"Now that the joke has
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