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Week 30

This week I turned a corner. I have come to think of my Daybook as a catalog of my attentions. Somehow, this has given me the desire to continue.

July 25, 2020

228.2 lbs

02:45 PM – dining room

… just now, the question, why do i do this?, put so much time into the photographs, the writing, the posting, the thought that my whole working life i put as much, even more time, into work i didn’t fully love, believe in, whereas now it is all love all believe in… a quote of Walter Benjamin gets at a point that was making itself in my mind this week very accurately:

We are faced with the fact… that the bourgeois apparatus of production and publication can assimilate astonishing quantities of revolutionary themes, indeed, can propagate them without calling its own existence, and the existence of the class that owns it, seriously into question.1

Moreover, if Benjamin was struck by the apparently boundless capacity of the bourgeois apparatus of production to assimilate and even propagate revolutionary themes, this capacity for cultural absorption and neutralization is even more pronounced today.2

… what is the solution to this problem?, is it self-publishing?, creating work that is resistant to commodification?, without access to distribution channels the content is effectively choked off…

… a discussion of the work of Connie Hatch, Solomon-Godeau discusses the advantage of “occupying the cracks” as she puts it, the advantage of creating art work that is not salable, resistant to commodification, which is what allows the critique of the system to be absorbed by the critiqued system, makes it dependent on it… my sense that, if a society truly wants to support a valid critique from the edges, it must blindly distribute a basic income that can free up time for production, no strings attached…

To refuse to supply the apparatus, as Benjamin and Brecht enjoined, may in fact be possible only by affirming one’s place in the peripheral spaces outside the emporium of high culture.3

… describing an early project of Connie Hatch, Form Follows Finance, Solomon-Godaeu relates how its initial presentation in a gallery space compromised it:

The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the exhibition of Form Follows Finance is that even the most explicitly conceived political cultural practices are liable to neutralization by the greater institutional weight of a space consecrated to art, even, in this case, an “alternative” one.4

07:38 AM – walking, Fishkill Creek

… feeling a little slow, alcohol, a little too much, slept in a bit, lethargic, not even sure why i am writing at this moment… i am seeing Lidie all over my feeds, nudity sells… what is there to be grateful for today, life, the sun shining, birds singing, 45’s steady decline in the polls, fingers and toes crossed that it continues, H the dogs, the cat…

05:13 AM – dining room

… ugh, weight really up, gotta be careful… Jonathan Blaustein with a long post about violence, fighting, etc… about a spat in the photography world which, as far as i can see, is misplaced rage… salient moments in the post about how we have been divided one against the other, and his own personal struggle with his wife… in reviewing my feed, there are several posts, (articles), that are conversations, interviews, i try to read one, but don’t make it through, i am not sure why, but i don’t really like the conversation format, the interview as it were, they meander, ramble, don’t get to the point, i’d rather someone do an interview then summarize it, provide a few notable quotes, seems more efficient… a post in Eye of Photography Magazine, Lydie Jean-Dit-Pannel, a woman photographing herself naked in various settings, it seems somehow unnecessary, i don’t particularly enjoy it… i google her, find her instagram feed, decide to follow it… i discover she is not as young as i thought… i find her blogspot blog site, it’s in French and for some reason the auto translator does not come up… ok, she had me at naked, which she seems to do in front of industrial sites, like Three Mile Island, posed as if she were dead… in Heavy Collective i find the work of Keko Jackson, conceptual, thinking hard, not sure if it is too hard, interesting… an article on 45’s interview with Dave Portnoy which i share to FB and write this:

A president who doesn’t get it even when a notorious racist/sexist does… but what really jumped out at me is 45’s bragging about putting an obscure law into action to prevent federal statue toppling. The law imposes a ten year sentence for such vandalism. Ten years! That’s more than any of his cronies are getting for far more significant crimes, even prior to commutation, justice department sentence reduction and presidential pardon. Law and order indeed. Law and order for the weak, not the powerful. A glaring illustration of power-privilege.

July 24, 2020

07:34 AM – walking, Newburgh side of Hamilton Fish Bridge

… what i notice in particular is the myriad spiders that have set up shop high above the river in the interstices of the railing along the pedestrian walk, it seems a good living because there are hundreds, 1,2 even three per railing bay and nearly every one is occupied… what drives insects to these dizzy heights, predator and prey?… H likes both articles i shared this AM, re-shared one of them… it was an easy walk across the bridge, no back fatigue…

04:25 AM – dining room

… i post an article on Portland through the eyes of someone who lives there, the posting is aimed at family members who still believe in 45, whether it does any good is questionable, but the information is out there if they are interested, i figure if i can turn just one of them, i will have made my contribution… another article on what Conservatism has to offer black Americans, i share it, a good read, but as explained in my post, it leaves me feeling uneasy, at a time when Black Lives are having increasing entrepreneurial success accumulating wealth and power, the system itself needs intense scrutiny and change, Capitalism is destroying the planet and it needs to change, will the rug be pulled out yet again?… in another surprising art world article in The Nation, I discover that Bernadette Mayer had a sister, Rosemary, that she too was an artist and that she kept a journal… i order a copy of the book… Should Bill Barr be Disbarred?, asks the article, yes say most of the people i know, but he won’t be, admits the article… this is kind of bizarre, a few weeks back i came to the conclusion that all the reviews i was reading of, mostly photography books, are written by men and whether there were any women beyond Susan Sontag writing intelligently about photography… at the time i did some quick googling and didn’t come up with much except a book entitled Illuminations: Women Writing on Photography from the 1850s to the Present, the present being 1996, when the book was published… at the time, i had owned a copy of Photography at the Dock, by Abigail Solomon-Godeau for some time and had been gradually making my way through it… this morning there is an article in Aperture about Janet Malcolm’s Diana & Nikon, i learn about Ms. Malcolm but also discover another (male) writer on photography, Vilem Flusser, i order the kindle version of Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Diana & Nikon is out of print at present, expensive, on my wish list…

July 23, 2020

03:54 PM – dining room

… reading about Connie Hatch in Photography at the Dock…

12:45 PM – dining room

… bp 116/74

07:24 AM – walking down by the river

… my daybook is solidifying in my mind as a catalog of attention…

05:58 AM – dining room

… garbage and recycling to the curb, an article on Stephen Shore, Transparencies, Brad Feuerhelm, in which i learn about another woman, curator, influential in the world of photographer, Britt Salvensen… i finish the article which has stalled my going out for a walk, on with the walk prep…

04:57 AM – dining room

… Feedly down, toying with the idea of a Pocket premium subscription, may do it if Feedly does not come back around soon, more money down the drain, little drips, even so, an interesting article on Intuitionist Mathematics and its possible application to understanding time and bringing the quantum and relativity worlds together, right up my alley, love that sort of thing… then, an article on Patsy Cline in which i learn that Roosevelt’s New Deal brought massive investment to the south and lifted it out of poverty, which is interesting because conservatives in the south are anything but supportive of Roosevelt era social safety nets and investment programs, or at least that is my perception… a posting by Art Blart on a photography exhibit at the Met, not currently accessible, photographs from the mid 1800’s…

July 22, 2020

No weigh in

03:08 PM – dining room

… a call from the vet, Rubie seems to have done well, we can get him at 4 PM…

02:10 PM – dining room

… reading Photography at the Dock i come across the term trumpery:

  1. Showy but worthless finery; bric-a-brac
  2. Nonsense; rubbish.
  3. Deception; trickery; fraud.

01:14 PM – dining room

… earlier an article on Yurie Nagashima, Japanese, woman, catches my eye, a book of critical writing about Japanese Photography is of interest, but it is not available in English, so i will have to wait, hopefully it will become available in English at some point… i recall an article earlier in the year on Ms. Nagashima, Jorg Colberg, i saved it to Evernote… as i work my way through the Feedly feed, i find an article on Bernadette Mayer in the Nation… it’s a review of the new release of Memory, a book sitting on the table to my right this moment… i have had it for longer than a month, have only made my way through the first few pages, it is a book that takes patience, time, fortitude… i am wondering, should i pick it up and make another attempt to travel it’s pages?, no, it’s afternoon, this is not the best time for my ability to concentrate, and there are distractions, H with TV, the need to cook eventually, no, i have to save it… i purchased the book because of this blog i am writing, my project seemed very similar, though spanning a longer time, structured differently, into moments of attention…

07:53 – waiting outside vet

… Rubie scheduled for oral surgery today, waiting for vet to open… discussing what we need for groceries, will do an instant order for tomorrow…

06:43 Am – walking, Spring Valley & Churchill

… back release break… quiet, hot, the occasional car or pedestrian… the sound of a truck gearing down in the distance, birds twittering, water in Fishkill Creek… loquacious… more of a steady hiss really… or gray noise… like a needle on a worn lp… an air conditioner…

06:00 AM – walking, Main Street

… nature duking it out with Capitalism… a jogger passes by… resident homeless woman walking her bike along the railroad tracks, glad to see she has avoided the virus, i think she lives in abandoned land by the tracks… black life, female, rollerblader passing by…

05:09 AM – dining room

… the dogs are awake… heading out earlier than usual because Rubie has to go to the vet this AM for oral surgery, remove a decayed tooth?, hopefully not more than that…

04:46 AM – dining room

… moving on through my news feed, an article in Reason.com about the “troops” 45 is deploying in Portland and threatening to deploy in cities across the country with liberal Democratic leaders who are allowing their cities to burn, to paraphrase 45… i share it to FB because it is from the conservative perspective and maybe it will reach some 45 loving relatives, though i don’t hold my breath on that score, they seem to prefer the slide to fascism over the alternative, a multicultural and liberal democracy… another article in The Bulwark about conservative mishandling of the pandemic and police brutality crises about which i write in my posting to FB:

An opinion from the right on the failings of the conservative response to the pandemic and issues of police brutality. It celebrates conservative principles but finds current application inflexible and out of touch with the reality of people’s lives.

04:34 AM – dining room

… it all seems to be about sex and the patriarchy this morning, an article in Mother Jones, covering 45’s COVID19 press briefing yesterday, the return of a frankenmonster after many months of dormancy, pointing out his wishing Ghislaine Maxwell well…

03:59 AM – dining room

… reading an article in Aperture, In Pop Culture and Propaganda, an Alternate History of the Cold War, it’s about a new photo book by Aikaterini Gegisian, the work is billed as subversive, of suggesting that the pleasures of the body are somehow an antidote to patriarchy and capitalism… i like the work, i find it compelling, but it does not connect, for me, to the artist’s statements about it, and, in fact, in being written up in Aperture and Another Magazine, there is a kind of hypocrisy going on, the media outlets managed by capitalism and the patriarchy are used to get the subversive message out?, really does not work for me… as i consider this work, there is Photography at the Dock, below, which reputedly has an important essay on the nude in photography, i haven’t gotten to it yet, but need to… this, so called subversive art seems anything but, as it seems geared to presentation in the art world gallery system, itself dominated by the capitalist patriarchy, which is the power of capitalism, every subversive voice is courted into the make-money-from-it jaws of capitalism… truly subversive voices don’t speak this way…

July 21, 2020

225.6 lb

01:22 PM – dining room

… reading Photography at the Dock, Abigail Solomon-Godeau… in the essay entitled “A Photographer in Jerusalem, 1855,” a discussion of the work of Auguste Salzmann, ASG points to the dilemma of the art photograph, particularly when a photograph, or body of work of photographs, is lifted from the past and re-interpreted in terms of modern aesthetics and intentions… this necessarily divorces the work from it’s historical context, including the intent with which the photography was undertaken… instead, the assessment is of the choices made by the photographer that make it a more interesting art photograph, not necessarily a more interesting documentary photograph, which is the intent Salzmann was hired to pursue… but then the question, perhaps Salzmann failed the strict terms of his assignment precisely because he was more interested in making a picture of the mood of the scene, not the facts of the scene…

12:16 PM – living room

… an idea coalesced for the direction of my Daybook, it is simply about what commands my attention, what i read, what i think, what i see, as such, it does not tell a linear story though stories evolve…

07:04 AM – walking, pocket road trail

… heading up the mountain…

06:17 AM – walking, Dewindt St.

… disturbed a hawk in a bush, two small birds too?, hawk hunting small birds?, looked like he captured one…

the idea of a good picture is predicated on usefulness in the art world… my idea of good being the picture that compels one to linger, even if only for a few extra seconds… this idea leads me to confront the idea of sensational vs. compelling, is sensational, as a special case of compelling, a legitimate outcome of this definition of a good photograph, or do we need to begin to limit the concept of compelling?…

05:34 AM – dining room

… this from an article in Literary Hub:

Yes, she told me, he is corrupt—but so, she believed, were all of the presidents who went before him. “We just didn’t know about it before.” That idea gave her—an upstanding citizen, a law-abiding patriot—the license to support a corrupt president. If everybody is corrupt and always has been, then whatever it takes to win is okay.5

… and this:

To destroy a society,” she wrote, “it is first necessary to delegitimize its basic institutions.” If you believe that American institutions are no different from their opposite, then there is no reason to defend them. The same is true of transatlantic institutions. To destroy the Atlantic alliance, the community of democracies, she wrote, “it is only necessary to deprive the citizens of democratic societies of a sense of shared moral purpose which underlies common identifications and common efforts.6

05:05 AM – dining room

… i am remembering an article by Jorg Colberg read yesterday, in which he talks about the concept of patina, which seems to translate into the character of the scene to be photographed, within the essay he talked about the “good photograph” being hard to make, requiring effort by the photographer to go beyond the easy picture, the first picture that comes to the mind’s eye… the good picture is hard to make and as hard, or harder, to define in a way that we might understand what a good picture is without having one before us… the definition of a good picture to me is one that compels attention, for whatever reason… i am not convinced that a good picture is as hard to make as JC claims…

04:50 AM – dining room

… dogs up, H up, quietude interrupted, i long for a private studio i can go to and not be interrupted in the AM, i get up early to try to get that, the rest of the creatures in the house have progressively decided to join me… the next item up in my readings this morning, Khadija Saye, a young African American artist who perished in the horrific Grenfell Tower fire in 2017… this quote on the Grenfell Tower stands out to me:

Cult writer Naomi Klein has been debunking neoliberalism’s gilded promise since the 1990s. Grenfell Tower, she says, is yet another tragic reminder that beyond the golden surface lies a rotten core.7

03:50 AM – dining room

… no alcohol at night apparently translates into earlier to rise, not that i mind… first item to catch my attention this morning is an article in Feature Shoot on an exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center entitled: Trump Revolution: Climate Crisis, as if we need any more evidence of the disaster 45 has been, continues to be… i think about 45’s claims of having created the best economy in the history of the United States, even if true, at what cost?, the exhibition shows the costs of the administrations moves to undue decades of environmental progress, economic gain is at the expense of the future and the future is getting very close, this is why unfettered capitalism, and probably capitalism of any kind is such a catastrophe, it knows no other way to organize than to amp up greed and defile the planet… this is what i post to FB:

This online exhibition courtesy of the Bronx Documentary Center is worth visiting. Climate change is a thing. We are condemning generations of people, and let’s face it, it will be mostly the people without resources, to a brutal future. 45 has been, is, a huge setback. His claims of having engineered the best economy in the history of the United States, even if true, must be assessed relative to the costs, near and far term. The problem is bigger than 45 though, the problem is capitalism, a system essentially built on rape on just about any actual and metaphorical level you want to look at.

July 20, 2020

225.2 lbs

06:58 PM – living room

… dinner finished, dishes done, coffee setup done, Ari Melber on MSNBC… Briana Taylor, no charges against officers… Joy Reid’s new prime time show… Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, 45 a joke, a miserable failure, yada, yada, yada…

07:53 AM – walking, 9D Bridge

… more thinking about H and protesting, decided that asking her not to take the kind of risks she did yesterday is least confrontational way, asking her to promise not to…

06:44 AM – walking, 52, near Memorial Park

… as i walk my thoughts turn increasingly to H and her attendance of the protest and that she does not seem to have kept herself socially distanced, confessing that she hugged A, i realize i am angry about this and that i need to tell her, get it off my chest…

05:49 AM – dining room

… the last article i will view this morning, Sophie Calle, Because, a good review, and interesting artist, she works in projects and they are projects that are part fiction, part reality, words and images, meant to explore the tears in societal fabric… the more i write in Ulysses, the more i like it…

05:34 AM – dining room

… i take one last spin through Week 29 of my Daybook, then decide to notify the world that it exists, i had been hesitant to do that, perhaps because there were a few minor edits that needed to be made to avoid making anyone who might recognize themselves angry or upset, not the point of the project to reveal uncomfortable things about other people… i realize, that apart from the time commitment anyone would have to make to take it in, it is pretty good, pretty much on target with what i want it to be, a collection of impressions, visual, mental, about my week… now the idea of doing a series of booklets?…

04:28 AM – dining room

… looking through photographs by known photographers, i have the impression, in comparison, i am a better photographer than i give myself credit for… an article on Joel Jimenez catches my eye, the photographs are evocative, the project conceptual, a notorious prison turned into a children’s museum, cultural history overwriting, why not a museum to notorious prisons?, perhaps the public would not bite, or maybe they would but the power structure does not want to be honest… i have discovered an art trail dedicated to the Hudson River School artists, visits to sites where famous paintings were made, or at least have in view the subject of famous paintings, the one in Beacon that revealed the existence of the trail to me, for example… i resolve for H and i to follow the trail, i also wonder about it as a photography project, visit the sites, get my own landscape photographs, maybe… a book comes to my attention that seems interesting, it is conceptual, i favor conceptual work over more straight forward work, though my work tends to be more straight forward, most of the time… the work is in the form of a book, Cristiano Volk: Mélaina Cholé (Yoffy Press, 2020)… it is hot and close in the house, even this early, AC on in bedroom only… several more days of hot weather, hunker down, do your best to get through it like everything else these days… the dogs are up and outside, released them so they wouldn’t wake H… another book catching my attention, Jordanna Kalman, Little Romances, a book on the female body, mostly nudes, but overlaid with mythical elements…

July 19, 2020

224.6 lbs

06:51 AM – walking, Long Dock Park

… what if i have the wrong expectations from my daily photography walks?, i feel there is value in doing them, but i struggle to extract meaning from them, expecting some kind of coherence, some kind of sum greater than the parts epiphany, what if it is only a string of disconnected moments representing moments of concentrated conscious attention?, what am i seeing?…

05:31 AM – dining room

… just finished a long article on Claudia Andujar, photographer, activist, the story of her involvement with the Yanomami people brought tears to my eyes, mostly because of the tragedy that it is and continues to be, similar to the treatment of Native Americans in US from colonial times down to the present, indigenous peoples in conflict with and being overrun by the steamroller forces of market capitalism… time and time again, a traditional society which has many advantages of connection to planet is overrun by capitalist society which views the planet solely as resource to be plundered and indigenous peoples as an inconvenience to be shoved out of the way… there is a tendency to romanticize the “primitive ways” of indigenous peoples, imagine it as something vastly preferential to modern society, which is as un-constructive to the situation as the plague of rapacious greed that threatens extermination of a way of life, a wisdom, a right to be… Andujar’s life has meant something… i cry for the Yanomami, i cry for myself, wondering what has my life meant?… and with that, i continue to fall into the western capitalist trap of achievement, understood as utility, being the prerequisite for meaning, one needs to be useful, this attitude on steroids in United States of America… if a tree grows, lives, falls, dies in the forest, and nobody witnesses it, has it ever existed?, has it been useful?… in our society, no, in the society of the Yanomami, perhaps, “primitive” peoples tend to have a view of interconnection, themselves, the planet, one another, the spirit world, an animating connectedness that western civilization has pulled to pieces to rationalize its progress… i don’t know what to do with this knowledge, this sense of how things are, this despair that there is a different way of looking at things but it is overrun by the steamroll of extraction for growth, wealth, progress… this is what i posted in FB about it:

This is a heart felt tribute to a photographer who made it her mission to help the Yanomami people of Brazil save themselves. Sadly, under Bolsonaro, and with the arrival of COVID19, they are more threatened than ever. Their elders are, as in the western world, most afflicted, are dying in the greatest numbers. This quote in the article stood out to me: “For the indigenous, it is said, “losing an elder is like burning a library.” I recall idiot conservative politicians proclaiming the death of their elders to be a worthwhile sacrifice to the preservation of economic activity. People don’t really matter to our economic system, our way of organizing civilization. They are only canon fodder. I have no idea how it changes. I only know that it is bad and will ultimately be fatal for everyone if it doesn’t.

  1. Walter Benjamin, The Author as Producer
  2. Abigale Solomon-Godeau, Photography at the Dock, Reconstructing Documentary
  3. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography at the Dock, Reconstructing Documentary
  4. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography at the Dock, Reconstructing Documentary
  5. Anne Applebaum, Why Did Republicans Abandon American Idealism?, Literary Hub, July 21, 2020
  6. Anne Applebaum, Why Did Republicans Abandon American Idealism?, Literary Hub, July 21, 2020
  7. Andrea Kurland, Naomi Klein says Grenfell Toower is “lovelessness in public”, Huck Magazine, July 6, 2017

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