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Harry Callahan:
A Note

What the eye is given to see, as image, in any sense, is a curious occasion. What is it, that they point to, for us to see? The new house with the dirt for lawn, the new tooth, the hat that does not fit, etc. And in the eye at last convolutions of precisely the despair, of no new house (not enough), of the tooth of no one at all, hat I never wore. I hate it all—pictures! What can I do with them, except ache to be there—? Or to get away as fast as possible, turning the page.

So that the subtlety (immense) of Callahan's photographs must, of necessity, be already another thing: not 'pointer,' or reminiscence, or even 'experiment,' but fact. In them there is no movement to any image beyond the one, given. We will never see the face of the boy, or of the woman, or will (to remark it), the white pigeon light. It will always be (flat) winter with trees, trampled grass, window curtains and reflections, and paint. These are (as seen) images also of an isolation; that must in fact be almost another 'given,' to not drive the forms home to pasture, to 'where else,' in short. There is no quicker eye to see, nor mind, equally, to seize upon the instant, of chance. All of which (words) here go flaccid against the dry, clear 'eye' of it all.

Black Mountain Review , Autumn 1957.


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Harry Callahan: A Note
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