Tag Archives: Roland Barthes

Opening a box of memories….

“One day, quite some time ago I happened on a photograph of Napoleon’s youngest brother Jerome, taken in 1852.

And I realised then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since:

‘I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor’

[Extract from “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthes]

The photograph below is of my parents. Written on the back is ‘taken near Marble Arch Tube Station, April 17th, 1949’. I know nothing more about this photograph beyond the fact that it was taken a good ten years before I was born. My parents may not have looked at the Emperor, but they have their own stories from which I am separated by history….

Near Marble Arch.  [April 1949]

Near Marble Arch. [April 1949]

“The archaeologist’s spade
delves into dwellings
vacancied long ago,

unearthing evidence
of life-ways no one
would dream of leading now,

concerning which he has not much
to say that he can prove:
the lucky man!….”

[From “Archaeology”  by WH Auden