Illustrating the fragility of memory
I hold in my hand a snapshot of time. To you, it appears to be an old-fashioned glass slide, three and a half inches square. It is a slide of a map of Europe in about 1890, showing the boundaries of the time. It is fascinating to reflect that the national territories have changed so much - I can see Bavaria, Bohemia, Austro-Hungary, places which history has marched past. And yet, here is a footprint, fossilised, as it were, in glass.
Here is also a piece of technology, which, though appearing crude now, represented a leap forward in both education and entertainment. There are two slips of glass, bound together with lead, the whole being so fragile that a single knock could shatter it for ever. I imagine the gasps of wonder as the magic lantern audience saw the world unfold before them.
It is also a personal memory - I recall vividly the shop in Evesham, which I visited with my then girlfriend. Downstairs, an Aladdin's Cave of wonders, old and new - ancient weapons of all types jostling with electronic toys, the kipple of the geeks of ages. Upstairs, a strange mixture of byegone ages, with the mundane; the day-to-day paraphernalia of tools and utensils alongside the exotica of art and invention. I recall finding a box - just a box, containing about two hundred of these slides. This was the first I saw, and it caught my eye and my imagination. With trembling fingers, I put it to one side as I searched for more in the series, to no avail. It cost me all of 50 pence, and I have no idea what I will do with it, other than remember and reflect.
To you, it is just a glass slide. To me, it is a snapshot of time, a crystallised memory. I hold it now, and it calls to me on all these levels, and I am filled with wonder at the fragility of memory, history and perceptions of time.
So now, I can no longer hold that slide. It's one of the multitude of things I things I left behind in the UK. Now many of my memories are just memories, with no physical cues.
Oddly, I now recall the things themselves in absentia for perpetuity, a series of fleeting memories. Equally fragile.
Thanks for the challenge, Ferenczy
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