The horsemen on a Sunday afternoon

2021-10-26 @Creative
By Vitaly Parnas

Writing at his kitchen table, his focus was suddenly disturbed by the distinct sounds of hoofs, accompanied by loud cries and whistles coming from the street. There were always whistles. Glancing through the barred aperature of the door frame, a long series of male and female equestrians paraded along the stones. Dressed per the gaucho tradition, the conglomerate suggested a fairly common engagement. A decent portion of riders consumed libations from large takeout cups and beer cans. Many mindlessly tapped their smartphones. Patches of horse manure covered the street over the next few days. Merriment galore.

He reflected over the few sentences. Not that he’d twice entertained the idea of a photograph (the first lie), a prose composition felt more enticing. And though not even a realism painting, it made for a rugged, yet sufficient abstract sketch, should expansion ever cross his mind.

But to snap the photograph is to severely perturb. Julio Cortázar profusely explores this branch of thought in the short story Las Babas del Diablo, expounding a whole photographic philosophy in captivating literary discourse.

Though somewhat of an extravagant narrative open to heavily varied interpretation, per the takeaway, per his individually catered and frequently, although not exclusively distorted takeaway, reality undergoes a mutation once photographed. Reality forks an alternate timeline in variance with what might have been. Entirely academic, sure, but the deeper level implications deserve attention.

The object changes once cognisant of being observed. This may initially seem to concern only the photographed human or animal life. Yet the impact subtly comes to affect not only every atomic particle within the frame, but to the extent of a far broader peripheral field.

And that’s only within a brief temporal leap. Ultimately, the newly forked timeline spawns a chain reaction, causing the altered particles to impact the myriads of particles beyond the infinitely discreet time slice impressed upon the frame.

Not only that, but the subject (the photographer) also changes once assumed the observation regime, far prior to the snapped photograph. The regime in course, enticed by the very idea to clasp some contorted segment of reality, the subject triggers a parallel universe.

He didn’t warmly take to the change and thus seldom carried a photo camera. Camera free, he perceived a heightened state of inner awareness, preferring the surroundings' projection upon him, and his upon the surroundings. He wouldn’t be quiet the same otherwise, and neither would the microorganisms.

Skeptical of the photography practice and sardonic in attitude, he did occasionally carry the execrable device and even capture a rugged visual naively deemed worthy of a repeat glance. Though he’d far sooner narrate in prose what that alternate timeline might entail.

The back aching, he stood up. That first part is another lie, but he couldn’t think of sufficient motivation why he might otherwise rise. In reality, he typed these lines already standing. The tablet on the upper plastic shelf in alignment with the horizontal eye gaze gave the writing some odd sense of compositional unity.

Directly behind was a featureless wall. It might not sound much, but it was much, for less is more. The less distractions crawled into the field of vision, the more ideas manifested themselves in prose … if only that were the undeniable truth.

In any case, the distractions were plentiful. To the left of the tablet stacked the folded shorts, to the right, the T-shirts. Further below the poorly folded undergarments contributed to the disarray. And then the continued hoofs, the cries, the whistles coming from the street …

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