Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Way We Were

This is the first song I remember dancing to at the local club.

Toots and the Maytals, 54-46 Was My Number.

Possibly a bit of a surprise to those who were expecting me to remember a more rockist history. I came from a skinhead town. Ska and Bluebeat were teh shit when I was a pre-teen. This is the first single I paid for with my own money.

Don't tell me you don't remember that one. Dave and Ansell Collins, Double Barrel.

Mind you, memory is a poor ephemeral thing. Each time you access a memory the original is destroyed and overwritten by your memory of the memory. Here is an article that starts out discussing Photoshop and the creation of false impressions by photographic fakery: Photography as a weapon, by the NY Times.

It's interesting that there is no foolproof way to detect a faked photograph, except in the case that you're given the original and you can compare it. (Aha, said the reporter to the expert, in that case how would you know the original was not itself doctored? The expert was flummoxed. Methinks the reporter must be the Ghost of Philip K Dick.)

Says the writer: There’s a remarkable story about the forging of the Hitler diaries. The forger was so prolific, he created so many forgeries — letters, watercolors, diaries, etc. — that handwriting analysts (charged with the task of authenticating the diaries) took writing examples done by the forger thinking they were genuine examples of Hitler’s handwriting and compared them to the diaries. They authenticated the diaries on that basis. Often we make a comparison between something that we believe is real and something that we believe is fake.

After a while the article goes on to the creation of false impressions by any sort of photography, particularly photos that are supplied with captions, and then into some musings on memory.

More from the writer: "Years ago, I was watching “Six O’Clock News,” a documentary film by Ross McElwee. In the movie, there is a scene of a television crew shooting ‘Baywatch’ from the Santa Monica pier. A year later I was standing on the Santa Monica Pier telling a producer, “The last time I was here I watched a television crew shooting ‘Baywatch.’” The producer said, “No, you weren’t. You were watching Ross McElwee’s film ‘Six O’Clock News.’ ” Of course, the producer was correct. I was confused. I had confabulated the experience of seeing something in a movie with real life."

But I think I remember 1970, and that club in my home town, and the suedeheads with their Crombies and DMs. I think so.

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