Preservation and archiving is a common topic of photographers. The thousand year print, the permanent digital storage, backup strategies, and leaving a legacy in photographs are all aimed at the idea that permanence through time is a virtue. But is it always a virtue? Is there a case to be made that destruction of images, perhaps upon death, can also be a virtue? A photograph is a double edged sword. While it purports to preserve history, it can also be preserving an unfair or unjust version of history. For example, in one's life of say, eighty-odd years, suppose the only photograph in existence captures a moment of fear, grief, anger, or depression? Is that 1/250th of a second a reasonable history of a life that otherwise was fearless, happy, content and joyous? Does the photo do a grave injustice to that person because photographs carry such weight as informal proof? Photographic subjects often have no formal say about this treatment, and surely no practical recourse. Photographs, as stand-ins for truth, reality and history, can also become anchors and severely retard progress: "Here's how it was. Here's how it has always been. Here's how it should be now." An analogy that comes to mind is the "rehabilitated convict" who must carry the records around his virtual neck for pretty much the rest of his life. "Once a criminal always a criminal." As such, photographic records can so burden a society that it freezes them in time. Consume some war photographs and you may get horrified at the prospect of war. Consume enough of them and you very well might get de-sensitized to the same horrors. "The world is always at war. War is normal." Photographs of places, or objects in places are certainly no substitute for the place or object, of course. I saw my first picture of Mount Rushmore when I was around 8 years old. I saw dozens (hundreds?) more through life, and just a year ago at age 69, I went to Mount Rushmore and looked at it. I was so underwhelmed I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It wasn't simply a case of being unimpressed with a physical thing, it was a case of comparing the perceptions derived from photographs to the perceptions of the object as itself. The disconnect was enormous. Although the photographs I had seen were miniature in scale to the object, upon viewing, the reverse impression took hold - the object seemed tiny compared to the impression gained from the images. I tried, but could not conjure an impression that did not include my previous exposure to the photographs. Photographs, with their countless useful purposes, might also contain a seed of destruction by tying all of humanity to a heavy, permanent, and often false history. Although this might also be said of painting, there's no comparison whatsoever of the number of paintings to the number of photographs. There is no practical implementation to starting a history fresh with no photographic weight, but it can perhaps become a personal virtue (in the sense that prayer or meditation is considered a virtue) to "will your photographs to the same disposition as your physical presence." One metaphor would be, "leave no trace," which is a kind of hiker's anthem.