It's a cool and very windy Sunday, with cloudy skies and swirling trees. A good day to stay in and rest – as becomes a Sunday. Perhaps because of the weather, and most precisely the wind, I found my thoughts drifting into memories, revisiting some of the ground I wrote about two years ago.
Why wind should have such an influence, I don't fully understand, but it clearly does. Michelangelo Antonioni used the wind to great effect in the pivotal scene in Blow-Up, one of my few truly essential movies. Only after repeated viewing did I fully grasp that a good part of the tension of that outdoor scene where our protaganist may – or may not – have witnessed the prelude to a murder is due to the camera encompassing and lingering on the wind as shown by the movement of the trees.
The direct stimulus for my return to the distant past was the discovery of this old photograph, taken in the late 1970s, of a view from top of The Chantries hill, looking south into Surrey. I was rooting around in the basement, attempting to organize some of my oldest things.
A largely undistinguished photograph, and one that needed to be balanced again for color after I scanned it as it was faded and browned. Sometimes I wonder if I do not do the same thing to my memories. Perhaps I do. What was remarkable to me, looking at that photograph, is that I was not seeing what I once saw. Nothing to do with my eyes, although a pair of reading glasses is now a necessity, and everything to do with my mind.
So, why then, does it look so different? The answer lies in the emotion behind the seeing. In the past, I would have felt an acute nostalgia at such a sight, and I can still feel glimmerings of that around the edges of my thoughts, but now I see it largely as the landscape it is. A beautiful landscape, but by no means uniquely beautiful. It used to be so. Much of my early adolescence revolved about that land where I roamed again and again, and my earliest deep and remembered thoughts derive from that time.
The influence of those memories and that state of mind, in large part one of loneliness and anxiety (but also a delicious aloneness), was very strong throughout my early life and well into my middle years. Today, it has effectively vanished. So I can say I am not the same person who took that photograph, and who gazed upon for a long time. Yet I am made out of that same person, so I cannot regard it with complete dispassion. That's why I am writing this.
Moments such as these will return from time to time for the rest of my life.