Friday, 3 December 2010

The Thing that Binds Us

"It's all about loss," she said, "That's the thing we all share. A fear of loss."

"But doesn't everyone fear loss?" I asked.

"I don't think so. Not in the way we do. They aren't continually conscious of it. They don't really think about it unless they have to."

"But maybe that means that they fear it even more than we do," I pondered, "They don't think about it because they can't face it. It would take away all their courage. Meanwhile, we Polaroiders face up to the fact that loss is happening all around us every second of our lives. And we try to do something about it - what little we can do."

"Are we really combatting loss by taking Polaroids?"

"Well," I said, "We capture moments just as they are slipping away from us. We make the ephemeral tangible and durable by creating an image that is also an object - a souvenir of the time and place that is now and here. We go through our lives creating solid physical records of our memories. So yes, I'd say we were combatting loss. Trying to, anyway."

"But Polaroids fade. We're not halting the process of loss - and we know it. We're just slowing it down a bit instead of simply letting it happen and moving on like other people do. That's why I still say that we fear it more than they do."

"OK, but how about this theory: by slowing down the process of loss, we're not trying to escape it, we're actually heightening our awareness of it, enabling ourselves to watch it happening in slow-motion as our pictures fade before our eyes. We're deliberately drawing out the agony so that we can feel it more deeply. We don't want to rip off the elastoplast. We actually prefer the unnecessary agony of coaxing it off gradually. What I'm saying is: we're not afraid of loss, we're in love with it and we want to savour the feeling and make it last for as long as we possibly can!"

"Yes," she said, "But why do we want to make it last? Isn't it because we're so afraid of loss that we even fear losing our sense of loss itself?"

"Ah, well, yeeees," I conceded, "But, then again: Why do we fear losing our sense of loss itself? Surely only because we are in love with it."

We beamed at each other. At last it seemed we were reaching some kind of common ground - two theories that circled each other and gave birth to each other like the chicken and the egg.

"So, let's sum up now," she said, "We're all in love with the thing we fear most - loss? And this is what binds us Polaroiders - this is what we all share."

"I'd agree with that."

"Me too. But then... surely that makes us idiots."

"Mm. I'm afraid that's the other thing we share. We're all total idiots."

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