[read Blind Spot] Ebook Author Teju Cole
R is simply a wandering observer of a number of cultures superficially like the narrator of Sebald s books But Cole s wanderings aren t directed like Sebald s were he isn t circling around specific cultural memories Instead he samples various atrocities and genocides as he goes Balinese First Nation German Syrian even Swiss When he s not commenting on historical events the narrator usually wants to tell us about his own photographs On a number of pages we re told what to look at effectively we re told why the photos are good There are several seuences of textimage pairings that work as self contained lectures in which the narrator tells us how to notice things in his images for example pp 64 71 These passages are unintentionally teacherly for example this text which faces an image of tables in a restaurant in Ferrara with a panoramic painting of Ferrara on the wallOnly later did I see what was at stake I had assumed that the image was merely saying something about the unsteady boundary between the real and the painted But obvious as it was I didn t see it until I saw it the way the table on the left announced a phantom cityscape of its own in homage to the old city of Ferrara grouped glasses for towers porcelain houses p 128It doesn t make the prose natural or conversational to pretend the narrator didn t see the virtue of his own photograph and then to tell us about it As a writerly device this doesn t work because it brings us out of the narration and into a lecture hall where Cole just offstage uses a red laser pointer to show us the interest of his artImages that are not accompanied by historical facts allusions to classic texts and artworks or ekphrastic inventories are explained by texts about dreams memories Christian themes and a miscellany of travel ancedotes Despite this variety the photographs are nearly always formal compositions of depopulated corners of cities or people seen from behind Cole s is a common contemporary photographic practiceUnlike Sebald Cole is just learning Western history and art and it shows In the Postscript he undertook research as an art historian in training His references are commonplaces of the art historical literature Siri Hustvedt who wrote a rambling poetic introduction to the book lists Caravaggio Duerer Degas there s also for example a text and image pairing inspired by Carel Fabritius s goldfinch Cole s allusions are common and often both pretentious and precious Here is the text about Fabritius called Tripoli in its entiretyThe date to remember is 1654 He paints The Goldfinch that year The color harmonies are cool the wall is as full of subtle character as a face His life is like a brief and beautiful bridge He studies with Rembrandt in Amsterdam He teaches Vermeer in DelftI am walking in the narrow alley between the castle of the Crusaders and the busy souk There are children wild in the alley There is a bird on the wall It is him Carel Fabritius The bird suggests it though this bird is a bulbul but it is the wall that confirms it Suddenly the gunbowder depot explodes Fabritius is illed and most of his paintings are lost to history But not all is lost The bridge has been built and it has been crossed the bridge from shadow into light He is not yet thirty three years old p 20The next to last
Line Is An Allusion To is an allusion to cliche of art history that Fabritius put light into Rembrandt s dark interiors paving the way for Vermeer It s also meant I think to resonate with the book s recurrent Christological themes Fabritius s studio was near the Delft gunpowder storage facility Cole s idea is to let Fabritius s story and his most famous painting recently re popularized in Donna Tartt s Goldfinch echo in his photograph of a bird in a cage hung on a scarred plaster wall The photo itself is unremarkable the wall
COULD BE AN ARTWORK BY TAPIES be an artwork by Tapies Villegle or any one of hundreds of recent photographers who have fetishished the overlooked textures of cities The birdcage only contributes another clicheWhat s worst about this is the way Cole tw Teju Cole s Blind Spot is an uncommon book a combination of writing and photography that try to meet each other on eual footing This is rare because while many people think of themselves as photographers and writers few people are good enough at both to combine the two without some sort of imbalance The usual compromise is to include an introduction or interlude in a photobook or to include a series of photos before or after a text Blind Spot is neither a photobook nor an extended essay In its 300 odd pages there are enough images series and ideas to fill multiple photobooks and while the essays in this book dance around recurring themes seeing and lightnessdarkness Christ and stories from the New Testament Greek and Roman Myth interaction between the #senses and of course photography they do not by themselves add up to #and of course photography they do not by themselves add up to complete work The photographs which often use symbols mirrors paintings and signs as well as obstructions and distortions of scale and distance also rely on the text and in certain ways the two prop each other up But the real through line that holds the work together is simply Teju Cole and this is where part of my confusion regarding Blind Spot begins Blind Spot is a personal work All the places Cole features photographs taken in 6 continents disparate images and short texts are held together by Cole And yet Blind Spot is not a particularly personal book There is much about Cole s work habits his travels and somewhat annoyingly his own interpretations of his writing both inside Blind Spot and in his other work and his photography But there are few clues to who he is as a person And while I m not sure that of a personal view into Teju s life would ve saved Blind Spot for me I wish that he d spent a little less time explaining his work. Itable artistic vision into the visual realm as he continues to refine the voice eye and intellectual obsessions that earned him such acclaim for Open City Here journey through than 150 of Cole s full color original photos each accompanied by his lyrical and evocative prose forming a multimedia diary of years of near constant travel from a park in Berlin to a mountain range in Switzerland a church exterior in Lagos to a parking lot in Brooklyn; landscapes beautiful or uotidian that inspire Cole To me and a little bit making me feel something In the end I felt like Blind Spot was a good idea for five or six different photobooks a novel and a few essays all combined into the space of 300 glossy pages But I wasn t sure that I got it Cole taking inspiration from Marker s excellent San Soleil and with this particular format La Jet e has created a hybrid work of his photos and prose that though a bit uneven is a uniuely contemplative read Continuing his work in OPEN CITY we are led along by a peripatetic narrator here taken to an extreme as Cole wanders the world Lebanon to Jamaica Switzerland to Brooklyn during a BLM protest capturing liminal images He seems preoccupied with frames within frames the best photo in the book I think is of a painted ocean liner moving diagonally across a bus construction euipment and miniature cities that can be found within larger ones The photos though not necessarily arresting are always pleasant to think on especially when they work in counterpoint to the textThe writing itself is a bit uneven which is not a fault of Cole s stylistic abilities but the format itself He has structured this book so that certain thru lines surface repeatedly and some the refugee crisis an interval of blindness he suffered from simply outshine others a recurring fascination with Christ and Jacob s Ladder It would be eually easy to pull an amazing paragraph as a slightly weak one but fun to discuss a highlight ZURICH On tram No 15 to Bucheggplatz a woman sat in the seat in front of mine She was in her late twenties or early thirties Late afternoon light Her hair was pulled up and I could see her neck tattoo clearly It was in two lines a woman s name a date I wrote both down Later when I looked up the name I found an old newspaper article a woman of that name had died in a small town near Phoenix Arizona in 2007 and it had happened on the date in the tattoo In the car that night the article said had been two other people both of whom survived the crash and both of whom at that time like the woman who died were in their early twenties a man the article said and another woman 282This passage with its intentional repetitions and symmetry is paired with a photograph of a woman on a bus whose neck is completely obscured by shadow We see light through her hair There are maybe a dozen sections out of about 110 that are of this uality and they tend to be the standalones I recommend this book for them In another fabulous moment one that encapsulates my complaint Cole believes he is speaking to a woman who is curious about him before suddenly realizing that he is the subject of a small scale grift a reuest for money embedded in a well rehearsed story He thinks I saw the script Teju Cole has become for me an indispensable writer because the intelligence of his work enables me to gain a compassionate understanding of the world But of course Cole is much than a craftsman of words and a sage of ideas He is also a renowned photographer His greatest gift however may be his ability to synthesize artistic mediums in order to deliver an even View Of view of humanity Blind Spot he achieves a graceful merging of his poetic prose with his thoughtful photographs This is a uniue book in that it is a travelogue with memorable observations but also a stunning collection of images resonant with the voices from both the past and present in the places he visitsEach of the 150 photographs in this captivating book is complimented by a text entry These nuggets of prose are a remarkable blend of vignettes musings histories metaphors analogies revelations meditations philosophies and politics They add depth immediacy and context to the brilliance of each photograph but sometimes they seem to stand solitary in the empathy and compassion they express the same way the power of the photographs can generate emotions beyond words This alliance of literary flashes and contemplative images has a page turning uality Journeying through Cole s visual and written reflections is both exciting and humblingCole says of his travels I want to see the things the people who live there see or at least what they would see after the performance of tourism has been stripped away 274 Perhaps then the best way to make a worthy assessment of Cole and the originality of his work is to associate his goals to those of other great minds Toni Morrison has said she attempts in her novels to make the ordinary extraordinary Seamus Heaney has said that art relies on getting started The Hockey Saint (Forever Friends, keeping going and getting started again And Hermann Hesse has said that the greatest art is music because it is essentially the obliteration of language or rather the highest level of language Cole s Blind Spot captures the extraordinary within the ordinary day and his work constantly feels as though it s starting anew and meticulouslyeeping going striving to attain a musicality with its lushness of words and images My review of Cole s novel Open City review of Cole s fiction Every Day is for the Thief review of Cole s essays Known and Strange Things If I were a book I would like to be like Blind Spot apparently sleek beautiful and voluminous but edgy and dark on the inside With words that draw lasting images in one s mind and images revealing words and meanings you have always pictured in your mind but never found the means to express And with a foreword by Siri Hustvedt Not chronological not predictive not what you were expecting Blind Spot is faithful to the infidelities of sight So much depends on what you perceive on how you allow yourself to be worked upon by vision periphery obscured fields chiaroscuro the bewilderment of not seeing as you usedare used to This is a book that you should let work upon you in sight in mind It will be working on you long after you ve shut your eyes. Memories fantasies and introspections Ships in Capri remind him of the work of writers from Homer to Edna O Brien; a hotel room in Wannsee brings back a disturbing dream about a friend s death; a home in Tivoli evokes a transformative period of semi blindness after which the photography changed The looking changed As exuisitely wrought as the work of Anne Carson or Chris Marker Blind Spot is a testament to the art of seeing by one of the most powerful and original voices in contemporary literature.
Free download É PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ä Teju Cole375 Whether a short novel of Sebaldesue wanderings in the Big Apple Open City or a collection of essays on literature art and travel Known and Strange Things Teju Cole s works all share a dedication to seeing clearly This book is composed of about 160 one and two page spreads in which images are matched with commentary Each piece is headed with its location with Lagos Berlin Brooklyn and various towns in Switzerland showing up freuently The author s philosophical approach elevates a few slightly undistinguished photographs It is at times difficult to spot the relevance of certain ph Teju Cole might be one of the coolest dudes in the world Art historian novelist photographer globetrotter These photos are not awesome natural landscapes or vibrant stunning portraits that you d want to put on your wall They re mostly of the fairly mundane and banal or of wonderful places framed in obscuring ways Perhaps if they were devoid of text I wouldn t enjoy them as much as I m not very good at thinking deeply about visual art But the prose is a helping hand that takes you through the book points things out or simply suggests them makes you think critically about the photos as well as about religion politics philosophy It feels very in eeping with the themes of Known and Strange Things Maybe now it s time for me to read his novels Small pictures big words Gives you vivid dreams Teju Cole s art is exceptional at the same time it is accessible In my experience the confluence of these two things happens only rarely which is how Cole has come to occupy an exalted place in my pantheon of artists If I say his photography can stop us in our tracks it says nothing of his writing which always adds something to my understanding Today I discovered his website has soundtracks which open doors And there it is his specialness Cole s observations enlarge our conversationThis may be the most excellent travel book I have read in recent years the result of years of near constant travel by the author Scrolling through the Table of Contents is a tease each destination intriguing irresistible Each entry is accompanied by a photograph or is it the other way around I want to make the inds of pictures editors of the travel section will dislike or find unusable I want to see the things the people who live there see or at least what they would see after all the performance of tourism has been stripped away Yes this is my favored way of travel for the shock of familiarity the impossibility of exact repetition It is the reason most photographs of locales seemed unable to capture even a piece of my experience But Cole manages it In the entry for Palm Beach his picture is of a construction site a pile of substratum in this case sand piled high before an elaborate pinkish villa His written entry is one of his shortest only three sentences one of them the Latin phrase Et in Arcadia ego washing the scene with nowledge of what we are viewing and what is to comeCole calls this work a lyric essay a singing line connecting the places There is some of that What connects all these places for me are Cole s eyesand his teacherly uality of showing us what he is thinking It is remarkable and totally engrossing Human experience varies greatly in its externals but on the emotional and psychological level we have
*a great deal *great deal similarity with one another Yes this insight so obvious written down is something I have been struggling with for such a long time going back and forth over the idea that we are the same we #ARE DIFFERENT COLE TELLS US THAT THIS BOOK STANDS #different Cole tells us that this book stands or can be seen as fourth in a uartet addressing his concern with the limits of vision I want to sink into that thought in the context of what he has given us because outside the frame of a photograph outside of our observation outside of us is everything elseMy favorite among the essays if we can call them such filled as much with what Cole did not say as with what he did is the piece called Black River Cole evokes the open sea Derek Walcott crocodiles and white egrets A tropical coastal swamp filled with crocodiles also had white egrets decorating the bushy green of overhanging mangroves the large white splashes almost euidistant from one another the closest they can be for maximum happiness I like to think though it could also be minimum happiness I guess Any closer and there will be discord like the rest of us liveThe arrival in bookstores of a book by Teju Cole is an event His pictures makes us look and his words are like the egrets spaced for maximum pleasure Whether or not you read this as a series or alone make sure you pick it up just to gaze You need have no agenda His magic does not make much of itself He takes us along for the ride Bravo Dangers of Following SebaldTeju Cole is a Nigerian American photographer critic and novelist who is also the photography critic of the New York Times I imagine their choice puzzled some academics there are many ualified people who now the literature better than Cole Blind Spot is the ind of book that can only be produced by an author with popular appeal it s 330 pages all color with heavy coated stock and a cloth cover with an embossed tipped in front cover image Yet the text is like an artist s book than a popular novel it has no continuous narrative and it s full of allusions Most of the book has photos on the right and brief texts on the left and each text is titled with the name of the place where the photo was taken There is also a map at
the end of the book and a two page Postscript explaining how the author likes to travelThe narratorend of the book and a two page Postscript explaining how the author likes to travelThe narrator t describe why or how he travels which makes him seem much as he actually is the privileged recipient of invitations to literary festivals and to teaching programs as he says in the Postscript In the book the narrato. In this innovative synthesis of words and images the award winning author of Open City and photography critic for The New York Times Magazine combines two of his great passions To look is to see only a fraction of what one is looking at Even in the most vigilant eye there is a blind spot What is missing When it comes to Teju Cole the unexpected is not unfamiliar He s an acclaimed novelist an influential essayist and an internationally exhibited photographer In Blind Spot readers follow Cole s inim. .