a book no home should be without
I’ll explain it this way: Both William Henry Jackson and Edward Weston photographed the American West extensively. But in my opinion, only Weston’s photographs qualify as art. Jackson, for all his devotion to the subject, was recording the scene. Weston, on the other hand, was actually creating something new. In his work, subject is of secondary importance to the total photograph. Similarly, while the landscapes that I have photographed in Yosemite are recognized by most people and, of course, the subject is an important part of the pictures, they are not “realistic.” Instead, they are an imprint of my visualization. All of my pictures are optically very accurate–I use pretty good lenses–but they are quite unrealistic in terms of values. A more realistic simple snapshot captures the image but misses everything else. I want a picture to reflect not only the forms but what I had seen and felt at the moment of exposure.
Playboy: Give us an example.Adams: My Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico has the emotion and the feeling that the experience of seeing the actual moonrise created in me, but it is not at all realistic. Merely clicking the camera and making a simple print from the negative would have created a wholly different–and ordinary–photograph. People have asked me why the sky is so dark, thinking exactly in terms of the literal. But the dark sky is how it felt.
When photographer Alfred Stieglitz was asked by some skeptic, rather scornfully, “How do you make a creative photograph?” he answered, “I go out into the world with my camera and come across something that excites me emotionally, spiritually or aesthetically. I see the image in my mind’s eye. I make the photograph and print it as the equivalent of what I saw and felt.” That describes it well. What he called seeing in the mind’s eye, I call visualization. In my mind’s eye, I am visualizing how a particular revelation of sight and feeling will appear on a print. If I am looking at you, I can continue to see you as a person, but I am also in the habit of shifting from that consciously dimensional presence to a photograph, relating you in your surroundings to an image in my mind. If what I see in my mind excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense and also an ability that comes from a lot of practice. Some people never can get it.
Playboy: When did you know you could accomplish it?Adams: I had my first visualization while photographing Half Dome in Yosemite in 1927. It was a remarkable experience. After a long day with my camera, I had only two photographic plates left. I found myself staring at Half Dome, facing the monolith, seeing and feeling things that only the photograph itself can tell you. I took the first exposure and, somehow, I knew it was inadequate. It did not capture what I was feeling. It was not going to reflect the tremendous experience. Then, to use Stieglitz’ expression, I saw in my mind’s eye what the picture should look like and I realized how I must get it. I put on a red filter and figured out the exposure correctly, and I succeeded! When I made the prints, it proved my concept was correct. The first exposure came out just all right. It was a good photograph, but it in no way had the spirit and excitement I had felt. The second was Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, which speaks for itself.
They were the ones Weston called the fuzzy-wuzzies. They would go out into the street and find some old bum with a matted beard, and they’d get a tablet of Braille and make the old man put his fingers on the Braille. They would place him in an old chair, looking up through a cloud of cigarette smoke that was illuminated by a spotlight. The title would be Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. That must have been done a thousand times. There were also slimy nudes.
I am an Ansel Democrat:
Playboy: You said that earlier. We assumed you were speaking rhetorically. Weren’t you?Adams: Definitely not. We are on a disaster course. A revolution may happen first; and, of course, that may be a disaster anyway. I don’t say it would be a Soviet revolution, but it could very well result in a different order of society. It could be a socialist setup that might work for a while. We don’t know. The point is, I think there may be a revolution if there is not greater equality given to all citizens. We have consistently considered the employer, especially the large corporations, as the most valuable part of the American society. We have consistently overlooked the enormous importance of the farmer, the technician, the educator, the artist, the laborer. I’m not calling for a revolution; I’m calling for greater equality to all citizens. If that doesn’t happen, something will.You see, I believe in a Federalism under which you would pay your taxes to a properly elected and conducted central Government that would, in turn, provide essential services–which would include medical care and other essentials–to the population. I do think there is a basic obligation for everyone to make his maximum contribution to society, but we talk about opportunity for everyone, and the fact is that it is perfectly obvious that equal opportunity does not exist. It’s about time we woke to that fact and clarified the whole social-political structure. Or we’ll be awakened.Remember, ten percent unemployment, no matter how high that is, is an average. There are places and segments of the population with much higher unemployment. People will not continue to tolerate those conditions. What we need is a new set of political commandments that call to attention some of the basic provisions of the Constitution that are often overlooked by our contemporary leaders. There are inalienable rights that are supposed to be guaranteed. It is absolutely criminal that our Government has consistently supported rightist governments that deny citizens’ rights while being paranoid about any liberal concept, which is the concept upon which our country was founded. But, remember, it took a revolution here.
And finally, his martini recipe:
Playboy: While we’re on the subject, that is some strong martini we’ve sampled. Will you share your recipe with us?Adams: The martini I am drinking now is simply diluted–that way, I can have several. But the ones you’re sipping come from a Hotel Sonesta bartender in Cambridge. You take a good-sized glass and fill it with fine vermouth. Then you marinate some big lemon peels in there for days. As the vermouth evaporates or is used up, replenish it. All you need is a glass, ice, vodka and a lemon peel. Rub the lemon peel around the rim of the glass, drop it in, and you have a very dry martini.
If you’re like me you saw this and wondered who Luckie Park is named after
I didn’t have to look far:
“This Luckie Reilly may be a relation,” I thought. Sure enough:
It’s this Dr. Luckie that the park is named after. Here’s some good info about him in the Morongo Basin Historical Society’s newsletter:
There’s a mural of him:
That’s from Google Earth. Better picture at Action 29 Palms – The Mural People.
I wonder if this James Luckie was the son or grandson of James Buckner Luckie, who was a doctor with the Army of East Tennessee in the Civil War, and performed one of the first ever triple amputations. More info and (warning) a photo on this German language (?) wikipedia page.
Luckie Reilly sounds great. From a 2006 article about her, “10 Things To Know About Luckie Reilly,” in the Hi-Desert Star in 2006:
10. Susan continues to weigh in on local land-use issues, sometimes speaking her mind at City Council meetings and through letters to the editor. “I’ve been an activist for years,’ she says. “I’ve opposed power plants, polluting industries and waste dumps in the desert. You can’t just sit back and watch things go to heck!”
Stop, stop. Do not speak.
A good one from Penguin.
Myself, I find stuff worth pondering in Gateless Gate:
(you can skip Mumon’s comment if you want, it’s not on the quiz)
After our heroes walked around for two hours, it was time for a restful nap on the surface of the Moon.
One reason why the moon landing is so compelling is that it was pointless. Sure, the Cold War blah blah but really we did it just because it was cool.
Like climbing Mount Everest: the point is just to see if we (humans) can.
Imagine sleeping in this thing:
Where is the capsule now? Crashed on the moon someplace.
The fate of the LM is not known, but it is assumed that it crashed into the lunar surface sometime within the following 1 to 4 months.
In a photo published alongside this article by The Washington Post on May 11, Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, could be seen carrying a stack of papers with a yellow sticky note stuck on the top. Written on it, in black ink, was the name “Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis” and a phone number.
A high school student in Mercer Island, Washington, followed up and asked Secretary of Defense Mattis for an interview, which you can find here.
TEDDY: Out of thousands of calls, why did you respond to this one?
MATTIS: You left a message there and I was going through listening to the messages and deleting them. But you’re from Washington state. I grew up in Washington state on the other side of the mountains there on the Columbia River. I just thought I’d give you a call.
Hard not to find Mattis a pretty compelling American character, imo.
On the education, I sometimes wonder how much better the world would be if we funded for nations where they have ideology problems, where the ideologies are hateful, full of hatred. I wonder what would happen if we turned around and we helped pay for high school students, a boy and girl at each high school in that country to come to America for one year and don’t do it just once, but do it ten years in a row. Every high school whether it be in Afghanistan or Syria or wherever, would send one boy and one girl for one year to Mercer island or to Topeka, Kansas or wherever.
It wouldn’t cost that much if you had sponsoring families that would take them in. Most American families are very generous, unless they’ve lived in places where they’ve adopted kind of a selfish style. But, that’s only a few pockets of the country that really have that bad. Although they’re big pockets in terms of population, most of the country is not like that. I bet we could do that.
Where is he talking about? Name names!
Could he be talking about New York City, where the President, a notably non-generous person, comes from?
Later, Mattis gives advice on how to avoid the psychiatrist:
TEDDY: Any advice for graduating seniors?
MATTIS: I would just tell you that there’s all sorts of people that are going to give you advice and you should listen to the people you respect, but I think if you guide yourself by putting others first, by trying to serve others, whether it be in your family, in your school, in your church or synagogue or mosque or wherever you get your spiritual strength from, you can help your state, you can help your country, if you can help the larger community in the world, you won’t be lying on a psychiatrist’s couch when you’re 45-years-old wondering what you did with your life.
Go out of your way. Not everyone has to join the military, it’s not for everyone. For one thing it’s scary as all get out at times, but whether it be the Peace Corp or the Marine Corps, whether it be serving on your local school board when you’re still not even 30-years-old, by running for office and trying to get a good education for the kids in your community, just try to put others first and it will pay back in so many ways that you’d be a lot happier in life. So just look for ways to help others all the way along, Teddy, and you’ll never go far wrong if you’re always looking to do that. You won’t get all caught up in your own problems if you’re out helping others overcome theirs.
reprinting this 2013 classic because can’t find my copy of this book, wondering if I loaned it to one of you.
Nice work boys.
Wilson got his start doing a survey of all the ants in Alabama.
There’s the question of, why did I pick ants, you know? Why not butterflies or whatever? And the answer is that they’re so abundant, they’re easy to find, and they’re easy to study, and they’re so interesting. They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture. So each species is a wonderful object to study in itself. In fact, I honestly can’t…cannot understand why most people don’t study ants.
Somewhere else I think I heard Wilson say something like “once you start to study ants it’s hard to be interested in anything else.”
Look at the wild coolness on Bert Hölldobler:
Check out this letter Abigail Adams sent to her son, John Quincy Adams, when he was ELEVEN:
(Funny to read that as I sit here at what could be described as a literal Pacific station)
That is from:
which is a collection of David McCullough’s speeches.
Many of the speeches were given in the triumphant mid-late-1990s, when History was ending and it was easy to be fooled into thinking it was one long hike to the sunny meadows where we would now reside forever.
In that context this book can be almost painful to read.
Here, for example, McCullough talks about the history of the White House:
If there’s a single American out there who wants to claim the current occupant is either wise or honest, would love to have you on Great Debates.
After McCullough wrote a book about the Johnstown Flood, it was suggested he write about other disasters. He didn’t. He didn’t want to be “bad news McCullough,” he says.
We need more McCulloughism.
Unless you’re a McCullough completist I’d suggest bypassing The American Spirit and going instead to:
Because people were talking about Baby Driver, I started singing it in my head to the tune of Bob Marley’s Slave Driver.
What a song. So then I went looking for Slave Driver on Spotify. I found a recording of Bob Marley and The Wailers, Live At The Music Hall, Boston, 1978. “Easy Skanking In Boston ’78” is the title, which I don’t love saying. “Bob Marley and The Wailers Live At The Music Hall – Boston – 1978” seems like it gives you what you need?
Somehow shocking that Boston would be the scene of a legendary Marley concert. Who was in the crowd?!
Steve Morse wrote about this recording for The Boston Globe when the album was released in 2015:
My one meeting with Bob Marley was memorable. I was sent by the Globe to interview him at the Essex Hotel in New York before his show at Boston’s Music Hall in 1978. I walked in to Marley’s room, which looked out over Central Park, at 11 a.m. It was a chaotic scene. Four or five members of his entourage were kicking a soccer ball that banged off the picture windows. Two king-size joints were being passed around. Bob sat on a couch, reading aloud from the Book of Revelation.
Realizing I was in over my head, I waited a while before daring to ask Marley about his music. He agreed to talk, shut the Bible, quelled the soccer noise, and stated his worldview: “Everything is going to be united now. Everything is going to be cool. Forget the past and unite.”
Marley’s response to a country politically divided and stricken with gun violence was notably cooler and more Christian than the NRA’s response.
Two months later he’d be in Boston.
(Minute 34-38 or so a good sample)
June 8, 1978 was a Thursday, a hot night, 89 degrees. The Red Sox had an off day, but that weekend they’d start a ten game win streak on the road in the West Coast.
The Sox would win 99 games that year, but lose a one game playoff to the Yankees at home in Fenway Park.
Ned Martin would call the game for WITS radio.
Years later he’d die of a heart attack in a shuttle bus at the Raleigh airport on his way home from Ted Williams’ memorial.
This NRA ad is so twisted and vicious that I hate to sully Helytimes with it. You don’t have to watch it, I will tell you the key parts.
From the woman’s tone to the images it is so intense, so designed to provoke fear and anger.
Imagine something less helpful than showing this to a fearful person or a deranged person who also owned a gun.
I learned a tiny bit about the woman in the ad and I don’t want to ever think about her again.
I do want to examine the use of the words “us” and “them” in the ad.
Sometimes I felt frustrated by the attempt to over-explain Trump’s popularity as just racism because I felt that like while racism was absolutely in the mix, that wasn’t a big enough word. What I really heard was something like “themism.”
It was obvious to anyone I talked to at Trump’s rally or the RNC that I was a “them” even though I felt like we were and could be and should be an “us.”
Who is them and who is us?
In the first twenty seconds of this ad, you hear about how “they use”:
- “their media”
- “their schools”
- “their movies stars
- their singers
- their comedy shows
- their awards shows”
(with lots of exterior shots of LA, by the way, including Disney Hall)
- “their ex-president”
As a media-working school-liking person who works on a comedy show in LA who loves and gave money to my ex-president, I am obviously a them.
What the hell? I want to be an us!
I am an us!
Who is the us, according to the ad?
Well, against the them is:
- “the law-abiding”
Me, definitely, I love the law, some of the people closest to me are professional law enforcers.
- “the police”
Same, I love one police in my own life and like the police in general.
So, I am also an us.
Can I be an us and a them?
What kind of wicked, nasty person would try and drive us apart like that? What sinister agenda would be behind that?
Anyone trying to divide us is wicked.
Which is better: united or divided?
Uniter or divider?
Everyone knows the answer to that. This is the United States.
If you are trying to divide, if you are sowing division, you doing wickedness. This is simple.
This ad is some kind of vicious dog-whistle designed make some loose category of people who feel angry and put upon and threatened feel more angry, put upon, and threatened. This ad uses the language of violence to suggest channeling those feelings into violence.
In this world you will see so much wickedness that you can’t possibly handle it all but somehow this one got to me.
Part of what makes me made is that a club for people who like shooting guns could be so positive. Lots of people in this country have guns because they like hunting or because guns are exciting. What if they were in a club that made them feel proud and noble instead of vicious and afraid?
The language about the “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment is so important. Adding those words was not an accident. The Founders didn’t want every gun-haver running around on his own kick deciding who to blast away. Read
A militia was a community. It brought people together. And it was a responsibility. To call this NRA video irresponsible is a wild understatement.
I suspect I have no more than two Helytimes readers who are in the NRA. There has to be a faction of the NRA that can see how wrong this ad is, how destructive. I could be wrong but my guess is this strategy of marketing for the NRA will not be successful.
My purpose in writing this was just to bore down and clarify mostly for myself what is so wrong and wicked about this ad and what larger principle that leads us to.
Also to shine a light on why the message is not just wicked but un-American.
A Smaller Thing That Made Me Mad From This Ad
“make them march, make them protest”
let’s pause here and remember you can say whatever the hell you want about movie stars and comedy shows but marching and protesting in American history is maybe not all the time but by an overwhelming margin a pretty darn heroic and positive thing in American history.
the ad is ignorant as well as wicked, the two often go hand in hand.