Posterity. This is the crucial point. Beyond the reach of the musicologists and the critics, the Hollywood producers and the club owners, Armstrong created his own version of himself that he meant to leave for the time after his death. On one tape he says, by way of not caring what anyone else thinks: “Well, folks, that was my life. And I enjoyed all of it. Yes, I did. I don’t feel ashamed at all.... My life has always been an open book. So I have nothing to hide. And well, Mary Wana honey, that’s marijuana to you, but it’s Mary Wana honey, you sure was good and I enjoyed you very, very much.” Satchmo loved weed. He loved other things, too, but weed was right up there among his favorite things, and he didn’t care whether it was legal or illegal. It was his Mary and as true and important as anything else the scholars and critics could write about him. He loved marijuana. Satchmo was a pothead. You can almost hear him thinking, Work that into your critical study, professor. Too late to ask me about it, I’m dead.
“All of painting, but also Literature, and all that goes with it, is merely a process of going round and round something inexpressible, round a black hole or crater whose centre one cannot penetrate. And those things one seizes on as subject matter, they have merely the character of pebbles at the foot of the crater — they mark our a circle which, one hopes, draws ever closer to the centre.”
Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism -- which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger,... that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.
I happen to be a gray man; I’m not a black-and-white man. I think gray is truer. You find that in other fields. E. M. Forster’s prose is gray and it’s marvelous.
NT: Yeah, I do believe that monotheism is the root of all evil. Sometimes I think thought is the root of all evil. We are such arrogant creatures we have 19 synonyms for ‘think’ and none of them has a negative connotation. But yeah, I do believe that monotheism…well, look around the world today. It’s the root of all evil. ‘Eloi’ and ‘elohim’—listening to the convoluted arguments that have come up... over the centuries—that when that is not revealed—which it is usually not—in the course of Hebrew education or rabbinical education, when it is discovered, it is explained in this really convoluted way. Like, “By microphone, we really mean fork.”
If the founders had such misgivings over slavery, how is it that they allowed slavery to continue? The answer is not that they didn't know any better, but that they kept slavery so the Southern states would join the union. It was a transaction, a deal, just like the deal that put the national capital on the Potomac in exchange for the federal assumption of states' debts -- and not unlike the deal... the Hairstons made in causing their kin to disappear. With their eyes open, the founders traded away the rights of African-Americans, many of whom had fought bravely in the Revolution, so that the national enterprise could go forward. This country was founded upon a bargain for which we continue to pay the price. We compound the mistake by draping a veil of innocence over the transaction. The true beneficiary of the presentism defense is not the past but the present -- it guards and preserves our fervent wish to have sprung from innocent origins.
Paul Cavaco, the creative director of Allure magazine, said: “She had this energy, a power, that doesn’t let you objectify her. If Kate is going to be objectified, she’s in on it. She’s done it before you get the chance.”
“If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It’s not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way. When I talk to people who’ve managed to make themselves work on big... things, I find that all blow off errands, and all feel guilty about it. I don’t think they should feel guilty. There’s more to do than anyone could. So someone doing the best work they can is inevitably going to leave a lot of errands undone. It seems a mistake to feel bad about that. I think the way to “solve” the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you’ll leave the right things undone.” 10/24/12
From C. Vann Woodward's essay "The Irony of Southern History," published in 1953. In this portion of his essay, Woodward is discussing Reinhold Niebuhr's book The Irony of American History: "In clinging to our infant illusions of innocence along with new power, writes [Niebuhr], we are 'involved in the ironic perils which compound the experiences of Babylon and Israel' — the perils of... overweening power and overweening virtue. " Woodward continues: There are many perils, both for our nation and for the world, inherent in this situation — and they do not all come from abroad. We are exasperated by the ironic incongruities of our position. Having more power than ever before, America ironically enjoys less security than in the days of our weakness. Convinced of her virtue, she finds that even her allies accuse her of domestic vices invented by her enemies. The liberated prove ungrateful for their liberation, the reconstructed for their reconstruction, and the late colonial peoples vent their resentment upon our nation — the most innocent, we believe, of the imperial powers. Driven by these provocations and frustrations, there is the danger that America may be tempted to exert all the terrible power she possesses to compel history to conform to her own illusions. The extreme, but no means the only expression, would be the so-called preventive war. The would be to commit the worst heresy of the Marxists, with whom it is dogma that they can compel history to the pattern of their dreams by the ruthless use of force. "The Irony of Southern History" appears in Woodward's collection The Burden of Southern History.
although I felt quite friendly towards Roland Barthes I could never admire him. he always struck me as very careful and professorial, and strictly partisan. after the ‘Mythologies’ series I couldn’t read him anymore. I tried after he died to read his book on photography, but again I couldn’t get on with it, except for a very fine chapter about his mother. the much revered mother who had been his... companion, and the only heroine in the wilderness of his life. then I tried to read A Lover’s Discourse, but I couldn’t. obviously it’s very clever. jottings on love—yes, on love, but in making them he managed not to love at all, as far as I can see. a charming man, really charming, of course. and a writer, of course. that’s the point. a writer of writing that’s stiff and regular. — Marguerite Duras, Practicalities
If there is ever to be again, as there once was, a strong and substantial Republican party at the South, or a party by any other name that will openly oppose the ruling oligarchy of that section,—as I have every reason to believe will eventually take place,—it will not be through the disposition of federal patronage, but in consequence of the acceptance by the people of that section of the... principles and policies for which the National Organization stands. For the accomplishment of this purpose and for the attainment of this end time is the most important factor. Questionable methods that have been used to hold in abeyance the advancing civilization of the age will eventually be overcome and effectually destroyed. The wheels of progress, of intelligence, and of right cannot and will not move backwards, but will go forward in spite of all that can be said and done. In the mean time the exercise of patience, forbearance, and good judgment are all that will be required.
In effect, Reconstruction became a continuation of the Civil War, with carpetbaggers being officers in government as they had once been officers in the army. The war still exists in a very important phase here, Adelbert Ames, a Maine native and Medal of Honor winner, wrote in 1869 from Mississippi, where he became a senator and then governor. Nor was their new role as politicians notably more... peaceful than their old one as soldiers. Confederate veterans organized the Ku Klux Klan and other paramilitary groups to fight Republican governments sustained by Yankees as they had fought the Yankee army a few years earlier. This time they won, killing hundreds of blacks and scores of carpetbaggers and scalawags in the process. Southern whites overthrew Reconstruction and restored home rule (government by white Democrats) with the most relentless and large-scale terrorism in American history. They succeeded because whereas the North had been willing to pour two million soldiers into the South to preserve the Union, it was unwilling to pour in the resources necessary to preserve radical Reconstruction. And reconstruction was radical, according to Reconstruction. Americas Unfinished Revolution, Eric Foners volume in the New American Nation Series. Indeed it was a revolution, though the success of the southern counterrevolution made it an unfinished one. The revolutionary nature of the Civil War and Reconstruction would seem self-evident: they not only emancipated four million slaves (at a cost of at least 620,000 lives) but also granted those slaves civil and political equality with their former masters and elevated a number of them to political office within three years of their emancipation. Contemporary observers certainly perceived this as a revolution. British and French journalists reporting from the United States during the 1860s described Emancipation and Reconstruction as a mighty revolution and one of the most radical revolutions known in history. Thaddeus Stevens, they told European readers, was the Robespierre of the second American Revolution. None other than Karl Marx wrote extensively about the world transforming... revolutionary movement going on in the United States. A northern journalist, visiting the South a decade after the war, wrote, I do not believe that the ruin of the French nobility at the first Revolution was more complete than . . . that of the proud, rich, and cultivated aristocracy of the low country of South Carolina, where former slaves now owned considerable land and held most of the government offices. Speaking in behalf of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted ex-slaves equal citizenship and empowered federal courts to enforce civil rights, a senator from Maine conceded that this species of legislation is absolutely revolutionary. He went on, But are we not in the midst of a revolution? Revisionist historians in the 1960s accepted the notion of Reconstruction as revolution, and praised its achievements. Some of them believed that it was not revolutionary enough; in particular they regretted that Thaddeus Stevenss proposal to confiscate the !and of wealthy traitors (Confederates) and grant it in forty-acre plots to the freed slaves was never adopted. Without the basis of economic independence that this might have provided them, the largely landless ex-slaves were vulnerable to the white counterrevolution that swept away many of their civil and political rights. Without land reform, one revisionist scholar wrote in 1969, Reconstruction was a revolution manque.
A while ago, there was general hand-wringing about photojournalists using the Hipstamatic app, now there’s a debate about Instagram. I personally couldn’t care less about any of that stuff, because it omits all kinds of more important problems the news media have to struggle with these days. That said, most people would probably vehemently oppose manipulation of news images. So how then does that... not apply when we’re talking about Hipstamatic or Instagram images? To give just one example, you can’t make a big fuss about how photographers are not allowed to manipulate their images (“Images in our pages, in the paper or on the Web, that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way.” - my emphasis) and then happily use Hipstamatic images as if there was no problem. The same applies for Instagram images. You either allow image manipulation, or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. Of course, this all points to the underlying problem here, which I’ve addressed ad nauseam before: Instead of talking about what images look like, in a news context we should really be talking about how images are used and what they say (and don’t say).
By embracing that deception, by neglecting to research Sherrod before putting up a clip of her talking, by electing to see her as little more than a shiv against the hated liberals, he deprived himself of knowledge, of experience, of insight, of enlightenment. That he might learn something from Sherrod, that he might access some power from her life, and pass that on to loved ones and friends,... never occurred to him. Publicly, he lived to make himself right -- a tradition that is fully empowered in our politics. Breitbart didn't invent the art of making yourself right. But he embraced it, and then advanced it.
I’ve been photographing spy satellites in the night sky for years now, and as kind of a subset of that body of work I’ve been photographing spy satellites over iconic landscapes in the West, in places that were first photographed by 19th century photographers like Muybridge or O’Sullivan or Watkins, who were often funded by the Department of War to conduct survey missions. A lot of these 19th... century photographs we think of now as art landscape photography, at the time they called it reconnaissance missions. So I’m trying to think about contemporary spy satellites as being a part of this photographic tradition. And also thinking about those 19th century photographers as part of a military imaging tradition, where we usually think of them as being in an art tradition. Of course they were great artists too.
In his (excellent) book The Substance Of Hope, my friend Jelani Cobb says that "nations are narratives." The point being we tell ourselves a story to make ourselves possible. The story unites us. And I wonder if the problem of African-American History is that it so coldly and cruelly counters the American narrative. I have spent the past two decades thinking about that history and it's ultimately... made me more of a believer in the American project, not less of one. But that's a relatively recent development and one at least partially tied to what happened in 2008. But with that said, I don't think it's too much to ask those who would consider seeking national office to to be more learned. I don't think it's too much to ask our leaders to understand why Andrew Goodman was lynched.
This photograph is all about the gaze - its presence and, something we rarely see, its absence. The daughter confronts the camera, her eyes meeting the viewer’s. Her mother’s… are elsewhere. Which other form of art could capture these expressions this forcefully, this realistically? But there is more. Much like any photograph, this one is about memory, about creating memory, about holding on to... something. The daughter is literally holding on to her dying mother for this photograph while this it - itself a symbol of holding on to something - is being taken. She is holding on to her mother so that the photographer can take a photograph she can hold on to later. I find it hard to think of an example where this very essence of photography is expressed this forcefully: Photography as memory, as an effort to hold on to something that must ultimately be lost. Let’s face it, all photography is futile. That is part of its very essence.
"Nature Photography of even less extreme scenes, but photography that acknowledges what is wrong, is admittedly sometimes hard to bear - it has to encompass our mistakes. Yet in the long run, it is important; in order to endure our age of apocalypse, we have to be reconciled not only to avalanche and hurricane, but to ourselves."
“History is best understood by being right where it happened. Preserving these historic treasures is really essential to appreciating the sacrifices of our forefathers and how a nation conceived in liberty can long endure,” Holt told other subcommittee members, paraphrasing a line from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.