Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preserving an impossible past

Preserve the buildings, but remember a truer past.
This month's issue of Garden & Gun takes a look at Gone: A Photographic Plea for Preservation, and we could hardly rip our occulators from the strangely beautiful images of decaying homes, churches, and iconic landmarks of the Old South.

Nell Dickerson's lush photography creates a haunting cyclorama  for the reprinting of the late Shelby Foote's short story, Pillar of Fire.  (View a promotional video from the publisher.)

As Southerners, we are repulsed and fascinated by the ironic train wreck of our history and culture.  Dickerson's wounding vision documents the erosion of iconic civil-war era structures in sweet, melancholy compositions that contrast powerfully with the Gone With the Wind inspired ideal of a South that never existed.  Romancing an era that willfully caused millions of Americans such misery is the vulgar irony of Southern gentility, but we support preservation of these iconic mansions, cabins, and churches to keep the conversation alive for future generations.

Perhaps they will be sufficiently distant from their past to reject its impossibilities in favor of a truer remembering.

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