Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Photo

The day after I posted my previous installment which vaguely touched on words being the stronger medium than a photo I was forced to eat – you guessed it – my words. What brought this about was a news item regarding a photograph from the seventies, the one below.

This photo may not seem all that remarkable until one learns what prompted the photo-op. The child, 5 year old Harold Whittles born deaf, is at that very moment hearing for the first time in his life. One second before the photographer, a man named Jack Bradley, snapped a doctor had connected a revolutionary hearing aid that changed the boy‘s perception of life for good. Apparently this photo is a common sight in otolaryngologist's office although I had not seen it before.

I think it is one of the most wonderful images I have ever seen. The innocent, un-jaded look on the child‘s face and the knowledge that his life is about to take a turn for the better. However if I had not know the story behind the picture it would not have been as moving, just a photo of a beautiful, exceptionally wide-eyed little boy. Also, had I only read about the occurrence it would as well have lost a lot of the striking element that the two combined, words and photo, manage to convey.

Cara‘s post about France factoids led me to look up Iceland‘s murder ranking, which appears to bounce around a bit as can be expected from such a small pool of people where one murder to or fro basically makes a huge difference. In the table I found, Iceland is the second to last murder nation, Lichtenstein being home to the least aggressive people. Iceland’s rate is 0.00031 murders per 1000 inhabitants but this has risen above the rate of France for example in the year 2000 (5 murders) and dropped to the minimum possible in 2003, i.e. zero murders that year. There is a distant possibility of going lower which would involve resurrecting someone already murdered but this would have to take place over New Years as the incident requires the murder to occur one year and the resurrection in another year, i.e. in order not to even out.

Now before I leave the topic of this table completely I must say that I was a bit miffed at was that noted behind the name of a few of the countries were the words “excluding attempts”. Iceland was one of them and I felt a bit offended as it seemed to imply that we would have been higher on the list if we weren’t so clumsy or had better aim.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. The picture of the little boy is stunning. I wonder what it was that he heard that moment when he realized that there was sound in the world.

    My doctor has a picture in his examining room of his son when he was only a few minutes old. I think he keeps it there because it may well express what we all felt in those first few moments of light and sound and cold. He's been cleaned up and wrapped up. His eyes are open and he is looking into the camera with an expression of such sadness. It's as if he is terribly disappointed that his life has changed so drastically.

    The baby seems to be thinking, "What did I do to deserve this." Moral of the story: we survived that first rude awakening, when our worlds were torn apart so, if we put our minds to it, we can survive anything."


  2. Hi Beth, I for one have never understood giving birth in a tub exactly for the reason you describe regarding your son's coming into the world. Being born into yet more water only delays the inevitable for a few minutes. The baby has to come out at some point and will experience the rude awakening, albeit delayed. I also agree very much with just how much the mind can accomplish if used correctly.

    all the best - Yrsa