Communism and Civil Disobedience

My reading choices seems to be far more politically aware than usual, which is amusing because I am consciously politically inactive so that my personal views do not contradict the views I portray for the sake of my students. While some educators insist that teaching must be a political, if not religious, act, I would assert that while education awakens the human mind to the world around us it is not the teacher’s job to dictate how the student must interpret that new world.

Marx and Engels wrote an iconic manifesto on communism that I started reading last night. The language and predictions within this text lend it an aura of wisdom, and after reading the first two sections I gained a newfound insight into Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm which only strengthens my love of those two novels. On iTunes I rented a documentary on Howard Zinn and his political activism in the United States, which only furthered my insistence that literature and reading are the most important steps towards emancipation from mindless ignorance. Nothing I have engaged with thus far has led me to believe that I would alter my engagement with politics, but I am now becoming more aware of the patterns and dangers that lie therein.

On the photography front I am still scanning images from the past few months and intend on spending the Fall thinking about how to take what I have learned about the craft of photography and applying that to finding a definite style within my own work. This week’s scans come from some recently developed 35mm film I took last year at this time. The first images featured here were taken at the school’s outdoor education centre, Norval.

The 35mm film stands up as an interesting contrast to the 120 medium format film insofar as the negatives are drastically different. The grainy feel of the 35mm is still appealing, as is the short time it takes to scan an image, but for my travel work I think that I prefer the 6×6 square format and dynamic range. An interesting comparison can be seen between the image of the Indian motorcycle  shot just off of Yonge Street in Toronto and the Moto-Guzzi image taken just beyond the Colosseum in Rome . I was using a 50mm f.1.4 Canon lens on the Eos 3 body for the Toronto shot and a Hasselblad 50mm f.4 on a 510 C/M body; the images feel much different, but neither is necessarily more pleasing to the human eye.

The final image brings us back to the idea of communism. Taken last month in Havana, one of the final communist strongholds, the faded idealism is almost palpable on the streets. Life has not improved for the average proletarian in Havana, and I am certain that once the American embargo ends – perhaps within this year- the city will embrace capitalism to rebuild its streets to their former glory. The beauty will be gone of the ruin and ingenuity, but will be replaced with shiny Starbucks and Ralph Lauren stores selling Hemingway shirts and Arabica beans. Fair enough. Still, are the boys in our capitalist realms ever gather so freely in the streets to spend communal time together or are they now mere consumers for the latest isolating video game or social networking software?

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