Posts Tagged ‘David Shields’
War Is Beautiful: New York Times war photography leads “directly to immeasurable death and destruction”
“Forty years ago, Susan Sontag, in an essay for the New York Review of Books, wrote,
“To photograph people is to violate them… Just as a camera is a sublimation of a gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder.”
Susan Sontag noted that Nick Ut’s (Huỳnh Công Út) photo of Kim Phuc, a naked South Vietnamese girl with arms spread, wracked in pain from napalm,
‘Did more to increase the public revulsion against
the war than a hundred hours of televised barbarities’
These essays formed On Photography, such nuance earned it the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977, and it became one of the most important works of literary criticism on photography in the 20th century. The latest addition to this, in a book Noam Chomsky calls “Shattering,” is David Shields’ War Is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict. To provoke, Shields provides 64 photos taken from The New York Times, 1997-2014, with a brief essay on how Shields dissected thousands of images from front pages. Shields writes:
“Over time I realized these photos glorified war through an unrelenting parade of beautiful images whose function is to sanctify the accompanying descriptions of battle, death, destruction, and displacement.”
Shields’ epiphanies lead him to accuse Judith Miller and the Times of,
“—intimate participation in the promotion of the war (that) led directly to immeasurable Iraqi death and destruction”.
Therefore he will,
“No longer read the New York Times”.
Does Shields think substantive benefits would come from such a proclamation?
Shields and I have combated ideas for years…continue“
Massachusetts Indy Film Festival – I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel will play at MIFF at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
“Even if you hate writing, you’re going to love James Franco, David Shields, and Caleb Powell’s I Think You’re Totally Wrong.” Charles Mudede, The Stranger
“This notion of investigation offers an alternative to confession. Its goal isn’t sympathy or forgiveness. Life is not personal. Life is evidence. It’s fodder for argument. To put the “I” to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.” – Leslie Jamison, The Atlantic
“Outrageously entertaining . . . a warm, funny, and charming book that questions not only what it means to live for art, but what it means to live.”—Saul Austerlitz, Boston Globe
“The two longtime pals disagree on marriage, religion, sex, politics, happiness, film—and everything else—with passion, insight, and panache.”—Lisa Shea, Elle Magazine
“Start reading I Think You’re Totally Wrong, then try to stop; I dare you. It screws with your head in a way you can’t shake off, and it’s moving—weirdly moving. It ruined my work day. I loved it. Shields is opening up new ways to be a writer.”—Walter Kirn, author, Up in the Air
May 2015 – Vancouver, DOXA Documentary Film Festival
May 2015 – Seattle, Three screenings, Hugo House
July 2015 – Portland, Reed College, private screening, Tin House Writers’ Worskhop
July 2015 – Paris, private screening, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop
“Even If You Hate Writing, You’re Going to Love James Franco and David Shields’s I Think You’re Totally Wrong” – Charles Mudede, The Stranger
Hugo House will hold three screenings of James Franco’s film adaptation of David Shields’s and Caleb Powell’s book, I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel. The screenings will begin at 7 p.m. and be followed by a Q&A session with Shields and Powell.
- Saturday, May 30, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, May 31, 7 p.m.
- Monday, June 1, 7 p.m.
The Hugo House screening will serve as the U.S. premiere of I Think You’re Totally Wrong, which had its international debut at the DOXA Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada earlier this month.
The book I Think You’re Totally Wrong was published by Knopf in January 2015; in the Boston Globe, Saul Austerlitz called it “outrageously entertaining . . . a warm, funny, and charming book that questions not only what it means to live for art but what it means to live.” It’s the heavily edited transcript of an extended conversation between Shields and Powell, recorded during a weekend retreat in the woods. Powell, formerly Shields’s student at the University of Washington, chose raising his family over a writing career. Shields, meanwhile, is a prolific author and a professor of creative writing. (trailer here)
From the Los Angeles Review of Books (5:49):
Caleb Powell: Why did you get so angry about the letter?
David Shields: Good question…I mean, all you’re doing is fucking me over. (Riding Lawn Mower video)
Caleb Powell: …I have a license to antagonize, ’cause anything I do wrong to you will end up helping us.
Caleb Powell: We should bomb the world with images that offend these terrorists…
David Shields: That’s a typical sort of Caleb move, which is ostensibly about politics but is really meant to reflect a sort of moral glory on himself.
David Shields on Mark Rothko: “I listened to a tour guide at the National Gallery ask his group what made Rothko great. Someone said, ‘The colors are beautiful.’ Someone else mentioned how many books and articles had been written about him. A third person pointed out how much people had paid for his paintings. The tour guide said, ‘Rothko is great because he forced artists who came after him to change how they thought about painting.’ This is the single most useful definition of artistic greatness I’ve ever encountered.” – from Reality Hunger
21 Rothkos: Rothko may well have changed how artists think. Good thing? Take a look at the 21 Rothkos on the right, all replications of the same concept. Rothko had modest skills, above average talent, but recognized his lack. He chose the path of “Look at me! I’m different!” Variety has a place, but.
From Pollock to Frankenthaler to Eva Hess to Jeff Koons to Tracey Emin, Rothko led chunks of the art world into both riches and a pretentious mess (See the $45,000,000 rectangle.) For every Rothko there are thousands aspiring for Egregious Difference and deadening the world. And that’s how Rothko changed art.
PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE ANNOUNCES: December 4, 2013 – James Franco to direct I Think You’re Totally Wrong, based on the book written by David Shields and Caleb Powell. (Movie Finished – James Franco directs I Think You’re Totally Wrong)
I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel: A debate, nearly to the death, about life and art. Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he’s a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he has overcommitted to art.
“Film rights – NYT bestselling author of Reality Hunger David Shields and Caleb Powell’s I THINK YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL, a debate about life and art, enacting an impassioned and ongoing “quarrel” between the two actors: Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he’s a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he has overcommitted to art, optioned to James Franco for his production company, Rabbit Bandini Productions, with Franco directing, and Shields and Powell adapting and playing themselves, by Charlotte Gusay at The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency.”
Caleb Powell: You excoriate the traditional novel and fiction in Reality Hunger, yet you began writing fiction. It turned out not to be your forte. Why the attack? Isn’t it like an impotent man vowing abstinence?
David Shields: That’s a funny analogy. And I’d be a fool to think that type of criticism won’t emerge… (from The Rumpus)
David Shields and I, at antipodes since the UW, headed into the Cascades for a few days and threw down. The focus? Art vs. life. The result was announced 4/26/13 at Publishers Marketplace:
NONFICTION – General/Other – NYT bestselling author David Shields’s I THINK YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL, a debate about life versus art, in which Shields’s co-author, Caleb Powell, always wanted to become an artist, but overcommitted to life (stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas Shields has overcommitted to art and forgotten to become a human being, to Ann Close at Knopf, by PJ Mark at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).
“Twenty years ago, another undergraduate, Caleb Powell, was in my novel-writing course; we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve read and critiqued his stories and essays. A stay-at-home-dad and freelance journalist, he’s interviewed me occasionally when a new book came out. We disagree about nearly everything. I’ve sacrifice my life for art; Caleb, vice versa. He’s one of the most contrary people I’ve ever met…” David Shields, from How Literature Saved My Life
Caleb: …that opening of our interview in the Rumpus, when I asked, “You began writing fiction; it turned out not to be your forte. Why the attack? Isn’t it like an impotent man vowing abstinence?”
David: Only about fifty other reviewers used the same trope. I’d say I’m more like a man in love pointing out to the man on Viagra that he’s fucking a sex doll. (from I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel)
Update: I Think You’re Totally Wrong – The Movie
“Riding a Mower” vs. Reality Hunger: