abandoned 1
…Whose death will make me truly dead?…

Sydney March 2014 (4 photos)

“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.โ€ – Banksy

According to Wikipedia, Banksy is a pseudonymous United Kingdom-based, graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. After a bit of searching around, I discovered that this quote attributed to him is actually a paraphrase of the following original quote…

abandoned 2

“Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That’s when I will be truly dead – when I exist in no one’s memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?โ€ – Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy (1989)

Irvin David Yalom M.D. (born 13 June 1931) is an American existential psychiatrist who is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, as well as an author of both fiction and nonfiction.

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…The Forgotten…

This is just a glimpse of some forgotten or abandoned memorials I found whilst walking through a cemetery on a recent rainy day. Seeing the ruined and overgrown plots, and fallen/broken statues made me recall the quote by Banksy. Here’s a colour version for a bit more atmosphere:

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…The End…

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

The Forgotten


83 thoughts on “The Forgotten

  1. I first heard of this afterlife theory in David Eagleman’s book: Sum – Forty Tales of the Afterlife. An interesting way to look at the end – however, do we live on as long as our digital selves are alive on the Internet and stashed somewhere on a server farm too? Great shots that are assisted in their atmospheric look by the rainy day.

  2. The image of the fallen statue is particularly arresting. Our name may no longer be spoken, but our name is not the sum total of our life story… our life commitments… we linger…in memories and in the impact of our love and life on others. Your images, as always, are beautiful.

  3. Powerful photos and words. I often wonder the same when I wander around the untended areas of cemeteries or see old photos for sale in flea markets. These people were important to others once. Maybe it will soon be possible to live on forever through technology. If that’s what one wishes.

  4. The black and white are much more deeply atmospheric for me. Perfect timing for your post. Too symbolic for me, a Ukrainian, now, when my city is under threat by Russian military forces, it’s 250 year history, with the ancient cemetery, looking much like that in your pictures, only much gloomier, the resting place of most of my family…

  5. tara cooney says:

    What a very moving series. I’m glad you researched Bansky’s quote – on it’s own sounds rather sad yet in context from Yalom it raises a very interesting discussion. I’m currently researching the philosophy tied into John Donne’s poem ‘No man is an island’ with would appear tied in with Yalom’s views. So thank you, more thinking for me & beautifully captured images.

    • Thank you. I had to do a bit of googling to find Yalom’s quote. I hope this is of help to your research.
      Interestingly, I had originally planned to include a picture of bells taken somewhere else, and use the title For whom the bell tolls, for this post. Those works do seem intellectually related.

  6. ecco perchรฉ ho deciso di farmi cremare e di far spargere le mie ceneri sopra le mie amate montagne… troppo triste l’abbandono in un cimitero come quello che tu hai mirabilmente fotografato…poi mi chiedo รจ davvero importante essere ricordati dopo che si รจ morti?

    that’s why I decided to make myself cremating and scatter my ashes over my beloved mountains … too sad parting in a graveyard as what you’ve admirably photographed … then I ask is really important to be remembered after you’re dead?

  7. that’s why I decided to make myself cremating and scatter my ashes over my beloved mountains … too sad parting in a graveyard as what you’ve admirably photographed … then I ask is really important to be remembered after you’re dead?

    • Sorry. I don’t know why but sometimes legitimate responses appear in the spam bin. I’ve heard others say this happens to them too. Do you want me to delete this reply?

  8. …ecco per non finire in un posto cosรฌ triste e desolato ho deciso di farmi cremare e lasciare le mie ceneri ai monti che amo…
    e poi quando siamo morti credi che possa interessare di restare ancora nella memoria?
    foto strepitose!
    … here’s to not end up in a sad and desolate place so I decided to cremate me and let my ashes to the mountains that I love …
    and then when we died you believe may affect to remain still in the memory?
    great picture!

  9. kuujinbo says:

    Beautiful shots. Always wanted to try something like this, but due to being superstitious or whatever, can’t bring myself to…

    Would have had similar thoughts if I had been walking there. Was it just that particular area, or was the whole cemetery similarly “forgotten”?

    • Thanks, I understand your “concern”. I’d say that less than 5% of the plots/memorials are less than 10 years old. More joggers than family there (a coastal walkway passes along it).

  10. Hi Lignum- Excellent quotes by Banksy and Yalom. And quite haunting and interesting images of the cemetery- I assume this is on the Bondi cliff walk. Great post.

  11. I considered using shots from Waverley cemetery for Abandoned, too — even that very one of the toppled female figure slowly being buried in the dirt. I noticed a few weeks ago that someone had placed a flower in the crook of her elbow, on the ground. Abandoned, yes, but not forgotten. Not yet.

    • It all does seem so neglected, doesn’t it. But it does tell a story.
      I suspect what you saw was an act of kindness from a passerby. That statue has actually fallen onto an empty plot behind the actual grave site. The actual grave site where flowers should be placed is barren.

  12. Something’s so sad yet so peaceful about the last two shots. Interesting quotes. But if one is immortalised and leaves some sort of huge legacy, you can say that he is never really dead and gone forever. Just my two cents ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. morbid especially what i’ve been through last saturday ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and btw, we can’t even afford cemeteries in Singapore. all the graveyards are being exhumed, whatever is left, to make way for buildings. i’ll be cremated and ashes thrown to sea when i die. but in cyberworld i may live on ๐Ÿ˜‰

    the b&w are powerful images but your colour consoled me even tho it was a gloomy rainy day. did you walk there by yourself? spooky!

  14. I love these cemetery shots, they are really very dramatic! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not sure what it is about old cemeteries and their decay, that makes them so fascinating to photograph, but they are intriguing places to find some very interesting pictures. I have one practically on my door step, and the old Victorian part has certainly got me photographing it very recently. On a Sunday afternoon, if you want to meet other photographers – that’s where you’ll find them!

    The quote about ‘some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me’ is certainly a very thought provoking one. It’s hard to imagine a time when absolutely no-one will remember us! I often find old photographs and early film, very emotional, mainly because of that thought. All those people mattered at one time – but now, it’s as if they never were. It’s good that photographs last, at least someone is admiring them today! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, I think cemetery visits in general, can be very thought provoking, and I think it flows that photographers will want to capture this. Yes, the quote is rather poignant. At the extreme, if there were no humans left alive, no-one would be remembered. Memories and legacies are important.

  15. The B&W is full of power and beauty and the one in colour is clearly more alive. I prefer the first one really. Its solemnity and soft wind of eternity.

  16. Lovely atmosphere in these photos. It looks like quite and old cemetery, really beautiful. I really like how you’ve done the black and white photos, and it’s interesting how there is such a different mood in the color one, much more bright and hopeful. Those thoughts are really interesting. They remind me of how important it is to gather stories from people and tell them to next generations.. so that they would not be forgotten too soon. Great post Draco!

  17. I like them all, but the first one is downright Hitchcock homage. Normally I really enjoy taking my camera into cemeteries, but I have to say, this one is more than a little daunting…at least the way you present it.
    Ray Bradbury riffs on that whole “you are really dead when…” idea in one of his short stories, but there it is authors who disappear as the last of their books is burned.

  18. I think about this every single day of my life.
    When I die, my husband will be irrevocably and eternally gone from every aspect of this world. My mission for the rest of my life is to keep him alive in people’s minds until I do … and I do it not from any sense of the unspeakable loss I experienced 8 years ago, but from the huge and incredible joy I have since found in realizing what I had for 31 years.

    • No, but I just read the synopsis. It sounds very interesting. Although I see there is conjecture on whether it is real life or a mockumentary. But is was nominated for an Academy Award. With Banksy, you just can’t be certain.

  19. I used to think about that fact of you really only existed if someone knows about it in this great big world. I used to think of all those that went before us that were never famous so therefore, no one ever knew each of their interesting stories. I’m just now finding out secrets about some of my ancestors, very interesting and some sad. Great shots. I used to take pictures of cemetery sculptures if I came upon them and loved the angels.

    • Thank you for the comment and looking through the “memorial” photos. I suspect we all think about this at one time or another. It’s a stark reminder of how we all end up.
      “The Angel” was such a large and imposing statue. Truly amazing artwork.

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