This blog began in 2009 and has grown sporadically with thoughts about “masculism” and travels. In 2016 my sons and I drove to a monastery in the pyrenees, and I hope that one day my daughter will want to travel together: “Something about boys and girls”. Latterly M has started to post about his travels, and I hope that in a thousand years our words will still be accessible and continued by our descendants. The motivation to leave a trace in the sands of time is as old as the first hand prints on the cave wall.
Someone in China once said: “Don’t be afraid of moving slowly, be frightened only of standing still” and Einstein thought :”life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”, but moving can be addictive.
I was 19 when I first set out from the UK, hitchhiking through France, Spain and around Morocco leaving behind unsuccessful schooling and familial angst. Back then I was a purist, more traveller than tourist, taking little more than a rucksack, blanket, and drumsticks. No camera to capture the time, or shoes to interpret the road. But over the years those memories have dulled and depleted .
In the film Blade Runner, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) laments how all his memories will be lost when he dies, but perhaps it’s their very impermanence that makes them all the more precious and human. The tension of Roy’s final speech isn’t broken by him rifling through a box of old photos or scrolling through the camera roll on his iphone, just as Deckard (Harrison Ford) isn’t distracted by keeping the rain off his lens. No the scene’s poignant because Roy’s final act is fleeting and selfless: saving Deckard’s life (albeit to have an audience).
Though we increasingly capture and share memories in photographs, their meaning is partly anchored within us, partly defined by the viewer. Maybe allowing these views to fade acknowledges our transience so adding to their meaningfulness.
An article from The Guardian also made me think –
“Don’t forget, man is wolf to man,” Colette says. “In every country, in every civilisation and for as long as the world has been around.” The contagion of hatred that she witnessed as a child was not confined to a historical moment. “It’s like Covid. It can appear anywhere.”
Memory is the vaccine, preserved in memorials, transmitted down generations in the hope of reaching herd immunity. But if it is not taken up, and witnesses fall silent, the antibody count in the cultural bloodstream declines.
The Guardian Nov 18 2020
Digital mementos will likely survive far into the future, unlike those from the analogue age, and AI will make them accessible. From now on our experiences will be frozen in ones and zeros: thoughts and perspectives, framed by the mind, mediated through the senses, instantiated in words and images, caught on the Web, spun into the matrix.
Though much has changed over the 33 years since that first trip, I still believe in the pre-eminence of experience. However, just as a young wine matures into a more interesting vintage, I now better appreciate how experience is enhanced by being fashioned into narrative, edited down, and occasionally “Photoshopped”. These days I travel with two cameras, not least to try and do justice to what it means to be here and now for future eyes and ears.
So bon voyage and best of luck with telling your stories.