Skip to main content

The Harsh Winter



* Robert Doisneau, Musician in the Rain
(Contrary to the prevalence of artists yearning for the things of the past and gloating over people’s wounds, Robert Doisneau had his eyes on the present and envisioned as best as he could an idealized world, hence explains the often seemingly staged performance his photography works appear to be. Not too much an idealization to be elevated to divinity, however much Doisneau’s photos strive to present the world in its most endearing fashion, realism is an element that the photographer failed to leach away. It is by no means a wonder that some certain rawness should crop up in a supposedly uplifting humour. A man cherishes his cello so that he shields it with umbrella when the rain pours. Whoever witnesses and appreciates the man’s love for his musical instrument is nonetheless a moot question. The only other person in the photo has his eyes fixed on the canvas. Situated in a same scene and under the same overcast weather, the two characters however go astray. You relish your music while I my art. It is the vignette of our daily lives that never deprives of the quirky irony that makes each of us sole.)

I walked pass faces I never knew, faces that I feared had been immortalized. Nobody recognized anybody as people roaming about. Aimlessly I treaded after whatever pair of heels before me, as if the click-clacking of the heels was the only torch that guided my way. I wondered where I was heading.

Faces so difficult to be delineated, no less trying to be interpreted. I stood still abruptly to wait for a possible attack from all sides, but the crowd just washed me over, like a handful of sands streaming through the supposedly gapless fingers. The distant church bells pealed in a most crispy fashion, but apart from two or three who gave a slight start to the rings, other people kept shuffling on as if nothing just occurred, or each had already had a bell live inside the body. The one I unexpectedly intercepted was even surprised when I mentioned the ring, who stammered on that every sound seemed too deafening to him, for he was mildly deaf.

Even when the words were more whispered than spoken, their resulting sounds however the baffled person sidled away and mingled into the crowd again. Where would the march head to? And when would it ever end? A considerable degree of gravitas arose from the assiduous marching crowd. Anyone who was so reckless to break the rhythmic functioning was to cast with myriad piercings of glares. I imagined symphonies in my head to serenade the troop, but winds whisked by my ear to ascertain my wrong.

That was a harsh winter and no one sang, chattered or got all merry over the impending festivity. They scoffed at the overblissed and lent no sympathy to the demoralized. People only blamed the relentless coldness that made numb of their knuckles, and this impeded their monotonous movement. Be it possible that the sunbeam cast its welcoming power over the crowd and they were all awoke from their long-lasting stupefaction, one of them would taste the bitterness of the first drop of snow. And another tomorrow would only seem too far away.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Honore Daumier

“If you shut up truth and bury it under ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”- Émile Zola
Exited HonorĂ© Victorin Daumier, 10 February 1879, in an impoverishment that many of his contemporaries, especially his foes, would have thought was his long overdue retribution- the painter was blind, heavily in debt, and later relegated to a pauper’s grave. His friends, upon visiting his resting place, would, I imagine, see it a chance to admonish their children: “Now that’s a lesson for you cheeky devils whose tongues rattle off things that should better stay unspoken.” But Daumier devoted his life in revealing those “unspoken things.” His lithography ink proved sharper than most writers’ pens. He vented his rage and stigmatised others’ infamy in his satirical and, oftentimes, side-splitting cartoons. The tone was relentlessly acerbic but only because Daumier was exposing truths that, in the time…

Review: Late Spring (1949)

As a storyteller, Yasujiro Ozu insists on an implausibly objective stance that refrains from direct commentary or criticism; his camera customarily assumes the role of a detached observer, to whom the characters in the film, staring or talking straight to the camera, occasionally address, with an intimacy akin to that between a host and his guest, a closeness that is underpinned by a mutual recognition of the psychological distance that separates the two. The audience, whose perspective, in this case, conflates the camera’s (the director’s), an invisible character’s in the film (to whom the other characters address) and their own, is thus situated amidst this spatial complexity which, as a rule, every work of art necessarily creates.
In Late Spring (1948), the camera serves in part as an underlying comment to the story, which is noted by its economy of details. A prolonged shot of a departing train, on which the father and daughter travel to the city for a one-day excursion, prefigures…

Review: Breathless (1960)

Jean Luc Godard’s first feature feels oddly like a swansong: in many respects the film seems a self-mockery of what it ostensibly celebrates – the new, the bold, the reckless; the 60s zeitgeist that resurrects the anguished ghosts of the 1920s, who, according to F. Scott Fitzgerald, grow up to “find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faith in man shaken.” For the children of the ‘60s, their wars are of a kind in which the opponents constantly change roles: sometimes they are the unmerciful authorities bent on making miserable lives out of their inferiors; in other times they are the society at large, weeding out in its insidious and devious way the errant law-breakers. They all seem to be donning the same masks, through which the warriors recognise themselves.
This fight with one’s inner demon necessarily evokes concerns of mortality and death - timeless concerns that acquire an added pungency in the 1960s: would a dangerous, unheeding spell of hedonism finally defy life’s incontrove…