Cute Pink Boxers in Korengal
the Korengal Valley. Photograph: David Guttenfelder/AP
It has been a busy couple of weeks. I've had to move house, navigate the end of semester, oversee the editorial transition at the journal I've run for the past four years, and plan my attempt to go to Oregon to collect my son August and bring him back here for a visit. I will explain the business about moving and the reasons why August lives across the continent some time since the dramatis personae - especially the bad guys - in both are the same. Not now though; no need to dwell on such things on a holiday. So while I had seen this image by David Guttenfelder, I had not had a chance to really think let alone write about it.
Daryl Lang offers a smart, concise commentary on the image - and, especially, its popular reception - here at the PDN blog. His conclusion?
"In other words, it's a white-washed version of a complicated war. This picture is like a Norman Rockwell painting. It assures us things are as they should be. This observation is not meant to diminish Guttenfelder's work; obviously this is not his only picture from Afghanistan. But it does reveal why war journalism is so tricky. It's easier to summon an audience when you show people what they want to see."Indeed. What the photo brought to mind for me is a passage from Homage to Catalonia in which, as I vaguely recall, Orwell describes chancing upon a nationalist soldier squatting with his drawers down and, because of that posture, being unable to shoot him. The difference, of course, is that Orwell and his indisposed adversary were face-to-face - hence the perplexity - while Zach Boyd's enemies remain, as this commentary from The Guardian notes, invisible. Indeed.
PS: In a comment below, David Campbell linked to this post at his blog - it is, as is usual smart and on point.