Snapshots: On the Value of Photo/Sensitivity
The article offers an comparative insight into two, parallel, narratives concerning a nautical event: one visual, and one verbal. The argument is based on the juxtaposition of Robert Cushman Murphy's photographic rendition of the so-called Nantucket sleigh ride (the stage of a whale hunt, in which the harpooned animal, attempting to flee his oppressors, tows the whaleboat behind him) with his description of the same phenomenon, which he included in his diary A Logbook for Grace. Whaling Brig Daisy 1912–1913 (first published only in 1947). The reflections stemming from the analysis concern the importance of the Barthesian punctum in the context of the interpretive power of the image, which, ultimately, leads to conclusions concerning the significance of emotions in the hermeneutic process of filling the spots of indeterminacy. Ultimately, the article demonstrates how, through his glass lantern images, Robert Cushman Murphy offers his audiences the “realist” truth, employing “modernist means” to “romantically” emulate the emotions.
photography; cultural theory; literary theory; epistemology; Robert Cushman Murphy; Nantucket Sleigh Ride
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