Rome was bristling with videos, phone cameras, ways of snapping and collecting. Walking round the Vatican, every object seemed to be being snapped at every angle. Fragments of toes, muscles, noses, feet and eyes, just like the city is a conglemeration of fragments. If you put all the pictures together you could probably get a vast digital collage of the entire place that would circle Rome. Yet what is it we’re actually seeing anymore, and is it each other or the whole? That old Indian cliché about cameras stealing our souls may have more truth than we know, especially if you think about TV, Film and news, because they make us constantly turn to worlds that have already happened, are in the past, just as even the best news is usually only ever playing catch up to events or truth. It’s never how reality, good and bad, actually happens in the mess of the everyday, and like the scientist affecting the outcome of the experiment, the presence of the Fourth Estate changes the reality too, which is why the media knows they are so powerful. It’s the same with blogs and Facebook, where so much seems to be about recording our beauty, finest holidays, great successes, etc, and putting out an acceptable image for the World. In it’s worst form like those awful Round Robins – ‘the geese are laying, little Cindy has triumphed at school, we have just bought a great new house, and I’ve taken up knitting and learning to tie knots, but how you are I have no idea at all.’ But is any of that telling the deeper human truth, and really connecting? The ecstasy, and the agony too.
We’ve all become actors on a digital and virtual stage, but a teacher had a theory that we snap pictures of ourselves in front of great art to conquer it, like trying to conquer history or time. Maybe we should get out-of-the-way a little, to see and think about the art and artists again, the acts of creation, inner and outer, and maybe we should remember that the mind is a kind of camera too, through our eyes, that only knowledge and perception allows us to really see the picture with, out of words first, without which it is hard to think and conceive, or enter in at all. Though of course animals have both perceptions and dreams without symbolic language. Words are a concrete act of perceiving though, tools of seeing and penetration, and so a snapshot in words can be far more telling than an image, than a thousand pictures, if the thoughts have depth and scope. Without wanting a national festival of gloom, maybe blogs then should be a bit more honest about our inner states and feelings too, like simply talking to a good friend, or being rude to a bad one. At least they are immediate, though like that tree in the forest, has it been cut down, or is it still standing, if no-one is reading you? Nietzsche, as arrogant as ever, said ‘give me a nursemaid to my thoughts and then we may have a conversation!’. I’ve just elected WordPress a nursemaid to everyone.