Abraham's Pictures - a novel

Davis, P 2007, Abraham's Pictures - a novel, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Creative Media, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Abraham's Pictures - a novel
Author(s) Davis, P
Year 2007
Abstract This thesis is in two parts. Part A is a novel titled Abraham’s Pictures. It reveals the story of
Abraham Rosen, a writer and photographer in current day Melbourne seeking to come to
terms with a prediction, made on his fiftieth birthday, that his life will end in three months. He
is committed to living his life ‘as normal’ in the shadow of his prediction. He also decides to
shoot photographs for an exhibition he calls Just in Time. He schedules the exhibition for the
very day of his predicted demise.

As he sits at his regular outdoor table at Café Obscura trying to make sense of the
‘ridiculous’ prediction, he is approached by a disheveled young man who seems to want
money. He tries to engage with the young man but an out-of-control car skids on the wet tram
tracks, killing its two occupants and knocking the young man into a coma.
The following day Abraham learns that he has won a competition to photograph the
prototype of the Clock of the Long Now in London and to address the annual dinner of the
Long Now Foundation.

The prediction and the accident set Abraham on a quest that takes him from
Melbourne to London via Mumbai and Colombo before returning to Melbourne for his
exhibition. Along the way he confronts issues of memory and denial as he is forced to
question his life as a photographer. In the end it is the photographer who dies but Abraham
survives as man who has learnt to live without being shackled to his past.
This novel sets out to explore the relationships between time, memory and photography. It
becomes a meditation on the nature of lost time and on the power of the image.
Part B is the exegesis titled: Double Gazing and Novel Spaces: An examination of the role of
photographs in novels, using W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz as a case study and Roland Barthes’s
interrogations of photography as an underlying context. This exegetical work investigates the
question of what happens to a photograph when it becomes manifest in an imaginative
narrative. The exegesis surveys the manifestations of photographs in contemporary novels
and engages in semiotic and intertextual analysis to interrogate the indexical nature of the
photograph.

Combined – Parts A and B show how photographs form a mnemonic discourse that can
propel imaginative narratives into new and speculative realms.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Creative Media
Keyword(s) Photography
Fiction
Indexicality
Narrative
Memory
Time
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