Sunday, April 27, 2008

We do what we must because we can

Originally uploaded by jslander
Edit 20080501: According to Jess, the photographer, the plastic cups of water in question in this post were provided for the comfort of the Buddha statues (see her comment). I'm leaving the original post as-is, but wanted to clarify this point up front. I misunderstood the photo as thoroughly as Click Cluck did. Which doesn't change my opinion about his asking her to edit it.

Original Post:

I was eating my sourdough pancakes this morning and browsing flickr when I ran across this photo by one of my contacts, jslander. It shows that some passer-by has left an empty beverage container in the hand of a seated Buddha statue.

What inspired me to blog it isn't the juxtaposition of someone's discarded plastic cup with the timeless serenity of the statue, or the quality of the photo itself.

What made this worth blogging about is that another flickr member (Click Cluck) stuck a note on this photo (view it on the original page by clicking the photo) instructing jslander to remove the cup using photoshop because it isn't respectful. And not just in a comment below the pic, but a note stuck smack dab in the middle of the photo itself.


Saying that because it is now fairly easy to remove elements from photos, the photographer should feel obligated to do so if an element is politically incorrect made me boggle. And when I shared it with my Mister, he shared my embogglement.

My guess is that the story of some modern tourist type leaving a cup on the palm of the Buddha statue is exactly what jslander was shooting in the first place. Jslander has a good eye for composition and a well developed sense of irony. If she'd intended to take the photo of just the statue, I'm sure she'd've removed the cup in person. But as it is, it's funny in a tacky-irony kind of way, and it is a commentary on the person who left their trash there in the first place, and on the times we live in.

That said, the irony that Click Cluck was at the same time leaving his own mark on someone else's creation as he passed by seems somehow apt.

If humor is an important part of a delicious weekend breakfast, my recommended daily allowance has been met.

* * *

Aperture Science
We do what we must because we can
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead

~Jonathan Coulton, Still Alive

1 comment:

Jess said...


Glad you like my photo. As I mentioned in a later comment, I had no idea that the cup would be disrespectful. Each of the statues had a cup. And our guide said they were offerings to Buddha since it was soooo hot. Basically, they wanted Buddha to be comfortable in that heat.