Where Am I?

Where am I?

Sometimes I get really confused by the research that I’m doing. Each day, new evidence enters in that makes me push aside things that must be dealt with, inevitably, before I can be able to shape these fragments into something coherent. The accelerating progress is complicated, and other things just want to push their way in. The last few days I’ve really been missing my father. There is a sequence of images by Marion Post Wolcott in Michael Lesy’s new book on the FSA, Long Time Coming that is hard for me to bear. I might blog a few of them later, but for now I really must do something of a brain-dump.

Lesy’s book is outstanding, really, except for a blazingly irritating editing failure in one of the essays—it consistently misspells Wolcott as Walcott. It is the first work I’ve read that not only gives a large amount of space to Edwin Rosskam, but gives him his due as a serious intellectual rather than a second rate imitator of Life Magazine.

Also just arrived on my bookshelf is City Gorged With Dreams: Surrealism and Documentary Photography in Interwar Paris by Ian Walker. This book is a formidable reassessment of the relationship between realistic images and surrealist praxis. Great Stuff. I’m waiting for Roman Jacobsen’s 1921 essay on realism before I attempt to tackle a working definition of the multiple varieties of realism that proliferated in the Victorian age.

Here is the short list of topics I need to write out:

  • Defining Documentary

  • Photography and Fetish

  • Narrative and Images: Eighteenth Century Printmaking

  • Romanticism and the Rejection of the Visual

  • Lithography and the Devaluation of the Image in Nineteenth Century America

  • Houdon, the Caption, and the Eighteenth Century Gaze

There is a lot more than that beating me up constantly in my head; but this weekend is the PMLA SCMLA conference and a documentary film festival, so I’ll be forced to take at least a short break. Before I totally lost where I was, I figured I had better write it down.