Charles Baudelaire, who died in 1867 at the age of 46, wrote something that could easily translate into an early blog—Paris Spleen. Although most of us don’t achieve his tone of passionate irony, we all try to somehow capture a relationship with place and time.
Baudelaire was preoccupied with mortality and dissonance. When the WordPRess postaday people put a call-out for photos on the theme “Let there be light,” it seemed like, well, what, isn’t that the essential mechanism of photography, light on a plate? Or whatever the digital version of that is.
But Ben Huberman’s model photo of a mishmash of cheap jewelry and lamps in a shop in Hanoi, the juxta-position of Genesis with cheap thrills, made me think of Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen.
So then, nostalgia.
“Nostalgia” is a picture (a committed amateur I work with an amateur camera) of a very dirty window in my daughter’s bedroom, that is, a bedroom she has moved out of in stages over the past ten years and that I am in the process of reclaiming. The deer are figures bought for her by me decades ago in a souvenir shop in Banff. The milkweed pods are a couple of years old—I should get rid of them.
The dirty window diffuses the light. There’s an oppressive feeling, the bird-like wings trapped in flightless posturing, a bit like a Dickens’ novel, you know, Miss Havisham in her wedding gown.
Somebody clean the windows!
But wait—let there be light, sure, but not too much of it too suddenly.