The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

E is for Eggleston #1


Woman on Curb (1969)

5 comments :

Richard Gibson said...

What an excellent idea for a series. Eggleston is one of my personal favourites.

Anonymous said...

Curious what if anything you see in this particular photo. I fear you endorse it as having some distinction. I love a good pic from Steichen to Deakin and this one's strictly point and shoot.

Tom Sutpen said...

It's such a strange, anomalous image. The woman in the photo looks like a stenographer at the Grand Ole Opry waiting to take dictation out on the street. Granted, it's nothing earth-shattering from a compositional standpoint, but it's just slightly bizarre . . . and you'd have to admit, Senor Anonymous, them colors shore are purty.

Anonymous said...

tas,
what you draw from it I don't argue with, any more than I would your poetic perception of a blue sky. But let me just idle another moment here as a self appointed voice of reason regarding this photo-- if you stuck your hand into an old album of family snapshots taken by Uncle Lou with the old Instamatic half of them would look like this, no better or worse. If Eggleston released this photo to an admiring public then it's Emperor's New Clothes time.

Tom Sutpen said...

I think you're imparting to Eggleston a measure of cynicism I don't believe is present. And I don't think we have any basic disagreement here. As I said, I'll warrant there's nothing particularly unique about this image photographically, and I daresay Eggleston would probably agree with that, if only on a very narrow basis. It's what's in the image -- the marginally bizarre content of it -- that causes it to stand out for me. I mean, if the woman in the photo had been a tad more odd looking or grotesque, then you'd have had in essence an Arbus (albeit in color) and it still would have had few if any noteworthy formal properties.

To put it another way: Never underestimate the influence of Uncle Lou's instamatic.

Added to which I'll admit to having an eye more sharply tuned to content rather than form (and yes, I do separate the two more often than not). This is why, to me, Edward Hopper will always be a more valuable painter than, say, Jackson Pollack; why Frederick Wiseman will always have it over Fellini, why Nathanael West will always beat Henry James, etc.

As Helen Kane would put it: That's my weakness now.

Hey . . . for some odd reason I get the feeling I know you from somewhere. You're not a fellow film writer by any chance, is you? Have our paths crossed before?