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To sum up Whitman’s work, I’d have to say “picture perfect.”  The fact that he was able to be so descriptive gave me the feeling of actually “seeing” what he saw. Sometimes it didn’t even seem as if he tried to be descriptive as he was; it seemed to naturally flow, which is what kept my mind wandering through Brooklyn as he did.  He knew exactly what to write because he knew was his readers knew.  For example, “…on my way to Brooklyn, when I heard in the distance the loud cries of the newsboys, who came presently tearing and yelling up the street, rushing from side to side evenmore furiously than usual.” (WW 21) This sentence stuck with me for two reasons, it was descriptive and familiar. If one were to just think of a paperboy , the immediate thought is a kid running around selling newspapers as he hollers up and the streets. By Whitman writing “evenmore furiously than usual,” we know that there is panic and something extremely important that’s coming our way; it gives us the sense of urgency.

Throughout the reading, we are told exactly what is going on during the Battle of Bull Run.  Although it is described through the eyes of someone else (Whitman), the reader could imagine and understand the horrific scenes he continues to encounter. His descriptions tell us precisely what is happening.  

From reading Trachtenberg, it didn’t seem as photography was accurate enough for him, and most of what he explains supports the idea that writing an accurate description as a reporter can outdo any photograph. Brady seems to think the opposite  when stating “views that the report adds that “will do more than the most elaborate descriptions to perpetuate the scenes of that brief campaign.” (287) It was apparent that people were beginning to rely heavily on photography to “tell” them the story of what was going on, “what it must have looked like had we been there”(287); meaning, they weren’t actually there, but the photograph will make it seem as if they were at the battle the entire time?  How accurate could that possibly be?  From this, the photograph will only reflect the aftermath, I wouldn’t call that reliable information.  Which brings me to Trachtenberg on photography, “the simplest documentary questions of who did what, when, where, and why may be impossible to answer.” Which supports the famous saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” 
Through this reading, it was as if photography retold the story of the battle, instead of it being captured live as Whitman’s writing did (which actually makes me wonder if Whitman wrote as it was happening or from memory). I feel like an argument can be made on behalf of writing and photography, but the bottom line is neither one is accurate enough when it comes to these readings. We can imagine what Whitman is describing, but we also must imagine what took place in the photographs that have been taken because we do not have any information about what happened in that actual moment.  We can easily concoct a story by just looking at the picture, and the reporter in a journal can do the same.  

February 22nd, 2011 at 1:26 pm

2 Responses to “BP 2: pictures are worth a thousand words… words are worth a thousand pictures…”
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      Dominique Zino says:


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