Friday, October 23, 2009

The Irony of La Vie

I've become a big fan of the blog Sweet Juniper. The author, JDG, stops us for a minute to think about aspects of our lives that go overlooked, or ignored, through his words and with his simple and striking photography.

He has a series of photos capturing the 'feral houses' of Detroit and I'm fascinated by them. The whole idea of just letting a house decay and waste away is incredibly foreign to me. I don't know if it's that I grew up in a country that ripped down abandoned places, creating space for something new, or if it's just that I can't live with the idea of abandoning things.

Over here in the wilds of France, feral houses exist in almost every nook and cranny, every little village, and most little hamlets. The inheritance laws being so complex, it's easier for people to let old family houses fall into ruin rather then trying to fix them or sell them. Nature wins the battles between sisters and brothers, uncles and nieces. Houses that had been built hundreds of years ago, are reduced to crumbling walls, held together by ivy and vine.

Down the hill from our village is a little hamlet called La Vie, which translates to "life." Whenever I pass through there, I think about Sweet Juniper's feral houses and just how much life must have happened here.

I find myself both in awe of the beauty in La Vie and profoundly depressed.

Oscar Wilde once said, "You are young. No hungry generations tread you down....The past does not mock you with the ruin of a beauty the secret of whose creation you have lost..."

Oh, but it does, it does.


kissmekaty said...

Beautiful pics! xoxoxo

jdg said...

I love your use of that Wilde quote!

Dig said...

Thank you, jdg! And thank you for the inspiration. Your blog is one of the best.

Sonya said...

Dig, I find the timing of your feral house topic incredible!

There was a feral house near my high school in NW Indiana. I remember seeing it there, a few miles away, throughout my 4 years of high school. I even remember seeing it after I graduated, when I went back for my "Alumni Weekend" 5 (and maybe even 10) years after I graduated!

I'd been in the photography club, and after graduation, often wondered if I'd ever get a photo of it before it completely disintegrated, pondering why I never took a photo of it while I was still a student; it had fascinated me back then as it does now, and I always, always, always had my camera with me.

It was one of my memories of the landscape, after all, and part of each "Alumni Weekend" that followed, since I always tried incorporating a drive past it.

Well, I say that your timing is incredible because I was just back in NW Indiana for my school's "Horsemanship Reunion Weekend" at the beginning of October. And I actually drove past the location where that feral house once stood, camera at the ready, in the front seat next to me. I had wanted to get a photo, and was determined to do so, if I found it still "standing," so to speak.

It was no longer there. And as I thought about it, I realized that I couldn't remember having seen it this past May, at my 20th Anniversary "Alumni Weekend." It probably wasn't even there 5 years ago at my 15th.

Ah, well. I remember what it looked like so long ago, ragged and looking like it was ready to fall, even back during my freshman year.

Anyway, thanks for the topic, and allowing my trip down memory lane.