Monday, 1 May 2017

Picture Post # 24 The Privilege of Being Near and Far


'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'

Posted by Tessa den Uyl and Martin Cohen


Image credit: from an original photographic plate created by Thomas Scarborough

The pictured child is not far, but too far to be near; or too close to be far, but not that near.  Instead, they are halfway, as the background, or foreground" seem to be as well. In-between is where we make distinctions; the difference is always in-between. But rather than representing elements between which a difference is made, this picture seems to represent the in-between itself.

Humidity and temperature change have touched the chemicals of this slide, and ‘X-rayed by life’ in this way, existence reaffirms itself as an ever-changing movement. Within the invisible that becomes visible, we might think to collect memories, freeze moments into pictures, and hence even to think of something as permanent...  yet, little by little, these perceptions are all erased by the visible that withdraws into the unknown.

Stability does not exist. The in-between hands to us that what we think, but do not truly know, and maybe if life would see us, it would say ‘we do not know much’. Thoughts alone make a thread that by stiff perseverance does not break, however often we may have to observe that the tissue is of dubious nature...

6 comments:

  1. In an unabashedly Rorschach way, two words sprung to mind upon looking at this image: ‘gossamer’ and ‘psychotropic’. Neither word relates, in any discernibly hard-and-fast way, to the other. On the surface, the two words seductively lead the mind along dissimilar trails of experience and understanding. Yet in doing so, the image still manages to embody the meaning of both words. Perhaps, in at least one aspect, this too encapsulates the evanescence and in-betweenness the post talks about — not just the in-betweenness of what’s far and near, but the experiential in-betweenness of different perceptions.

    The curiousness of such an image is in lending itself to many ways to be spun, looked at with the benefit of a widening aperture. To these extents, I agree that, as the post says, “no such thing as stability exists.” Just as time might be seen as a rushing succession of infinitesimally small ‘now’ moments, experiences might similarly be construed. That is, as a succession of frozen ‘now’ moments that get imprinted on our consciousness — building a past, carving out a present, and illuminating a future. Any sense of ‘stability’ is perhaps just our minds needing to ‘batch’ those moments, to enable us to process and make sense of experiences in some manageable, graspable way. The image above might represent a capturing of one of those brief moments, transitioning between one ‘sensible’ (able-to-be-processed) experience to another.

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    1. Thank you Keith for your comment that enhances the post.

      To understand that all differences are made in-between, the hardship of belief diminishes?

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    2. For me, Tessa, “to understand that all differences are made in-between, the hardship of belief” actually increases rather than diminishes. My rationale is that the very evanescent nature of in-betweenness makes it all the more difficult, and perhaps often impossible, to fully understand any moment (experience) in time. Something happens that's less than full understanding. That realisation in turn affects ‘belief’, rendering belief suspect. Admittedly, however, this is a function of how any one person processes — or believe she or he processes — these transitory moments in time.

      Meanwhile, on a separate matter, I’m curious about how the post’s title is using the word ‘privilege’ in the context of being near and far. Is that something you might touch on a bit more?

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    3. The privilege is intended here, as the possibility to be given another perception. (Similar to imagination that is to claim your birthright.) An open space. In-between we make distinctions, in-between is where change can occur. Logically, as long as we cannot let go of distinctions we've made, we cannot let go of images we have about ourselves and the world. Still, if you think away all those ideas, things still are, for all ideas are in-between (about things). Every conscious being has this privilege, contrary to the dictionary, here not intended for the few.

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  2. I have been an absent co-editor, spending the last few days in the townships. In Africa, it seems to stand in sharper relief, how our histories are just a part of a river that flows. We seek to freeze these histories in time. And why? Fire, flood, pillage ... and soon they are gone. The image unusually captures the in-between to oblivion. It was rescued from a flash flood.

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  3. Dear Thomas,

    The question is maybe why the (hi)stories remain similar... Strangely with an experience that seems to entail a strong 'nowness' (that Africa seems to hand to us), it turns into a destructive conception of feeling in-between, social-politically speaking. The thing is (maybe) that we all tend to reach out to an idea of stability, that cannot exist. Neither here (in Africa), neither elsewhere. Why continue to look for it? We do not manage to turn the disadvantage into an advantage, for suppose there would be a need for some kind of mental revolution. When one sees poverty, starvation and so much suffering and violence, it is however a bit difficult to put words onto these realities... the river flows fast.

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