Saturday, 7 April 2012
Being photographed: good me, bad me
One has two selves: the one in the good photograph and the one in the bad photograph. What does the good photograph mean?
I sometimes think we are engaged in a competition with reality, or rather, that there are various realities that are presented to us and that we tend to choose one over another. We do this by taking over the presenting, less by addition than by subtraction, by removing the bad ones in an act of censorship. So we pile up the good photos, thinking that somehow the aggregate of these photographs, their cumulative effect, might in some sense be us; that we might be able to introduce our desired aggregate reality, like the thin end of the wedge, into the space between rapidly passing moments that are, surely, no more than mere impressions that must fade in time, so that, eventually, the photographs take over and become us in memory, in our and others' memory, supplanting the hapless, plain, un-photogenic creature that crawls, stumbles and trips about our booby-trapped everyday existence.
And we believe we have a certain right, or at least a claim we can lodge in the furtherance of that right, to retain the copyright on ourselves and our images of ourselves in the same way as we retain the copyright to our productions; that, in effect, we have the right to produce ourselves as we would wish to be produced.
This copyright image, we feel, belongs to eternity in whatever sense we understand eternity. That it is the Platonic model of our ideal, and therefore properly real selves. This, amigo, is my nose as I would have it be and it is no business of yours how it should be. Listen buddy, this chin and neck are mine not just in the long run, but in the run to end all runs, in the precise standstill that constitutes the self beyond this incidental moment into which it just appears to be concentrated. This will run and run. Believe me.