September 28th, 2005

Likeness as Identity





The last few days I’ve been hanging out at Reeves Library on the campus of Moravian College, my alma mater, leafing through books on the history of photography.

Below is an excerpt from an essay entitled “Likeness as Identity: Reflections on the Daguerrean Mystique,” by Alan Trachtenberg, in the book THE PORTRAIT IN PHOTOGRAPHY, Edited by Graham Clark.

Now, when I first encountered these paragraphs I felt it was just a load of pseudo-intellectual gibberish. But after a third or fourth reading I have to admit it’s not altogether incoherent. The professor could have used plainer language, of course, but then his editors would likely have rejected it as too easy to understand. What’s the point of being a a high academic if you don’t make people think harder than they usually do?

The excerpt:

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