Dreams We Will Forget

stamen and pollen

The dreamworld of a roadside flower in Florida.

There are a lot of cliches around the concept(s) of dreams. Dream big. Follow your dreams and they will come true. Daydreamers are lost in the clouds. It was only a dream. The dreams of those ideas refer to something before or after, maybe a regret or a hope. Actual dreams are tenuous and ephemeral thoughts of the present. For most of us, if we remember anything, it is disjointed and illogical, bizarre or fantastic; and what remains is like a joke that we cannot quite remember how to tell.

As photography relates to dreams and memory, the chief benefit of the photograph is the sharp lines, the permanence of clarity. Ironically, that is also the chief detriment. There is no room for forgetting: the past is the present is the future; an ephemeral thing becomes static. The dominant consequence we see today is an anxiety to collect all memories at the expense of an ability to forget and reimagine.

As a photographer it is somewhat of a conundrum. In light of this paradox, what if any value is there in photography? The quick and easy answer for me is artistic value – though it is more of a non-answer because it begs the question, what is the value of art? It is a big question that I have probably touched on in this space tangentially or directly before. I’ve probably dodged an answer before, too, but either way I’m not sure what to say right now. I venture that this phenomenon is beyond the borders of aesthetics or morality, somewhere in the land of ontology. In the meanwhile the world for better or worse is a photographic one. I’m not throwing away my photo albums. I’m not ceasing to gain inspiration from insects or enjoyment and fulfillment from photographing them. I guess I am dreaming out loud. I’m trying to forget in time for the next dream.

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