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« civilized ku # 2422 ~ new light, new sight | Main | civilized # 2416 ~ Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo »

squares² # 8 ~ common beauty / beauty in common

• click to embiggenRelative to the recent comment deletion dustup, there's a really good / pertinent read by Bill Jay (scroll down to Confessions of a Feisty Romantic: An open letter).

Bill Jay has been something akin to a role model for me, writing wise (FYI, so has Gore Vidal). Both individuals, in their writings, tended to be rather direct in a "no use prevaricating about the bush" kinda way. However, despite that shared M.O., one had the feeling that Jay delivered his sharp-edged criticisms with a bit more humor-esque warmth (relatively speaking) than did the more acerbic Mr. Vidal, who said of himself, "I’m exactly as I appear. There is no warm, lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the ice, you find cold water".

In any event, in case you don't read the Jay essay, here are a few excerpts:

.... name-calling .... If a critic engages any issue with concrete, vivid and energetic prose then he/she will be always open to the same charge. I cannot see that any of us can enlarge the debate about meaningful issues, or attack any idea or ideology, or make a stand on any topic without explicitly or implicitly stating that those with whom we disagree are misguided, short-sighted, muddle-headed or corrupt! And, of course, we must accept that our opponents will make the same accusations against us. It is the clash of two flints which produces sparks. And it is the conflict of tough, sharp opinions which generate the light and heat necessary for catalytic changes in photographic direction. Like the flints, the critic's arguments should be brittle and delivered with directed force at each other from opposing directions.

.... the problem with photographic writing today: very few critics are willing to be targets for counter-attacks, so they duck and weave and dodge in a maddening effort to avoid any reader knowing where they stand on any issue. Why would they care whether or not they are "targets"? The reason, I am convinced, is that they do not understand or have not learned a simple fact of professional relationships: the person is not the issue.

.... I dislike "insults". These are words aimed at the individual by name, not at the group mind-set or the issue. There is a huge difference between: "I think your ideas are stupid" and "You are a stupid person".

And finally, a great little bit in which Bill Jay sums up, in his answer to a question, my approach to writing about things picture making wise:

.... Terry Barrett ... [I]n a chapter exhorting and guiding readers who want to write about photography...asks: "Have you refrained from being and sounding dogmatic about your views?"

I hope not, Terry.

Without reservation, I'll second that answer.

Reader Comments (1)

I think this is an example of "input confirmation bias". Just sayin' ;-)

I follow about 1/2 dozen photo-bloggers and their different writing styles & attitudes is part of their appeal.

I've also read (twice) the contentious comment by Craig Tanner (it's on his blog). I think Craig and Mark could have an interesting debate on the subject -- offline -- and when the dust settles they could put up a post on their respective blogs arguing their case. But with all the mud-slinging / impied mud-slinging / misunderstanding interpreted as mud-slinging, this aint gonna happen!

December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSven W

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