Perhaps it is fair to say that nothing exists until it is written, or
photographed, or painted, or otherwise recorded. We are creatures, not
of the present, but of the past and the future, for we live in our
memories and our dreams. Moments when we are deeply aware of the
present are rare, and rightly so, because with that awareness comes a
sense of the rushing speed of time. It’s too fast, breathtaking. It is
the change of perspective that you get when you look from the
windscreen to the window beside you, and the telephone poles become a
nauseating blur. Looking ahead and looking behind are fine – the
scenery appears static. It’s the present that cannot be focused on.
Implicit in that blur is the knowledge of just how quickly we are all
rushing to our deaths. And that’s a knowledge we prefer to let our
minds slide away from.
when we preserve a little of that present blur, snatch it out of the
stream and make it stand still, we are fighting our mortality. We are
fooling ourselves that we have some control over the hurtling rapids of
time. Or perhaps that it is too strong. Maybe we are not quite so
self-misled. It is more that, unless we freeze it here and there, we
can see none of it at all.
Memory itself is a process of
freezing moments, often so randomly chosen from the myriad
possibilities that assault the senses. We create a slideshow, a
personal narrative. We, who cannot possibly take in everything, select
our plots, our dialogue, and force it into a manageable chronology. We
say, “This happened, then that happened” as if all the bits we are
leaving out never were.
The recording of anything, then, comes
as a huge relief, a feeling of power, the right to say, “You see, I
told you so,” to ourselves and others. I have proof. Yet all the while,
there is the niggling feeling that we are missing something, many
things, that there is something, many things, that we have forgotten.
And we know, though we choose not to think about it too much, that the
river is much faster, much stronger than we can ever control,
inexorably bearing us to the end, when there can be no more chances to
fit the right pieces together, to understand this mystery of being
In that case, then, let’s quickly write and paint and
record, so that when we are gone, someone else may be able to put the
pieces together, and tell the universe who we were, how we fit, why we