Shadows & Echoes
I look at footage of a car driving along some village street. The car and houses are old but then old things exist in the present too. I know the scene was filmed decades ago but it looks like it may have been taken at any time since - it may even be a direct satellite telecast. Look in the background at the cloud formations - they are so like ones I saw only yesterday. But those clouds will have changed moments after they were filmed - those precise formations are lost forever.
I listen to recordings of vocalists from the past - a Hutchence or a Mercury or a Carpenter. A voice is like the living signature of someone - so totally personal and human. These singers all died a decade or more back and yet I sing along with them like they were here right now.
These recorded images and sounds make the recent past seem all the closer. But the past is the past and those times are as utterly gone as the ancient days of the Roman Empire. Looking at an eroded stone bust of Augustus Caesar only accentuates for me how distant from me his life and times are. They belong in dusty old history books. In contrast the photos or recordings from the last century and a half make me feel much more of a kinship with those times.
For me the invention of the camera and the phonograph marks a dividing line in history - everything following that time is in sharper focus while everything before that time fades into the distance. And so my sense of loss for the recent past is all the more powerful. Contemplating this makes me feel like some kind of exile in time.