The Bridge

Everyday I walk across the bridge connecting the main campus and the Peabody campus. Most of the time I think of what will be discussed in the class I am going to, or some random event that is approaching, but I am always thinking of something. When I pass someone I know, I try to acknowledge them with a look or a nod, and usually think much to deeply about what it means when someone does not acknowledge me back. I realized that this connection between the two campus’ was a microcosm for the integration of Peabody college into Vanderbilt. Consequently, I thought of my integration into my new school in the seventh grade and how much it affected me. This made me wonder how the acquisition of the Peabody campus affected Vanderbilt. In trying to describe the effect of joining a new school, I will use Pamuk’s style of integrating photos in the text to help demonstrate the feelings associated with an event.

When I was in the seventh grade, I began at a new school. I had apprehensions about making new friends, and the increase in workload. I would be taking classes with girls for the first time, and did not know what to expect. My old school lacked any discipline, and most of the time was spent chastising misbehaving students. Would it be the same at my new school? All of these relatively trivial questions would soon be answered. I did not know it yet, but in reality this switch would raise more important questions and would become a formidable moment of my adolescence.

In 1979 Vanderbilt obtained Peabody college. Did they know how much it would affect the University? Did they ever think that it would one day become the best education school in the country? All of these questions would eventually be answered, but the most important aspect of the change was how much it shifted the university. The Peabody campus really made its mark when the Freshman Commons was built and when Peabody College became the best education school in the country. These events helped shape the reputation of the university on both a national and international level. In 1979 no one could have known just how much the merging of the two campuses would affect the school. Just as the acquisition of the campus shaped the school in unexpected ways, my change in schools shaped me in unexpected ways.

Before I switched schools, I was truly naïve. I know that twelve year-olds are supposed to be a little naïve, but the switch open my eyes to how people really act. Looking back on it, I find this moment in my life to be of the utmost importance, and treasure everyday of this transformation for its significance in shaping who I have become. It is this feeling which the use of a photo helps portray.

Pamuk uses photos to help show the emotions attached to a memory. He talks about Istanbul in a romantic way, and uses both beautiful description and actual imagery to describe this feeling he has for the city. A great example is when he lists samples of columns from Istanbul newspapers. On page 144 he displays an image of people walking in the rain with umbrellas.  While there is no description by Pamuk of this exact scene, his feelings for the city are well represented by this photo. He loves the dreariness that to him, defines Istanbul, and this picture displays that emotion perfectly. It demonstrates the dullness and darkness of the street life, but also the odd charm of the people. The reflections in the water are almost artistic and the feeling of moving onward even in the weather shows the perseverance of the citizens.

Just as that photo allowed Pamuk to demonstrate his feelings for the city, the photo I have chosen is my attempt at showing the feeling I have when I think about my switch of schools. It was a lonely time, for many reasons. It took a few weeks for me to make friends and I distinctly remember looking at the clock every five minutes waiting for the weekend to come. The limited people on the bridge, as well as the overbearing look of the sides of the bridge, portray the sometimes lonesome transition in a difficult situation. The arching design and green surroundings bring color and hope to the photo. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, as it were. These positive attributes should evoke a contrast in feelings. It represents both the negative emotions of the switch, as well as the positive changes that shaped who I would become. While it may not be the best photo to show the emotions that went along with my transition, it does get across some of the feelings, and the fact that it is a bridge between to eras speaks for itself metaphorically.

We all can interpret any photograph in any way we want. But how we interpret it depends on our experiences. Our past defines how we perceive things, and while this photo may mean something completely different to everyone who sees it, including meaning nothing, it is special to me. Not because it is a great artistic photo, but because of what it reminds me of. That is something that photography is great at, the ability remind people of something that they had forgotten. You can tell people about an event, and remind them of a different time, but getting to that memory on your own by looking at a picture is something special, and whatever memories you come up, are usually important ones, because those are the ones that you want to be reminded of. 

Advertisements

What was it like in Black and White?

This photo was taken just past the 21st Ave intersection at Hillsboro Village. It reminds me of the way that Pamuk discusses Black and White. He sees Istanbul as a city in black and white. When I think of things in black and white, I usually connect something negative, or old with it. However, Pamuk loves this feature of his city. He embraces the general haze over the city and the attitudes of the citizens who embrace it. This photo makes me think of what Vanderbilt might have been like when this car was brand new. Vanderbilt, at that time, is just a story to me. I want to know what it was like in a time that I consider to be black and white, however, not in a negative way. Because Pamuk looks at black and white in a positive way, I am beginning to do the same. Maybe this era of black and white had things that I would have enjoyed. The simplicity of certain aspects of life. At the same time, there are negative things that go along with that era, especially social issues. While the car is ascetically beautiful, it is not as reliable or fuel efficient as a modern car. So in many ways, the black and white era had its advantages, but also its disadvantages to today. By looking at those advantages as Pamuk did, I can better appreciate the past, and enjoy looking this car even more, not just for its looks, but also for what it represents, and how far we have come since that time. 

Who remembers?

Christian Boltanski claimed that we die twice, once when we are no longer living, and again when someone looks at a photograph of us and does not know who we are. This is a photo of the whirlpool that is created by Niagara falls. Many people have attempted to go over the falls in order to reach immortality, and many have survived said fall. However, I bet you cannot name one of them, and if you saw of a picture of them without any indication that they went over the falls, you would have no clue who they were. Similarly, this whirlpool is insignificant and forgettable, except when attached to Niagara falls. No one remembers the spot except in relation to the falls. Does is still count if we are only remembered in relation to something else?Image

A long walk on a short pier

As Phillip opened his eyes, all he could see was dark yellow, or maybe light beige, reflecting into his corneas. All he could think about was water, just one drop would be enough. His disheveled clothing did little to block the rays of the sun beating down on his already worn skin. Phillip wondered where the rest of his family was. Getting up he saw the overturned buggy with the cloth hood ripped right in front of the first support. Behind the rear left wheel, which had been cracked along one of the center poles, he noticed something that wasn’t dark yellow/light beige. It was a warm color, but it took until he was inches from it to realize that it was blood. For a moment he thought of drinking it, if only to give some moisture to his parched, cracking lips. Slipping himself underneath the overturned buggy, he felt the relief of the shade. It was like when you are on the beach and the sand is burning your feet, but then you hit the water, only there was no water, just a false cool sensation and it was his whole body.

Eventually Phillip managed to get up, and started walking towards the sun, since that was the direction they were supposed to go. As, the sun went down, he collapsed.

in the morning he walked away from the sun, well actually it was more of a crawl. Until midday when he was barely dragging himself with he left arm across the sand towards the sun. It must have been 2 pm when he saw it, but there was no sign of life within, he approached it hoping relief would be inside. He reached for the door.

I wish is was that beautiful

Unfortunately, looking at this photo makes me remember an uncomfortable time. I was on a sailing trip in the Caribbean, which in itself should have made for a great time, however, when this photo was taken I was suffering from a heat rash as well as an ear infection. In order to go to a doctor to look at my ears I had to first dinghy to the shore of the St. Kitts. Now, this is not the shore that people imagine when they think of the Caribbean, this the real shore, the one with empty bottles, an old gasoline tank, and rotting banana peels. As soon as I stepped up the embankment to get to the street, I was immediately blown back by the smell of rotting flesh. there was someone who had animal hides drying behind their house, well really just a hut. Then the chaperone and I embarked on a our journey through the dilapidated houses and buildings that lined the main road. Once we reached the doctor’s office, an hour wait ensued. Finally, I was seen and he said that I had both an ear infection and swimmer’s ear. But I was actually relieved, because I thought this would be my ticket to leave the trip early and go home. See, the boat I was on was designed to comfortable sleep six to eight people, but we had nineteen on it. Our captain was a pompous twenty-something who had some form of bipolar disorder. I had two weeks left on the trip and wanted nothing more than to go home. So I guess in the end, there is a good memory associated with this magnificent scene, and that is the thought of home, and a real shower, and a real bed. But the path to that memory is something i would like to forget, but know I won’t. Memory of photos of what we envision the second we look the photo. It is not what we want to remember from that time, but rather what we naturally think of. I wish I naturally thought of a beautiful sunset.

Pictures that are not there

Many times, Perec describes photos of himself and family members in great detail. For example, on page 49 he describes “I am in my mother’s arms. Our temples touch. My mother’s hair is dark, brushed up at the front and fallen curls over the nape of her neck.” I think describing a photograph is an art in itself, because it gives the writer the ability to influence how the reader “views” the photograph. The author can manipulate the description to emphasize certain aspects to he photo. Here, I will try to do just that.

This photo was taken in 2000 on the first day of second grade by my 2nd grade teacher Ms. K. My mother has her knees bent to bring herself down to my eye level, and she is holding me in front her as we both smile. She looks exactly as she looks now, safe a few gray hairs, that she actually likes because they are “distinguished”, but I look exceptionally different. I am wearing a blue polo shirt with the yellow symbol of my school, and khaki shorts. I had on new balance sneakers and white socks. My face depicts complete innocence and malleability. I sport a day old haircut with a classic left hand side part. I am smiling with sincere happiness due to the excitement for the new school year. My mother is also genuinely happy because I am happy.

I kept this photo above my home desk from the time I it was developed until I left for college. All throughout my grade school and high-school years I looked to that photo whenever I was feeling down or overwhelmed. The genuine happiness in our faces reminded me of a simpler time and place, and allows me to smile, sincerely, ever time I see it.

Zoomed

My camera produced exceptional photos even the zoom was almost fully used. I would like to discuss however, that in general when something is greatly zoomed in on, it looses focus. The optical unconscious has limitations. The camera can only propel our perception to a certain degree, and then things are distorted. This is important in keeping us from being able to see everything, because if we could, then nothing would be left to the imagination. Reality is only what we perceive, and it is important that we do not perceive too much, or else there is no room for intellectual growth. In this photo, I was trying to capture the awe I felt looking at this incredible mountain, but I am thankful that only have glimpse of the entire landscape, because I am able to imagine the rest of the beauty I saw that day, most likely imagining it as better than it really was. Image