July 19, 2021 Maria Popova Photography Daguerrotype

We say that photographs immortalize,” and yet they do the very opposite. Every photograph razes us on our own ephemeral temporality by forcing us to contemplate a moment—and unrepeatable fragment of existence—that once was and never again will be. To look at a daguerrotype is to confront the fact of our own mortality in the countenance of a person long dead, a person who once inhabited a fleeting moment—alive with dreams and desperations—just as you now inhabit this one. Rather than bringing us closer to immortality, photography humbled us before our moral finitude.

—Maria Popova

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