Wednesday, January 7, 2009
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.
In the magical little gardens of my mind I found a jewel of a sign that read: