the one constant

I was born in the same year that the greatest (popular English language) song of the 20th century—Bob Dylan’s, Like a Rolling Stone—was first recorded. Human artefacts, including songs, are valued for many reasons: scarcity and uniqueness; innovation and efficacy; beauty and aesthetics; historical legacy; and personal associations, among others.

Frequently, people who've abandoned a home engulfed by fire lament not rescuing their photographs (or conversely, rejoice that they had). After the lives of family and pets, photographs are very highly prized. It's the personal associations inherent in the images: sometimes they're all we have that remains of family—however broadly that term is defined.

Philosophers, Heraclitus of Ephesus, and Kamo no Chōmei (of Kyōto), invoked the metaphor of a flowing river to demonstrate the illusion of permanence, and supremacy of transience:

Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers. 
The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before.

It's something that those whose homes have been razed by natural disaster or war understand at a visceral level.

Perhaps more so than any other device, photographs readily afford us something we often take for granted: a remarkable ability to summon forth our intimate pasts almost as if they were so. They're gentle act of defiance against the inexorable march of time and a life of constant change.


After returning from my most recent trip to PNG late last month, I added the image below to my Facebook account, with the short explanatory note:

I don't recall having seen a more gentle-looking young man...

Other than a transfixing gaze, scarred lower lip, and being part of a group of Jiwakan performers at the 2016 Mt Hagen Cultural Show, I know little else about him. Which is remiss of me, because I'd very much like for him to see this image.

 Young Jiwakan man, Mt Hagen Cultural Show, August 2016

Young Jiwakan man, Mt Hagen Cultural Show, August 2016