I read or hear that a lot of people get addicted to Flickr, the site and it’s easy to see why. I way to spent time stalling or procrastinating, which for writers is, as one writer said, a time honored tradition. We will do anything to avoid actually writing our books, including buying more books (that’s research), reading magazines (more research), watching obscure French films and video (you guessed it, research), internet work, photography archives, lunching with complete strangers who have the most minimal of connection with our topic ~ whatever, but the point is we find a way to avoid actually getting to the meat of the matter because that is what we do.
Oh yes, eventually we write our books and if we are lucky and we are good enough and our agent is good and well-known and the stars and the portents all fall into place, well then, you just might get published and thank god, it will all have been worth it. The things authors have done in the name of publishing: one young author, well-known whose name I will not say here, stayed up for weeks at a time crushing up her Ritalin into tiny doses and putting it up her nose not only for the “ritual” of it she said, but because it helped her focus. I can understand this. Ritalin does help you focus, or it does if you need it, but if you do not need it, it can act like cocaine and just make you do stupid stuff.
Sort of like Flickr, which as much as I like the site and what is possible through it… meeting good people, making real connections (not the internet web cam kind of connection and yes, you do know what I’m talking about) but real stuff ~ freelance models finding excellent and professional photographers who are legit and so on or photographers and artists looking to showcase truly talented work or even, legitimately, people like me who just like to document everything so much in both writing and film that I am a sort of documentarian. Perhaps because I come from a family of people who were not. Who threw everything away and never cared much for our history and God, how I envy my husband’s family who save everything and keep even his first communion card and graduation photos. Mine were all trashed long ago, sad to say. Even the tapes of me as a little girl met their end when, in a rage, my grandfather tore them to shreds with his bare hands.
So… why I would want my and my husband and my family’s images indelibly etched somewhere in this world makes sense. Why I would dress in his clothes and take photos also makes some sense because the shirt of the person, the man, you love that smells of him that falls to your knees and that you wear after he leaves can hold almost a magic power over you and in my case, I wanted to document that. I also did a series a sort of Day in the Life and printed out each photograph (twenty-four pictures, one for each hour or thereabouts) and under each, wrote what that part of my day meant to me.
I did not do this because I overestimate my importance. Quite the contrary. I doubt anybody gives a shit about who I am or what I really do. I recently lost a good (I thought) and old friend because she thought I was more self-obsessed or looked in the mirror a “zillion times a day” (not true, I hardly ever look ~ who could fucking stand it?) because I would only find fault and problem and then get even more upset than I already am. That, though I am not happy publicly revealing it, is at least the sad truth and not some phony and imaginative (points for that) perception of who I “really am” (she also claimed to not know who I am and really, after that statement, how could I disagree… clearly she was right. She had not known me in the least.)
As usual, I digress. So I took all of my Flickr photographs and I pasted them into a black scrapbook and with a gold pen my husband bought for me, I wrote out the story of my day. Why I did this, is hard to explain.
Maybe my stepson will care when he is older and I am long dead from the seizure that finally kills me. Or maybe my sister’s children will wonder about Auntie Sadie, or maybe, just maybe, my mother will outlive me because I’ve been sickly my whole life and she’ll finally know what it is to be me… to spend a day as me and see just how dull it is. Or maybe that old friend would see it and see that there are these blank and motionless and sad parts of the day when I appear only in silhouette and at sundown, the most melancholy of hours and the photo is titled “alone” or “alienation” or “in my study at sunset” and all you see is a leg outstretched on a desk. Or how about the one of me flat on the bed, you see just the legs and the title, The Perfect Angle of Repose.
All are sad in some way, and although the morning pictures are more joyous, I have noted that as the day goes on and darkness approaches (ah, William Styron’s book Darkness Visible and Bob Dylan’s song “It’s not dark yet…” he sings “but it’s getting’ there…” and every time I hear it it breaks my fuckin’ heart because I know what it means to dread the darkness.
So Flickr. A tool. People meet. How do other people use it. There are trolls, perverts galore who will leave nasty and crude messages under the most subtle and tasteful of photographs and then be full of hate and revenge and spite because you do not respond or do not like them back even though it clearly says in your profile Taken.
What is not clear about that, and if I’m polite, what is wrong with my being honest or anyone’s being honest.
Today, I came across a friend’s photostream and she always had beautiful photographs, the last set a sort of tribute in some way to some work I had done earlier and I was deeply touched. Yet today, today there was only one photograph and it was of her hand giving the finger.
A great shot, to be sure and I’d reprint it here though I don’t have her permission and I doubt she’d give it, and who could blame her, though she might. But still… I wondered where this had come from and then I guessed, and I could be wrong, that someone, male or female, no matter, had said something crude or rude or both and had attacked her in some way. My sweet and young and beautiful friend alone and so vulnerable and so kind ~ I could hardly stand the thought of it and though I’ve tried hard to reach her all day, it has been to no avail. Perhaps she will find this. Perhaps she will find this and all will be a moot point by then.
We all know that software like Flickr, like anywhere on the Internet, can be used for both good and bad, and that is just the nature of things, as I wrote in my article of the other day, it’s all in how you use it. I’m glad I have several brothers on hand to help take out in some way anyone who gives me a hard time because neither they nor I suffer fools gladly and that’s not a threat in any way… it’s just “how we play” as we always say in my family.
For my part, I choose to remain anonymous there and that is my choice, just as others have chosen to remain anonymous through time on the Internet. It’s almost an inalienable right and I see no reason why I should be any exception o r any example. I reveal enough of myself with my real name anyway…. Why would anyone ask for more? It seems unfair somehow.
So, I document. Perhaps we all do, more of us here than we are willing to reveal and that’s okay, because as the man said, It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there…” and so before the curtain falls and the sun sets and we are done, let us , how do we put it, we feel the great need for some legacy. So why not post that if we must, and that legacy can be many things, but most of all, it can be both hidden and public. Revealed to those you wish, hidden to others, and always always and indelible mark like on a bathroom wall, like I saw at the Eiffel tower in the bathrooms where so many people had felt the urge to write “I was here…”
Thanks for reading.