22 April 2011
the 20th of april - cruel like you said (T.S.)
silence is usually best. barthes said that the tragedy of death was exactly its platitude. i've never heard a better way to acknowledge both the very real and very surreal nature of death. how ill equipped we feel when acknowledging it. its certainty, whether you lived a long, full life, or ran to meet it, at 41. more thoughts on war photography later. tim hetherington died on april 20th in misurata, libya, along with with chris hondros, a getty photographer. capa's fallen soldier always comes to mind. shooting/shooting always comes to mind. men come to mind. entitlement, privilege, pursuits whether in vain or not come to mind, ego/selfless comes to mind. my twitter and facebook feeds were inundated with "rip's" and "you were a great man, tim" and his good friend wrote a piece for vanityfair.com that was of course, grievous and heartfelt but also expressed a few times whether dying "for" / "in" misurata was "worth" it. as opposed to going out with the berlin wall? or d-day? or !#!#!~??$#???? i don't think he was saying that dying on tripoli street wasn't 'worth' it - - - - but, hm, worth...worth is a hard unit of measurement when talking about death. they don't go. i mean, kids dying by gun fight, not ever 'worth' it. sometimes i think those who take their cameras to war zones, the really intelligent ones, know that photography is a luxury so profound (a "1st world passport" etc.) that the ONLY thing one can do with such a tool is to use it for and/or photograph those for whom no such luxury is afforded. my god...the divide between 'photographers' in general is so great. i'm not even sure tim hetherington was a photographer. he was something much braver than that. is a brave man different from a brave photographer? i have already seen that my best self isn't good or strong enough, sometimes. have you? digesting these certainties, over time - however stubbornly, is like recognizing in the middle of a huge fucking wave that the ocean is supremely powerful. that this is not our element. and that this is not ours, in general. and that treading water or diving under swells only lasts so long. we all come crashing down to find the ocean's floor. sand as hard as concrete, unlike the sifting kind that we remember from our earliest memories. rag dolls, all of us, however brilliant, skilled, beautiful, useless, mean, wonderful, kind, or brave...how did he know it would be just so?