31 December 2012

The History of Objects, part II

stick on a black sand beach in south Iceland
Proust had his madeleine. Others have shells, stones, fossils. I've been thinking more about the last post. The history of objects. What they evoke.  How we are transported by an object to some other time. Here's a thought from French photographer William Klein about the idea. His object was a sheet of photographic contacts:

"You look at a sheet of contacts, you look a little contact...and it brings back all the memories possible, you know? You remember whether it was raining or whether you were tired, whether you were full of beans or ready to walk another 5 miles.

A contact photo reminding him that he was full of beans. I love that.  There's a feeling associated with a photograph or a song or an object that evokes the exact senses you had at the time when its meaning was initially established. I remember the first time I ate a banana sandwich and liked it.  It was after a high school soccer game in LaGrange, Georgia. Now, banana sandwiches make me think of grass-stains and shin-guards.

Proust wrote a seven-volume novel about the idea of involuntary memory. I'd like to start writing more regularly about it. Maybe a weekly column. For today, here's an object that I found in my coat pocket this weekend and that I happened to photograph right before I picked up:


It's a seed of some kind. I found it and lots others like it scattered along the sidewalk in a neighborhood in Williston, North Dakota in October. I fell in love with its color and and texture - wrinkly, blueish-purple. When I felt it in my pocket last weekend, I thought of that windy day in Williston, and the big red coat I was wearing when I saw it.

Do you have any objects that remind you of a place? Have you read parts of Proust's novel? I think it's fascinating what sorts of random associations we make.


Parting Thoughts:  A beautiful folk song by a Bulgarian choir that I can't stop listening to and a poem by Robert Wrigley about horses and fossils and time called "After a Rainstorm."


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