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10 July, 2012

Picture This

Visual anthropology no longer captivates me to the point that I subscribe to the journal (Visual Anthropology), but then again it's more fun to toss out a few observations than to talk all academic. Oh, and I take a ton of photos, and once in a while I get the urge to get something more than a forgotten jpeg. Most of the time, though, there's just the passing instant of the shutter clicking, capturing something.

This is some of my combat photography near the end of a Sponge War, an extremely popular part of the elementary school's field day. On either end of the field of battle are lines of big buckets filled with water and sponges. In the middle is a line they can approach, but not cross. Being there with my first grader, the sense I got from the kids was more of "I'm gonna get wet! Yay!" than anything about a war. Lots of kids just squeezed sponges on themselves and each other directly.

My visual cortex is not so interested in deconstructing socialization rituals, but it does suggest that I report the following about this photo:
  • My daughter's about to whip a sponge at some unsuspecting boy. I think she missed, but scored a hit for grrrldom.
  • The kid at the left is just off the field of battle, and has evil Joker make-up. More extensive than most of the face-painting I saw that day, and he seemed to be exhorting people on the field of battle while himself staying clear, slightly elevated. But not enough for anyone to do what he was saying. He must be a member of the priesthood in this culture.
  • The field of battle is within sight of, but obtrusively below and outside of, the high school athletic field, Monumental Architecture on the neighborhood scale. These kids will be there, one day; they'll traverse the cultural landscape as they grow. [I know, this sounds like I am delving into socialization, but it's only because I do so revel in cartographic visualization.]
  • It being near the end of the action, a lot of kids had lost interest in the battle, or in taking sponges to the buckets to re-load. A few, like mine, took the mission pretty literally, and kept picking up sponges (not always re-loading), firing again and again.
So much more could be wrung from this picture (way more than a thousand words, were I aiming for publication), but those seem like the highlights, and it's late. I'll drift off and maybe dream about what other people see in this photo.


  1. If The Joker is the Priest, I'm kind of enchanted by your sense of world-building, mister ...

  2. It all begins with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Entropy clause.