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No one has an antidote for the impact of historians upon our cultural well-being. They filter facts through the soapstone of their ideologies and myths to explain what they wished had happened to us some time ago. But aren't we all guilty of turning the past into memory-putty? There are photographers, or photographic fellow-travellers who claim that the camera is, or should be, an invisible glass between the photograph's audience and what happened sometime in the past. Or at least that's what some like to believe. They claim that only photographs which are ideologically, or philosphically detached are really photographs.
Of course it is just as impossible for a photograph to be detached from the photographer's beliefs or fantasies as is history from the historian's. In fact they are both doing the same thing: telling others what they wished had happened to us sometime ago. They are either thinking at us, feeling at us, or both.
You'll recall that Joe Stalin and Mussulini put art dutifully to work to support their concept of perfection. No different from what say, Patrick Crowley, Paul Greengrass, and Matt Damon did in The Bourne Ultimatum. A friend in Italy explained that, "Many Europeans dislike America but we love your movies." Um, well," I replied, "Doesn't the latter explain the former?" After all the Bourne movies are 90 action packed minutes about what? International terrorism? Nope, they're about the evils of the FBI, and the American Presidency. Not even about the CIA, which is the only American agency with international police powers. And Damon's rumored as a front runner for an Oscar. "I've been running for seven years," Bourne/Damon moans in this 2007 movie. Count back on your fingers. Why he's been running from mind-washing White House villians since the very day that the Clinton Administration ended! Subtle stuff eh? But, do you think the average viewer gets it?
Or do they wind up hating America, even though they like its movies?
Hey, I'm not arguing whether the Bourne crowd have a valid or invalid viewpoint. And they have every right to their opinions and polemics. Nope I'm just saying that that artists like historians will romanticize whatever they feel is true. Even photographers can explode way over the top as they show things through their selective colored windows to viewers. But of course, that's other photogrphers, not me. Why, today's epic image is nothing more than a simple reproduction of a Vatican Museum statue, right? Heh, heh, heh.....