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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Metacommentary

If you're interested in Photoshop technique, I've just posted a new Featured Comment to "T.O.P. Technical Book of the Year 2006" by David Mantripp, including a link to David's mini-review of the book.

And speaking of comments, I've closed the comments for "T.O.P. Photographer of the Year 2006," so anyone who comments further shouldn't be offended if it doesn't show up (it will show they didn't read the post all the way to the end, anyway).

I do tend to pay for it whenever I venture to post controversial things here. If something I say makes people feel bad, the bad feelings are magnified back on me, via comments. My little observation about Saddam drew fiercely unhappy complaints from both sides—the usual ones from conservatives objecting to what they see as reflexive Bush-bashing, and even more of them—about a third again as many—from people who provided copious links to evidence that Saddam was put in power by the U.S. in the first place, and to other sites asserting that Bush was simply eliminating a witness to U.S. complicity in the region. Then I had to deal with comments from people who were angry that I hadn't posted their first comments. I even got several examples of a quixotic type of response I've gotten before, namely, from non-Americans holding me personally responsible for U.S. policy. I hate to say it, but I have very, very little influence over my nation's government. (In effect, I just live here.) I vote, but that's about where the reach of my power ends. Believe me on this. I can't get Condi Rice on the phone.

The reason I ended the comments to the Jill Greenberg post was that I perceived that people who've already been immersed in this argument had linked back to T.O.P. and were coming here to contribute arguments they had already been involved in elsewhere; I was getting comments from people, in other words, whose views on the matter had already been radicalized, and seemed to have hardened that way. I don't think it's as big a deal as some other people do, obviously, but at the same time I'm sort of sorry I got into it. In any event, I don't think that T.O.P. is the proper place to hash out emotional issues unto exhaustion. We can argue all day—but why?

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

9 Comments:

Blogger Justin Lane said...

Politics is fine. But it's not the reason I subscribe to TOP.

I feel this is the wrong place for posts like "Narcissistic Sadists". Of course this is your blog and you have the right to post what you like. It hasn't put me off reading but I'm not interested in your political opinions.

I did enjoy the Jill Greenberg article; it is relevant for this blog and the politics of photography does interest me so I guess I want it both ways.

Keep up the good work.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Gerard van Wesep said...

"We can argue all day—but why?" Why indeed? Some people, apparently, get off on it. The rest of us are grateful for the contribution you have made, and hopefully will continue to make, to us as photographers and as members of the "Family of Man."

2:38 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

I agree. Communicating is productive, but arguing is not, I think.
Conflict is non-productive.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Adam McAnaney said...

Actually, this whole thing makes Joel Stein's position kind of understandable...

http://www.gawker.com/news/joel-stein/joel-stein-still-an-asshole-225471.php

;-D
Adam

6:22 PM  
Blogger Dierk Haasis said...

Strange, leftist circles in Germany once declared 'everything private is politic, all politics is private'. In the US - see Justin Lane's commentary* - people seem to have a clear distinction between a human being, his job, his knowledge and his political opinion.

'Politics is fine, but ...', what does it tell me? Only that every nation, every people have the politicians they deserve.



*Singled out only because he posted here; it's a very often read and heard complaint that someone "mixes" his political opinions with anything.

2:11 AM  
Blogger overnightparking said...

I read your blog everyday. As far as I'm concerned, put anything you want in it. It's your blog. I can handle disagreeing with you when/if I do. If I stop enjoying it, I can leave. If you stop enjoying it... no more blog.

My only concern about the people who leave comments (I do... duh, obviously) is how few (if any) women there are. Why is that?

Best for the new year!

8:01 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"My only concern about the people who leave comments (I do... duh, obviously) is how few (if any) women there are. Why is that?"

We actually have a number of women readers. One of my goals in setting up TOP was to create a place where women photographers and photography enthusiasts would feel welcome--the techno-geek side of photography is typically a very male preserve, but women have always (and I mean always, from the very early days) been well represented among the ranks of good and great photographers. I don't know how to write "for" women any more than I write "for" men--I tend to just write for PEOPLE, or so I think, anyway--but I hope women find things of interest here and feel welcome.

--Mike

8:23 AM  
Blogger Jeremiah McNichols said...

I had the same experience with commenters when posting my own (quite different) views on Jill Greenberg. I appreciate you reflecting on it here.

I do think you should give a little more credit to critics who get "up in arms" about issues in the arts but "remain silent" on true genocide, starvation, and so on. Critics always face the issue of talking instead of doing, but once you accept that sitting around talking instead of doing is a legitimate and potentially useful way to spend one's time, what you choose to talk about (and get upset about) can be fairly ideosyncratic. As critics, we isolate, we examine, and we highlight, motivated not only by we believe passionately but by what we feel we have to say that has not been said already. Anyone who sees injustice in this arrangement should be sentenced to read one percent of the millions of blogs that follow the first but not the second of those criteria. You would certainly find many posts about Jill Greenberg's work among them, but also many many posts about "more important" topics.

I care about genocide. Were I to write about it, however, you would agree it was not worth reading. Isn't this reason enough not to offer psychological appraisals of those who choose to take up a particular issue?

11:57 AM  
Blogger overnightparking said...

"We actually have a number of women readers. One of my goals in setting up TOP was to create a place where women photographers and photography enthusiasts would feel welcome--the techno-geek side of photography is typically a very male preserve, but women have always (and I mean always, from the very early days) been well represented among the ranks of good and great photographers."

Indeed. When I'm out photographing I also see many women shooting (not as tourists but as photographers). I was trying to say that the comment section seemed to be dominated by male voices.

4:15 AM  

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