Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bad Photographer, Meek Subject, Telling Picture

In today’s New York Times I came across this picture of Bernanke. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is sitting in the middle of an empty hallway next to some elevators, sheepishly looking at the camera.

The Times credited one Mary F. Calvert with the picture. She no doubt went for the powerful-man-alone-in-the-hall-of-power effect; that Citizen Kane stuff, you know. Even the security guard was removed from his post!

My advice to Ms. Calvert is to keep her day job; she must have one. Her unpardonable error is not so much poor staging but the lack of attention to lighting – that Alpha and Omega of the art of taking pictures. The light from the window behind Bernanke creates a halo around his head. But that contradicts Bernanke’s sheepish posture and look, which is not that of a saint but of a mark. Eleventh-century Russian icons looked more alive!

Why does a man with the power to move the world’s economies obey so absurd a “sit” command and agrees to be photographed on a chair in front of elevators? Too polite to say No? Yielding to the judgment of a seemingly professional photographer? Not being aware of the situation at all?

I have already written about Bernanke’s personality traits. They are the character traits of functionaries and palan doozan. Such men are in positions of power precisely because they obey – unquestioningly and every time.

But obey who – or what? Who calls the shots?

The answer is, in the particular point in history we are living, speculative capital.

I will return with parts 2 and 3 of Conspiracy Theory to elaborate.