Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Quotes from Memories of a dog by Daido Moriyama

In the same way that people have them, towns have dreams and memories. Just as people's memories are made from a weave of various strands, so too a town is a mixture of all matter and space-time. Towns have survived by mercilessly consuming all of the ambition and despair that humans have. From ancient times people, inspired by countless dreams, have built towns on this earth, and as ambition gave way to futher ambition, countless towns were also lost from the earth. Towns unfailingly mix the traces of this human ambition and despair in memory, which then continually queries human beings with new dreams. In all of the towns on earh, no matter how often they may turn to dust beyond the reach of time, the memory of the dreams of the people who came before are securely conveyed to the people of the next generation. I am often carried away by an inexpressible thought: The memories of how many towns lie in layers under the piece of earth I am standing on right now! This is fabulous, like pausing on the bridge that spans the river of space-time that flows from ancient times to the present, and on into future. When I walk now, camera in hand, through an actual town, I am listening to the memories of dreams spoken by a town that once was, and I am also envisioning a modest documentation addressed to the dreams of the town to come.

People live in the immediate present. If one has an instant awareness of being alive, it is nothing but the immediate present. We no longer have any feel for the past we have lived. When people realize that the time they supposedly lived through actually has no substance and that there are no means of self-verification, they tend to be seized with fear and an unspeakable apprehension about the excessive certainty of it all. Because we are living our everyday lives does not mean that we are constantly aware of being alive, not does it mean we have a definite tomorrow. In the end human existence has essentially nothing to rely on. The scenes I am certain I saw some thirty years ago could just be something that I am convinced that I saw in my own memory, and it is possible they were imaginary scenes to start with. With a completely transformed landscape before me, I am suddenly aware of how forsaken my life is, and how it is not possible to verify to anyone else the scenes that I once saw.

It is amazing to me how self-aware Daido Moriyama is. I usually think that photographs should speak for themselves and if the photographs need explanation, then the photographer has failed. But these insights are not Moriyama describing his photographsb, but Moriyama musing about his thoughts and life. You do not see how he photographs, but his process leading up to his photography. Reading Moriyama's thoughts has given me much food for thought. There is so much wider perspective, that can add new dimensions to my own work as an image maker. This is wonderful! I cannot and do not want to be a Moriyama wannabe, but he has shown me new possibilities. And that is all one photographer can do for another, show possibilities.

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