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Haus der Lüge - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Haus der Lüge
After Skylar asked me lots of questions about our life in California, I showed her bits of two video tapes made when we were living in Vallejo, one from a year or so before she was born and one from when she was around five months old. It had been a long time since I'd watched either one. The experience was pure melancholy. "Wouldn't it be nice if we could go back in time and live our life the way it was then?" she asked me and then, "Did you like that life better than the one you're living now?" I couldn't answer her truthfully, because to do so would be to make it seem that I'm unhappy with her when nothing has ever made me happier than she does. But, yes, I'd hop on the time machine without a moment's hesitation. I suppose she picked up on my silent affirmatives, because she followed the questions by stating, "You know, dad, if you hadn't gotten a job at the U of A, we could still be living in that house."

"If only," I thought to myself. The more I reflected on my desire to return, though, the more I realized that the happy life depicted through the video camera lens was more construct than reality. Back in March, 1999, when Skylar was five months old, I was absolutely miserable. Kim was back at work far sooner than she wanted to be. Communications between the two of us had devolved largely into technical questions about child-rearing, brightened only by the occasional moment of shared wonder at our beautiful daughter. I had lost all traction in my progress towards completing my dissertation. And I was spending so much time alone with Skylar at 617 Napa Street that I'd developed strange habits like experimenting with dozens of different recipes for poached eggs. Had it not been for the free tickets Kim got me to Cal games at the skybox in the Oakland Arena, I might have gone completely insane.

Yet when I look at the video now, taking in my perspective on the world, listening to myself talk with and through the camera, all I see at first is a golden age of delight. The footage lies, in other words. But it also manages to reveal a deeper truth that was lurking under all my superficial unhappiness, a love that ended up surviving the stranglehold of everyday stress. I'm hoping that all the pictures I've taken since getting the digital camera last year will turn out to have done the same thing. Right now, though, they are still too close for me to tell.

Mode: ruminative
Muse: A memory of Blixa

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elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: March 21st, 2005 08:07 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Intractable Ironies

Deferred for the present, there will come a time when this will have appeared, will appear, perhaps 8 or so pages from the page where I am with RB now:

The name of Photography's noeme will therefore be: "That-has-been," or again: the Intractable. In Latin (a pedantry necessary because it illuminates certain nuances), this would doubtless be said: interfuit: what I see has been here, in this place which extends between infinity and the subject (operator or spectator); it has been here, and yet immediately separated; it has been absolutely, irrefutably present, and yet already deferred. It is all this which the verb intersum means.

What I love here among other things: that-has-been, or again. That the verb still means. Lucida indeed.

I'm glad you came to Arizona, Charlie. I'm glad that I can send an LA version of a California breeze in your direction now.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 21st, 2005 02:06 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Intractable Ironies

Breeze and Barthes received gratefully, even if the former picked up a lot of pollen en route.

I should track down that Benjamin thing on photography for you.
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: March 22nd, 2005 05:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Intractable Ironies

Pollen influx indeed. The wind was mad today off the coast--mad--

I have to write more, get the morning energy back. Present congestedness is making this difficult.

Benjamin's "Short History"? That other one on surrealist photography was great... Something fabulously cryptic about a trick of substituting political for historical past, I think. But I read both far too quickly and have an insanely short short-term memory these days.

Incidentally: I read the first few pages of something equally intriguing (had to put it down because of that intrigue--not Barthes-related, thus postponed) called "Theses on the Photography of History." I think the guy was one of Jerry's students in undergrad years back, remember he gave a paper at UA once. Something to do with parrot shit. Seriously. It was about guano and was very smart. Two things I never thought of putting in the same sentence but hey :)

I have to go write more things.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 22nd, 2005 06:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Intractable Ironies

Oh, you know the "Short History." Cool. I think that former student may have been Eduardo Cadava.
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