Here's an article by Casey Johnston urging those who hold on to collections, curios and mementos to consider, instead, holding onto photos of these things. We save this stuff (and trudge it around whenever we move) mostly for its memory-evoking power, but memories can also be evoked photographically. It's smart!
I'm one of those hard-to-let-go people, too. As sentimental as your average Labrador retriever, I'm capable of falling in love with any random this or that, and I dream of unburdening myself of the several never-opened boxes I've shlepped from domicile to domicile. So I read the article and found myself agreeing, at least in theory. But there's an obvious shortfall: a photo of a thing is not, after all, the thing. Something would be lost!
But then I set eyes on Johnston's heart-breakingly beautiful "reference" photo of an angel figurine (used below with permission):
The angel was Johnston's Rosebud; she carried it around everywhere as a child. And the photo just kills me (remember, I'm a nano-aesthete).
What, exactly, is the juju behind this image's power? Is it an exquisite figurine? Nope. Is it an especially artful photo? Nope. So why's it so affecting? The explanation is slippery, and I've broached it from various angles over the years (see many of my articles on "creativity", especially this one and this one). Mostly, it's about the care, the care, the heart-breaking care (the fact that the photographer's prone on the ground is only the beginning of it): ten thousand micro-decisions, most of them unconscious, faithfully aligned via unswerving love upon a final goodbye. It is, as ever, all about the shakti.
Explanations aside, the image captures not only the objective photons, but also the subjective love of the photographer. If Johnston's love were ever to thin over time, a glance at this photo, which has been pre-loaded, would rekindle it more effectively than the object itself - which to cold eyes was just some kitsch figurine.
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