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Silas Morgan
Silas Morgan

What Do Pictures Want : The Lives And Loves Of ...


The discussion of the object calls implicitly upon a subject in contrast and in dialogue, as we would expect from the title. As promised, Mitchell spends a good many pages in an intelligent imagining of thinking of what a picture might want or need from us. As for the images' "lives and loves," this is indeed a kind of biography of seeing and its showing: much is on display here. [End Page 407] Wonderfully, many of the pages and topics here lead to others, in the volume and in our minds. So much is here and newly explained: how tracks and traces work as objects, how fossils and dinosaurs intersect, how temporality and empire end, how presentness works and doesn't. In "the work of art in the age of biocybernetic reproduction . . . " Mitchell states,




What Do Pictures Want : The Lives and Loves of ...



Lewis Hine, a New York City schoolteacher and photographer, believed that a picture could tell a powerful story. He felt so strongly about the abuse of children as workers that he quit his teaching job and became an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine traveled around the country photographing the working conditions of children in all types of industries. He photographed children in coal mines, in meatpacking houses, in textile mills, and in canneries. He took pictures of children working in the streets as shoe shiners, newsboys, and hawkers. In many instances he tricked his way into factories to take the pictures that factory managers did not want the public to see. He was careful to document every photograph with precise facts and figures. To obtain captions for his pictures, he interviewed the children on some pretext and then scribbled his notes with his hand hidden inside his pocket. Because he used subterfuge to take his photographs, he believed that he had to be "double-sure that my photo data was 100% pure--no retouching or fakery of any kind." Hine defined a good photograph as "a reproduction of impressions made upon the photographer which he desires to repeat to others." Because he realized his photographs were subjective, he described his work as "photo-interpretation."


Lewis Hine died in poverty, neglected by all but a few. His reputation continued to grow, however, and now he is recognized as a master American photographer. His photographs remind us what it was like to be a child and to labor like an adult at a time when labor was harsher than it is now. Hine's images of working children stirred America's conscience and helped change the nation's labor laws. Through his exercise of free speech and freedom of the press, Lewis Hine made a difference in the lives of American workers and, most importantly, American children. Hundreds of his photographs are available online from the National Archives through the National Archives Catalog .


MLR, I02.2, 2007 473 allows an equation to be made between an experience of limitlessness and an ex perience of nothing, not even when Slocombe asks us to accept that 'the nihil (as Das Unform) may be considered as an object' (p. 43). The problems associated with thismake forunhappy reading tillSlocombe reaches thepostmodern, where the is sues are restated in terms of Lyotard, seen to be adding Levinas to his Kantianism (p. 6I). Here the concept of 'unrepresentability', as basic toLyotard, is 'at the heart of Lyotard's definition of thepostmodern thatdemonstrates its relation tonihilism' (p. 64). To Lyotard isadded Baudrillard on the 'hyperreal', and discussion follows as towhether Baudrillard could be considered nihilistic (as opposed to the conditions of which hiswork is a critique, and as opposed, too, to the idea thathismode of critique may be seen as a formofAdorno's 'negative dialectics'). Slocombe argues thatpostmodern theorycannot escape nihilism, whether inLyo tard,Baudrillard, orDerrida, andwith thispoint established, itseems that theconcept of the sublime disappears, save with Zizek (p. I69) and in a discussion ofKristeva on abjection (p. I57). The emphasis ismore on nihilism in a postmodernism which isvariously defined. Here, much ofwhat iswritten is suggestive and sometimes very interesting, as when discussing 'blank fiction' (pp. I4I-52), Beckett, or Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. None the less, there is something about the emphases which are placed throughout that seems problematic; even if it may be agreed that 'every text somehow contains nihilism in it' (p. I32), theword 'somehow' there leaves toomuch room forambiguity. Slocombe wishes to see the 'trace' inDerrida and inLevinas as thatof nihilism (pp. I35-36), but thisdoes not seem inevitable fromhis reading of Jill Robbins (inAltered Reading: Levinas and Literature (Chicago: University ofChicago Press I999)), and Iwant todistinguish the 'trace' from thehardly discussed Levinas idea of the ily a, the 'there is'which contests individual identitybut, being the source of horror, isnot nothing. He quotes Pynchon: nihilism is 'the ideology of theZero' (P. I27); but this reminder thatnihilism ispart of ideological thinking-at theheart of Nietzsche's reading of it,as the last line of The Genealogy of Morals indicates-seems also compromised by another argument which seems to see nihilism as an absolute, outside ideological thinking, which seems part of a differentbook from much ofwhat is here, and part of a belief which itseems thatSlocombe's Afterword gestures towards. UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER JEREMY TAMBLING What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images. By W. J.T. MITCHELL. Chicago and London: University ofChicago Press. 2005. xxi + 380 pp. ?24.50. ISBN 978-o-226-53245-5. Iconotropism: Turning towardPictures. Ed. by ELLEN SPOLSKY. Lewisburg: Bucknell UniversityPress. 2004. 2IOpp. ?39 50. ISBN 978-o-8387-5542-6. A grainy reproduction ofPoussin's TheAdoration of the Golden Calf stands at theheart ofW. J.T. Mitchell's latestbook, a collection of essays which orbits elliptically about thequestion 'What do pictures want?' For him, theGolden Calf is a keymotif since itconcentrates themind sowonderfully on the second commandment-that 'perfect expression of a jealous God who wants not only exclusive worship but exclusive custody of the secret of life, which means exclusive rights to theproduction of images' (pp. i6-I 7)-and also on the 'reigning cliche of contemporary visual culture', that is, 'the idea that images have a kind of social or psychological power of theirown' (p. 32). Mitchell argues that, just like someMadison Avenue ad exec, so theOld Testament God knew that some images, 'touse the trade jargon, "have legs"-that is, they seem tohave a surprising capacity togenerate new directions and surprising twists J.. .]as if 474 Reviews the agent ofGod's wrath, invitesAaron to explain himself,Aaron insists: 'I cast the gold into the fireand there came out this calf' (Exodus 32. 24). As Mitchell gently points out, thatverb is ambiguous, making the process sound chancy and accidental, like the casting of a die, rather than thepouring ofmolten metal into amould; and, further, 'came out' implies that the calf has the look of 'a self-created automaton', and might easily have emerged as something quite different. In any case, the scene that Poussin depicts isnothing less than thatof 'modern art at itsconception' (p. I89...


O'Keefe deeply wants to have a child, and Stieglitz does not, Greenough explains. The couple lives with Stieglitz's family, which proves difficult for O'Keeffe. They spend every summer at Lake George in New York with the Stieglitz family, "and that family very much intruded on O'Keeffe's time to paint," Greenough says.


For the next several years, Pocahontas was not mentioned in the English accounts. In 1613, that changed when Captain Samuel Argall discovered she was living with the Patawomeck. Argall knew relations between the English and the Powhatan Indians were still poor. Capturing Pocahontas could give him the leverage he needed to change that. Argall met with Iopassus, chief of the town of Passapatanzy and brother to the Patawomeck tribe's chief, to help him kidnap Pocahontas. At first, the chief declined, knowing Powhatan would punish the Patawomeck people. Ultimately, the Patawomeck decided to cooperate with Argall; they could tell Powhatan they acted under coercion. The trap was set. Pocahontas accompanied Iopassus and his wife to see Captain Argall's English ship. Iopassus' wife then pretended to want to go aboard, a request her husband would grant only if Pocahontas would accompany her. Pocahontas refused at first, sensing something was not right, but finally agreed when Iopassus' wife resorted to tears. After eating, Pocahontas was taken to the gunner's room to spend the night. In the morning, when the three visitors were ready to disembark, Argall refused to allow Pocahontas to leave the ship. Iopassus and his wife seemed surprised; Argall declared Pocahontas was being held as ransom for the return of stolen weapons and English prisoners held by her father. Iopassus and his wife left, with a small copper kettle and some other trinkets as a reward for their part in making Pocahontas an English prisoner.After her capture, Pocahontas was brought to Jamestown. Eventually, she was probably taken to Henrico, a small English settlement near present-day Richmond. Powhatan, informed of his daughter's capture and ransom cost, agreed to many of the English demands immediately, to open negotiations. In the meantime, Pocahontas was put under the charge of Reverend Alexander Whitaker, who lived at Henrico. She learned the English language, religion and customs. While not all was strange to Pocahontas, it was vastly different than the Powhatan world.


During her religious instruction, Pocahontas met widower John Rolfe, who would become famous for introducing the cash crop tobacco to the settlers in Virginia. By all English accounts, the two fell in love and wanted to marry. (Perhaps, once Pocahontas was kidnapped, Kocoum, her first husband, realized divorce was inevitable (there was a form of divorce in Powhatan society). Once Powhatan was sent word that Pocahontas and Rolfe wanted to marry, his people would have considered Pocahontas and Kocoum divorced.) Powhatan consented to the proposed marriage and sent an uncle of Pocahontas' to represent him and her people at the wedding.In 1614, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and was baptized "Rebecca." In April 1614, she and John Rolfe married. The marriage led to the "Peace of Pocahontas;" a lull in the inevitable conflicts between the English and Powhatan Indians. The Rolfes soon had a son named Thomas. The Virginia Company of London, who had funded the settling of Jamestown, decided to make use of the favorite daughter of the great Powhatan to their advantage. They thought, as a Christian convert married to an Englishman, Pocahontas could encourage interest in Virginia and the company. 041b061a72


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