Monday, December 12, 2005

Another Benjamin

The photographer did not approach this enormous undertaking as a scholar, or with the advice of ethnographers and sociologists, but, as the publisher says, "from direct observation." It was assuredly a very impartial, indeed bold sort of observation, but delicate too, very much in the spirit of Goethe's remark: "There is a delicate empiricism which so intimately involves itself with its object that it becomes true theory." [...] The more far-reaching the crisis of the present social order, and the more rigidly its individual components are locked together in their death struggle, the more creative--in its deepest essence a variant (contradiction its father, imitation its mother)--becomes a fetish, whose lineaments live only in the fitful illumination of changing fashion. The creative in photography is its capitulation to fashion. The world is beautiful--that is its watchword. In it is unmasked the posture of a photography that can endow any soup can with cosmic significance but cannot grasp a single one of the human connections in which it exists, even when this photography's most dream-laden subjects are a forerunner more of its salability than of any knowledge it might produce. But because the true face of this kind of photographic creativity is the advertisement or association, its logical counterpart is the act of unmasking or construction. As Brecht says: "The situation is complicated by the fact that less than ever does the mere reflection of reality reveal anything about reality."

-from "Little History of Photography"

2 comments:

amie said...

"another" benjamin? in what sense? has the "first" benjamin been identified, for example on LS?

Anonymous said...

Oh? But it's still your move, Amie. Wouldn't you agree there is more than one?