A casual reader, or for that matter a regular reader of my blog may wonder just what the fuck all these little essaylets are. It isn’t like blogging. It isn’t like formal writing. It’s just plain weird. That is, unless you’re inside my head.
Here’s the deal. People who have been following me for a while already know I’m working on a major project on the development and reception of documentary photography in the 1930s in America. What does the seventeenth and eighteenth century have to do with that? In my opinion, a lot. There is a pervasive myth that somehow, before the advent of postmodernism, people thought photographs were somehow “true” or realistic. I think that’s a load of crap. These people were much more conscious of what they were doing, and what they were doing was surfing on genre-currents that had been in place since the onset of mechanical reproduction. In order to establish that they were indeed constructing a new genre of representation, it is important to establish the streams that flowed into it. The roots radically predate the invention of the means, and influence the directions they grew.
So, I’m trying to tear off little pieces and make sense of them. The puzzle itself is inside my head, so some of these bits probably don’t seem related to much of anything. I post them here in the hope that at least the fragments of exploration are consistent, and accurate. I hope that if they don’t make sense in and of themselves, or are inaccurate, people will speak up and comment. They may sound authoritative, but I can assure you they are not. The exercise of forming essays is indeed a process of assaying the nuggets to see if they are gold, or just the ramblings of a fool.
I have been working on this stuff so intensely that I realize that I haven’t stepped back in a while to write anything entertaining in a personal way, to assure a visitor that it is indeed a human being rather than a bot behind these pages. Most of the personal thoughts, memories, and reflections in my head lately have been just too dark, too negative, and too depressing to thrust them on a public that might come here expecting to be entertained. My work, right now, is far more entertaining than my life— and that may not be saying much.