I was pleased this week to find out that one of my pieces for Souciant's Randomizer feature, which offers commentary on politically charged photographs from Europe, was singled out for attention by someone over at the Huffington Post. Since this is also a piece that I ended up assigning to my new media class in the fall -- I'm finally over the false modesty that led me to keep my writing completely separate from my pedagogy -- I was momentarily chagrined that I hadn't chosen to publish it under my own byline.
But the more I thought about it, the more I reconciled myself to the fact that what matters most is that Souciant's name be in productive circulation. After all, it is my thing in a way that nothing since Bad Subjects had been. And my name does appear at the end of the piece, so anyone who wants to know who wrote it can see. Better, in the end, that readers identify me with Souciant.
Here's a taste of the piece:
If the commodity form is founded on equivalence, teaching us that every item can be converted into a value suited to exchange, experience is its bête noire, as any parent who has tried to replace a small child’s lost huggy will tell you. Simply put, the one thing that cannot be reproduced, whether in an original work of art or a throwaway consumer good, is what happens after it comes into the world.Although I would have made this argument even without the visual stimulus of my Co-Editor-in-Chief Joel Schalit's photograph, actually having Snowden's face superimposed on top of Walter Benjamin's makes it much more powerful.
The same holds for humans, though to a far greater extent. Whatever our genetic programming, we are indubitably the product of the environment in which we were born and raised. Nutrition, sanitation, education and opportunities for advancement — or the lack of same — all shape our personal development. That’s why the mix of bravery, recklessness and self-regard that made Edward Snowden possible is so rare. What does it mean, then, to propose that we are all Edward Snowden?