The Musings of a Boho Girl

bōˈhēmēən (noun) 1. a free spirit ; 2. a writer; 3. an explorer of the Avant-Garde.

Tag: AIDS

The Act of Remembering

‘Time Remembered is Grief Forgotten’
– Algernon Charles Swinburne

I have faint memories of the 1980s. I remember my clumsy attempts at roller skating and can vaguely recall seeing Ronald Reagan on television; perhaps the latter is an invented memory. The 1980s marked the beginning of uncertainty. I wasn’t part of the fear, loss, and tragedy that occurred; in fact I remained largely unaware of its cause. There was a silence around death, no one wanted to say how they died and some doctors chose to list underlining symptoms rather than the actual cause of death. I spent six months writing an elegy to the 1980s, the years that I was blissfully unaware and too young to understand. There were protests. People were fighting for their lives. I want to remember the protests but I can’t; those faces are ghosts now. Victims to a disease that the government refused to acknowledge. All of the documentaries never prepared me for the profound loss that began in the early 1980s, for the first time I couldn’t fill the blank pages with words, traces of death lingered in my notebook, and then there were my fragmented memories…memories that defined my story. There was only one question to answer.

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Why I’m Looking Forward to Sontag on Film

On_Photography

“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” – Susan Sontag

A few days ago I came across my old copy of On Photography, it’s slightly worn: the cover has faded and the spine is cracked; but this book changed how I saw the world. Weren’t photographs proof of genocides? After the Holocaust people looked at images of bodies piled upon each other; they promised it would never happen again. Sontag writes “photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it.” Perhaps those words and the Life magazine photo of David Kirby changed my perception of illness, it was 1990 and I was still too young to contextualize AIDS. I barely glimpsed the image of Kirby before the school librarian took the magazine away, she said it was for older students. His eyes haunted me, I wanted to know why he was sick. So I used my allowance to buy Life magazine from a drugstore. I couldn’t stop staring at his emaciated body, none of it made sense. He had AIDS, but I didn’t know what that was. It was a disease that hadn’t reached the suburbs. No one could explain it so I stored the magazine and didn’t look at those pictures again until I read Sontag’s On Photography. Two years later the story Kirby’s pictures told made sense. Read the rest of this entry »