One final post made possible with Noel's recent photowork: the plastic animals which we had bought and collected in England during our stays at 9DR. Here's a picture, for example, where I can be seen absorbed in the pleasure of a toy elephant that had just been bought for me:
the surprizing thing (or perhaps not so surprizing, depending) is that I was actually averting my eyes from the picture, and putting forward the elephant... I'll have to ask my shrink (oops, don't have one!). Would you believe it, I loved these little models so much that I kept (in a diary) part of the cardboard box which had contained it:
At the time (year 1973, 74...) I was busy writing a fastidiously long "book of animals" which somebody (I think some of my children) recently brought back from Bonnebosq for me to see - not that I had forgotten it, but well, I thought that perhaps it was just fine where I had left it all that long time ago. This occupation might have been the reason why such a fascination had seized me! Here are Noel's arrangements of the little creatures:
Something happens with all such heavily invested objects: they carry with them a power of evocation which operates its tricks on the memory decades after, irrespective of whether there had been any effect during the long intervening period (and in fact this effect is always more effective then). I often muse that, in the event of the accidental disappearance of one of these objects, some incredibly precise but orphaned trace remains in the brain, waiting for its symbol to reawaken it, but it never will be, because nothing else can reawaken it. A whole story is there, mysteriously hidden and waiting to be invoked when one day the object comes into sight once again. The same phenomenon happens for places, or faces, etc.
The eagle above, together with the bison (2nd photo up), for example, were bought on the same day, with the limited money I had. I had painfully selected them in desperation at not being able to buy all the others in the window at Murray and Brand's (the shop in Southgate - probably doesn't exist any more). Then they had been placed, together with the standing gorilla, on a tablet near the window in the little room at Auntie Olive's, where I was staying during that particular summer, probably because somebody was using the room where I normally slept at Grandma's. I used to pore over the details of these little things and immerse myself in what I could now call their totemic power. The large 40p elephant on the first photo was bought later (in 1973), and meant the world for me. It was such an improvement on the first! Its strength, majesty, etc. I could feel (and master - I had mastered it with my 40p!) certainly as strongly as any other boy would have done with a red Ferrari or a brand new cricket bat.
And there are (or were) a much greater number of these plastic animals than the ones you see displayed here. I haven't uploaded all of Noël's photos, and he hasn't photographed all the collection! One couldn't really play with them, at least, as far as I'm concerned, I didn't play with them. I just had them, I could admire them and plunge into their world, so to speak. Childhood: that's a world to plunge in, for sure!
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