What I Read Today

2021: Farewell to a Stupid Year, David Corn, December 30, 2021, Reason.com

this essay by David Corn summarizes the precarious state of affairs in this country pretty much the way i believe it to be…

Ignorance can kill. And ignorance and anger are a lethal combination. Particularly in politics. The pro-Trump anti-vaxxers have placed themselves in danger; the 1/6 deniers and Stop the Stealers have put the nation’s political system in jeopardy. The year 2021 delivered a tough message: the suspicion, hatred, and paranoia flamed by Trump and his crew remain potent forces that can propel millions to make bad decisions. It’s a clear warning for 2022 and the stupidity that lies ahead.

In 2022, Pay Attention to Right-wing Authoritarianism, Veronique de Rugy, December 30, 2021, Reason.com

… talks about the rise in Authoritarianism around the globe and urges us to pay attention and resist…

So, as I wish you a happy New Year, I also ask you to join me in opposing illiberalism in all its forms. It means opposing the draconian regulation and unsustainable government welfare advanced by the left. It also means opposing rising right-wing illiberalism that is hostile to LGBTQ and immigrant cultures, itches to ban books, and generally wants to use government power to achieve its cramped vision of an American society.

How Biden’s Agenda Is Causing Inflation, Nick Gillespie, December 30, 2021, Reason.com

… talks about the relationship between the money supply and inflation…

We’ve seen absolutely massive increases in government spending over the past two years, which have been paid for by printing money and historic boosts in the money supply. When you print money it means that there are more dollars chasing basically the same amounts of goods and services, which causes prices to rise.

Unselfing into Oneness with the All: Transcendentalist Queen Margaret Fuller on Transcendence, December 26, 2021, Maria Popova, The Marginalian

… ode to Margaret Fuller, an uncommonly intelligent and determined woman who acquired an education and professional position at a time when neither were commonly available to women…

From the platform of her precocious girlhood, Margaret undertakes an inquiry into the building blocks of character. “Nothing more widely distinguishes man from man than energy of will,” she writes in a six-page essay, positing that a conquering will is composed of imagination, perseverance, and “enthusiastic confidence in the future.” But these elements are not weighted equally — she prizes above all perseverance, which fuels the “unwearied climbing and scrambling” toward achievement. “The truly strong of will,” she writes, having lived just over a decade, “returns invigorated by the contest, calmed, not saddened by failure and wiser from its nature.”

Against Illusionism, Jorg Colberg, Conscientious Photography Magazine, December 27, 2021

… about a group of photographers in Poland who created _Archive of Public Prostests_… shoestring budget, public good, what photography should be… JG is increasingly questioning the world of art photography and photobooks, as am i… too tied to the rarefied capitalist art market it has become an elitist proposition that struggles to offer meaning to the world at large…

What I Read Today…

  • Letters from an American, December 02, 2021: the government got funded last night and Heather Cox Richardson explains why that strengthens our hand on the international stage…
  • Ridley Scott’s Dyspeptic Disposition: a review of Ridley Scott’s film making career… a promise that Raised by Wolves will be released winter 2022…
  • my journal entries from weeks 5 & 6 of 2021… i am trying to review my journal for the year… two weeks a day should get me through the entire 2021 journal by Christmas… certainly before the new year… i am making sure everything is tagged so that i can filter content into significant people, reading and thought trends… in weeks 5 and 6 i continue to make my way through Simone de Beauvoir’s _The Second Sex_…
  • Dinaya Waeyaert Come Closer: i read the review, written by Brad Feuerhelm and glean that it is a photobook about two women who love each other… one is the photographer… it is a book about intimacy which BF’s hyper-intellectual style barely is able to crack into… i go to the photographer’s website which has a full presentation of the project, opening with a short film… it is a beautiful testament of one young human being’s love of (obsession with?) another young human being, with it’s all enveloping sexual attraction, action and reaction bubble… how well i remember those days in my own relationship with H… this appears to be a beautifully done project… i put it on my to get list…
  • A Conversation With 10x10 Photobooks: in which i am reminded of a book i would like to own, What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, which Colberg points out was in part put together to address the dearth of women in The Photobook: A History, volumes 1 and 2, which i own copies of… what they saw is also on my to get list…

First Thoughts

… first day of November… the toboggan run down the hill to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year has begun…

… yesterday i was feeling a little frustrated that i am not making any progress on my photography work… i have no projects in progress, or so i was thinking, other than cleaning up my archive, processing photographs i haven’t processed, etc… i keep thinking i should be trying to make a book… i should be submitting to calls for entry… i should be planning what my next solo show will be… i should be doing what the world of fine art photography expects me to do… i have been telling myself that the new year will be a year in which i actively return to doing all of these things…

… at the same time, i have been questioning my participation in what Jörg Colberg and others call “photoland”… something doesn’t feel right about it… as Colberg points out, it is a self-contained and incestuous land… photographers, gallerists and the wealthy having a limited conversation of limited value and importance… and that conversation has a limited set of formats in which it can be conducted… and the economics of it is a false economics… a photograph is infinitely reproducible… and yet, artists and gallerists rely on artificially limiting the product to make it valuable and then sell that exclusivity to the well-enough off-to-afford-it… it’s an elitist system… something’s not right…

… for some time i have been frustrated by the artificial limitations of format that photoland places on photographic artists… for a long time i have been working on a project that has been through a number of iterations of title, but in the end is the same project… going for daily walks and photographing what catches my attention… whatever it is… i write about what i see and experience too…

… this project demands a daily display of photographs that are “of the moment”… it needs an extended format of ongoing presentation…

… it finally struck me yesterday that I have been working!… daily… for a long time… and this is what i have been working on… this is the project!

… the current iteration of the project is this blog, Notes On Attention Paid (NOAP)

… i must continue to refine it… articulate what i am doing… come up with an artists statement… come up with a way to connect it to photoland without allowing photoland to artificially constrain it…

… this will be the work of the new year…

Soft Copy Hard Copy, Stephan Keppel

… a book review by Jörg Colberg and GPT-3…

… Colberg experiments with an AI writing partner… to be honest, i don’t like the results very much… i laud the attempt but think it does a disservice to book and author, as the language is a bit clumsy, somewhat repetitive and all the while, one wonders, what is human reaction to the book and what is AI reaction to the human reaction?… it obscures an honest review and appreciation (or not) of the book, though your mileage may vary…

… there are two reasons this article caught my attention… Colberg wrote it and i have high regard for his reviewer perceptions and knowledge of photography, and his AI co-author had come to my attention in an article i read the other day in which a woman author was telling the story of something significant and sad that had happened to her (her sister dying of cancer when she was a teenager)… she would start a paragraph and let the AI complete it, experimenting with getting more and more honest with her own thoughts and memories in her prompts along the way to see how the AI writer responded… her result was more coherent and satisfying, but also suspect, because as humans, we want to read what other humans think and feel, not what an AI partner intuits that we think or feel…

… the gorilla in the room, however, is, will there be a moment when we won’t know if we are reading words assembled by a human or AI (a variation on the Turing test) if we are not told? (as i was in both articles i have read with AI co-authorship)… and what are the implications of that?… or, more scary, have i already read an article either co-authored or solo authored by AI without knowing it?… hmmm…

… there is a wider conversation to have about AI in general… I shared a micro poem about that yesterday… but that is for another time…