rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Now and Then and Again

Summer, in a rush to get ahead of May, stumbled and fell sprawling over this April afternoon. Bees set the warm air abuzz while chattering birds deprived all but the rarest moments of quietude. Rioting scents added in their own way to the tumult, as did I as a result of the frequent sneezes I emitted, provoked by resurgent pollen. The indoors became uncomfortably hot and the cat spent the afternoon napping in her favorite shady spot near the rose bushes. I had things to do and was unable to join her. But, with luck, this foretaste of the approaching season will end early next week. Still, Sunday is under threat of temperatures nearing ninety. Before then I plan on acquiring a six pack of my favorite seasonal lager. It always eases the transition.

I very much like Wikipedia's featured picture of the day today. It's from late 1838 or 1839, and depicts a boulevard in the very photogenic city of Paris. I like all of Daguerre's early shots of Parisian street scenes, but there's something especially evocative about this one, reputedly the first ever made with a person visible in it. The photo was taken before the process was sufficiently advanced to still motion, and the one small figure standing at the street corner, one foot resting on a bootblack's box, appears no more than a silhouette, but as many times as I've seen this picture it always startles me a bit to see that person. In all that seemingly deserted streetscape, he alone paused long enough in one spot to allow his shadowy image to be preserved, rendering him anonymously famous, an unknown and unknowing pioneer.

It would be a while before photography could routinely capture a moment in any meaningful sense of the word—this exposure was ten minutes long—but this fellow's decision to get his boots tended that day long ago put this particular picture ahead of its time. The other photos of Paris from that era might capture a season, perhaps, but by depicting a candid human figure, this one captures a briefer span and, doing so, slips outside its time altogether. That shadowy patron of an invisible bootblack now steps into now and brings his time with him, always. What a strange thing that is to have happened and happen.

Oh, lots of crickets are about this evening. As warm as it is they'll be singing far into the night. If I don't drink some coffee they'll be singing me to sleep way too soon.

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