April 16, 2021  •  Leave a Comment


OblivionOblivionI shot this image in Allahabad, India. I was walking along the street with my friend, and we turned and looked at this man, passed out in the gutter. My friend looked away, but I just had to photograph him.
He just lay there, passed out, and was oblivious to the world. This is the state in which most of us live today.
I processed this image using Niks Analog Pro.


Oblivion: Are People Asleep?


“Man is a machine, everything with him happens: he cannot stop the flow of his thoughts, he cannot control his imagination, his emotions, his attention. He lives in a subjective world of ‘I love,’ ‘I do not love,’ ‘I like,’ ‘I do not like,’ ‘I want,’ ‘I do not want,’ that is, of what he thinks he likes, of what he thinks he does not like, of what he thinks he wants, of what he thinks he does not want. He does not see the real world. The real world is hidden from him by the wall of imagination. He lives in sleep. He is asleep.”

 George Gurdjieff quoted by P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous

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.

Oblivion: This Image  

“I was walking along the Troitsky street and suddenly I saw that the man who was walking towards me was asleep. There could be no doubt whatever about this. Although his eyes were open, he was walking along obviously immersed in dreams which ran like clouds across his face. It entered my mind that if I could look at him long enough I should see his dreams, that is, I should understand what he was seeing in his dreams. But he passed on. After him came another also sleeping. A sleeping izvostchik went by with two sleeping passengers. Suddenly I found myself in the position of the prince in the “Sleeping Princess.” Everyone around me was asleep. It was an indubitable and distinct sensation.”

P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous

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.

Allahabad. Some History.

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.
Source: https://www.wikipedia.com

The current, militant Hindu government decided to rename it as Prayag Raj, to correct the wrongs of history. And, thereby hangs a tale.



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