I mentioned ‘the decisive moment’ in yesterday’s post. The Decisive Moment (1952) was where Henri Cartier-Bresson formalised his idea of capturing an event that is ephemeral and spontaneous such that the image represents the essence of the event itself.
The mere memory of the concept had me thinking of capturing a decisive moment of my own. I wondered if a walk along Dun Laoghaire pier might be the place to search out some moment among the boats, birds and the folk taking their constitutionals. I thought to take 4000 steps to find documentary shots with a personal expression of the things I saw.
And Thursday smiled on me. I found myself on the pier chatting to another photographer who chose coincidentally to also bring a Sigma 150-600mm lens, just like I did. I noticed a few simple juxtapositions that almost qualify as decisive, two relying on the distance flattening of extreme magnification. The gannet enters the water. A rod flexes in the cast of a fishing line a kilometre from my camera (the red Poolbeg Lighthouse is more than five kilometres distant). Perspective misleads as two identical ships pass near the mouth of Dublin port.
I don’t think we are yet at defining moments in our skirmishes with the virus at the heart of the pandemic. I say ‘skirmish’ because I think of the nationally focussed plans as skirmishes because the governments of the world are not united in prosecuting a war on the virus. We aren’t even divided into Allies and Axes camps. Nations are slipped back to an un-enlightened time, behaving independently while their ‘lions led by donkeys’ yet again die on the front lines. The democratic populations can’t complain too much because the majority determined the leadership. I suspect the price will become more apparent if a vaccine emerges. Equality and fairness will not prevail, neither internationally nor nationally. Power will remain invested in those with money, backed up with weaponary or the more authoritarian aspects of law enforcement.
The Scramble for Africa is one of the many ‘best’ books I’ve read. Reading Thomas Pakenham’s tour de force taught me to question ‘the motives and methods of the invaders’. There were so many unintended consequences born of greed and power in the era of New Imperialism; brutal, acquisitive, materialistic profiteering. I expect the the scramble for vaccine access to be just as unseemly. Are we on the cusp of a new ‘cold’ war where this ‘cold’ is a virus worse than any common cold?
The double-edged Damoclean sword swings like a pendulum above the heads of the global policy makers. They struggle to balance the Treasury desire to return to normal once the disease is contained against the Public Health fear that our fate is dependent on the behaviour of a virus we still don’t understand.
And to think Thursday smiled on me.