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Ends and Odds Yet Again

Knowing too much about photography infects everything from watching tall, handsome Keith Carradine play E. J. Bellocq in Louis Malle’s 1978 film “Pretty Baby” (while remembering that Bellocq was a hydrocephalic dwarf) to reading John Berger’s typically eloquent paean to Pentti Sammallahti’s mystical relationship to the dogs in his photographs (while knowing that this Finnish photographer uses sardine oil to attract them into his camera’s field of vision and hold them there). [...]

Time Capsule 1973: Collier’s Encyclopedia Yearbook

Rereading this encyclopedia entry on the year 1973 in photography at a remove of four decades, I find it pleasantly surprising to see what a diversity of issues I managed to address (even if fleetingly) in the stripped-down style mandated by the encyclopedia’s editorial guidelines. Some of the ideas alluded to here in miniature would ripen into substantial future essays: on the autobiographical mode in photography, censorship in photographym, and the definition and integrity of the body of work. [...]

No End of “Innocence”

Apparently it’s a gift that keeps on giving. There’s simply no end to the Innocence of Muslims story. Now the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Google must remove from YouTube all versions of Mark Basseley Youssef’s anti-Islam provocation. [...]

Across the Great Divide (3)

When I can immediately and decisively disprove part of a book’s opening statement its credibility suffers, and my interest wanes. Having my own words and positions distorted to buttress Peggy Cousineau-Levine’s rationale for her study certainly didn’t help me engage with her project. If that’s what Canadians need in order to validate their sense of autonomous cultural identity, they stand on very shaky ground. [...]

Across the Great Divide (2)

Arguing that only a Canadian can understand Canadian photography verges on solipsism. And chastising non-Canadians for not venturing their considerations of such Canadianness, which Canadians would reasonably consider presumptuous, creates a double-bind stuation. [...]