An ambrotype image of the Pattillo Brothers of Henry County, each holding D-guard Bowie or side knives: (from l to r) Benjamin, George, James and John -- Company K, 22nd Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. They enlisted together on the same day -- August 31, 1861 -- and served with the Army of Northern Virginia. If you'd like to know what happened to them in battle, click here.
When I spend the day at The Met in the Balcony Lounge -- listening to jazz, rewriting and rereading, and yes, thinking way too much -- sometimes I wander into an installation to distract myself and clear my head. There are several on hand that coincide with the anniversary of the Civil War and they are wondrous.
The exhibit Photography and the American Civil War is the one that has consistently pulled me in from the inside out, in part because I love to tromp through history books and sift through it all to find out What Actually Happened. This is the war that was photographed exhaustively, the first major conflict to come alive inside that lens. The hoi polloi was understandably transfixed.
What's especially alluring (and yes, disturbing) is that the people in the photos look real. Really, really real. There's just no other way to put it. Most of them look as though they are reaching through that expanse of space and time and whatever else stands between us, and really seeing me. The kicker is that a few of them look like people I actually know. The brothers in the photo above are no exception.
I can't see a piece of art once and get everything out of it and walk away. The more I look at it, the more I see, the more inspired I feel.
These photos are ethereal. I can't get them out of my head.