Notes & Queries by David Herkt

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Notes & Queries: The Rejected Selfie

23 Responses

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    RollingStone magazine put an extremely controversial selfie on its latest cover.

    My take on it - if I can write about myself, why shouldn't I be able to take photos of myself?

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    Where is the 'like' button when I want it, Robyn.

    Yes.

    The Rolling Stone image is a great one, because of the response to it. The response sort of requires that we loathe the magazine for publishing it instead of publishing an image of him as a crazed mullah. Note the surreptitiously released images with the laser-red in the middle of his forehead.

    Its like the 21st Century is a battle of images, maybe it always was. But I think more so. And the selfie has a role there - as psychology, as cultural artifact, probably as politics.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Herkt,

    Yes.

    The Rolling Stone image is a great one, because of the response to it. The response sort of requires that we loathe the magazine for publishing it instead of publishing an image of him as a crazed mullah.

    When I saw the title of your post, I thought it must be about that. The fact that the controversial cover picture is a selfie posted to Instagram -- like a hundred million others -- adds to its depth of meaning. It's a brave, relevant cover.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I've got to take issue with "It seems impossible for us to conceive the fact that for most of human history, the vast majority of people had no idea what they looked like."
    Mirrors have been around for more than human history, if possibly a prestige item for much of that. For that matter the legend of Narcissus suggests people knew what there reflection looked like.
    My selfie story: A couple of months ago, I had just gotten back from traveling for a few days when I was ask for an urgent headshot for a program for an event I was involved with this week. Since I looked unshaven in the headshot, I thought I'd make it look deliberate and took the opportunity to start a beard over the intervening period.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to David Hood,

    Mirrors have been around for more than human history, if possibly a prestige item for much of that. For that matter the legend of Narcissus suggests people knew what there reflection looked like.

    Yep indeedy. Maori didnt have mirrors(in the understanding of such things now) - but we- sure as shit- had reflection devices.

    Commonly called 'pools."

    There are several known up until this day that are especially good as showing you as *others* see you.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt, in reply to Islander,

    Yep, to both Islander and Dave. You can see the magic of pools, right there. You can see why pools were always more than just bodies of water. But they weren’t exactly portable. You didn’t live with them. They were near magical reflective instances. They weren’t quite part and parcel of who you were, like mirrors.

    I also should have included many instances, like the time I saw a TV interviewer applying her lipstick while looking into a TV camera lens with the camera mini-monitor swiveled her way. I was impressed, actually, by that one. It is, I think, a fascinating subject. I always had a sneaking fondness for Lacan’s essay “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience”. I don’t know of a decent study of mirrors and human being, though I’d like to find one. I do think they are, as Lacan’s title suggests, “formative”. It is always fascinating watching animals deal with mirrors…

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to David Herkt,

    It is always fascinating watching animals deal with mirrors…

    chimps, orangs, bottlenose dolphins - and probably orca- recognise their reflection in a mirror (the old stick -a- mark on while unconsious trick... )and elephants certainly recognise both self & reflected pictures.

    Actually, mirrors involving water are exceedingly portable...a small shallow bowl e.g.
    (I know of a piece of polished obsidian here that works as a mirror also-)

    It is not for nothing that a number of practises in various religious traditions use mirror-gazing-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to David Herkt,

    Lacan’s essay “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience”. I don’t know of a decent study of mirrors and human being, though I’d like to find one. I do think they are, as Lacan’s title suggests, “formative”.

    It’s possible that Lacan over-emphasises the importance of the Mirror Phase, but self-recognition in a mirror is a well-documented milestone in child development.

    Fascinating post, David.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    ’s possible that Lacan over-emphasises the importance of the Mirror Phase, but self-recognition in a mirror is a well-documented milestone in child development.

    And in a being having *self* awareness- (hence the importance of beings like cetaceans & our cuzzies Pan pan. et al knowing themselves in mirrors- bonobos, just incidentally, not only realise a mirror is showing *their* reflection - they will turn a mirror on another bonobo (unaccustomned to a mirror) and hoot with
    laughter as the inexperienced ape goes "Wha?That?!"

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Islander,

    Maori didnt have mirrors(in the understanding of such things now) – but we- sure as shit- had reflection devices.

    Y'know I had never thought of that before. Obvious innit. Mirrors aren't hugely important to me except when I have to civilise myself, so I always find my reflection a bit surprising. Self-portraits I never think of doing. I know what I look like -- it's just not the same as my camera or mirror says.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Hebe,

    Self-portraits I never think of doing. I know what I look like – it’s just not the same as my camera or mirror says.

    Really interesting...I've drawn myself since I was a kid (because I was the only one in the family who'd stay still long enough!)***

    But I only know what I truly look like from the inside-

    ***I've drawn a lot of family. I truly regret that I've not drawn more friends. But it seems such an intrusion...I will now look at you for more than an hour or 2 and not react except with chalk/pen/brush/pencil and hiss, if you move-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to David Herkt,

    Attachment

    The Rolling Stone image is a great one, because of the response to it. The response sort of requires that we loathe the magazine for publishing it instead of publishing an image of him as a crazed mullah. Note the surreptitiously released images with the laser-red in the middle of his forehead.

    A lot of people came across a bit too functionally illiterate to see the symbolism, and mistakenly thought Rolling Stone was glamourising terrorists. It reminds me of this article on anti-Fascist insignia:

    Even worse is the "put trash in its place" graphic with the guy putting a Swastika in a trash can. This didn't seem too hard for me to grasp but I got into a big argument with the old Landlord of Extreme Noise about it. Someone had posted a flyer on the bulletin board with the "Put Trash In Its Place" graphic on it. The landlord, who was Jewish, interpreted "trash" to mean Jews and thought we were supporting fascism in our store. I tried to explain it, but he just didn't get it. His mind was made up and he made me take down the flyer. The Gegen Nazis patches (now kind of out of style) were pretty open to interpretation too. The fist smashing the swastika seems obvious enough, but to most people it's just a Swastika, says Nazis and has some other word in German. They just assume it's a pro Nazi patch unless you school them. Go ahead and wear whatever you want but remember this, it only really has any meaning inside the punk scene. To the general public you are some dumb kid who is probably a Nazi and listens to Marylin Manson or something.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Islander,

    I’ve drawn a lot of family. I truly regret that I’ve not drawn more friends. But it seems such an intrusion

    That is how I feel about photography: unless the subject understands in a deppr way what is being shown, I am reluctant to even take the pictures, let alone publish them. It seems intrusive to me.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    "put trash in its place" graphic

    ... but all I see is a misplaced apostrophe.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    For some reason the image that came to my mind when I saw David's selfie title was a man in socks. Ever since the olden days on the newsgroups I can't help but associate the two.

    When I tried internet dating I discovered just how few photos of me I actually have. And finding someone to take more was more difficult than I expected (this was before selfies were widely accepted). It's a social custom that I don't have - I can't even say with any certainty that I'm too old, just that it's no me. My partner doesn't seem to post them either (AFAIK, I don't net-stalk anyone, let alone someone I live with).

    Oooh, there is the security system though - I probably have hundreds of Moz-images if you count that.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Moz,

    Yes, "Put trash in it is place" makes even less sense.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Herkt,

    Yep, to both Islander and Dave.

    To derail, as usual.

    If you want something about yourself that really is a product of the modern world, it is the sound of your own voice. It is pretty much impossible to hear your own voice as others hear it without technology, because you hear a lot of your own voice through the bones in your head. But recording devices changed that. I still cannot hear my recorded voice without thinking it is my brother and not me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    The recent American Cup races with one boat are a kind of sailing selfie; which is, in turn, the perfect onanistic analogy for late onset capitalism.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to william blake,

    Apparently it is being studiously ignored in SF. I heard a report that there was one solitary spectator watching the recent 'race' from the bleachers, What a bloody waste of money!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Bart Janssen,

    ECHO echo

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Thank you for this David, it's entirely wonderful. A few notes and thoughts, in somewhat unstructured form:

    Staging the self seems to come directly after the first experiment. Staging is learned, a combination of tradition and desire. Whether self-portraiture is always aspirational is a moot point, but aspirations go in many directions. There are desires to look mad, bad or dangerous to know, just as there are professional or socially-elevating ambitions.

    The selfie is the epitome of performativism, and because it reshapes the body, it has transgressive potential. Compare the selfies of the young and the interesting with those of everyone else - because of Facebook, Twitter, and (horror!) LinkedIn, we're all attached to a form of representation that must convey essential information about us. Whatever we are in that image is us. We've all been dragged into the labour of self representation, whether we like it or not.

    Here, I'm still a still stolen boat, resting on the South Pacific, but elsewhere I'm crisply dressed for a date and floating 100m above Jakarta, or perched under an Aceh sunset. I've considered gaining a face here, but people know me well enough. I have more than enough faces elsewhere.

    The object itself is represented as it were obtruding itself for our enjoyment while we strive against it with all our might. And the artistic representation of the object is no longer distinguished from the nature of the object itself, and thus it is impossible that it can be regarded as beautiful. - Immanuel Kant

    From: Textual Relations: The Young Girl and the Selfie, a different kind of meditation on rejected bodies and their representation.

    I don't agree with Kant; reflective (pun intended) representations of the self are regarded as impure because they enact a form of autoregulation, rather than an unencumbered self immune to social constructs and constraints. That person/body does not exist.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    I have for many years resisted having any physical (photographic) presence on teh Interwebz. I regard the self-image as an unwelcome distraction from the intended message.
    Unavoidably, photos do leak out from conferences; but even there, I’m usually hidden under a hat, and/or facing away from the camera. In one photo taken while I was actually giving a presentation, I’m behind a floral arrangement. These are all better options than the reflexive cringing rictus when I’m caught by a lens out in the open. Only once has a publication asked for a selfie. Luckily, to the best of my knowledge, it was never used.
    I toyed with the idea of a gravatar for use here, and got as far as making up a low-resolution self-portrait, which after sitting around for 4 years finally got used about 2 months ago when I joined Facebook … a move I regret already.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to linger,

    toyed with the idea of a gravatar for use here, and got as far as making up a low-resolution self-portrait, which after sitting around for 4 years finally got used about 2 months ago when I joined Facebook … a move I regret already.

    linger, know what you mean here: there are images of me on the net which belong to other people - so I cant eradicate them. The only one I actually agreed to was for my tribe's magazine. Annnd-
    I dont belong to Linked-in/Facebook/any social media site whatsoever...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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