Do you have what it takes?

Siegfried Kracauer, in his book The Salaried Masses: Duty and Distraction in Weimar Germany, an examination of the rootless, salaried life of the new class of office workers in the Weimar Republic, writes in an early chapter about the process of selecting employees for work in the new consumer culture.

Kracauer wrote a few things about life in the image, and I was particularly moved by his statement in another article that, to paraphrase, the goal of photojournalism is to capture that part of the world which can be photographed, hinting at the ideology implied in the very technology of the camera (who was it that wrote about the cult of the immediately ascertainable fact?). This ideology is all but transparent to us, but it potentially organizes our worldview because we afford the scientific camera so much authority. In reality, of course, photographs are narrative, and our experience of reality is not necessarily so. Can you photograph that look of endless love one certain someone gave you a long time ago? Can you photograph how your mind is chaining together all of your experiences with the taste of wasabi ice cream, with the dirt smell of New York air?

In this chapter, he asks a hiring clerk at an office what he looks for in an applicant.

The conversation:

“I ask him what he means by pleasant- saucy or pretty. ‘Not exactly pretty. What’s far more crucial is… oh, you know, a morally pink complexion.’

I do know. A morally pink complexion- this combination of concepts at a stroke renders transparent the everyday life that is fleshed out by window displays, salary-earners and illustrated papers. Its morality must have a pink hue, its pink a moral grounding. That is what the people responsible for selection want. They would like to cover life with a varnish concealing its far-from-rosy reality. But beware, if morality should penetrate beneath the skin, and the pink be not quite moral enough to prevent the eruption of desires!” (38)

Funny that this was written in that lull between tempests called the Weimar Republic.

What record will be kept of the critiques of the ideological image being propagated in the vast dark stretches of Jesusland? Is anyone going to remember any of this?

The ipod will live as kitsch, where will the frightened Jesus go?

Do you have what it takes in America? Are you morally pink? Are you well-scrubbed? Are you for the Whites or for the Reds?

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