Events and Life People

Changing the Holocaust narrative

Shira Abel shared a terrific article titled “20 Photos That Change The Holocaust Narrative” featuring photos which change the Holocaust narrative. Very much worth reading and viewing:

Victims. Helpless. Downtrodden.

That’s the narrative that’s been spread about Jews for the last 70 years since the Holocaust. We’ve embraced it to our detriment. We can’t seem to address antisemitism without running to the world and screaming that we’re being persecuted, rather than standing up strongly in defiance, aware of our own inner strength.

The Holocaust has scarred us, a yetzer hara (sneaky bastard of a voice in our heads), that keeps trying to tell us how we are defined by our past, controlled by events that happened to us, instead of using those moments as points of growth.

And, in a weird way, that’s why all those images of us looking so helpless, so gaunt, in heaps of nameless bodies, have become a morbid fascination for us. We, and by extension the rest of the world, have chosen to define the Holocaust with these images.

But there are other images. Images that show a more subtle, more true, story. A story that shows our inner power, our inner turmoil in dealing with a situation we cannot comprehend, our attempts to gain justice, and our final steps into moving above and beyond our past and into a new future.

To say the Holocaust was a tragedy is a monumental understatement but that doesn’t mean we should always remain victims and perceived as helpless. What I love about many of these photos is that they reveal the spirit of so many of the Holocaust’s survivors and their will to survive.

Events and Life Mindsets

Kids these days and our grown-up tendency towards permanence

Chris Messina had a generational crisis on his hands when another Chris, Chris Kellly (yes, 3 l’s) gave him a hard time about his (Messina’s) Instagram username: @chris. You should spend a few minutes reading the comments on Messina’s Instagram photo quickly.

The younger Chris was pretty put out by the older Chris refusing to relinquish his (Messina’s) much shorter username and the older Chris had what he called a “#getoffmylawn moment” and wrote about it in his article “I’m too old for Instagram“:

I recognize I’m having a #getoffmylawn moment here, but if I was born on Instagram back when it was still called Burbn, doesn’t that give me some kind of implicit property rights? Can’t I live out my old age in serenity, posting pretty photos that I think are kind of modern and arty (if not a little cliché), like David Hockney with his iPad, without the young’uns dancing on my grave before I’ve been cremated and scattered to the ocean?

I mean, really.

I had to laugh. I’ve had more and more of those moments. The younger Chris’ attitude isn’t really surprising to me, that sense of entitlement comes with the territory when you are young and believe the world owes you (I’m pretty sure every generation had that sense). This younger generation also doesn’t seem to have much attachment to their day to day lives either. As Messina puts it:

Ah, but these kids don’t give a damn for history. They’ve never wanted for anything, and living in the age of Snapchat, they stick with Instagram only because their friends are there, not because it’s better. They’d just as soon have their photos deleted immediately after the LOLs have been had, rather than leave a trail of their weed-smoking, bootie-busting selfies for geezers like me to creep on. Not that I judge, mind you.

On one hand, I can appreciate that emphasis on the moment and letting go of those moments as they pass but, on the other hand, what about archiving those moments for the next generation? There is huge value in that too and its what drives me to capture and archive as much of our lives as I can. My medium is primarily photos but my writing is also a part of my archive, my legacy for my children and their children.

Sure, a lot of what I capture is pretty mundane, highly contextual and not especially relevant outside the moments themselves but it is a representation of my life and my experiences and my children may appreciate the opportunity to learn more about me from my perspective when they are older. Perhaps their children will want to know more about who came before them and this is one way to do that.

This is why I have an aversion to trusting a 3rd party service with all of my stuff. My stuff has intrinsic value to me because it is a part of a growing body of documentation about my life and experiences and while that may not have value for people who don’t know me, it could be invaluable for my children and descendants.

Somehow we should strike a balance between the tendency to live in that moment and let it vanish and preserve those moments without remaining too attached to them. I don’t know how to strike that balance. I am probably too attached to my archive, emotionally, than I should be but perhaps a little neurosis is necessary to protect history.

On the other hand, kids these days …


Analogue blogging

I did a long overdue clean-up with our kids this morning and found these old Moleskine journals from about a decade ago. I used these journals to capture thoughts, ideas and life drama.

I want to capture these pages and I’m just debating how to do that. A flat-bed scanner is probably the way to go, short of disassembling the books and running pages through my ScanSnap scanner.

via Flickr

Mobile Tech Useful stuff

Wolfram Alpha app can tell you if it rained at your grandparents' wedding

Wolfram Personal Apps - Genealogy & History Research Assistant

I just came across this awesome Wolfram Alpha Personal Assistant app: the Genealogy & History Research Assistant. It helps you find a wealth of information and data associated with your family history. I was hoping the app would also let me build the family tree but it doesn’t do that. Instead, it answers a number of questions including the one I always struggle with: what relation my grandfather’s brother’s grandson is to me?

my grandfather's brother's grandson - Wolfram|Alpha

This app is a goldmine for anyone interested in historical, geographical, meteorological and other data associated with a family history. It is also one of a number of personal, professional, reference (if you are a word game player, you have to check out the Words app) and course assistant (a variety of maths and science apps – to be a kid in school with an iPhone, oh man!) apps. This stuff is awesome, I could spend a lot of money on these apps. You should check them out.