aboriginal sensible muchness

byheart_agee

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/06/youre-a-parasite-the-stark-morals-of-james-agees-great-depression-essay/277013/

I am starting a new series of posts where i will be writing some small articles on my practice as a photography student and on the things that i am reading, listening to, seeing… In conclusion, all that influences me and calls my attention in a variety of forms.

At this moment I am reading “Let us now praise famous men”, written by James Agee and photographed by Walker Evans. It is an approach to three families of tenant farmers in the America of the Depression at the beginning of the twentieth century. On one side, this work is an historical document about poverty in rural families but what remains more important for me is the critical way in which Agee approaches the object of study, questioning his own role as an observer and trying to give one step forward in the way of telling. He was making a politicized journalism.

Agee exalted perception over conception and i think that this has been of great influence on both journalistic and documentary fields, on the way of approaching subjects and telling stories. There is a concept invented by William James, “aboriginal sensible muchness”, for talking about what Agee was chasing.

His moral component (he called himself a “conservative anarchist”) is not separated from the aesthetic achievement. “Opening up your perceptions, cultivating a certain kind of radical aesthetic awareness, is and must be a moral effort”.

I think that bringing James Agee to the fore is a good starting point to question myself on my practice and on what i want to do and how i want to do it.

The Path of the Samurai is another story but not much far from this one. I will leave it for the next post.

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