Looking Backward

“It’s tough to predict things, particularly about the future,” as baseball catcher and American wit Yogi Berra said. And, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” in a quotation attributed with small variations to George Santayana, Edmund Burke, and George Orwell. To which author Kurt Vonnegut responded, “I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.”

Deadhorse Point © Harold Davis (Feb 2020)

Deadhorse Point © Harold Davis (Feb 2020)

Looking Backward, a famous novel by Edward Bellamy, was not a look backwards, despite the title, borrowed for this blog story. It’s a Utopian attempt to look forward 112 years from 1888 via the protagonist-in-a-trance trope, when the United States was mired in an era of deep unrest, inequality, and economic insecurity, to the year 2000, when the country had become a socialist paradise (as if!).

For me, looking backward even three months, let alone 112 years, is very strange. Three months ago, in mid February, I was free-range traveling-the-American-west photographer. After enjoying teaching at a wonderful, and probably historically unique, photography conference in Yosemite, I spent some time in Death Valley with my friend Julian from Germany, then drove west, and met another friend, Eric, in Escalante, Utah. We spent some time exploring the back-country there, as well as Arches and Canyonlands around Moab, before taking the long road home.

Earth Ramparts © Harold Davis (Feb 2020)

Earth Ramparts © Harold Davis (Feb 2020)

I had no idea what was “coming down the pike,” as I think most of us did not. My forward plans were focused on upcoming travel to Europe and a trek on the Camino de Santiago (come to think of it, that would have been right about now in a hypothetical alternative universe in which the pandemic was contained and isolated in Wuhan).

So as I get around to processing some of my photos from only a short while ago, it is easy to see how much I didn’t know then. Knowing how little I knew then, it is still no less hard to know where things go now. After all, it’s tough to predict things, particularly about the future. I can hope for a better world, with more justice, equality, common sense, and a vaccine—but those of us who make it to the world of the future will see what actually has transpired.

This entry was posted in Coronavirus times, Photography, Writing.

2 Comments

  1. Martin May 6, 2020 at 6:45 pm #

    I appreciate, and share, your positive hope for the future. But my nagging fear is .. but let’s not go there today.
    I raise a glass every evening to toast friends and family who remain healthy for yet another day, and to a brighter future ahead for all of us.

  2. Harold Davis May 6, 2020 at 7:38 pm #

    And I will toast with you!

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