Monday, March 12, 2007

A better time

Photographs of people from the 40s and the 50s always look so much happier than people from our own era. Of course, the grass is always greener in retrospect. In reality the good old days rarely were any different than the good old nows.

I was born in 1958 so I don't really remember much about the 50s. The 60s are a bit more clear, especially since I wasn't old enough to experiment with psychedelics. The 70s I'd just as soon forget. I did forget the 80s and the 90s are pretty much of a blur, too. Now that I'm in the 21st century, I am a bit curious about the 22nd.

Einstein was right. Time is relative.

Speaking of relatives, my nephew and his wife are expecting...a baby that is. I'm excited to be a great uncle, literally. It seems like only yesterday that I was parading my nephew around as a baby on my shoulders when I was 19. I remember being horrified at the goo he projectiled onto my head. Now it's his turn to be slimed.

I also remember sitting at his wedding in Las Vegas three years ago at the Graceland Chapel trying to goad an Elvis impersonator into singing Freebird. I'm getting all weepy just thinking about it. Anyway, I'm about as proud of the boy as an uncle could be.

But I digress.

I think photographs used to capture better times because they were special occasion things (birthdays, weddings, holidays). Now all anyone has to do is whip out their cell phone and they can capture a mugging on video.

I wonder if the ability to capture anything at anytime with a digital camera is making photographs meaningless. Or is it just reshaping our expectations and making us relax our memories. Will the next generation rely on computers to be their memories? When asked to recall the good old days will they simply pop in a flash drive and relive them.

Cool, but there is something vaguely troubling about it. I just can't remember what it is.


Time said...


I'd like to think R is who he is today in part because I was his uncle and taught him the magic of pulling my finger. It was like a breath of fresh air...well maybe not fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Goading an Elvis impersonator into singing Freebird? Is it really safe to mix your kitsch categories that way? Aren't you afraid that there might be some sort of dangerous spontaneous chemical reaction that will consume all bystanders in a fiery ball of bad taste? Or do you get over that upon entering a place like The Graceland Chapel?

Ever wonder how many question marks I can abuse in one comment? Huh? HUH? Didja?

Hayden said...

congrats on your great-uncle-dom!

It's reasonable to suspect that people WERE happier in the late 40's and 50's. The war was over and those that you see in the pictures made it home, the economy was booming and people couldn't get enough of baby-making. There was fear of communists, but mom was home and folks had more cars/boats/summer homes than their parents had, so they had reason to feel that they were living the good life.

I think we are far more jaded now. And all of the plenty we have has come at an enormous cost. Then, if you got cancer you died. But there were no $40,000 medical bills for a year of chemo, either: all of the heroic treatments we take for granted weren't available to anyone, so there wasn't as much social disparity. Or so I am guessing....

Time said...

I have always found you questionable.

I think I will start calling you Little Miss Sunshine. :)

JP (mom) said...

Congrats on the soon-to-be great nephew or niece! Regarding the photographs, I think the memories will be as meaningful despite the easy access ... just think when we transitioned from portraits to photographs, I wonder what philosophical discussions that brought!!

Time said...

You are right. Digital photography simply enhances memory. Combine it with words and we create immortality.

Anonymous said...

This blog post fits my life right is almost bizarre. My Mother sent me a package the other day and included in it were some old photos of me and two past boyfriends. It was so strange seeing the photos...there I am in a different time and place looking so happy, so hopeful. I like to think I have retained some of that positivity...

Congratulations to you and your extended family on pending parenthood. The more the merrier!