The Choreography of Chance
Street photography and the human condition. Berlin reflections...
Hauptbahnhof, Berlin. I exit the train. I have a purpose: To get my malfunctioning camera fixed. First I must test if my tinkering has solved the issue. Pixel map. Check. Time for a few test shots. Click. Without noticing, the city arrests me. It punctuates my loneliness with angles, symmetry, broken things, heavy vertical here, unexpected kaleidoscope there. Click! Central station. Where all things intersect. And from where all things radiate out. Click. Are those iron girders pirouetting? Click. Is that building an allegory of the modern self? Click. Where is this pilgrimage leading? Click. Everything framed, everything unframed. Endlessly. I witness each life. Notice how ensconced everyone is. Is that what makes for loneliness? To be alone in the viewing of things? The procession stutters on, a marching band of individual universes. Click. The city mirrors our longing. If we are willing to read it. And be read by it. I didn’t even notice how it kidnapped me. Sometimes I kill off one Self in favour of another. I traded what I was doing then for what I am doing now. Subconsciously. I am other in me. Click. The photographer is gleefully biased. What makes for an interesting person? It is utterly unfair. It’s not about the look. It's about how far seen into someone can be. That thought, in that moment, in that place, at that time. Captured by another. Click. Each snap is a choice. It says something about you. And something about the transfixed. No wonder some consider the photographer a stealer of souls. The street snapper is inherently immoral. Yes, while the world projects its Messianic intent, I am with the bandits. To look into people is an act of rebellion. In an age of privacy, you are the witch. That is the thing about elixirs. They are hidden by the gods for a reason. Jealously guarded because they hold unspeakable power. What is that power? Insight. What is insight? Daring to see. Do not seek the elixir unless clear in your criminal intent. What, you think Prometheus stole that fire innocently? No. There's a reason he was condemned to be feasted on by that Eagle. Because he was willing to steal that which others hoard. Greedy Gods. Gory dam gods. Click. It doesn't matter anyway. All society does is stare into its smartphone now. We opened up the world to lose the world. Snap. A sequencing of negation and affirmation. No, no, no. Yes! Choice is the rejection of everything until something makes your heart flutter. Eternal Nay followed by eternal Yay. That is the order of things. Click. Which way now? This or that. It doesn‘t matter As long as you go somewhere. I forgot my destination. Then realise I never had one. Gods blagger. Winging it till found out. Aren't we all? Snap. I look out at the waltz of elevators in Hauptbahof. Steel in motion. Jakob's ladder in criss-cross. She glides away from where he is going. The choreography of chance. I sigh. I take another shot. Click. I think my camera is working. For a moment I just look. Other lives. So many. Click. Must get to Calumet (the shop) I will go the long way round. Always did. Spotify opens. “Not Quite Classical”. I see a sign: “I am OK”. Am I? Photography makes you look. At yourself. And through it, allows you to forget it too. You have to look in to look out. At least if you want to see. Hauptbahnhof. Where are all these lucky people going? Didn‘t I once have somewhere to go? Click. Still I long. I just don‘t know for what. Expose for the light or for the dark? I can’t help it. I always expose for the dark. Click. At least I am no tyrannt. I will release my captured souls later. I determine my camera is fixed. Did it break so that I would come here? Will Esther’s dream play some part in my healing? Yes, I have new healing to do. Oh 2023, you are front-ending your ruptures. Click. These questions arise because we all want our loneliness to have purpose. That makes it bearable. Doesn’t it? I progress finally to Calumet. After 13 years in the business, I finally buy what most people get first: A tripod. Paying up, I set off to return. To where I don’t know. My heart is splintered: This side pain. That side a determination to move towards life. Wherever it may be.
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