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Sunday, 25 July 2010



Image, Source: digital file from original transparency

Wisdom, Montana, April 1942

Triumph of the Will
over the contingent
and the incidental
Wisdom, Montana
April 1942
everything we could view
looked large
and nearly empty
John Vachon's vision
of an arid

Image, Source: digital file from original slide

Cemetery at edge of Romney, West Virginia, 1942

Lincoln, Nebraska
forty days
without a

Image, Source: digital file from original transparency

Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942

Photos by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)


Elmo St. Rose said...

I think it's now time for
William Blake's prophesy
about America.

I've got a lot to do this
afternoon, so I'll leave
it to you.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

The last two pictures are so amazing, particularly in tandem. In the last I want to look at the sign, but the eye keeps running to the beautiful old men on the bench. The West Virginia picture ... the tombstones have the same function and so the segue happens in the mind, equating the two.

The Vachon is perfect.



"everything we could view/ looked large/ and nearly empty" indeed . . . .


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, shadowed green black pine branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

painting based on color, how
sketch to which the sky

also remains concealed, that
is referred to, “nature”

grey-white of fog reflected in channel,
line of pelicans flapping toward ridge

TC said...

And this morning's prophecy...

the sky

also remains concealed

from those who rest beneath the heavy weight of the headstones.

John Vachon's probing eye, capturing the evidence of worldly needs -- for gasoline and beer -- in highway billboards floating beyond the hallowed hillside plot.

And the beautiful summation of the action in Lincoln, waiting on the bench for that fatality, the most active of the figures a man scratching the back of his neck -- or could it be he is swatting a mosquito, a miniature fatality?


Ah, so true, "the heavy weight of the headstones". . . .

TC said...

... like this morning's sky.

Curtis Faville said...


Wisdom, Montana.

A place I knew well.

In the mid-1970's--living out one of my stepfather's dreams from the 1930's, I spent a month wandering around Southwestern Montana and Yellowstone, trying to re-live his fly-fishing experiences from before the War. The town of Wisdom is on the Western edge of a big rural circular route which abuts the Bitterroot Mountains. Just a few miles west of Jackson--which is a few miles south along the same road (hiway 278) as Wisdom--is a dirt road going due West which takes you to the Lower Miner Lake(s). That's where I had my first revelatory fishing experiences. Though it's well within day-trip distance for the locals, it's remote enough that you see beaver and elk and bear, and the air is clear and bracing. In the Seventies, it still had the air of a place the modern world had forgotten, before rich entrepreneurs bought second homes in the Rockies, and turned it into playland.

Vachon's photographs were gathered together into a book a decade or so ago, which I have. Canonical WPA stuff. And good.

Thanks for the memories.

TC said...


Those must be marvelous memories.

That fly fishing spot and the rainbow trout thereof are quasi-legendary it would seem.

A while back they changed the name of the Wisdom River to the Big Hole River.

Seems a sensible switch as anyway the former is but a euphemism for the latter.