American Elephants

A Powerful Image. by The Elephant's Child

I am very interested in the relationship between good visuals and ideas. Is an idea well-stated easier to understand, or is it the visual, or is it only in the correct melding of the two? Political cartoonists labor in that realm.  This elegant rendering of the problem of our debt, by Michael Ramirez of Investors, is a heck-of-a-lot more impressive than mere numbers. And the mere numbers have to offer an explanation of how to visualize a trillion — usually with another visual.

So when do we learn? Does a visual like this sink in better than a graph? We didn’t really realize it, but when “talking pictures” arrived, they changed our minds in some way. At least all those people who quote movie dialogue think differently.

And photography changed the way we think. Before photography many people never knew what the President of the United States looked like. Before microphones and recordings (and teleprompters) Presidents didn’t often make public speeches. George Washington’s Farewell Address was never spoken, it was only printed. And public speeches depended on the volume that the speaker could generate.   Now that we are surrounded with pictures, do we absorb words less? Do we avoid reading? I have no answers, only questions.

2 Comments so far
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You’re absolutely correct. Some images have a power far in excess of 1,000 words.

For those of us old enough, the image of the North Vietnamese spy being executed by a gunshot to the temple in a public street has stayed with us for the past 35 years. It not only had staying power, it changed the course of support within the country for the war in a profound way.

Images of Staten Island, Detroit and (more than likely) large areas of California will have the same impact in four years. They will show what liberals have given us — words that seduce us, and vapid actions that enrage us.


Comment by Jim Yardley

I remember that, and the false impression created by the photo, and how the truth about it never really made it into public awareness. Politics is religion for the Left, and the end result is to Win. To have power, they must win, and winning is all.

Think of the Che’ poster and the tee shirt. That woodcut image captures all the glamour of “revolution.” Photos to Guevara show a pimply, unattractive thug and bloody killer. But it’s all about the image.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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