Eikoh Hosoe

Photograph by Eikoh Hose

Guts and Ghosts: The Radical Legacy of Japanese Photographer Eikoh Hose

… there are so many Japanese photographers I love… Eikoh Hosoe is another one… this book from MACK is on my list if i get a windfall…

The Year 1867

The North Light of Block Island, RI. Photograph by Michael Bogdanffy-Kriegh

… i have been taking note of dates in the landscape, mostly on buildings, but sometimes carved into concrete or other hard surfaces…

… when i encounter one, i like to look up the year in Wikipedia… it provides a list of the events of that year… here i stand in 2021 in front of a building finished in 1867… momentous things have happened in the United States this year… many of them are certain to make a similar list in another 145 years… will the list tell the story of the beginning of the end of democracy in the United States?…

… as the finishing touches were being put on the light house, these events were unfolding around the world1:

  • January 01: The Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge, renamed the John A. Roebling Bridge in 1983 is opened.
  • January 08: African-American men are given the right to vote in the District of Columbia.
  • February 03: The Late Tokugawa shogunate comes to an end when Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu abdicates and Prince Mutsuhito becomes Emperor Meiji of Japan.
  • February 15: The first performance of Johann Strauss II’s The Blue Danube is given by the Vienna Men’s Choral Association.
  • February 19: The Qing Dynasty defeats the Nien rebels in Hubei China at the Battle of Inlon River.
  • March 01: Nebraska is admitted as the 37th State of the United States.
  • March 30: Alaska is purchased from Alexander II of Russia for $7.2 million. This becomes known as Seward’s Folly.
  • May 01: The first political May Day march in Chicago.
  • May 07: Alfred Nobel patents dynamite in the UK.
  • May 29: The Austro-Hungarian Compromise is born through Act 12, establishing the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
  • June 19: Emperor Maximillian of Mexico is executed by a firing squad.
  • July 01: The Constitution of the North German Confederation comes into effect. It establishes a confederation of states under the leadership of Prussia and Otto von Bismarck.
  • September 14: The first volume of Das Kapital (Karl Marx) is published.
  • October 21: The Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. It requires Native American Plains tribes to relocate to a reservation in Oklahoma.
  • November 02: The first issue of Harper’s Bazaar is published.
  • December 18: Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States at a theater in New York City.

… the Earth pirouettes around the sun in a universe of unimaginable size, while the affairs of men unfold on it’s surface…


  1. … all events below from: this Wikipedia article on the year 1867[return]

HCR Meter

… hopeful signs?…

… the appearance, at least, that nooses are tightening… Bannon being held in contempt of congress… 45 wanting to challenge January 6 select committee authority but struggling to lawyer up… bad reputation on several fronts appears to be dogging him… courts siding with opponents of 45 and 45 administration…

… this morning’s post allows me to hope that the whole gang can be brought down before the 2022 election cycle which might minimize ability of Republicans to make gains…

… oddly, conservatives battering Biden/Harris with supply chain paranoia, claiming Christmas will see package delays of epic proportions… i remember last year… packages did not arrive on time… arrived weeks late…

HCR Meter

… things aren’t all bad…

… some things the Biden/Harris admin has accomplished that have flown under the radar:

  • 130 nations have agreed to a minimum global tax rate of 15% for companies with an annual income of $866 million… this will move a good deal of money into the coffers of governments around the world…
  • The Biden/Harris admin has also struck a deal with various players in private industry to relive the supply chain slowdowns…
  • Vaccine mandates appear to be working… more people are getting vaccinated, rate of infection is down, COVID19 deaths are down…
  • Border restrictions have been lifted for the vaccinated at the Mexican and Canadian borders…

HCR Meter

I’m a professor of American history. This is a chronicle of today’s political landscape, but because you can’t get a grip on today’s politics without an outline of America’s Constitution, and laws, and the economy, and social customs, this newsletter explores what it means, and what it has meant, to be an American.1

… a friend wrote on FB that his day gets off to a good or bad start depending on what Heather Cox Richardson has to say… the above is from her about page… you can subscribe to her six, sometimes seven days a week posts here… she says, in her one paragraph personal statement, that she believes in Democracy “despite its frequent failures”2… at the present time, this makes her liberal… in fact, i would argue that believing in democracy is becoming a radical act… would be authoritarian rulers are gaming the democratic system at home in an effort to overturn it, all the while claiming they are protecting the “American way of life”… authoritarian regimes around the planet are betting that it isn’t facile enough to keep up with the rapid pace of technological and social change…

… following my FB friend’s lead, reading HCR has become a daily habit… i started including daily HCR meter statements with some commentary a while back… i have decide to separate them out into their own daily post…

… this morning HCR discusses the noose that is trying to close around 45 and high level figures in his administration… is accountability coming?… i don’t know… i would like to think so, but the inability of congress to impeach 45 and the failure of the Muller report to lead to any repercussions for 45 and his cronies has made me skeptical that our systems of accountability is up to the challenge of wealthy and well connected individuals… at this point i see the main purpose of our justice system as keeping the “little people” in line while the rich and powerful do whatever they want… this is not a particularly new observation, it’s just that it has only recently become apparent to me… my blindness results from my white middle class maleness… i want to be proven wrong… i hope i am proven wrong…

03 For The People

this morning’s Heather Cox Richardson post suggests there is movement on the voting rights front… Senator Joe Manchin has made some proposals on voting rights, which were backed by Stacey Abrams… he has also indicated a willingness to modify the rules of the filibuster, only 55 senators would be needed to pass legislation and 60 senators would be required to keep a filibuster going… meanwhile, a Republican running for office in Florida appears to have threatened to hire a Russian hit squad to eliminate his opponent in the primary… hmmm…

20210614.07

… my vacation reading material…

… have been reading most things i can get my hands on about women and photography… all aspects… women as subjects(objects), photographers, critics, historians… this book is an anthology of writings on photography by women… the last few essays have been interesting looks at the role of photography in conflict, politics and empire building… one in particular written by Gen Doy on the Paris Communeat the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian war seems to channel some aspects of current political and economic forces at play…

20210614.04 Gisel Freund

Many French artisans were forced to join thenranks of the proletariat which, in the early days of industrialization, meant a life of misery and complete political insignificance. The petite bourgeoisie, or lower middle classes, also became more numerous, but with the expansion of industry and commerce they prospered along with the rest of the bourgeoisie, whose members were fast becoming the pillars of the social order.1_  … i am reading about the industrial revolution in France, the social shifts resulting from it, and wonder, are we experiencing something similar, now, the advance of information technology, robotics, the demise of many forms of work, the new ways of organizing the flow of goods and services… could it be that unfettered exchange on social media and the damage it easily leads to is a weakness of democracies?… is the new social order the rise of a techno elite and a large quantity of irrelevant (except to themselves) humans?…


  1. Freund, Gisele. Illuminations: Women Writing on Photography from the 1850’s to the Present, pg 14. Duke University Press, 1996. [return]

06 Monuments and History

an article on why every statue should be taken down

This statue obsession mistakes adulation for history, history for heritage and heritage for memory. It attempts to detach the past from the present, the present from morality, and morality from responsibility. In short, it attempts to set our understanding of what has happened in stone, beyond interpretation, investigation or critique.1

… i like monuments and, as the article suggests, i don’t so much like them for the history they may or may not teach me, i like having landmarks in the landscape to navigate by… every monument is one group of individuals idea of what or who is important to remember and given that there are all kinds of groups of individuals that have different ideas about what is memorable, there seems actually to be a lack of monuments in the landscape…

… given that we are entering an era where we can virtually place monuments in the landscape, perhaps we could have a program that corrects the deficiency… one could personalize their monument landscape, just as one makes a play list for a trip, one would make a monument list for their journeys, daily or otherwise… there could be a monument top 100, identifying the relevant monument the most people preferred for a given site… we could then take down all the old analog monuments and do something else with the space…

04 Regarding the Pain of Others, Chapter 5, Susan Sontag

… Sontag sums up the chapter by reminding us the presentation of history is selective… we have reached a moment in which a large number of our citizens are ready to look at the horrors of slavery and its aftermath, but what about the many other atrocities committed in our name by our government?…

A museum devoted to the history of America’s wars that included the vicious war the United States fought against guerrillas in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902 (expertly excoriated by Mark Twain), and that fairly presented the arguments for and against using the atomic bomb in 1945 on the Japanese cities, with photographic evidence that showed what those weapons did, would be regarded—now more than ever—as a most unpatriotic endeavor.1


  1. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (p. 94). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. [return]