Wednesday 14 June, 2023

Le Miserablé

Cluny, France.

Quote of the Day

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

  • Dorothea Lange

(See also today’s Long Read)

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Tuba Skinny | Going Back Home


Life-enhancing stuff for breakfast.

Long Read of the Day

You’re Pointing Your Camera the Wrong Way

Lovely essay by Margaret Renkl on the destructive impact of our self-facing cameraphones.

The greatest danger in flipping the camera toward ourselves isn’t miscalculated risk or the loss of self-esteem. The greatest danger is what happens when we make ourselves the center of the photograph, the center of the world itself. No wonder Portia believes that everything is boring. Solipsism is a closed system.

The first time a young couple posing for a selfie declined my offer to take their picture in a scenic spot, it dawned on me that something had changed about the world. People prefer to smile up at their own faces reflected in a lifted phone because taking a photograph is not primarily a way to commemorate an experience anymore. Nowadays many people are seeking experiences that will provide an enviable backdrop for a selfie. There are murals all over my town that exist for no reason but to attract the selfie takers. Maybe they’re in your town, too…

Very perceptive essay. It reminded me of a moment years ago when my wife and I were sitting on the bank of the Grand Canal in Venice, munching a baguette and watching the passing scene. It was a busy morning and the canal was full of those (very expensive) water-taxis. Most of the customers were Chinese, I’d guess, and they were all standing up and using selfie-sticks to capture, not the waterway immortalised by Canaletto, but themselves standing on a speeding boat with that as a background.

Later And while we’re on that subject, this video about the work of Vivian Maier is spot on.

My commonplace booklet


Re my question yesterday about the identity of the tree in the photograph…

Simon Boyle wrote:

I fear that I know even less about plants, but recently a local group was almost torn asunder over an argument as to whether a similar furry plant was a) hawthorn being consumed by the caterpillars of Spindle Ermine Moths, or b) the natural seeding of the Grey Willow

He also raised legitimate questions about the feasibility of fitting 95-pt Helvetica Bold onto a 71-pt tall stamp.

And Max Whitby wrote:

Yes this is the female Willows’ airborne seeds dispersal mechanism: Link

Same mechanism as the dandelion, then.

Thanks to both.

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