IMAGE:  December 2002 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 2
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"Now that the joke has been had..."

Pan Letter
I read with delight your sly parody of fin-de-siècle aesthetic semio-babble, presented in the guise of an exposition on a handful of photos of dirty dishes, table scraps, and foodstuffs on the cutting board ("Morning and Melancholia," October/02). Not only does the author meticulously work into a spare and eloquent essay broad statements about such fashionable topics as gender, culture, and the political underpinnings of aesthetic philosophies, she does so with a conceptual vocabulary and methodology that would be equally applicable to almost any snapshots of almost any human surroundings or detritus!

I presume it was for considerations of formatting and layout (e.g., the inexorable need for a lot of blank brown space on the pages) that the essay refrains from disclosing such exquisite details as that the flower debris and butter cookie fragment in Untitled #7 can be alternately reconstructed by the eye as (a) a broken heart or (b) a fossil proto-reptilian; or that the five orange-rind slices in Untitled #10 can be "read" to form a pentagonal simulacrum of a primitive puppet (comprising a monad of head with dyads of arms and legs). And credit is due for resisting the temptation to discourse on the cleverness of the photos' titles, or to blurt out the Borgesian numerological factoid that the images' respective numerical designations sum to 214, which by the childlike (or Bachian) number-letter code translates into "BAD."

Now that the joke has been had, perhaps the Magazine would care to disclose the real source of the featured images: are they out-takes from an Introduction to Photography class at the Lab Schools, or clip art licensed from the Food Pix Annual of 1995?

Andrew S. Mine, AB'81

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