Monday, January 2, 2012

The Tory Widow, Errol Morris and Photographing/Taking Video of My Kids

Hello!!!  Happy New Year!  Merry Late Christmas!  Or what have you!

So much has happened.  So so much!  First of all, I recently realized that I haven't posted in over three weeks, on account of all the things that have happened.  Then I realized that I needed to get on this updating thing, post haste!  So here we are.

Yup.  Here we are.

Anywhoo, I did *not* get Downton Abbey for Christmas (thanks, Santa.), but I did get a Kindle, which I'm working on figuring out.  I've already used it to search for things with "Tory" or "Tories" in the title, hoping to find some good (read, free) revolutionary war histories.  In the end, I did find some good books about tories, but more importantly for this blog, I also found the romance novel, "The Tory Widow" which was not exactly my cup of tea, stylistically.  It was very anti-tory in the end, super patriotic and very black and white, meaning very simple in how it saw good and evil and people in general.  Mostly.  Ah, crap, I don't know, I just didn't like it too much.

I did get some good out of reading it, though, because it has to do with my time period (exactly almost) and the issue of Loyalist vs. Patriot as it played out in reality (I don't think the author got that right, but whatever).  Anyway, I would've never read it, possibly, had it not been for the Kindle, so yay, Kindle!

More news, much more important is that I finally said "Fuck it!" and bought myself the expensive (for me) book "Believing Is Seeing" by Errol Morris.  Oh mah gah, I've died and gone to heaven.  My kind of person.  My "tribe", as it were.  And holy shizz, but he has researchers!  I want to send him my non-resume and ask for a job!  I want to know him!  Get inside his brain!  And get this, I'm kind of a wuss, but I am now resolved to watching all his movies (even and especially Standard Operating Procedure).  Shit, this book is good.  (I'm a helluva reviewer, no?)

Here's his website:

Goddamn Barnes & Noble, I paid $40 for this book.  Could've paid $25 on amazon.  But then I wouldn't have had the pleasure of spending an hour telling my children every single time they asked for a toy (which was in the triple digits) that I wouldn't be buying them a toy today, but a book.  Or two books.  But real books.  Not books with pretend MP3's, or 3D glasses, or necklaces, or horrible Barbie characters that if my daughter emulated, might provoke me to extreme and regrettable behavior.  OK then, this Errol Morris book is worth $40, though.  Completely.  B&N, I can't stay mad at you.

The thing about this book is, is that it's brought up all these things for me and I thought I'd write today about one thing.  He writes about Abu Ghraib and the photos and I have a problem.  The problem is that I would like to specifically show the photo he refers to when he makes some amazing points, but I can't really, because it's super disturbing even normally and here he's making a point about something going on in the edge of the photo and what that means about our modern society and technology, but really the focal point of the image is this man being tortured and we should really just focus on that and not on this other stuff but I can't get these things out of my head.  First of all those photos - just how sad and horrible they were.  The whole thing.  Those poor men.  Human beings are fucked up, yo.  Fucked up.

Anyway, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but what was happening on the edge of one critical photo was that another US military MP was looking at his camera and the image he had just captured and meanwhile, there's a man being tortured right there.  He's checking to see if he caught the image.  And what Errol Morris says is that this is "a radically modern photograph" and I completely agree.

And, well, you should just buy the book and check it out (the essay is called "Will the Real Hooded Man Please Stand Up") and I'll stop referring to it.  Except that I will say that I cannot now take videos or pictures of my kids, for any length of time, because we have to stop and look at the camera and the pictures.  Videos are the worst.  Thirty seconds in, my daughter says, "I want to see!" and then all action stops.

This all reminds me of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which, if I understand it correctly, can be summed up as follows:  In order to get a moving particle's exact position in space, we can either talk about its position or its movement, but not both.  In order to describe its location, it must not be moving and in order to describe its trajectory or movement, it cannot occupy a particular space, but rather, well, be moving.  So you describe its movement and give up pinpointing the exact location, or you stop it moving and describe its location.  Either way, something's given up.

I feel like experiences either can be experienced and not documented truly or they should be completely fake, like a photo shoot.  But I'm seeing things in black and white (which is weird) and not the way things are now.  Stopping the action to look at the image on the back of the camera is normal.  And I should get over it.  This is how it is now.

This is how it is now, right?  In protest, I suppose, I've mostly stopped getting too excited about documenting them and I kind of just let them experience things normally.  Or "normally".  Which is weird, because I want to document all kinds of things.  Or maybe I want to use documentation to find out things I don't know yet.  Maybe that's it.  I don't necessarily want to document every minute of their lives anymore.  Let them be, because the act of documenting them changes them.  My daughter poses now and I recently deleted (from the camera) some photos of her where her poses gave me the creeps.  Just an every day shot, fully clothed, of course, but still I got the creeps.  So, we're cooling it on the camera.

To kind of demonstrate this subject, in my own rambling way, I want to post two photos - one from the front page of the New York Times January 1st, 2012 edition and one from me just today.  OK, then, here's the first one:

The cameras!  Jeesh, the cameras.  Drives me insane.  Just experience something for crissakes.

And secondly, these are my kids.  Adorable, yes.  This was right when my son insisted he see the photos I'd taken and this was right before I showed him and then put the camera away.

 Until next time, when I hope to be more coherent.  I've got actual Phebe posts planned!  Can it be!  Yes!  It can!

For real, though, "Believing Is Seeing" is one of the best things to possibly ever happen to me.  Grandiose statement?  Yes.  But still, I think, true.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes you blow my mind. I feel the same conflict about the whole documenting = changing thing. I also hate having to film Karis's school sing-along things. I want to have the footage, but I end up missing half the performance.

    And yes, EVERY SINGLE video of my kids between the ages of 2 and 4 end with them saying "I wanna see it!"