That Which Will Remain

Alone and unnoticed for years. An oxidized brass shell-casing nestled in a crevice of rock on Ring Mountain. The hint of orange lichen in the bottom right of the frame has been there far longer. The two of them together make for a lovely pair of old crusted things. The casing is from a starter’s pistol. We can see the sharp cut of the hammer strike at the bottom of the X. Perhaps some race began here long ago. Lank bodies crouched in the mist and poised like springs on Ring Mountain. The race is long over, and the boy who won has grown old and passed on and somewhere in an attic or a storage unit is a loving cup with his name engraved upon it, also made of brass, also lying on its side and cast off long after its purpose was served. To celebrate and honor a moment in time.

The camera allows us to hold onto all that we discover. All that we see can become ours; for a while. It is the ultimate collector, a virtual hoarder, accumulating in vast dusty piles all that we love, all that we once aspired to be, the slices of time that we hope will remain – with us, that will remain – meaningful, that will remain – memories. A conspiracy of light and time and form.

We have crossed the boundary of things. We no longer need to take physical possession of an object in order to possess it. To possess its image is enough. Once it is captured it becomes part of us. We assimilate all that we see, layer upon layer, accumulating like silt at the bottom of a pond.

Each image, coded in a collection of neurons. Collections of collections. Ours brains are swelling. We suffer from a mass, collective ongoing concussion. As if we take enough Selfies we will come to know ourselves.

Perhaps taking photographs is a natural extension of what we’re already programmed to do. Scan, search, isolate, focus, analyze, reflect. We take pictures all the time. We frame and we pan and we crop. Everything of value is noted, and sorted and stored. We’re already a camera and light table both. We have the eye and we have the mind. The body is camera.

A photograph is a designate moment of synchronicity. It is a frozen interaction with the world, with ourselves. Each and every photograph has one goal in common. They all attempt to stop time. A photograph is thunder in a bottle. It is the sound of an oncoming storm. Or, perhaps it is the echo of the thunder. A photograph is an echo.

 *

There is the dull report of a pistol shot. A tiny brass tube tumbles end over end through cool mountain air. The bodies are moving long before the gravity wins. Leg muscle and neurons firing too. A thin curl of smoke at the muzzle of the gun. At the apex of its rise an indiscernible glint of sunlight. The casing begins its fall. The legs of the boys are as white as corpses. It’s hard to imagine they will someday be men. Nobody notices the tiny brass tube. They have such fine haircuts. The way it shines and bounces. It is still falling. The boys are bunching at the trailhead where they will make their first climb, single file. The hollow ping as the brass meets the granite. Inaudible. They’re almost out of sight. It bounces and it rolls and it settles in for the slow journey to decay and to dust. The boys have all vanished over the rise and McLaughlin is coughing into his fist. His hair blows over his face in a gust of wind. The casing wobbles in the crevice. He places the pistol back into the inverse mold of purple velvet and closes the lid of the box. He pats all of his pockets in that small terror of middle-aged confusion. Then he remembers. He gave Dooley the watch.

o O o

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