A Collection of Images

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Observed

What the young man knew the old man has forgotten.

There is no trick here, just a fact of life for some. Some are old young, or young old, always the thing they have no use for. Is there anything more ridiculous than a young man -- boy, actually -- walking in the playground with his hands behind his back? Or the old man spry, hoping finally to get his youth straight, to do it all over -- this time right.

Fortunately, I am talking here not about realities, just appearances. Don't we all like to see a young person who has, or can appear to have, the demeanor of someone slightly older, someone who has some sense, someone you can talk to who will not answer like a kid. Or the old man. Don't we all like to see an old man, young at heart, still walking briskly, enthusiastically going about his business. Of course we do.

There is a debate going on just now, a national debate, as to whether it is okay to torture people.

How about this:
"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Observer

There are things an old man knows to talk about if he learned them when he was young.

He likes to watch. He does not see himself in the picture. He thinks everyone is like that. He watches, says nothing, and hopes nobody asks him what he wants, knowing that somebody always does. But first he has a moment, sometimes a long one, during which he observes, when no one notices him.

Later he will call up every image and begin to understand what he has seen. He will dwell on every tile of the mosaic, rehearse every sound from the actors.

He doesn't seem to know that as an observer he becomes one with those he observes. Slowly he becomes their fellow traveler, their accomplice, and, then, in spite of his silence, their instigator.

Gli piace osservare. Non si vede nel quadro. Pensa che ognuno sia così. Osserva, non dice niente, e spera che nessuno gli chiede che vuole, sapendo che qualcuno sempre lo fa. Comunque, c'è prima un momento, forse uno lungo, quando osserva, quando non ci fa caso di lui nessuno.

Più tardi solleverà ogni imagine e comincerà a capire ciò che ha visto. Si soffermerà su ogni piastrella del mosaico, reciterà ogni suono degli attori.

Non sembra di sapper che, come osservatore, si unisce con coloro che osserva. Pian pianino diventa il loro compagno di viaggio, il loro complice, e, poi, magari tutto il suo silenzio, il loro istigatore.