Blog #2

Whitman’s account of the civil war takes on a much different direction then Brady and Gardner’s civil war photographs.  Whitman’s sense of direction in his writings is the difference.  We have a more detailed sense of where we are, the date, who we are dealing with, accompanied by Whitman’s detailed description gives a very disturbing yet vivid depiction of the Civil War and what it is about.  We lack that sense of background in Brady and Gardner’s works.  There is no denying the power of the photograph and the emotions and pure gore that it can define.  However a picture on its own according to Trachtenberg is not strong enough to give a viewer a sense of the times.  This goes for any picture.  Today’s facebook is a modern day realization of how a valid picture can be manipulated into something far from its reality.  A picture of a corpse is without question a disturbing image.  However the fact that the corpse was a sixteen year old boy who froze to death fighting for a cause, we get a much more vivid depiction of the times.  The fact that Brady bought many of his images off other photographers to construct a sort of collage further illustrates the detachment of the image from the trivial period in America’s history.  This sense of detachment is mended in Whitman’s detailed personal accounts with different soldiers who had names and addresses, and family who were struggling with amputation and hemoraghing bladders gives the reader a chilling image that is branded to the mind.  Whitman’s first hand encounters with the war, and his ability to bring the smell and digging heels of a dieing soldier to its reader, gives the missing and crucial element that a picture alone just simply lacks.

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