The Man is a Genius

(Untitled [1965] Ralph Eugene Meatyard)

I’d like to be painfully obsessed with something, to have something that I could compare with breathing (besides breathing itself).
I’m no Buddhist. I’d want my heart to break if certain things are taken away from me, material or otherwise. Really break. It changes the way you see things, the way you live life, the ease or unease that bears itself upon you each day. I’d like something purposeful to invest in. I used to think it was dance, then it became music, then photography; then i realized it was nothing, really. And that’s what broke my heart. All these things in which I find so much purpose are so fleeting, their value so arbitrary and forgettable. I didn’t like the idea of being anal-retentive and undisciplined with a short attention span.

But that’s why we record things, because they’re bound to leave us at some point. My dad had a thick photo album specially made for him by his parents when he was in college. It was bound in blue leather and had his name embossed on the cover. When my dad would see me leafing through it, he’d make sure to tell me flat out that what I was looking at weren’t photos or report cards or certificates, it was all (in his words) “Your Papa’s bullshit,” which is a pretty nasty thing to say to a 7-year-old, it’s not right to encourage unhealthy levels of cynicism for small, naive and impressionable people.
It took a while before I realized how wonderful it was that someone else thought my dad’s records were worth preserving, that it was worth it to dignify his memories with bound leather and layers of parchment, before it all turned into “bullshit”.

The Hungarian word for “photograph” directly translates into “to make it last forever,” a verb.
So I guess if I were Hungarian, I could say I’m taking a photograph, and in the same breath say I’m adding substance to memory, or simply, remembering.

Author: alicesarmiento

San Juan, Metro Manila

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