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Picture That


Near Lolo Springs

I guess it's about time to sit down and consider what I am up to with these reports. One person complained that I'd turned email into monologue, and I guess that's true. It's an artifact of travel and the dearth of Verison towers back in the woods. Halfway through this month, I've already used up all 800 minutes on my phones. In the evenings, when it's free, I'm always beyond reach of a tower. It would be extremely easy to consider the whole enterprise a chore, and let it slide.

Decisions, decisions.

It's like I've left the cocktail party and gone out under the stars. Aside from muffled moans from bodies moving rhythmically in the bushes, I can hear only the occasional drollery from an open window. Shall I go back in?

Nah. Not gonna happen.

So I'm left with doing the occasional monologue, and with less repartee than would be my wont. I'll keep it up as long as it amuses me, and perhaps one other person, and hope to be forgiven the unavoidable silences, the inevitable delays. It's nothing personal. By the time I get feedback, days have gone by.

I am also still trying to make my peace with photography. Once I mentioned my impatience with the paraphernalia of batteries, film, settings, and the psychology of sticking a machine between you and what you are trying to see, as though you didn't trust your eyes.

Someone - I think it was Bob Hatch - took exception, saying photos were an aid to memory for him.

I know what he means. I wonder if I can explain what I mean. There is a gestalt of memory and imagination that arises when you simply stand still before the remarkable and take it in. It is a combination of remembering what was here before, imagining what it may become (as in winter), and participating in the parallels of the present.

Surely I am not the only one to ever notice that what seems alive to the eyes looks dead through the lens.

But don't it look natural?
Yet I know it works the other way, sometimes. Recently, I walked right by a field of alpine flora, oblivious. On the way back down the mountain, I stopped briefly to take an obligatory picture, and got wrapped up in a particular flower, a small intricate loveliness that would have been lost to me had I not been wearing that camera like an albatross around my neck.
A camera can only capture what is in front of it, shorn of context. It is a machine. Memory is so much more than that, and imagination yet more. But it is true that photos can trip our memory years later, bring back feelings, words, connections that are not to be found in the photo itself at all.

I admit that photos have reanimated things that would otherwise have been wholly lost in the dustbin of my brain.

So I guess I'll keep taking them. But I try not to get too carried away with it. One curb is the cost. Today I sent out a dozen, attached to email. It took 16 minutes on my Verison connection in Bozeman, which set me back 6 or 7 dollars. Once was no big deal, but how long do I want to keep that up?

I know, I should have made a web page for this stuff back in the winter, during the extended leisure of living in my own driveway. But noooo.

Me, provident? Me, efficient?

Picture that.


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