A pen (or keyboard) has, for millennia, been both the preferred and most essential tool of a philosopher, but I consider my camera to be a very close second as a 21stC philosopher. Since completing the American Values Project in 2012, I've come to understand my camera as another weapon in the struggle against ignorance and, even more so, as an indispensable instrument for doing what sometimes gets called "public philosophy."
Philosopher Gilles Deleuze once said (in Nietzsche and Philosophy): "Philosophy does not serve the State or the Church, who have other concerns. It serves no established power. The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy that saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy, Philosophy is useful for harming stupidity, for turning stupidity into something shameful."
One of the most egregiously shameful forms of stupidity, in my view, is unreflectively willful ignorance-- a form of stupidity of which I think professional Philosophy tends to be particularly guilty. Any philosophy that neglects to look outward and around, that pays no attention to the world in which it conducts its business and also that disowns its responsibility to acknowledge the real lives of the real people who inhabit that world has not only failed its foremost charge-- to wonder and question, to sadden and annoy, to evaluate and critique-- but also failed to legitimately take up its historical inheritance in any way that barely approximates a love of wisdom,
I consider my photographic work to be of a piece with my more "traditional" philosophical work. What makes my photographs different from other documentary photographers work? I'm not sure I can easily answer that. except to say that I've made an effort to situate them within my more extended philosophical work in academic journals and on this blog. Living in a city like Memphis, with all of the cultural, political and historical resonances it has for the sort of philosophical work I do, has impressed upon me all the more urgently the need to make the town-and-gown connection less esoteric, more real and more effective.
To wit, below are links to a several collections of my documentary philosophical/photographic work. The links will take you to my Google+ Photos albums, where you should select the "Slideshow" option in the bar above the photos.
(Full story of the
American Values Project here.)
|Memphis #BlackLivesMatter Die -In at National Civil Rights Museum|
|Memphis #BlackLivesMatter Demonstration on Beale Street|
|Memphis and Memphians|
|Christian Brothers University students #WalkOutToChalkOut Demonstration for #BlackLivesMatter Week|
|#HandsUpMemphis Demonstration During Atty General Eric Garner's visit to HattilooTheater|