Damned in Paradise: Ode to the Snapper.

An In Our Time on Descartes, or Cogito Ergo Sum, can only lead to an afternoon of alarming consciousness, an awakening rendered the more intense for body’s isolation in the Pacific on an island with only 48 acres to its name. Acute awareness at the least. Not clawing or of the void, not Existential, for a ‘point’ can be spied on the horizon, yet it remains undistinguished and far.


The distraction of a mighty ocean, a sky so vast it falls low until clouds seem to dip into the water and rises high, then higher and higher, still higher, stretching into every crevice of the eye’s beholding. No structure, man made or no, can block any blue or bird or trail. Sublimity in the immense. Suffice to say that the stars of a Fiji night are so plentiful the sky can be nearer silver than black.

Rested week on hammock. Volcanic sand and ancient coral just metres from our Bure, private shack. So far from suburban Manly, so very far from the intoxicating restlessness of Asian city. Guitars as we alighted and only cooled calm thereafter. As the sun sets, one can follow its motion, see it moving downwards with far quicker pace than such an uninitiated could expect, clouds set to default pink with orange hue. A perfect circle of burning light, enormous, drifting into slumber.

Strikingly blue fish, rainbow fish, see through fish, tiny yellow dotty fish. Hardened rocks painted in soft pastel shades; a wet watercolour meets the goggled snorkeller with every turn of the head. It is all a sensory delight washed down with beer and Johnny W. 


One figure to emerge from this trip, into my line of sight for the first time so explicitly is the freelance photographer, the roving snapper of life and all that wished to remain ephemeral. More precisely, the photographer we imagine. In Vietnam he was the photojournalist, in plural, chiselled leathery jaws lining the walls of today’s galleries. The crazed and daring, he would capture the war, wander the jungle, drink and smoke and stare and fear and see. See too much, too quickly. Immortalised by Apocalypse Now. On the plane he reappears, no less distant, in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  A man of mystery whose eccentric heroism not only offers the world a glimpse of the otherwise unseen but is mystery enough for Stiller to track and idolise and envy. Roberto Bolano’s novel, Savage Detectives. A figure emerges from the interior of Liberia, savaged African nation, lucky to be sweating and breathing for reasons aplenty. Tragic, disillusioned, genius (perhaps), tortured (certainly). Risking all for photos sold to armchair parties of the West. To Reuters and CNN.

All of them dashing, young, brilliant. Some academic, testing mettle. Others all mettle, seeking a truth. All of them scarred and beaten by the vocation. Romantically damned.


A winding blog for a thoughtful week off the grid. The Blue Mountains’ treacherously steep stairway (read: shaky ladder clinging to the side of a cliff) into the valley,  bushwalking and waterfall hugging crowned our stay in Oz only a fortnight ago and yet such memories already begin floating from the front of mind. Instills the importance of recording one’s trip in all the ways possible. Room now for the next leg to forefront, touch down in LA with Twain and Kerouac in hand, off to find where their inspirations lay.


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