Home / General / One day, I’d love to be paid to stare at stuff and have opinions about it again

One day, I’d love to be paid to stare at stuff and have opinions about it again


Salon started a new “Look Again” feature, in which staff take another look at all the photographs that fly across the wires daily. I’m going to be a Friday contributor, and here’s my first go at it.

Well, some of it, at least. Y’all know me — I don’t know when to shut up. The complete blather I wrote to accompany my photograph is below the fold. (I’d include the photograph itself, but we don’t have that subscription and Farley would kill me if I got us sued by Reuters.)

“Mohammad Ismail’s photograph, taken shortly after the attack on the American School in Kabul, captures the fragility of this particular foray into nation-building. It should be a strong composition, given the centered image of a soldier, the sharp lines defining the space behind him — and yet all the elements of the composition undermine that strength. The soldier drags his leg, almost daintily, and stares not at the camera but off into a distance, betraying what in another context would pass for wistful, but which here hints of weary.

“The smashed glass of unknown origin filling the foreground adds to this effect, because where most people’s eyes would be drawn to the memory of tragedy still littering the ground, the soldier’s eyelines indicate its literally beneath his notice. So too, of course, is Ismail, the absent figure in this tableau — but it requires little imagination to picture the physical position from which this photograph was taken.

“He has, as they say, ‘hit the deck,’ and provided the perspective most of us would have in the aftermath of an explosion — hugging the ground, hoping against hope not to be hit.”


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