“Just living is not enough.  One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”  ~ Hans Christian Anderson

“Your life passes before your eyes.”  That thought occurred to him when, soon after he took the above picture in Munich and then boarded a luxury ICE train headed north.  The above building seemed, on the overcast day when he passed it, to summarize a failed attempt at heroic architecture that mimicked a long dead empire.  Not the empire of the never realized Third Reich, but the many empires that had failed before.  Even this attempt to copy a heroic past was utterly foolish in context.

It stood there as a severely dysfunctional monument to its own out-of-timeness.  The city itself was an amalgam of hyper-decorative post-war structures littered with modern upscale or downscale commercialism whose only function was to be functional.  All the black and white feeling of that time came to him as a real fact.  Just outside this city, Dachau functioned as a factory and storage facility to aid this kind of soullessness.
On the train he sat in an almost decadent modernist perfection.  Eating a marvelous concoction of ice cream and berries, he watched the verdant German landscape pass by through a high-res, wide-screen window at 200 miles per hour.  The contrast to what he knew of German train rides from books and film was simply a conundrum which could hardly be understood, much less empathized with.  In his mind rocked a creaking wooden cattle car where heat, cold, human mass, and indignity crushed lives.  Every form of imagined future was a too distant dream.  Their own land was passing them by like an invention of Dante and Bruegel.  Life was reduced to a one word sentence with no beginning and no end.

He imagined a window to a real world that had been reduced to a slit between boards.  A creak in a railing.  A view to life that had narrowed to the point were only a diffused hint of light was life – now the other.

He pressed a camera against the expanse of glass.  He closed his eyes and imagined a glimpse of that other as best he could.  It would be blurred beyond all recognition.  It would not come into focus.  It would slither outside leaving a snail’s trail of what was.


These are some of those images.  These are some of the pictures of life no longer.

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About the Author

Gerald Cannon

I growed up po and ignant in Alabama. Then I went off to college and became a socialistic atheistic business school grad with an MBA. Not wanting to add evil capitalistic bastard to my resume, I obtained an antidote degree -the MFA. What a difference a letter makes. Now I teach college and make art. That's more fun and I'm less prone to drift toward the dark side. So, at the advanced age of sixty.... I have chosen mind over matter, joined the League of Defensive Pessimists and have no better answers, only fewer questions.

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