Monday, October 12, 2009

Non Sequitur

I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted to post this, but I thought for a little bit about my favorite WoW blogs and realized that they're not entirely about WoW.  So I decided that posting this would be ok.  I'm going to put it behind a "read more," though, so if you're not interested in something that has nothing to do with WoW, feel free to skip it.

It's strange to me how quickly photographs age. In as little as five or ten years they mutate from record into anachronism. I'm thinking especially of snapshots of friends and family. Quirks of focus, fashion and color alter them so suddenly. Pictures taken yesterday seem like living memories, vivid and bright in their little boxes. In a couple years they begin to seem drained and alien. Did our faces really look like that? Did we wear our collars and hair that way? Any kinship between the present moment and the aging photo begins to look suspect. After a few more years their transformations are complete and they become entirely uncanny. The quality of the film – or the fact that film was involved at all – is impossibly primitive, while the colors are wrong and the clothes outlandish.
I was thinking about this because I was imagining a scene from earlier tonight. Myself and my boyfriend, my parents, and my sister and brother-in-law had all gathered in the kitchen after dinner. My mom and boyfriend were seated at the breakfast island while the rest of us were distributed around the edges of the small room, sipping fresh-brewed coffee. Just the family, sharing warm contentedness and mutually entertaining conversation about nothing much. Every so often one of us would make a comment of particular wit and set the rest of us laughing. It was an instance of semi-mythical conviviality, the sort of thing that would have a tough time not seeming manufactured in a short story or movie.
In trying to imagine the scene, it began to remind me of the many, many pictures we take of ourselves and our families and friends. They're typically snapped offhand during moments like these, mostly of interest to and shared with only those seen in the picture. Then they're filed in boxes, forgotten in directories, and shuffled into half-finished albums. When we discover them years later, they're strange and charming at the same time. They feel closer to the sepia relics of vanished decades than they do to us. Which leaves us, or at least me, with the surprising conclusion that our memories are the highest fidelity recording medium we have access to.
Not that I'm going to stop taking photos, screenshots, notes, or anything else. They are, after all, strange and charming. In the grand tour of memory, they are the quaint and rustic hamlets tucked away in the hills of Tuscany, a weekend's respite from more pressing travels.

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