PRINT November 1972

Digressions on the Photographic Agony

“This is the end of art. I am glad I have had my day.”

—J.M.W. Turner, 1839/40

I BEGAN WITH A FANTASTIC case: the recent discovery of an imaginary relic.

A tanker returning to Arabia, running blind in a fog at night, collides with an uncharted object. The morning light reveals, instead of the expected crag, an enormous sphere floating in the sea, covered in barnacles and corrosion: it is nearly 1000 feet in diameter. Investigators at the scene determine that the thing is metallic and hollow, a colossal bubble, within which the most sensitive devices fail to detect any activity whatsoever.

A tabloid columnist hints that the menace to navigation may be a product of intelligence. His speculation prospers, and the sphere is towed ponderously up the Thames to the Isle of Dogs, to be beached where, more than a century be fore, I. K. Brunel built and launched the Great Eastern. In a fury of sandblasters

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