Some general thoughts about the Diaries…
“What’s past is prologue” says Antonio in Shakespeare’s Tempest.
Yet the past moves from us so quickly it disappears before we have time to realise the truth of these words. Without assistance, how much would you remember of your own past, let alone that of your parents and grandparents?
And yet what’s past really is future. It may seem a foreign country, but it is often recognisable, and it often contains something of our own actions and ideas that we did not realise were there.
Memory is strange. What do we retain – and why? Once memory would have been raw and undiluted by any transmission other than the spoken word. Then pen and paper intervened. Now we have the visual – in all its many manifestations. Watch someone taking a photo. What will memory make of this event, and how will the image impinge upon it? How do we read a photo after the memory of its contents fades?
Look at the photo of the children in the stream. We see an almost idyllic image – a crystallisation of everything we have been led to believe about that Edwardian summer before the war exploded its innocence. It feels rural. It looks wonderful. But what is happening just outside this frame in 1912? And what is happening further afield?
This photo is a captured micro-second. For all time, we can ponder on the two children caught in the stream, building their dam. And for all time the older more coquettish girl with her books, her long hair and her knowing smile will look directly into the camera as if to address us, but without words, with a silence that is deafening, and has become more so the further she moves from us.
And as they all move away from us into the darkness, what will we retain? What can we recapture?
Wynne’s Diary catalogues a very ordinary life, doing very ordinary things. Because she left us this record, I thought to use it to retrieve her in some small measure – to recreate her voice so that we could meet and listen to her again. Can we recapture her?
You will re-enter a vanished world, with different values and a very different landscape. It is her world, and thus a partial one. But it was a real world, recorded during a period of enormous transition.
This site is an effort to harness a new power to the service of one life. Come and live it again.