— Vera Pavlova
My real trouble is
people keep mistaking me
for a human being.
Olson (being a great poet) says
“Whalen!—that Whalen is a—a—
That Whalen is a great big vegetable!”
He’s guessing exactly in the right direction.
Philip Whalen 1964
— William Upski Wimsatt (via radicalginger)
— John Muir, Wildness Is A Necessity (via novemberkind)
from Blue Highways
I’m really enjoying re-reading this book.
— Vargus, Archie’s Final Project (via allthingssoulful)
— Alice Walker
— Raoul Vaneigem (via fourwindsshotgun)
On the edge of the newspaper he sketches skelet
tries to cry but that ancient feeling
evaporates in the loud headline of the sun - instead
he makes some coffee in the bitter realization
the world wants to know nothing of his dying
He crawls out of his watch into his clothes
shaves and sees in the mirror
someone rubbing his hands together
ready to strike, to intervene
in constellations and charts.
Leo van Noort
Translation: Scott Rollins
— Clarice Lispector
Saturday, 11 July, 1959: 2:07 A.M.
I am awake and alone at 2 A.M.
There must be a God. There cannot be a God.
I will start a blog.
Sunday, 12 July, 1959: 9:55 A.M.
An angry crow mocked me this morning. I couldn’t finish my croissant, and fled the café in despair.
The crow descended on the croissant, squawking fiercely. Perhaps this was its plan.
Perhaps there is no plan.
(….) Wednesday, 22 July, 1959: 10:50 A.M.
This morning over breakfast S. asked me why I looked so glum.
“Because,” I said, “everything that exists is born for no reason, carries on living through weakness, and dies by accident.”
“Jesus,” S. said. “Aren’t you ever off the clock?”
— Henry Miller, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird
— Pulitzer and Tony winning playwright Doug Wright
Suppose some peddler offered
you can have a color TV
but your baby will be
born with a crooked spine;
you can have polyvinyl cups
and wash and wear
suits but it will cost
you your left lung
rotted with cancer; supposed
somebody offered you
a frozen precooked dinner
every night for ten years
but at the end
your colon dies
and then you do,
slowly and with much pain.
You get a house in the suburbs
but you work in a new plastics
factory and die at fifty-one
when your kidneys turn off.
But where else will you
work? where else can
you rent but Smog City?
The only houses for sale
are under the yellow sky.
You’ve been out of work for
a year and they’re hiring
at the plastics factory.
Don’t read the fine
print, there isn’t any.
Digital photography and its mewling new children, Instagram among them, are causing arguments. There are studiedly old fogeys like Danny Lyon, who insist that a machine that doesn’t use film cannot be considered a camera. It’s no longer a common view: most photographers, professional or otherwise, either use digital or tacitly approve of it. Meanwhile, some serious photojournalists have reported wars and revolutions with the camera on a phone, and have won recognition for it.
The statistics beggar belief: 380 billion photos were taken in 2011, and about 10% of all the photographs currently in existence were taken in the past twelve months. Amateurs with Canon cameras and overpriced L-lenses have something to do with this; even more culpable is the incessant and overwhelming production of camera-phone images by huge numbers of people. (By the way, why is it called a “camera-phone” rather than the more logical “phone-camera”?)
There are good reasons to be suspicious of this flood of images. What is the fate of art in the age of metastasized mechanical reproduction? These are cheap images; they are in fact less than cheap, for each image costs nothing. Post-processing is easy and rampant: beautiful light is added after the fact, depth of field is manipulated, nostalgia is drizzled on in unctuous tints of orange and green. The result is briefly beguiling to the senses but ultimately annoying to the soul, like fake breasts or MSG-rich food. I like Matt Pearce’s thoughtful polemic on this subject, published on these pages: “Never before have we so rampantly exercised the ability to capture the way the world really looks and then so gorgeously disfigured it.”
But the problem with the new social photography isn’t merely about post-processing: after all, photographers have always manipulated their images in the darkroom. The filters that Hipstamatic and Instagram provide, the argument goes, are simply modern day alternatives to the dodging and burning that have always been integral to making photographs. This argument is in part true. But the rise of social photography means that we are now seeing images all the time, millions of them, billions, many of which are manipulated with the same easy algorithms, the same tiresome vignetting, the same dank green wash. So the problem is not that images are being altered—I remember the thrill I felt the first few times I saw Hipstamatic images, and I shot a few myself buoyed by that thrill—it’s that they’re all being altered in the same way: high contrasts, dewy focus, over-saturation, a skewing of the RGB curve in fairly predictable ways. Correspondingly, the range of subjects is also peculiarly narrow: pets, pretty girlfriends, sunsets, lunch. In other words, the photographic function, which should properly be the domain of the eye and the mind, is being outsourced to the camera and to an algorithm.
All bad photos are alike, but each good photograph is good in its own way. The bad photos have found their apotheosis on social media, where everybody is a photographer and where we have to suffer through each other’s “photography” the way our forebears endured terrible recitations of poetry after dinner. Behind this dispiriting stream of empty images is what Russians call poshlost: fake emotion, unearned nostalgia. According to Nabokov, poshlost “is not only the obviously trashy but mainly the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely attractive.” He knows us too well.