Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the number of dead people is increasing

Isn’t it so weird how the number of dead people is increasing even though the earth stays the same size, so that one day there isn’t going to be room to bury anyone anymore? For my ninth birthday last year, Grandma gave me a subscription to National Geographic, which she calls “the National Geographic”. She also gave me a white blazer, because I only wear white clothes, and it’s too big to wear so it will last me a long time. She also gave me Grandpa’s camera, which I loved for two reasons. I asked why he didn’t take it with him when he left her. 

my paternal great-grandfather, Glenn Hanna
with his portable bellows camera, circa 1910
She said, “Maybe he wanted you to have it.” 

I said, “But I was negative-thirty years old.” 

She said, “Still.” 

Anyway, the fascinating thing was that I read in National Geographic that there are more people alive now than have died in all of human history. In other words, if everyone wanted to play Hamlet at once, they couldn’t, because there aren’t enough skulls. 

Speaking of dead people, photography runs rampant in my DNA. All my paternal grandfathers were photographers, starting with Joseph Lorenzo Dow Hanna in the 1850s, when photography was a new fangled art. Friday, on my routine Goodwill stop, I spotted this lovely old Kodak accordion camera, a smaller version of the one my great-grandfather Glenn Hanna used, back in 1910. It stirred that crazy photographic gene and I had to bring it home with me. All the grandpas nodded in approval.

image:  Kodak folding accordion camera, my latest Gee-Dub find


  1. What a great find. Think those ancestors led you to it (not that you need any encouragement to stop in the G-dub).
    My mother just told me some of my ancestors had an early photo studio and it burned down. Perhaps they were happy to see me get my photo degree :)

  2. this is a very revealing post Tess. I hope you have connections that grant you immunity from the TMI police.

    although if you were JSF, and tried to get away with reciting everything written above his quote, you'd probably be struct by lightening, even if you were indoors.

    I wonder if the in-struct would learn you well?

    you're trouble, maybe even to the point of uppercase! :-)

  3. Jeanette, I'm sure your ancestors were nodding in approval, too...

  4. Who, you never cease to confuse me...

  5. Great post - two things come to mind. Have you seen the film "Everything is Illuminated"? It is about Jonathan Safran Foer and it is one of my most precious of films. I say precious because it crosses so many boundaries of understanding, acceptance and forgiveness concerning our human idiosyncrasies, plus there are some quirky translations that make the film humorous as well.

    Second - can you use the camera? it would be really cool if you could. The photographs would be art no matter how they turned out. All of your photos are wonderful now I know the reason. You are very talented.

  6. Kristen, this film sounds like something I would be very interested in seeing...thank you. The camera seems to be in perfect working order. I have no idea whether film is still available for this model. I'll check on that and get back with you...

  7. I just meant that my cell phone is is pre-full access to the internet (it display lower case k as x, but gets all the uppercase characters correct.

    access to recycled excess like the Goodwill, changes things like spilled milk to be the water that signals seeds to begin growing. They grow into treasures and transform any land into The Land of Milk and Honey.

  8. You always post the most amazing things....another great one my friend...loved it :)

  9. I wonder if it is possible to still get film for this kind of camera. Do you know?

  10. Weaver, I'm not sure about the film, but will investigate...

  11. Lovely camera story, Tess.
    And as for the large number of deceased, I've heard they're just dying to get into the cemetery. Lots of grave undertakings happen there.

  12. that is a cool camera...great find at the goodwill...would make a great magpie prompt too...i have little luck with pictures...

  13. can get film ...not sure where but you could google it!

    I like this live-dead equation!

  14. A superb acquisition, Tess. I do hope you can find film for it, and share any resulting photographs.

  15. 3 things, wow only wearing white, great camera and yes I keep thinking of this overpopulated planet of ours and I feel worried for my childrens future.

  16. There are more people alive now than have ever died in all of human history? Wow! When you consider how long we have infested the earth that is really saying something. Fortunately, I have no desire to play/produce Hamlet.
    You really only wear white? How interesting. May one ask why? I have my degree in nosy.

  17. My maternal grandmother had a camera just like this, and it took good photographs ... we all had to stand and arrange ourselves whilst she took a picture ... are we losing the ability or the desire to record our lives in pictures ... I wonder sometimes ...

  18. Great camera! We were discussing the photography DNA recently. I think LT should retire (again)and take up photography as a hobby/third career/at his leisure. He likes the idea : )

  19. Tess, you'd love visiting the museum at the George Eastman House here in Rochester. Cameras and more...


  20. this old camera sends similar vibrations as old typewriters do. great photo of your ancestor with camera. he looks so serious about it all.

  21. R.A.D.S. asks an interesting question: "are we losing the ability or the desire to record our lives in pictures"?
    I would think it is the opposite. With the proliferation of digital cameras, even on cell phones, I think we are taking more pictures, recording more family (and other) history.
    Whether those pictures are saved is, perhaps, a pertinent question.

  22. I look back and realize that not one of my ancestors were photographers...the only photos we have were taken by other people...I often wonder why..

    Vintage cameras are so very photogenic:)

  23. With photography so readily at hand, on our phones, digital cameras in our handbags, it has perhaps become so commonplace that we forget to make the effort to specifically record events...

  24. Thanks for the link, Rick...I must add the Eastman house to my trip to the Corning museum...

  25. Tess, your comment made me rummage through my handbag to check my camera was there ... thank you ...

  26. Oh, yeah, sorry, R.A.D., I forgot you like to call it your European carryall...

  27. The more pictures are taken, the less treasured they seem to be. I appreciate the ability to delete my misfires without developing them first. But I also miss the economy of film, being careful to take only pictures that were worth taking.

  28. T, I think you hit on something, when you say the more pictures taken, the less treasured they seem to be...

  29. It's a manbag Tess ... and it contains almost everything I need ... I am not that old, but I remember when taking a photograph was a big thing ... liking answering the phone ...

  30. Let me freshen that up for you ... liking should read like ... we all make mistakes ...

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. This whole entry made me smile and even laugh outright. Wound up stuck on two images and it's ALL your fault! I pictured a worldwide Hamlet Day event, with people everywhere doing a demented musical skulls game, skirmishing to not be left skull-less. And moved to the gentler image of heavenly, off-beat grandpas mumbling and nodding approval at your purchase. Like your poetry, your prose always affects me. You are one of a kind.

  33. What an amazing find! It is gorgeous,does it still work? It's so cool you know so much about your ancestors. I wish I knew more about mine!


  34. Glenn (I hope you'll forgive my familiarity) looks very much a man of today. I too read somewhere about there being more alive now than have ever lived... it's a mind-numbing concept.

  35. What a find, Willow! Love it.

    Note to myself:
    MUST re-read 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' - one of my favorite novels.

  36. Tess,
    These old finds are rare specimens not many may chance upon. There may be reasons why these come your way. Have fun!


  37. I worried that my dodgy old point & shoot camera wasn't schmicko enough until I heard that the most important camera is the one you have with you. If you were closer dear Tess I'd appoint you Official Photographer to The Hedge in a heartbeat.
    Millie xx

  38. Millie, I adore my little point and click Canon PowerShot. I don't leave home without it.

  39. Fascinating reflections, and yes, you are right: most of the people who have ever lived are alive - and that must remain true for as long as the birth rate exceeds the death rate.

  40. what a find! I'm jealous! Great pic of it too and love Grandpa Hanna's pic. Great post!
    as usual!

  41. It is refreshing to discover
    where you photographic genes
    whelped from. R.A.D. and others
    have touched on something relative
    to snapshots and portraits of the'
    past. Somewhere in the 50's when
    the common man could afford
    color film, we all got really excited
    to record all family events, emerging
    from the B&W and sepia modes.
    But remember, even for an average
    person, photos were expensive.
    You shot 36, and it cost a lot to
    have them processed; then a third
    to a half of them were out of focus
    or too dumb to keep; but the thing
    that is in absentia today is the great
    anticipation of the wait for the
    processing, or when we could afford
    to go pick up the prints, and the joy
    of putting together family albums.
    We click off 100 digital images now
    like we were scratching an itch, send
    them hither and yon onto computers
    and smart phones, and markedly less
    of them are processed into actual
    photos, or put into albums. Personally
    I love the digital age. It gave me the'
    opportunity to shoot thousands of
    images and save them and savor them.

  42. Tess -- what a wonderful find at your local Goodwill shop! Old cameras fascinate me. So nice that you have a photo of your family photographer.

    A reason we have so many dead people:
    Population growth from 1950 to 2009 exceeded the preceding 11,000 years since agriculture began.

    -- barbara

  43. that camera is a beauty.

    and as for the photographic gene, you inherited it richly.

    i was thinking you should do a book of your photographs of forgotten americana.

    and another one of your collectibles. you have such an eye.

  44. good thing you have all those genes

  45. i too come from snapping stock.... altho my roots only go back to grandpap (born 1888) altho who knows maybe zedo was a snapper too!

    beauty of a camera - another collection?

  46. ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Where do you display it? I know cameras and picture taking are common these days and everyone is doing it, but true "moments" are still precious and take a quick eye to capture. You do a great job with your camera capturing scenes with feeling and depth.

  47. I mean, come on! What are the chances that you'd find such a treasure? You really do have the golden touch or eye.

  48. That was so interesting and current in my thoughts...not that I'm ready to swell the ranks of the dead.

  49. Now you need to get it going. I understand you can still obtain plates for them via the internet. Pin-holes in the bellows are easily repaired. I demand that we have a picture of you taken with the camera - make it your Autumn project.

  50. Alan, the bellows are in perfect looks as if it was rarely's the perfect fall project for me...thanks for the encouragement...stay tuned...

  51. So I will be joining the majority soon ...

  52. Sorry, R.A.D., to contradict you, but I think not any time soon...

  53. Seriously wondering about your ancestor Joseph Lorenzo Dow Hanna. I have an ancestor with the name Lorenzo Dow Price from Indiana. Makes me wonder if they are connected. I too love genealogy.

  54. Oooooh! What a great, old camera, Tess. You did good. and you took a wonderful photo of it, appropriately enough.

  55. How steampunk-a-licious is THAT camera, I ask you?

    I was glad to see the first part of this post was a quote, because I became suddenly concerned to hear that you only wore white... as your pictures prove otherwise. Ha!

    Also, your grandfather was HOT.

  56. Yes, I've thought that too. It is bizarre but too, more people were killed in under the hands of the communists in the 20th century than all the other wars of history combined! Sobering realities.

    I suppose there is the fact that people do disintegrate over time, right? Well, their bones take longer, I know! then there are all the cremations, more common in other parts of the world, especially in Hindu India with its massive population and growth, and so on.

  57. you definitely got the photographer's eye passed down, that is for certain. :)

  58. the image is beautiful.

  59. one time i took a picture
    pushed the shutter with my left hand
    it was a right handed camera
    someone said
    come around this side
    so you can push it easier
    but I wasn't looking for
    I was looking for
    just right
    and don't you know
    I found it.

  60. That picture of the camera is so nice
    it reminds me of a rolls royce
    and the word
    and the word peanut butter and jelly.
    Some feel peanut butter etc. is not just one word
    but i respectfully disagree


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)