Over the last several years, I have become convinced that people are oblivious to what is happening around them. In short, they live in a state of complete oblivion.
George Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic, and P. D. Ouspensky, his ‘disciple’ were convinced most people were sleeping. While I agree people are, in many ways, sleepwalking, you cannot compare sleep with a state of oblivion.
Whether it is the environment, decoding a politician’s double-speak, or reacting wildly to a social media post, many of us are indeed quite oblivious to alternative realities or interpretations.
Which is why many of us seem to react and live as though we are in some sort of hypnotically induced daze? Actually, let me rephrase this sentence—it appears that most people are in the grip of some sort of magician who holds the key to their thinking ability. Therefore, the world is such a mess today.
I shot this image when I was in Allahabad, India, when I was walking down the street with my travelling companion. While we were walking, I noticed the man lying in the ditch, completely spaced out.
This is when an ethical dilemma cropped up, and I had to ask myself if I should let him be, or if I should photograph him. After a short internal debate, I photographed him.
The image has been lying on my hard drive, and suddenly, I did a quick edit using Nik’s Analog Efex Pro, using one of their wet-plate presets. After all, this scene could have been commonplace in ancient times as well. Drunkenness, and oblivion, are not the exclusive preserve of our times.
The current government has renamed the city as ‘PrayagRaj’, since it lies on the confluence of two rivers—the Ganga and the Yamuna. There is—used to be a third—river called The Saraswathi that people believed also joined these two rivers. The Saraswathi dried up many years ago.
Anyway, Allahabad was, it seems, known as ‘Prayag’ in ancient times. In 1583, the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, founded the city of Illahabad at the confluence of the rivers. I understand the British could not pronounce the word, “Illahabad”, so the name became gradually corrupted to ‘Allahabad’.
Abul Fazal in his Ain-i-Akbari states, "For a long time his (Akbar's) desire was to found a great city in the town of Piyag (Allahabad) where the rivers Ganges and Jamuna join... On 13th November 1583 (1st Azar 991 H.) he (Akbar) reached the wished spot and laid the foundations of the city and planned four forts." Abul Fazal adds, "Ilahabad anciently called Prayag was distinguished by His Imperial Majesty [Akbar] by the former name". The role of Akbar in founding the Ilahabad – later called Allahabad – fort and city is mentioned by `Abd al-Qadir Bada'uni as well.
The current, militant Hindu government decided to rename it as Prayag Raj, to correct the wrongs of history. And, thereby hangs a tale.