Saturday, September 23, 2006

Speak to me with thine eyes...

I am fascinated by antique photographs, especially pictures of people. Nearly every antique store has either a file or a pile of old photos and very, very few ever have any accompanying information to identify the subject, date, setting, or significance.

I peer into these old pictures, focusing all my powers of observation, intellect and intuition, attempting to pierce the shrouds of mystery with the force of my will. Like new-found evidence uncovered by accident at the scene of a very old crime, old pictures of people provide clues, but no satisfaction. I want to know who they were, who loved them, where they lived, and what their lives were like. But answers and identities remain ever elusive, ever intriguing. Conjecture and imagination slink in and nibble on these scraps and go away hungry. It is like having a beautiful, perfect key to a door, but the door itself has been misplaced or destroyed so the treasure that waits behind the door is forever lost.

Who are these people? Where are they going and what are they thinking about? Who do they love and what did they do with their lives? How is it that a moment, perfectly preserved in two dimensions for a century or more, can be at once so revealing and also completely impenetrable?

Sometimes I think that if only the right person would see this picture, then the mystery could be solved. Someone somewhere might know...must know, must have a memory of this. But the truth is, in all probability, the right person doesn't exist, or rather, doesn't exist any more.

In this life, some mysteries will remain unsolved for the duration. In this life, you can't know everything. You don't get to understand everything you see in this life. But there will be time for that later.

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