Great photographs change the way we see the world; The Ongoing Moment changes the way we look at both. Focusing on the ways in which canonical figures like Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, André Kertész, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, and William Eggleston have photographed the same things—barber shops, benches, hands, roads, signs–award-winning writer Geoff Dyer seeks to identify their signature styles. In doing so, he constructs a narrative in which these photographers–many of whom never met–constantly encounter one another. The result is a kaleidoscopic work of extraordinary originality and insight.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Ongoing Moment|
|Release Date: 11-11-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Ongoing Moment|
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The Ongoing Moment
I am not the first researcher to draw inspiration from a ‘certain Chinese encyclopaedia’ described by Borges. According to this arcane work ‘animals are divided into: (a) those that belong to the Emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush; (l) et cetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at distance resemble flies.’
While the survey of photography undertaken in these pages can claim neither this degree of rigour nor eccentricity, it takes heart from earlier, well-intended attempts to marshal the infinite variety of photographic possibilities into some kind of haphazard order. Walker Evans said it was ‘a pet subject’ of his – how writers like James Joyce and Henry James were ‘unconscious photographers’. In the case of Walt Whitman there was nothing unconscious about it. ‘In these Leaves [of Grass] every thing is literally photographed,’ he insisted. ‘Nothing is poeticized.’ Keen to emulate the ‘Priests of the Sun’, Whitman created poems that, at times, read like extended captions in a huge, constantly evolving catalogue of photographs:
See, in my poems, cities, solid, vast, inland, with paved streets, with iron and stone edifices, ceaseless vehicles, and commerce,
See, the many-cylinder’d steam-printing-press – see, the electric telegraph stretching across the continent, [. .