibly). Vintage photos answer that philosophical enigma.

11 comments:

JBA said...

I love these pictures. I read "Water for Elephants" over holiday and these made me think about that book. Thank you for getting me to the happy place in my brain for a few minutes!

willow said...

I adore vintage photos and have many great old ones of family. I come from several generations of photographers, beginning with my ggg grandfather's daguerreotype self portrait.

We are who we were, right?

willow said...

That spammer was trying to sell us a pair of Nikes. I showed him the door.

Cynthia said...

I want the pouty little girl! Great photo...gosh...the photo moods shift from the beginning to the end of the series. Too bad your great grandmother's (gg?)not there too. Maybe you could scan her sometime?

PS I wonder how you show a nike spammer the door? (present tense)

Cynthia said...

PS I'm electrified and singing with your collection!
PSS
I have a selection of family photos that have that vintage feel, too. I think the 1930's is the earliest group.

Bill Stankus said...

Watch out, old photos can make one melancholy. That's part of the reason I'm searching for a Time Machine.

Steph said...

I just found you through Willow's blog, and I love it. Consider yourself blogrolled.

Keri said...

I love the little girl, too! She is precious.

Daphne said...

Hey, pink comboy, how are you doing? I hope you're feeling better, as you know I love old vintage pictures as well. I love collecting them and observing them, especially the ones from my family. Remember the one I had about your family, wasn't that weird and bizarre, that I had a photo of your grandparents in my file of old photos. I would like to use my old photos and write some oral history about my aunts-ricarda, marcolita and marcola; three women who have influenced my life one way or another. I should have interviewed ricarda, my godmother and favorite aunt before she passed. One of my best friends, Zulma, says that I have ricarda's personality and my Titi Tete, her sister, would tell her grandaughter, Marife, that when I became older I was going to be like Ricarda, sociable, happy-go-lucky-
I also often think like you, where are these souls now, lately I've been missing my mother a lot, perhaps it's because I'm spending a lot of time by myself and I'm on vacation where I reminisce a lot and think what was I doing 10 years ago. When I was around 11 years old, I would sit at front of the house with the neighboring children counting the stars on the sky. I would think to my own, where do the dead people go,are they on the sky, can they see us,once I became obssessed thinking about it and in my thoughts I started freaking out as if I were going crazy. At 11, I started thinking about life after death and it has never left my mind. I think that's why I think reincarnation is the most logical way of thinking, that is, in my opinion. Well pcowboy I hope all is well and please let me know how you're doing from asma.
love,\daph

Janelle said...

oh oh oh what a wondrous thing your blog is.... going back for more right now. how lucky am i? whew. x j

High Desert Diva said...

I love all these images.