Friday, June 12, 2015
Jeff Gursky and The Hidden World of WWI
Growing up, and long into adulthood as well, it seemed apparent to me that much more attention was paid to WWII, the battles, the outcome, the lingering historical influences on the shape of global politics and machinations, than WWI. Tragic, really, to so discount the precursor to WWII. Now that it's been a hundred years since the war to end all wars began, it is being revisited in a more meaningful way, and I'm glad. We have to remember and examine our history, lest we, and you know how this phrase ends, repeat it.
Doctor, artist, explorer (a self description per his website) Jeff Gursky has rediscovered the "lost" tunnels of WWI in France and they remain much as how they were left a hundred years ago. Like any space that harkens back to a time of conflict and massive loss of life, it's difficult to look at the photographs and not be overcome with a sense of wistful wishfulfillment that somehow we, as evolved creatures, are better than this. I think that this is why we have a deep fondness for the ideal of time travel. If only I could go back in time and save Lincoln, kill baby Hitler, stop the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, throw a bucket of water on Joan of Arc...there are too many to list. I know that I can't change the past, that we can only look upon it and learn, if only we'd learn. Yes, if only we'd learn then maybe all of those deaths would mean something. As it is, the most lasting thing that emerged from WWI was/is an ongoing collective existential crisis from which we cannot escape.