Thursday, September 16, 2010


So there I was about to have breakfast (OK it was past 11 but I have a combination of insomnia and no regular job I have to wake up for, so sue me!) and the phone rang.

"Jennifer...your phoooone!" Julie, with her eyes glued to Criminal Minds, sang out.

So I go, take the phone, don't recognise the number, answer anyway and hey ho, it's Theresa. I thought she wanted me to come in and caption pictures. But no, she didn't need that. What she wanted to do was give me an assignment.

As I frequently get last minute assignments I assumed it would be for today. Not so. It was for Tuesday. Evening. Hmmmm. And it was so very interesting. She read out the press release, then sent it to me, going on nineteen to the dozen about angles etc.

Angle? Origins.

When I got off the phone after agreeing to said assignment, I couldn't help but think how my sister Jackie, our family historian, would have been more suited to this assignment. She has been delving into family history, interviewing the old people (I come along sometimes with a notebook and take notes and promptly lose them), collecting anecdotes....reading about the migratory patterns of the people who settled in Kerala eventually.

Once when we went to Sabah we had two old uncles who collected us and took us around and told us family stories to their heart's content. My favourite was one of this pandit/doctor, who came to examine his mother (my grandmother's sister) who had been bitten by snake and instead of treating her, said...this snake has been bitten before, this snake will bite again. My uncle (a little boy at the time) was crying because he thought his ma was going to die. His uncle (the ma's brother) grabbed said pandit by the collar and said, you bugger, you better do something for her or I'll bash you up!" (which was pretty much par for the course). What interested me was the pandit's complete detachment from the scene going forward and his interest in only commenting on said snake, like it was too too fascinating, more fascinating than my grandaunt's poisoned limb.

Anyway, as I said...Jackie would have loved this assignment. She would probably have loved hanging out with all the cute doggies as well.

Picking and choosing what I want to do definitely agrees with me.

I'm recharging my camera batteries now and will sally forth to get a new cover and then voila, I'll be transformed into a sort of photojournalist, recording KL life. (I'm reading Susan Sontag at the moment and the idea of recording the city as it turns the corner and disappears is one that I find fascinating. On the other hand, I find pictures taken specifically for FB the most repulsive of all repulsive things...however, it captures this present space in time, doesn't it?)

I should have done more to capture this space time.

Backyard has changed beyond recall. It is the end of an era. It is the end of the intimacy. It is the end of the innocence. (And all I have are my memories and a few blogposts).

It would not be wrong to speak of people as having a compulsion to photograph: to turn experience itself into a way of seeing. Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in photographed form. That most logical of nineteenth-century aesthetes, Mallarmè, said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph. Susan Sontag, On Photography

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