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Entitlement programs

Nude’s eye view
September 2014

The stuff I’m doing lately is so beneath the symbolic vernacular or even basic human interest, it’s becoming increasingly pointless to post pictures here. One need only refer to my recent series of one-liners about chronically disengaged local nudes. Not so much lowbrow as unibrow.

I don’t really consider myself a photographer. And not only because I’ve always felt ridiculous hauling out a title for doing something that everyone can now do so easily. It’s like calling oneself a motorist. Or like getting one of those bright green award ribbons back in grade school just for showing up.

Were they actually green? Because that’s perfect. Photography has always had an inferiority complex thrust upon it because it’s mechanically easy. But that’s silly- writing is mechanically easy as well. Many photographers seem to fall for lesser-class status, there is much wringing of hands and assigning of motifs. En-nuggeting photography with bits that no other visual medium need concern itself with. Indexically, I wonder if not considering myself a photographer is just a cowardly opt-out of not only criticism for the photos posted here, but also for of the institutional baggage that comes with the entire culture. There is much to opt-out of: dogged resistance to change, proselytizing about old traditions, the mix of derision and celebration when a colleague makes it big. The bumptious recycling of antique discoveries. I’m as susceptible as anyone.

I mostly took up snapping pictures as a method for dealing with writer’s block, but then maybe that’s because I’ve never really considered myself a writer either. I can’t remember why I took up writing, probably to get laid. No doubt it felt like genuine love at the time but since I can’t even remember the principals, it was likely just hormonal. What I do with words is also a little hormonal. More like fingerpainting, or beating mud puddles with a stick. Great messy abandon for me, but not exactly a spectator sport.

Writing about photography takes special coordination, but writing a photo blog might be more akin to trying to blow your nose and wipe your ass at the same time. But that’s not why it’s difficult. The reason it’s difficult isn’t even worth writing down- and that’s mostly the reason it’s difficult. I know it’s often considered difficult because it’s so easy to break whatever slender thread the photograph is using to tug someone towards a reaction. But to keep mute presupposes that there’s some advantage to misinterpretation. Does anyone fear that they’ll be understood? I do at times. I’m a shallow, vulgar individual. Why be coy? Maybe because even worse traits are increasingly evident- irrelevance, indulgence, insanity.

When making pictures or drawing these verbal doodles fails me, there’s always the dark garage shop. (I took up woodworking when I no longer needed to get laid.) I can tinker with modern tools and re-invent some photographic accessory or device that was contemporary to the butter churn, and the buggy whip. (That this is also precisely what I do with a camera is not lost on me.)

I think that’s what I like best about photography, if not considering myself a photographer. No matter how much experience or discipline I have, no matter how much special gear I buy or make, there’s the excellent chance that some philistine will come along and make vastly better photographs with nothing but a cell phone.

Ah, website. Like the landscape, notebook, and garage shop, it’s a grand place to be alone. Even traffic from immediate family has tapered off. Being utterly released from all expectation is great security, but maybe the best freedoms come from not assigning yourself titles. But the photos themselves, they are on their own.