February 11, 2007

Madison windowscape and graffiti.

Windowscape:

Madison windowscape

Graffiti:

Graffiti

Just a couple things seen in my little town as I walked from the car to this café.

80 comments:

Peter Palladas said...

Who's the guy with Einstein? Looks like it ought to be Tolstoy for so many reasons. But then Einstein would only have been in his early thirties when Tolstoy died.

Santayana? Beard's wrong though.

Who? Help.

Doyle said...

Sure, there are about 150,000 American troops fighting urban warfare in Iraq, but I think we should have a moment of solemn recognition for Ann.

Those also serve who live their day to day life under constant siege from Madison liberals, with their communism and their anti-Bush knick knacks.

vbspurs said...

Who? Help.

Good question!

Let's try a little sleuthing skill, for those of us who are stumped.

Obviously, Einstein isn't young anymore, in that photo.

Einstein is dressed in a formal morning suit, with wing collar, which was still fashionable until a little after World War I.

His posture is reverential, so that whilst he was obviously the more important person, on a world-wide level, it suggests that to HIM, this man was important and worthy of respect.

Yes, it does speak to the gentleman being a scientist (it's not Max Planck, e.g., though), but perhaps I'm wrong, but looking at the garb of the man, I sense a Russian dissident or perhaps Zionist, connexion.

Someone like Plekhanov, or Herzl, albeit neither fit physically (Herzl died youngish, and wouldn't be caught dead in a peasant shirt).

Maybe it's Pavel Axelrod, the Russian revolutionary who died post-WWI, IIRC.

Love these types of mysteries, which only an Althouse photo would cough up.

Cheers,
Victoria

PatCA said...

Wow, the '60s are still cool!

NOT

Mark said...

Rabindranath Tagore?

Mark said...

Here's the link:
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.physik.uni-frankfurt.de/~jr/gif/phys/einst_tagore.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.physik.uni-frankfurt.de/~jr/physlist.html&h=480&w=554&sz=52&hl=en&sig2=5tJwjUd8G7Rxk9x3dgiADQ&start=6&tbnid=MUi5kaJgHlU37M:&tbnh=115&tbnw=133&ei=fXvPReLHDoe-iQHL99h3&prev=/images%3Fq%3DRabindranath%2BTagore%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

Peter Palladas said...

Someone like Plekhanov, Herzl, Pavel Axelrod...

Only Axelrod would have been old enough, making Einstein 49 - but then he looks older than that, and Axelrod died at 78. Guy in the pic looks as if he should be nearer 98. (But then hard Siberian winters taking their toll etc.)

George Washington anyone? Was he Russian?

Mark said...

Sorry for the long link. Try this one:

http://www.physik.uni-frankfurt.de/~jr/gif/phys/einst_tagore.jpg

Ann Althouse said...

Here's a bigger, wider shot of that windowscape.

Who's the old guy with a beard? I don't know. Could it be George Bernard Shaw?

Are the 60's still cool? They're playing "Blonde on Blonde" at this café.

vbspurs said...

Mark wins the Althouse Photo Guessing Contest Cookie!

God, how obvious. I could slap myself, but instead, let's form an Airplane!-type queue, shall we?

Cheers,
Victoria

ASX said...

Ann is tending to her base. As Robert Wright pointed out in a recent bloggingheads, Ann made the mistake of offending both sides of the political spectrum with her recent conflict with Goldberg et al.

Ever since, she has been shoring up her street cred with the lunatic right, with various posts designed to satisfy their prejudices.

What fun it is, tracking Ann's calculated rise to Coulter- and Malkin-like levels of disrepute.

Peter Palladas said...

Tagore - well done! So when did he become Russian?

vbspurs said...

George Washington anyone? Was he Russian?

Yes, yes he was. He owned black serfs.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Check this out.

Tolstoy.

Tagore was handsomer.

Cheers,
Victoria

Peter Palladas said...

...but instead, let's form an Airplane!-type queue, shall we?

...stop calling me Shirley!

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

...stop calling me Shirley!

Okay, Debbie.

Cheers,
Victoria

Peter Palladas said...

http://www.sawf.org/newedit/edit03192001/musicarts.asp

...apparently their differing Western/Eastern takes on causality nearer scuppered the chat.

But when it came to rock 'n' roll then they really jived.

Peter Palladas said...

Debbie

You'll never catch me singing in the rain.

Old Dad said...

Sippican Cottage,

Thanks for the link to the transcript--great stuff.

The meeting would have made a memorable podcast.

Ann Althouse said...

A funny thing about this post -- and it's a question about art -- is that everyone perceives it as antagonistic to the things being photographed. Why is that? Please note that this is intended to be a really deep question. If you don't think it is, then address the issue of why you don't think it is? And that's intended to be a very deep question. If you don't think it is, then I am going to skulk off into infinite regression.

Peter Palladas said...

...everyone perceives it as antagonistic to the things being photographed. Why is that? Please note that this is intended to be a really deep question.

Errr...that's a bit deep for someone currently deeply into a deeply expensive online poker tournament.

Am I assuming that you assume that people who assume this viewpoint assume that the photographs carry a right-wing autograph dismissive of the subject?

If so then no, in essence, to whatever the question was. The subject of the photograph is the object, not whatever subjective mindset the photographer might be thought to seek to impose.

I imagine that's what Susan Sontag would have said. Though mind you she might have said the opposite knowing her.

Old Dad said...

Ann,

The photos are overtly, almost cartoonishly political. In the first, we've got a little shrine to lefty totems of the 50's and 60's complete with G Man J Edgar aiming his (ahem) Tommy gun at Edward R. There's the Nixon dig that skewers W as well. There's not enough context to know if the arrangement is meant to be funny, but the context provided (I think) pokes fun. I imagine a good old Madison lefty longing for the days of Purple Haze as he merchandises his window. "Reading is sexy," and hopefully profitable, but not, too.

The second shot, I found funny as hell, in context. I can definitely see it as the work of some smart ass kid making fun of the bald guy with the pony tail.

I suspect that the strong reaction comes from the politics. I'm a boomer, but no big fan of the 60s. I nearly got lynched at a faculty party when I argued that 60s music was way over rated. The delusions of youth are hard to lose.

CB said...

...everyone perceives it as antagonistic to the things being photographed. Why is that?

I'm not sure why you think this, but since you bring it up: I would hope that you would be antagonistic toward someone who quoted The Communist Manifesto. Few things in politics/social issues fill me with revulsion more than apologists for Communism. And the fact that it is acceptable to do so these days makes it even worse.

PS, love the no-verification-word and no-moderation; I hope it works out for the long run.

Ann Althouse said...

Old Dad: I agree the subject matter in the photos is political and that the person who wrote the graffiti and the person who arranged the windowscape are political, but what is it about the photographs that makes it possible to say anything about the photographer.

Doyle said...

everyone perceives it as antagonistic to the things being photographed. Why is that?

Wait let me get my really deep thinking hat on. Ok I'm ready:

It's because the items pictured are artifacts of a political worldview that you are known to be antagonistic to.

"I Never Thought I'd Miss Nixon" is a joke at the expense of the Bush administration, which you frequently defend.

"War IS Terrorism" is also directed at the Bush administration. It's presumably not a statement you agree with, as you are known to be in favor of the Iraq war and against terrorism.

"Good Night and Good Luck" was about the environment of paranoia and repression of McCarthyism. You may have heard some critics suggest that it was intended to draw a parralel with today's Global War on Terror, some of whose more controversial measures you support.

You are not a Buddhist that I am aware of.

Oh, and "Workers of the World Unite" is a Communist slogan, and as we know from this segment of Bloggingheads, you, madame, are no Communist!

Peter Palladas said...

the bald guy with the pony tail...

What little you know. Once was a 'deeply' serious socialist message written on a wall in letters a yard high - 'Fight for the Right to Work'. We're talking some hundred foot of walling OK.

Cometh the night, cometh the man who - all right - is now semi-bald but who never, never had a pony-tail. (Yeah well actually, just the once for a party you understand.)

Said non-longhair just had to insert a 'Not' in the right place.

I love political nostalgia.

It's an Old Etonian thing.

PS - nobody could have created that window display without some serious gay irony. Whether Prof. Althouse photographed it with serious gay irony herself I could not say.

Bet she used digital not film though - that said I'm afraid the wedding's off Prof. Could never love a woman who was not silver halide through and through.

You are not a Buddhist that I am aware of.

Pull the hair back into a pony-tail and there's a Gautama resemblance you'll have to agree. Christ may have stopped at Eboli, but I'm pretty sure the Buddha made it all the way to Wisconsin.

Simon said...

I have a tangent that I want to offer in relation to CB's post. I'd be willing to bet that far more people have died as a consequence of the ideas in The Communist Manifesto than have died as a consequence of the ideas in Mein Kampf, yet it is still considered acceptable for people to espouse that discredited ideology.

Let me reveal (or re-reveal, for sharp-eyed reaers) something personal, in service of a point. When I was very much younger - we're talking twelve, thirteen - I was infatuated with communism. I bought it hook line and sinker, and when we'd cover the differences between fascist Germany/Italy and communist Russia in history classes in school, I'd trot out the Soviet propaganda line, blissfully ignorant of how totally absurd it was. Thankfully, as I got older, I came to realize what an idiot I'd been.

The point though, is this: Recently, I had occaision to glance back over some of those workbooks, and it was a more horrifying, mortifying experience I can explain. And reading back over some of those projects, you can see the teachers trying -- in comments in the margins -- to point out how absurd this was. And, indeed, I remember that teachers would engage my views, and try and show that they werewrong, and I'd gamely go along, and it was all very peculiar - you know, here's a thirteen year old who's read Das Kapital and will stand up for it. This is going back to Britain just after the Soviet Union fell, to put it in historical context.

But as humiliating and horrifying as it was to read this, and to think "my God, what was wrong with me?" another thought slowly started todawn on me. If I'd been writing sympathetically about the Nazis, someone would have taken me aside at school, and not carefully engaged me in intellectual debate, they would have beaten seven bales of shit out of me. And they would have been right to do so. They should have formed an orderly queue, per Airplane!. I shouldn't have been awarded high praise for my grasp of the historical material, I should have been forced to repeat the class until the understanding dawned on me that Marx's vision of the world was no less profoundly warped and inhuman than Hitler's. I was completely, dangerously wrong, not only sympathetic to but enamoured with a way of thinking that has claimed millions of innocent lives. And yet it was treated as an amusing quirk of an adolescent schoolboy. Why was that? I can only conclude it was because the teachers were themselves sympathetic to socialism, albeit in a milder form, a bunch of Guardian-reading lefties who wanted me to step away not from the left, but from the logical endpoint of left wing thought. They should be as ashamed of their conduct as I am now of mine - but I at least had an excuse: I was thirteen! I was a child, and I didn't know better. They should have.

Why do we refuse to treat Marxism the same way that we treat Nazism? They are both just as evil, and anyone espousing either should be treated accordingly.

Peter Palladas said...

They are both just as evil, and anyone espousing either should be treated accordingly.

Pharmaceuticals and/or therapy?

I'm assuming you wouldn't advocate Dachau or the Gulag. Though maybe Guantanamo Bay?

Simon said...

"Oh, and "Workers of the World Unite" is a Communist slogan, and as we know from this segment of Bloggingheads, you, madame, are no Communist!"

Perfact example, right there. If someone teaching at a university was routinely engaged in spreading Nazi propaganda, they would be summarily dismissed, tenure be damned, and would probably find themselves unable to find work. American society doesn't tolerate outspoken nazis. If they're a communist, on the other hand, that's just peachy in most American universities. You know the difference between a communist and nazi? Nothing worth speaking of.

Simon said...

Peter,
I'm ashamed to say that I think I probably did defend the gulag, although I have no specific recollection.

Simon said...

Oh, and re treatment, I more had in mind social ostracization, including dismissal from employment. You can't reason with these people, and there's no point trying. They're out to lunch. You have to just make their lives as difficult as possible and hope that one day they actually read some history and finally take off the blinkers.

Fatmouse said...

Simon,

Communism and Socialism will be with us forever, because there will always be people who think they can get something for nothing.

Peter Palladas said...

I'm ashamed to say that I think I probably did defend the gulag, although I have no specific recollection.

Forgetfulness of one's sins - like a hangover - is one of the minor proofs of the existence of God. So don't sweat the small stuff - as we cancer folk are wont to say in our insufferably smug way.

Defending the Gulags is irresistibly logical if you tread the Communist path. So much slaughter is so much for the common future good - until we wake up, smell the corruption of mind and soul and walk away from it all.

Doesn't add up to 'a Bush in the gland being better than an illegal, phoney, stupid, dumb-ass war in Iraq' - but it's a start. The road to conversion starts with a single step. Just ask St. Paul.

Peter Palladas said...

Here's a bigger, wider shot of that windowscape.

...if I'd have seen the John Lennon badge then I'd have had to throw up. Nobody, but nobody could have wished to link that self-referencing pillock to good, real people without being more seriously gay-ironic than Homo Wisconsiensis could 'imagine'.

Imagine John Lennon without trousers - it's easy if you try. Really, it is.

Simon said...

Peter:
"Defending the Gulags is irresistibly logical if you tread the Communist path. So much slaughter is so much for the common future good - until we wake up, smell the corruption of mind and soul and walk away from it all."

That's precisely right. And you know what the first step on that road is? The first step is a long way from the last, but I want to be very, very clear about this, because everyone reading this needs to take a moment to let this sink in. The first step on the path of that irresistable logic is this:

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

That is the mindset that underlies the communist enterprise. It is the mindset that justifies all means to achieve the end, no matter the human cost. It is the mindset that sent millions to their deaths in the Soviet Union, Indochina and China. That is the worldview that has been used to justify incaluculable human suffering and deprivation. It is far easier to resist the thin end of the wedge than the fat one; as Daniel Webster once warned, there are people among us who would rule us, and while they mean to rule well, they mean to rule. And that is the first step on a road whose destination we all know.

Simon said...

"Doesn't add up to 'a Bush in the gland being better than an illegal, phoney, stupid, dumb-ass war in Iraq' - but it's a start. The road to conversion starts with a single step. Just ask St. Paul."

I don't know how anyone who understands the human cost of tyranny can sleep at night when they oppose attempts to overthrow it, Peter. It's precisely because I grasp the costs of tyranny that I became a convert to regime change, years before Bush finally stepped up to the plate and did the right thing. To stand by idly, while posessing the power to free a population, and to fail to use that power, is unconscionable. It is tantamount to collaboration.

Old Dad said...

Ann,

Interesting questions. The photographs within your photograph seem pretty straight forward. The J. Edgar shot was intended to dramatize the G manliness of Hoover. The Clooney/ Murrow shot was intended to hawk the movie. The Einstein photo is wonderfully tactful and serious, as is fitting the occasion of a meeting between two Nobel Laureates.

Your photo of the photos and the rest are more mysterious in intention. It's entirely possible that you merely ran on these interesting images on your way to and from a cafe--seems likely to me. Or!!!! you may have staged these so called random scenes to further your execrable political views.

My take is that your blog is a very interesting science experiment. But casual and fun. Like a good conversation. But safer.

Simon said...

Old Dad:
"My take is that [Ann's] blog is a very interesting science experiment. But casual and fun. Like a good conversation. But safer."

Let me race Ruth Anne to the post. It's "an art project and an exercise in personal freedom."

Peter Palladas said...

To stand by idly, while posessing the power to free a population, and to fail to use that power, is unconscionable. It is tantamount to collaboration.

...I offer you Zimbabwe. OK no one expects Americans to be even able to locate the continent - no oil - but we Brits owe it big time from Rhodesia.

You want to remove a tyrant? Then come on down and get rid of Butcher Bob.

Millions are about to starve and die in that wretched land because of one stupid, sinful tyrant. Once the bread-basket of Southern Africa, now on the verge of total collapse.

Lock 'n' Load - Butcher Bob's the target.

You - whoever you are - strike me as massively moral. But not Iraq - that was a disaster from stem to stern. ZIMBABWE - it's the new moral imperative, oil or no oil.

Simon said...

Peter - I totally agree about Zimbabwe, and have advocated on several occaisions - before, during and after the invasion of Iraq - that Robert Mugabe's zimbabwe is a leading contender for regime change.

I take an unpopular view on this subject, but my view is that Britain betrayed its former colonial subjects in a fit of white guilt, when under Atlee it spun off all these African posessions, washed its hands and walked away, having fostered no tradition of democracy there, and then gormlessly wondered why a good chunk of Africa spent the latter half of the 20th Cenutry being ruled by a series of brutal thugs. Guess which party Clement Atlee was a member of, everyone? That's right: the socialist party.

ASX said...

Ann said: A funny thing about this post -- and it's a question about art -- is that everyone perceives it as antagonistic to the things being photographed. Why is that?
Ann,
You're kind of showing your hand with this question, because this is a technique you use all the time: Say nothing, or next to nothing, and leave it to your commenters to do the interpretation and reaction.

In fact, it's more than an occasional technique: it's almost the standard template for all of your posts.

You knew the exactly how your commenters would react to those two photographs, and exactly the kinds of comments you would get in response to them.

It was obvious that the photos -- even devoid of your commentary -- would be seen as an expression of your contempt for liberals, anti-war sentiment, and the culture of Madison, Wisconsin.

The bottom line is that this is a tactic you enjoy and use frequently: saying very little or nothing, you juxtapose a quote and a picture, or a quote and a paragraph of news, and you throw it out there like red meat to your commenters, who then do all the work of explaining what it means.

The reason you like this technique, I believe, is because you're not committed to saying anything; you can't be accused of having a bias or making a mistake, because in fact, you have said nothing at all.

Peter Palladas said...

I totally agree about Zimbabwe...

...ah if only you were General Petraeus blogging anonymously.

I bet he was a Communist at some point. It's a Harvard thing.

Zack Wilson said...

Hello, thought I would tell you that I had an interesting experience with a post of yours this morning.

Old Dad said...

Simon,

I prefer "science experiment." Prof. Althouse is the J.B. Skinner of the blogosphere, the woman behind the curtain.

Of course she pushes our buttons; Doyle's especially.

That's what makes it intersting.

Peter Palladas said...

Prof. Althouse is the J.B. Skinner of the blogosphere...

That I rebut, if only to salve my sanity.

I never have had sexual congress with a behaviourist...ding, ding - no sorry, masculine hydraulics simply will not respond.

Simon said...

Peter, as I've said to Mortimer before, there's a fine line between flattery and downright creepy, and there are times when you're a few yards on the wrong side of it...

Ann Althouse said...

ASX: "The bottom line is that this is a tactic you enjoy and use frequently: saying very little or nothing, you juxtapose a quote and a picture, or a quote and a paragraph of news, and you throw it out there like red meat to your commenters, who then do all the work of explaining what it means."

So, then, what if you had seen these pictures without knowing anything about the photographer? Would everything be different? Are you saying that you looked at the pictures and just projected onto them everything you already believed about me? I'm genuinely trying to understand the mechanism of your thinking. I readily concede that I had a derisive attitude when I took the pictures, but I'm curious about how I conveyed that into the pictures, which were of things made by human beings who probably felt completely different about the images they made. This is not a question about politics. It's a question about photography and perception.

CB said...

Professor,

These photographs do not exist in a vacuum. Your regular readers know that you have a, I guess, bemused attitude toward the liberal or far-liberal elements of Madison WI. So when we see these photos, we know--or assume--that that is your perspective, and your purpose in taking them is to express that bemusement.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, I realize that, as my last comment shows, but you haven't answered my questions.

Doyle said...

It's a question about photography and perception.

It's egomaniacal lunacy is what it is. That perception of art is informed (or distorted) by knowledge of the politics of the artist is not a groundbreaking discovery, Ann. Stop smoking so much pot.

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle: You've misread my comment. I'm not denying that knowledge of the photographer affects your perception. I'm asking whether there is anything to the perception that is not taken from outside of the photograph. You're a big one for projection, including the projection of pot-smoking.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Well, I realize that, as my last comment shows, but you haven't answered my questions."

I thought that CB answered all three questions -- "what if you had seen these pictures without knowing anything about the photographer? Would everything be different? [Did you look] at the pictures and just project[] onto them everything you already believed about me?" -- albeit indirectly. CB's last comment implies that yes, s/he looks at the photographs in the context of what s/he knows about thephotographer, which suggests the answer to the second and third questions are both yes.

Doyle said...

Is there "anything to the perception that is not taken from outside of the photograph."?

Whoa this is like, on some different level, man! I mean is there really anything to the image itself, or is it all just, like, baggage that we project on the photograph?

It's all so worth considering, for the very first time in human history, at length.

Did you see, or read about "Jesus Camp"? There's no narrator to that movie, it's 90% footage of evangelicals doing their thing. But of course, they did put in a Christian radio host who was very anti-Religious right, but you didn't need him to alert you to the fact that the film was not made by evangelicals.

Were the people on the religious right who cried foul just "reading that into" the movie? No. The movie was obviously edited to enhance the most creepy aspects of it, and they are creepy to most Americans.

You get this incredibly simple point, right? Madison is like Jesus Camp for liberals, is what you're saying. Complete with "fundamentalist" communists.

Maybe hand puppets would help...

Theo Boehm said...

...everyone perceives it as antagonistic to the things being photographed.

They do?  I didn't perceive the windowscape that way.  I do share Sippican's view of the graffiti, but that one seems to me just another ironic, somewhat angry urban photograph.  The window is much richer and more manipulative.

Perhaps I'm still a child of the '60's, but the windowscape brought pleasant memories to my "subjective mindset."  My initial perception of that scene was one of mild intellectual amusement and enjoyment without a trace of antagonism.  Are we supposed to assume in the modern world that anyone who would photograph such a scene would be antagonistic?  ASX and others seem to think so, and Althouse has just admitted it.  Can we look into the frame without knowledge of the framer?

...but what is it about the photographs that makes it possible to say anything about the photographer?

If I didn't know, the things I could say about the photographer are 1) that he/she might be gay or have an interest in gay issues and history; 2) that he/she lived through the social turmoil of the 60's and understands the meaning of these objects in context, and is therefore college-educated and probably American; 3) that he/she took the photograph sometime recently; 4) that he/she is affluent enough to afford a digital camera of the quality to take such a photo and skilled enough to use it, including successfully focusing through glass.

So, we have a prosperous, modern, urban individual, probably in his or her 50's, artistically and/or photographically savvy, with some interest in gay issues.  That's as far as I can get with a biography, but considering the static, still-life nature of the windowscape, it's more than I initially thought.

Curiously enough, I still have a good feeling about the window, and don't see the derision.  I see irony.  I see nostalgia perhaps.   I'm looking at the angles, the lighting, the color, the composition, but I don't get the derision.  I'm familiar with the books and recordings.  I'm familiar with the objects.  I can tell you something about practically everything in the photo.  Despite not being completely sympathetic today with the political/social messages the objects are trying to convey, they still give me a good feeling.  So much I remember from my early college years has resonance in that window.

I suppose this proves that I am just not that expert at reading meanings in photographs.

Or that I'm just an aging Boomer getting all nostalgic.

In any case, color me puzzled.

AJD said...

"I readily concede that I had a derisive attitude when I took the pictures."

Actually, you rarely "readily concede" your derisiveness.

So thank you, Annie, for a moment of rare honesty.

Internet Ronin said...

If I didn't know, the things I could say about the photographer are 1) that he/she might be gay or have an interest in gay issues and history

I understood (and basically agree) with everything else you said, but I didn't make this connection at all, so I was wondering how you arrived at that?

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, Internet Ronin is back!

(And I had the same question.)

....

Even though I conceded my derisiveness, I also not that I have a positive attitude about the individual things in the picture -- except the political stuff. I like the two books very much.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't think the comparison to "Jesus Camp" is quite apt. A movie is edited. That would be more like if I had arranged the still life myself. I did frame the windowscape shot, but there were so many items together, and composition was a big consideration.

Obviously, I put Buddha and "The Way of Zen" in the center and the other things are framed in relation to that. The most glaring thing is that ugly "Nixon" sticker and that nailed down the lower right corner. The top is framed to include Hoover and his gun, which amused me. Everything else has to be where it is, pretty much.

Ann Althouse said...

Is Hoover the gay part??

Ann Althouse said...

Is Theo giving me credit for knowing that Nixon supposedly said, on hearing that Hoover died "Jesus Christ! That old cocksucker!"? (Source.)

Peter Palladas said...

I love this place: it's the perfect medium for recovering from late-night alcohol-induced dementia.

If I just line it up for my own recall purposes:

1. The old fellow in the photograph is Tagore. Check.

2. He most likely wasn't Russian.

3. Robert Mugabe isn't Russian either, but he should go anyway.

4. Digital imaging is destroying photography.

5. Digital imaging would also appear to be playing havoc with people's sexual orientation - or maybe not.

6. Ask Tagore. Or Einstein.

6a. Someone tell Petraeus about Butcher Bob please. I'll pay for the call.

7. Sleep well America. Some of us have work to do.

Al Maviva said...

Interesting. Doyle's going off on how the perspective of the photographer can distort the objects photographed. Very good, Doyle, you get an A+ in Basic Elements of Photography class. If you want to pass Intro to Critical Theory, you have to do a little better than that.

Does not the bias or perspective of the viewer distort the photo, in viewing and interpreting it, just as much or more than the photographer in taking the photo?

After all, the photo is more or less locked in time and space. It can’t be readily altered once it is posted and left there.

You and ASX, on the other hand, are free to append almost any amount of parasitic arguments to the photo – ‘this is more evidence of your Bush fangirl toadying to your extreme right wing base blah blah blah…’ ASX’s whole thing about how Ann’s account among the right is in overdraft due to her argument with Jonah Goldberg was particularly hilarious. As if there’s an actual Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, a Pope of Center Right Conservatism who excommunicates some and sells indulgences to others. How that argument gets attached to some photo of mostly paleo-marxist kitschy memorabilia is endlessly fascinating to me.

I suppose you’d assign some political importance to my choice of coffee at the local shop this morning, or alternately to the fact that I grabbed a couple slices of cold pizza to eat for breakfast on the way to work…

MadisonMan said...

I'm late to this discussion -- maybe my comments are duplicative. I see photos of montages like this and see a photographer glimpsing at his or her past. It's not a political thing, but there are things in the picture that resonate with the photographer's youth, and out comes the camera.

Something caught the eye -- the Buddha? Gene Kelly? Mel Torme? the green book cover? -- that's important. We're supposed to intuit what it is.

R2K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R2K said...

Workers of the world untie!

I mean... Ahh crap.

R2K

Theo Boehm said...

What is the difference between the observer and the observed?

I'm assuming the photographer (Althouse in this case, as we know) has an interest in what she photographed.  Whether her intent was to mock or not is, as I said, not obvious to me.  Personally, I get a warm, glow-y feeling.

The objects and their arrangement in the picture obviously have multiple meanings and resonances, but here are the areas that I think the window arranger was trying to touch on:

War, peace, and violence and their relationship to politics of the American Left.

Integrity and honesty in the public sphere.

Eastern religions—Buddhism and Vedanta—and their relationship to the West.

Related to the above, altered consciousness and drugs.

American Pop culture.

The relationship of homosexual life to several of the above categories, symbolized by the picture of J. Edgar Hoover and the Mel Tormé CDs.

I thought the gay theme in the window was fairly obvious, starting with J. Edgar Hoover who lived an almost openly gay lifestyle, complete with a live-in partner, while, of course, persecuting every homosexual he could.

Mel Tormé's music has been popular with some in the gay community, and is, to me at least, another obvious clue.

I've been in the musical world for most of my life, and I make a living as a flute maker.  Being in the arts, you can imagine a large percentage of my classmates, colleagues and friends have been gay.  While I'm distressingly heterosexual, I've picked up vibes from the gay world along the way, so that theme practically jumped out at me from that window.

The attributes I ascribed to the photographer were in no particular order, so perhaps I should have put the gay interest further down the list.

But I still remain mystified how Althouse is mocking the meanings in the image she made.

Hazy Dave said...

Cripes, it's Madison. What would you expect to see in a store window on State Street? And, are you aware that your critique says more about the observer than it does about the observed?

Theo Boehm said...

And, are you aware that your critique says more about the observer than it does about the observed?

Well, duhh...

Of course.  Cultural conditioning may not be the end-all of our consciousness, but it sure has arranged the mental furniture.  As I've said earlier, I am a Boomer who is basically sympathetic to the themes raised by the creator of the window.  The photographer, Althouse, is a contemporary who has said she had a derisive intent in making the image.  She asked us to analyze the picture to see if we can identify the method(s) she used.  I'm having a hard time with that part, and what I'm writing here is part of trying to work through it.

This seems like a project in an Art History class, and I'm game, aren't you?

What would have happened if I had said, "Cripes, it's 17th century Holland.  What would you expect to see on a table in an artist's studio in Delft?" when we were asked to analyze a still life in the Art and Rhetoric in 17th Century Europe class?  Might have saved a lot of paper in a blue book, eh?

I still enjoy the odd bit of art analysis even after having been subjected to such courses.  I'm sure Althouse does, too.  Now, if she would only tell us her secret....

Internet Ronin said...

Ann:

Thank you for noticing! I didn't plan to disappear so long that my return would be something to be remarked upon. I was caught up in care-giving for my dad while my mom struggled with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, only to have him unexpectedly pass away the morning after she arrived home after eight weeks of hospitalization.

As a result, aside from occasional updates for my friends on my blog, I wasn't up to the usual polemics that can be so stimulating here, and wandered in more pastoral fields. (Truth be known, I did check in frequently, but was usually so late to the "party" on any particular thread that there seemed no point at that point. Rather like now, I imagine ;-)

Anyway, I see Theo has answered our question. (I had a similar thought to yours in re: J. Edgar). I had no idea, however, that Mel Tormé was so popular among gay folk (none of my friends ever mention him, but none of my friends are gay musicians, either).

Ann Althouse said...

Internet Ronin: I'm sorry to hear about your father, and it is nice to have you back.

Theo: I didn't know that about Mel Torme. I was actually trying to frame the shot to keep out all the Mel Torme stuff, because it didn't mean anything specific to me.

Theo Boehm said...

Ronin: I left condolences on your blog a while ago, but I want to repeat them here and say it's good to see you back.

Ann: Several jazz-loving gay friends I knew in college were into Mel Tormé, and it's been a minor theme among gay jazz aficionados I've run into ever since. He doesn't have iconic status in the gay world like Judy Garland, but among those who know and like jazz, he's a favorite. Mel Tormé wasn't gay himself, and I hasten to add that he was such a good musician that anybody can and should appreciate him.

vbspurs said...

Ronin: I left condolences on your blog a while ago, but I want to repeat them here and say it's good to see you back.

Not only is he back, but what is one of his first thoughts during this no doubt, monumentally hard time?

Thinking about his blog buddies.

He had mentioned in passing that his late dad loved vintage Model A Ford trucks, and I replied how I'd love to have seen a pic of one.

So today, he took one for me.

What a mensch. What a truck!

Cheers,
Victoria

Seven Machos said...

So, let me get this straight: there are a few posters above (people who seem to come here for the express purpose of getting themselves all pissed off) who are upset because Althouse chose to put certain things in the frame of her photos? You are mad because she didn't use text but used only images to make a statement? Why do you need the crutch of text?

Aren't you free to say how these images evoke warm, fuzzy feelings of violent class struggle and kulaks dying from malnourishment in Siberia? Aren't you free to post pictures of Starbucks juxtaposed with President Bush or something?

I just don't get it.

Hazy Dave said...

Theo, my "cripes" was not aimed at you, despite appearing directly below one of your comments. (I must have missed the part where Ann "asked us to analyze the picture to see if we can identify the method(s) she used.") Anyway, it's the folks that see Ann's photos of Mad City storefront leftism as some kind of proof that she's cozying up to the "lunatic right" that I found particularly baffling. I don't object to "Art History" or even "Analyzing Literature", but I'm long past my College Daze and now prefer to look at pictures and read books.

And listen to music, of course. I think the bass player in TuTu and the Pirates called himself Mel Torment. And my favorite song by the real Mel Tormé is "Zaz Turned Blue" from that Was (Not Was) album.

SippicanCottage said...

Hazy Dave-
Awesome Don Was reference.

Hi Dad - I'm in jail.
I like it here. It's nice.
Say hello to mom--from jail!!

Pat Patterson said...

There are Wobblies in Madison?

Theo Boehm said...

I can't believe it!  I neglected to mention the most important piece of gay content in the window:

The Allen Ginsberg book...next to the J. Edgar Hoover photo.  (That and the Mel Tormé CDs are only visible in the uncropped picture.)

"Mr Ginsberg, why do you use so much homosexual imagery in your poetry?"

"Because I'm queer!"


===

Alright, everyone, time to hand in your bluebooks.

Oooh!  Gimmie a minute.  Now I understand it!  (scribble...scribble...)

(Yes, Theo now sees through the glass, however darkly.)

Professor A posed the problem:

...I readily concede that I had a derisive attitude when I took the pictures, but I'm curious about how I conveyed that into the pictures, which were of things made by human beings who probably felt completely different about the images they made. This is not a question about politics. It's a question about photography and perception.

So, here we are in the Photography and Politics in 21st Century Madison class and Theo thinks he has the answer.

Theo did not see anything derisive in the photo in question.  As a Boomer stuck in the 60's, it made him feel warm and fuzzy.  After analyzing the implied biography of the photographer, and after going up the blind alley of gay content, the key to Professor A's question is the presence of the I never thought I'd miss NIXON bumper sticker in lower right corner of the cropped photo.

From Theo's bluebook:

The sticker's colors are bright, primary red, blue and white, which clash against the green, the muted blues and greys, the gold and earth tones of the rest of the composition.  There are white areas and highlights, and the corner of a pink and gold scarf or garment, all of which reinforce the structure and break up monotony.  The red of the sticker's letters are also a mismatch with the warm pink of the scarf corner.

The structure is classically triangular, with the apex at the head of J. Edgar Hoover.  There are obvious tensions with rectangular elements, which break up and define the rhythm of the overall composition. Hoover's head is pointed to by the corner of the Watts book, the corner of the Einstein/Swami photo, and several other linear features in the picture.  The Buddha's head points not to Hoover, but to the Tommy gun in Hoover's hands, an obvious piece of symbolism.  The gun is aimed at the photo of Edward R. Murrow on the DVD cover, yet again highly symbolic.

In addition to its transgressive colors in context, the oval geometry and position of the Nixon sticker damages the rhythm and internal pace of the composition.

So, we have a carefully-made image of objects representing the profound, the thought-provoking, the historical, and the transcendent, intruded upon by a crude piece of contemporary political propaganda.

One did not at first notice the implications of the presence of this object.  Such things form a kind of background noise in contemporary life.  The implication is that most  people have become accustomed to integrating the crude into their perceptions and outlook, to the detriment of individual lives, politics, and to society as a whole.

Rishi Gajria said...

Yipee, The Buddha and an Alan Watts book in the same picture with The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. You rule Ms.Althouse.

Dawn said...

Workers of the World Unite! Save BIG at Menards!