August 04, 2005

Still More Gratuitous Anticipatory Vacation Posting

Terry Teachout's Girl in Chicago quotes Susan Sontag on the subject of vacation photography:

“Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.”

I suppose what Sontag means is that a camera gives us something to fiddle with and feel busy. Actually, I think it's much more sinister than that. As a tee vee culture, we have gradually conditioned ourselves so that we are unwilling or unable to think about or remember things unless we've got a picture of them in front of us. Think of the term "Kodak moment". That was such a good marketing ploy that the expression has entered common usage. When we hit some special point in our lives, the first instinct is to reach for the camera. "Oh, Honey, you looked so beautiful riding down that hill next to the vinyard. But do you think you could go back and do it again? I forgot to take off the lens cap." And it's even worse with camcorders. (Slightly off topic, but I've seen more than one wedding ceremony utterly ruined by all the a/v meant to produce the "perfect" wedding video. In my humble opinion, all church photography should be punishable by garotting.)

The irony, of course, is that people spend so much time screwing around with the equipment to preserve the memories that they often completely forget to enjoy the moment in real life, and indeed, can wind up ruining the real for the sake of the record, thereby essentially falsifying it. To me, this is grotesque. I would much rather forget about snapping endless pics and instead just soak up the experience as it happens.

(As you can gather, "fiddling with the damn camera again" is one of my primo vacation pet peeves.)

Posted by Robert at August 4, 2005 09:18 AM | TrackBack

Then there are those of us who can't remember what day it is. We need those visual reminders of where we've been, or we won't have a clue.

Posted by: Chris at August 4, 2005 11:52 AM
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