Baby Cakes sees things we don't as he pauses atop the shower during Crazy Hour maneuvers this afternoon. Henri Cartier-Bresson's "duel without rules" re "the power relationship between recorder and recorded" comes to mind. As Alan Riding wrote the other day in his NYT review of a new Paris exhibition of the father of photojournalism's portraits, "perhaps the duel is over who sets the rules: the photographer decides when to press the shutter, but the subject can decide how much he or she reveals."
We were caught in the crossfur of a Crazy Hour Moment while innocently walking out of the downstairs bathroom this afternoon. At the very moment we made the 90-degree turn towards the kitchen, the Babe's path crossed ours. He was in the middle of a special-ops scramble, his claws engaging our stockinged foot as he rushed down the stairs, made a 180-degree furpin turn at the bottom of the stairs and then dashed into the bathroom and leapt up to the platform above the shower. No harm done, but lots of great photo ops.
We missed Cartier-Bresson's "Decisive Moment" -- or did we? as Baby wound down the Crazy Hour with a seemingly effortless maneuver down the outside wall of the shower to the window sill, top of the toilet and thence to the bathroom floor. What Crazy Hour? I don't know what you are talking about, the Babe seemed to say as he exited in Sane Kitty Mode stage right.
We'd never paid that much attention to Henri Cartier-Bresson, "considered by most to be the father of photojournalism" according to Wikipedia. Most what? Do you have names? Oh, never mind. Wikipedia -- like the Encyclopedia Britannica itself -- must always be taken with at least a grain of salt, but "that said," here's what they say:
In 1952 he published his book, The Decisive Moment. The book featured a portfolio of 126 photos from the East and the West. It also featured a book cover drawn by Henri Matisse. [Cartier-Bresson's] 4,500-word philosophical preface was where the term Decisive Moment was born. He first wrote it in French, taking his text from the 17th-century Cardinal de Retz: "Il n'y a rien dans ce monde qui n'ait un moment decisif." This translates to "There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment." Henri applied this to his photography style. Henri said: "To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression."
Sounds good, but what mischief has been made in the name of Cartier-Bresson's thrilling premise?
Astonishingly, this obscene photograph of Attorney General Janet Reno's gunmen accosting Elian Gonzalez was never more than a blip on the MSM media's radar screen.
One picture is more seductive than a thousand words. Michael Yon's photograph of a US soldier cradling a dying Iraqi child in his arms duels with a zillion photos meant to show that George Bush=Hitler. It's up to us viewers to make sure the scales are never allowed to build up on our eyes.
Update: Is one picture of a cat worth a thousand purrs? Master of the Ailurosphere Laurence Simon in the 97th Carnival of the Cats reports, you decide.