The Camera Throngs

They were everywhere, clogging the walkway as they stopped to take out their fancy cameras and compact camera phones to snap the same, identical shot of a Gothic church. Ksenos pushed his way through them, like a salmon swimming up a river of molasses. “I wonder,” Ksenos thought, “if they’re even seeing it… if they’re even really here.” Ksenos thought that a trip should be an experience – a constant series of happenings that bring you alive at every moment. As Ksenos saw it, each shot snapped people out of a dynamic experience and turned it into a static object – a bunch of pixels stored away on a card somewhere.

As he studied their faces, Ksenos wondered what they were thinking and became mildly disappointed that reading people has never been one of his strengths. “Maybe they’re like trophy hunters,” Ksenos mused, “stuffing an animal and hanging it on the wall. Like the rack of an elk, the folder full of snapshots says ‘I was there! I have proof!’”.

“Or maybe they want to be able to remember it all.” This confused him. The way he saw things, forgetting was good. “Imagine if you never forgot anything, your head would get so full of garbage you’d be completely useless.” Ksenos figured that if you never became fully immersed in an experience, you should forget, because it never was all that relevant to you; it was garbage in the first place.

But Ksenos was happy and was fully immersed in his experience (so he thought, although he could never really know). He wandered off, enjoying the crushed mat of fallen leaves on the damp, cobblestone sidewalk, and soon stopped thinking about snapshots. A short while later, he saw a man aiming his lens carefully at some black, slightly rusted, iron bars covering a window.

Ksenos smiled.

Ksenos did take one photograph near the church that day. All he had was his camera phone with no zoom.

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