Thursday, March 30, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Last concert rather than most recent
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The Government looks at me, and I look back.
It was a very cold morning, and I took this photo. The police officer without the cold weather mask slowly came and stood next to me, not looking at me he said, "You shouldn't have done that."
I turned to look into his eyes and asked, "have you read the constitution lately?"
"It would have been nice if you asked... " he said, in a curiously flat unemotional voice.
"Yes it would have, but then I would not be doing my job. We all have to do our jobs as politely as we can. Would you like a print?"
"No, it would have been nice if you asked."
Yes, Friends, that would be nice. But, to show the world as it is, we can't have the happy posed photographs that say all is well. All is not well. That we have police who look like soldiers on our streets with automatic rifles... is not nice. That the police photograph us, without asking, as agents of the state, is not nice. But, it is a different act for the citizen to photograph the state, that is the right that makes us free, and the police who say, "you shouldn't do that... " chill this right, especially when facing us with assault weapons on a peaceful day.
In Puerto Rico, last month, journalists photographed the FBI as they conducted raids against Puerto Ricans who wished to be independent. The FBI explained they were conducting raids in an effort to thwart what it called an alleged "domestic terrorist attack". The journalists were sprayed with pepper spray, where beaten, some beaten as they lay on the ground.
I wished the police officer well, and that he might stay warm on a cold day and walked on, wondering how long we might be able to protect the right to watch the government who is watching us.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Living Through a lens, again.
Once upon a time, I worked as a photographer. I found it easy to see the world through a lens, easier ( not easy ) to see a war through a lens, easy to see my life in terms of a series of images through the piece of metal attached to my right hand by a strap at all times. I thought these images could bring folks an understanding of the world, help folks to see the problems I say ( Children of War, Belfast Photographs, 1977 ) But, I realized, first, that folks were living a reality of images, and no photograph or writing could change the way folks saw things, so I decided to present images of peace, finding peace, and moved on to photograph the peaceful west coast of Ireland... then I found I was living through my camera lens... and wanted to live real life.
Real life sucks.
Real life sucks, especially in a world that is increasingly about image. To try and be real in a world of images... the Quaker guru who can't bring himself to make peace, the President who talks of terrorism while committing mass murder, folks who proclaim the search for truth while worshiping a mythical fairy tale godman at the expense of the reality of their complicity in the objectification of the tribe of that man, as existing only to bring about their mythical godman's world of false light... the friends who speak of love while breaking every bond of love and friendship... so... to be truthful???
Out comes the camera. Why pretend that it is sane to be sane in a world of insanity, to look for reality in a phony world of false images... dive in, boyo, live through the lens again, who needs reality?
from Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1988), pp.166-184. Found also at: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Baudrillard/Baudrillard_Simulacra.html
If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing), this fable would then have come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.l
1 Counterfeit and reproduction imply always an anguish, a disquieting foreignness: the uneasiness before the photograph, considered like a witch's trick - and more generally before any technical apparatus, which is always an apparatus of reproduction, is related by Benjamin to the uneasiness before the mirror-image. There is already sorcery at work in the mirror. But how much more so when this image can be detached from the mirror and be transported, stocked, reproduced at will (cf. The Student of Prague, where the devil detaches the image of the student from the mirror and harrasses him to death by the intermediary of this image). All reproduction implies therefore a kind of black magic, from the fact of being seduced by one's own image in the water, like Narcissus, to being haunted by the double and, who knows, to the mortal turning back of this vast technical apparatus secreted today by man as his own image (the narcissistic mirage of technique, McLuhan) and that returns to him, cancelled and distorted -endless reproduction of himself and his power to the limits of the world. Reproduction is diabolical in its very essence; it makes something fundamental vacillate. This has hardly changed for us: simulation (that we describe here as the operation of the code) is still and always the place of a gigantic enterprise of manipulation, of control and of death, just like the imitative object (primitive statuette, image of photo) always had as objective an operation of black image.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
To Be Present to God in the Face of Evil
The other day I met a really wonderful young Bangladeshi woman named Naz at a Sufi bookstore. During a wonderful talk about faith she asked me how one can forgive another who does not atone, a dominant theme in my beliefs. The answer to that I gave but am still struggling with, is to let go my sense of ownership of anything which stands between myself and another. However, this is a complex ideal, in these days of such evil where people's lives mean nothing to so many people, and so many leaders of nations today. But, that is the core.
William Penn said it is wrong to honor evil people. His use of the word honor is complex, and means a number of things, in part it meant to obey evil people. But, I am sure, he also believed we should love God in evil people.
What it means to love God in an evil person is also an unfolding struggle. Recently, I found myself in partnership with an evil person, a person whose greed was such that he would destroy any friendship to get what he wanted, and was not secure in himself to ask for those things. I was in a difficult position as the objects I was building, I could give him, but the funding entrusted to me by others, was not mine to give, so I had to find a way to put aside my deep belief in the project while protecting the money of others. This path of discernment was not easy, but the hard part was not letting go of objects dear to my heart, the hard part was giving up on the attempt to find a path to God in the other.
This is not to say I have not forgiven this evil person, I forgave him as he destroyed the project I so loved.