Thursday, September 18, 2008
Mind Dump--Why Write This Stupid Book
Robert H. Jackson's Pulitzer Prize Winning Photograph, 1963.
Thinking this morning about a photo exhibit I saw years ago in Dallas. Pulitzer Prize winning photos, mounted on boards that were easily 30 by 40, hanging from the rafters with paragraphs of explanation and background beside them. Emotions embedded like genetic code in the colors and shapes.
How many needed explanation? The Vietnamese girl running naked down the streets after a napalm attack, the Kent State shootings, the Lee Harvey Oswald shooting, The World Trade Center attacks, the flag raising on Iwo Jima, a soldier's homecoming, the fireman with the child after Oklahoma City, Babe Ruth retiring. Photos since 1942.
The art adorns the 7th floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, one floor up from where Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President Kennedy. Downstairs, enclosed in glass is the "sniper's lair," a view no longer afforded any museum visitor. But there one floor up from history, I slip past the photograph of Ruby shooting Oswald and stand at the 7th floor corner window. Dealey Plaza lays out its white colonnades, its uterine shape, all a dull green on this overcast day.
The X on the street stirs something unnameable (or is it?). It's the place where John Kennedy died, the place where history turned forever. The exhibit, the emotions, the photograph my eye takes now--almost Oswald's view--all of it, life-changing.
That's why this novel is important