Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Photography, Haiku and History

Without photography we are doomed, forced to live lives based upon loose and fragile memories of the past that favor sweeter histories than actually lived to protect us against despair and anxiety. Words can be arranged to suit the historian, but pictures are dependable snippets that unless doctored by an experienced surgical photo-oncologist will remain truthful until the end of time. Take Hitler and Nazi Germany for example, there is little doubt of horrific genocide during this period of time because the cameras were running and snapping as the allies liberated the death camps. The news reels and still-photography presented and preserved a lasting and shocking case of brutality and sorrow. The actual accounts by the survivors certainly provide an historical baseline, but it was the pictures that sealed the deal for posterity.

Haiku, as developed and refined over the years, offers the writer an outlet to capture a moment of discovery in a few brief syllables (the old 5-7-5 as we learned in the fifth grade, or any other combination the author feels inspired to formulate) that will survive the test of time--if it is any good, that is. Let's look at the simple 5-7-5 haiku below.


After the last kiss
An anxious woman drives home
To greet her husband

Okay, a bit on the dark side, but the image is there, cemented forever in your brain mass. The point is that Haiku and photography offer a lasting impression. Both the image on the photograph and the words that form the haiku never change. The photograph remains a constant on to itself forever, yet each individual that gazes upon it will likely assign its own context as related to the event captured on paper. In contrast, the image generated by the haiku is different for every individual that reads it, but the message remains intractable for all. In "Mainstream" we get the message loud and clear. Don't we?

Question 1. How many pictures would it take convey Mainstream without haiku?
Question 2. Where are the pictures and news accounts of Darfur, Rwanda and the rest?


Anonymous said...

Hey, with photo software any image can be altered. Just like perception. Steph

Gadabout Jack said...

This was already covered in the text. Like they always told you in school, "read the entire question." Case closed.