December 7, 2013 §
This blog has been critical of John D’Agata for some of the choices/changes he made in his book About a Mountain and in the subsequent quasi-true, fact-checking opus The Lifespan of a Fact, so it is only fair that we also tip our hat when his writing hits the mark. D’Agata is a smart, sharp student of the essay, of course, whether we agree with where he sets the”truth” line or whether we do not. In any case, here is an excerpt of his Essay Daily post where he talks about the photography of Ansel Adams
(Adams) places over his lens a heavy red filter that immediately darkens the sky, transforms it even darker than the cliff face itself, so that an abyss opens up on the left side of the cliff, as if the brooding shelf of Half Dome has torn straight through it like a cleaver made of light, terrifying and bright, a threat to everything that is not there.
As he himself later put it, this is the first time in Adams’ career that he has managed to make a mountain look like how it feels. To do this however, he has deeply manipulated the mountain he loves, he has wrangled the reality of the world around him into what he has needed it to be.