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September 30, 2006

Your Turn: By The Book

Chavez-Chomsky

(click for full size)

A few questions:

1.  Beyond the Chavez personality, the U.N. back drop and the Chomsky name, how much more thought might have gone into the staging of this image, down to the book edition (with the presence of the globe and the U.S. flag), as well as possible physical references to Bush, including the power suit, the lapel pin, and the red-for-Republican (as well as “revolutionary”) tie? 

2.  To what extent are figures like Chavez romanticized by the press (and thus, used for entertainment) for their radical chic?  (See NYT article and accompanying slide show.)

3.  To what extent was this stunt effective in leveraging the American left?  And if the left didn’t bite, did the media partly jump on the image (as expected by the Chavez people?) for the idea that they would?   

4.  How much is this image about the (potentially growing) influence and political role of books? 

Just looking at the last week of BAG posts, books have played a significant underlying role in making, shaping or even impeding the news.  Musharraf, for example, refused to back up a charge against Bush so as not to compromise his book coming out.  (Bush’s response?  “Read the book.”)  Newsweek dropped its Afghanistan cover story in the U.S. in order to promote the new Leibovitz book.  And just in today’s headlines, the White House is scrambling to respond to charges arising from “State of Denial,” Robert Woodward’s new book. 

(By the way, this image turned into a huge boon for one of Chomsky’s lesser sellers.)

5.  Having looked at this pic off-and-on for about a week, I kept wondering: Why did the photo editors run it so wide?  I find the effect very powerful, but can’t really say why.

If you’re a regular reader but haven’t commented before, I would especially encourage you to jump in! 

(hat tip: VR)

(image: Raimin Talaie/Bloomberg News.  New York.  published September 23, 2006.  nyt.com.)

  • Jerry Holtaway

    This all comes in a week or so during which Bill Clinton told us to “read the book” and George Bush said “don’t read the report”. But what do we do? Read. And every day I read more about what a manipulator of truth Bush is. Which then makes your third question the most important. When will a strong voice emerge from the liberal forest – or should I say what today looks to me like a bunch of trees?

  • phil martin

    How often have we seen photos of Bush reading? He’s told reporters that he and Rove are in a contest to see who can read the most books, but where’s the optical evidence?
    This photo suggests that Chavez is thoughtful and inquistive. The story supports this, as Chavez seems familiar with the contents of the book.
    When you consider UN speeches of the past that have inflamed passions in the US, you think of Kruschev banging his shoe and pledging to “bury us.” Chavez, by contrast, appears cool, controlled, and deliberate, even corporate. This guy has game.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/Riggsveda/ Riggsveda

    So much information comes at us so fast now that books give us the chance to slow it all down and get an encapsulization of what we’ve been watching fly past. It’s a pleasure to sit down and examine a book in thoughtful consideration after dashing around the internet or the TV channels.
    As for Chavez, his droll remarks set off just the fuss I’m sure he intended, and yes, the media bit, just like they bite anytime a celebrity steps outside of the expected role. In this case, while Chavez may have been fun to hear, his publicity stunt did nothing to further the cause of diplomatic resolution, which is, after all, the whole point of the UN. Instead, he just polarized people (the smaller nations were laughing and applauding gaily–what does that tell you?), and came off sounding like a loon.
    A loon in a nice suit, though.

  • http://www.privatepracticecommunity.com Q&A

    A lot of “throwing the book at ‘em” going on. Much more inspiring than Chavez’s old-school rhetorical position at the UN was the appearance of Chile’s new Madame President on The View yesterday. She gives promise that progressive forces will develop new language for new perspectives. Something more substantial than name-calling matches with the right-wing, where “fascist” is being thrown both ways. Maybe it will be a girl thing to make some sense of international affairs Sept 11, 1973-Sept 11, 2001. One thing Madame President said was that when an individual or small number of women enter politics, politics changes them. But when a mass movement of women participate politically, politics is transformed. Imagine 2008: Move over Chavez, Madame Presidents from Chile and US have something to say.

  • ummabdulla

    Phil Martin: “How often have we seen photos of Bush reading?”
    Well, c’mon, Phil, there was that “My Pet Goat” book… And Laura probably reads a lot…

  • http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/2006/08/pregnant_pause.html#comments Chris

    To question #5, why did it run so wide? Because it fit the space available. Deep thought means nothing here; especially in .com venues, most pictures are merely space savers for the next ones to flash onto the screen.

  • http://www.theunapologeticmexican.org Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    Phil is right, Chris is wrong.
    The pic runs so wide because it shows a thoughtful, intelligent aspect of Chavez. That is NOT the image we perpetuate in the USA. And it says so many things. But mostly, it implies that our overall messaging system is corrupted; if these Latin Wackos read, and can be pensive, thoughtful, and literate….then what of the image we are given by our own media? And what of the other images we are fed of other non-Americans? What of all the skulls we are blowing up? Did they once contain thoughtful brains? Can non-Americans have souls, fer CRYIN’ OUT LOUD???????

  • cat food

    Chavez appears to be purposely holding the book so that the author and title are clearly visible. Of course, it’s been clear for some time that he is very media-savvy.
    I can imagine Noam Chomsky’s bemusement. I haven’t heard if he issued any statement regarding the matter, other than to point out that the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated.

  • jt from BC

    phil martin > “When you consider UN speeches of the past that have* inflamed passions in the US*, you think of Kruschev banging his shoe and pledging to “bury us.” –well phil not quite unless you enjoy being inflamed..
    With “the we will bury you…” and characterization of Chavez as” a stunt maker” I note an interesting parallel. Historically we are able to nuance and put Kruschev’s quote in context. Naturally if one does not understand how MSM manipulation works its much easier to write off Chavez as just another dangerous clown as well.
    The New York Times link is great, as usual they are more concerned with Form than Content, (# 2 “romanticized by the press” don’t you mean demonized ?) and continue to do the heavy lifting for Bush in comic book photo fashion confirming “evil doers” from the past..
    For the record:
    1) the we will bury you quote is from 1956 and was stated at the Polish Embassy; a fiery line was that communism would eventually bury the *economic free market* and political democratic systems, best represented by the U.S
    2) Address to the UN General Assembly, Sept. 23 1960-official text (closing remark)
    “.. let us talk, let us argue, but let us settle the questions of general and complete disarmament and let us bury colonialism that is accursed of all mankind” http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1960khrushchev-un1.html
    3) note the shoe banging was not in this speech; but done on Oct 10, 1960
    “The shoe-banging incident conveyed, for the West, a convenient ideological message: Our enemy is ridiculous and uncivilized; therefore, he is capable of everything. We, too, then have to be prepared for anything”.
    “But he would do it in a manner different from the polite hypocrites of the West with their appropriate words, false niceties and calculated deeds. A provokingly dramatic (or tragi-comic) act of shoe-banging was supposed to separate two worlds, not only in terms of their titles and their politics, but also in their means of making diplomacy.
    As a good performer, Khrushchev needed a strong, convincing exit from the United Nations and the United States. *in the excitement of fist-banging at Sumulong’s words* ( Philippine Ambassador) his watch fell off. Meanwhile, his shoes, made of durable Soviet leather, were too new and too tight, and he removed them. He bent down to pick up the watch and saw an empty shoe*.
    These insights I learned from my family. Since the 40-year spell of embarrassment was broken, we were finally ready to talk about those times.
    I still think that, had the shoe-banging not happened, it would have been invented. The best anecdote is always the one that truly reflects the morality and character of certain times. The shoe incident became a real symbol of the Cold War, probably the only war in which fear and humor peacefully coexisted.”
    -some excerpts
    Nina Khrushcheva is senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York. She contributed this comment to the Los Angeles Times. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2000/09/13/040-print.html Sept 13, 2002

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Its fake, but well exoploited image. The wide lense give sit a cinematic look, a larger than life image, like the Che Guevarra staring into open space in so many T-Shirts.

  • http://www.lope.ca/blog Lope

    You asked how much more thought might have gone into the staging of this image. In regards to the book edition, there is another Spanish version of Chomsky’s book, you can see it here.
    http://i.biblio.com/m/52/9580478252.jpg
    Chavez could have waved around this second version, but the cover is boring and lacks the globe and US flag. I’m sure they made a consious decision to use the one in the image.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/vicfitz82 Victor F

    It looks like a still from a movie, maybe that’s why it’s powerfully wide. Chavez’s head is cut off on the top so he’s crowding the frame, the geometric patter of the railing in the background enforces the strength of the composition. The pink blotch behind and to the right might be a reference to the “pinko” socialists in America Chavez is seen to have an influence on, seeing as it’s “behind” him and all, but it’s really just a formless, out of focus opinion from those on the right that leftists would endorse Chavez’s statements. Leftists in America have their own reasons to rip on Bush, they don’t need Chavez’s words to do their own work.
    Another reason this photo must have been chosen is its “readability,” on many levels. Chavez is reading a book and we can read the author and the title. Using text in photos is one fast way to make them engaging and readable as long as the text relates to the story. Also, maybe his comments were a little loopy but we can see his composure and his thoughtfulness. All politics is a show and Chavez knows how to get an audience, anyway.

  • Mad_nVT

    And then there is the red whatever in the foreground, like a waving red flag for the right-wing commenatators that became so incensed over Chavez’s actions.
    Like a red cape out of focus to an enraged bull, and Chavez is sticking banderillas into the stupid, half-blind bull.
    “It still smells of sulphur, but God is with us.” WOW !!!

  • Melissa

    Chavez stands in front of a podium, dressed to impress and clearly speaking to an audience. To me, the image is powerful because when I see someone with written material, referencing it, I am more likely to listen to what they are saying. He is holding the book open, as if to say, “Here is proof. It is written proof of what I am saying.”

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Jerry : “This all comes in a week or so during which Bill Clinton told us to “read the book” and George Bush said “don’t read the report”. But what do we do? Read. And every day I read more about what a manipulator of truth Bush is. Which then makes your third question the most important. When will a strong voice emerge from the liberal forest..?
    Somewhere in that Book of Books there must exist a perfect allegory that depicts, to wit an imperious nitwit ruler and a cabal of self-serving righteous cronies, all shown up by a man riding in from stage-left on a donkey: but i’ll be damned if they can’t find Him!

  • http://www.keirneuringer.blogspot.com Keir

    I think I linked in a comment some days ago to this article, but it’s especially relevent here.
    Some answers to BAG’s questions. . .
    1. Even if the book edition was chosen for its cover, what’s wrong with that? As Chavez said himself, he wants to get this book into the hands of people in the US.
    2. I don’t think Chavez was particularly romanticized by the press. He was mainly reviled. He was even ridiculed (widely) for for a gaffe he didn’t commit. (The person Chavez had wished to meet was JK Galbraith, who died in April, and not Chomsky, who he of course knows is alive and active.)
    4. I don’t know how important books are in the abstract. I know books by celebrities are important. That’s why sales jumped in the recent cases of William Blum and Noam Chomsky praised by hated foreigners. I wonder if Ward Churchill’s sales have jumped lately.
    From the Michael Albert article linked above . . .

    Just as [Chavez] had reviled Bush before, he had celebrated Chomsky before too, over and over, with little effect. This guy Chavez tries and tries again. He loses, he loses, he loses, he wins.
    I would guess that Chavez didn’t think to himself, they will revile me in their columns and commentaries, so I better not rip into Bush and celebrate Chomsky. The ensuing ridicule might reduce my stature, I better avoid it. To rip Bush and celebrate Chomsky will look strange, I better avoid it. If I do that I will be giving time to elevating someone else, and not myself, and I better avoid it. I will be displaying anger and passion, and that will brand me as uncivil and improper, it will label me as undignified and even juvenile, and I better avoid it.
    [. . .]
    I think what made Chavez seem so peculiar to so many people is that what he did was, in fact, incredibly peculiar. To stand up to the classist, racist, sexist, authoritarian leader of the U.S. and to mince no words reviling his immorality, was indeed incredibly peculiar. So let’s all stand up to power and privilege and take the stigma out of doing so. It is part of removing the smell of sulfur from the air.

  • http://biowiki.org/IanHolmes Ian Holmes

    Why does the wide shot have a powerful effect? Because of what’s in the wide shot. The desk, microphone, the railing, the wide space around him; all reinforce the UN setting.
    He reads Chomsky in between calling Bush a devil.
    something like that anyway — something about the feeling of the UN…

  • ummabdulla

    Keir: “He was even ridiculed (widely) for for a gaffe he didn’t commit. (The person Chavez had wished to meet was JK Galbraith, who died in April, and not Chomsky, who he of course knows is alive and active.)”
    Thanks for clearing that up. I had read his speech, and then when I saw claims that he had thought Chomsky was dead, I thought, “I don’t remember him saying that” – because I think I would have noticed. But I didn’t take the time to go back and check.

  • PTate in MN

    Isn’t it curious that leaders of countries with lots of oil who disagree with Bush are vilified/dehumanized by the WH & the American media? We compared GWB and Ahmadinejad a few days ago–and here we have Chavez.
    If you turn off the in-group/out-group filter, how is what Chavez said all that different from GWB standing up and calling the heads of other nations “evil”?
    Why is the picture so wide? If they cut the frame down to just Chavez, it becomes a rather dull shot. On the other hand, keeping it wide, it is like we are viewing a movie: the picture provides a narrative. The red coat in the background and the podium provide a context.
    The whole war on Terror is a movie plot, to Bushco. I do wish these guys would get a grip on reality.
    Meanwhile, Ahmadinejab and Chavez are both readers. That’s such a contrast.

  • Robert Carino

    But notice the right wing extended essay is conspicuously absent? I can name a number book length essays on the failure of the Iraq war–every aspect, from the initial invasion to the pathetic aftermath (Cobra II, Assasin’s Gate, Fiasco, etc.). But all there is from the right is, well, Ann Coulter and Bill O’rielly book rage. They’ve published nothing on the war because all they have at the end of the day is talking points. This is so obvious but no one ever mentions it. The Repubs should be able to fire back: “Fiasco?” Well, you just go read “The Creeping Victory” By Joe Blow, That explains in detail how we’re going for the slow win in Iraq!” But they can’t because no such book exists. Meanwhile Chavez and Clinton are begging us to read books that have allready been swept aside by newer ones, there being so many.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Robert:
    I’m finishing COBRA II right now (plan to buy Fiasco today or tomorrow) and the arrogance, ingonorance and sheer stupidity of Rummy and his ilk is outstanding.
    They went to Iraq to show how tough they are, man did they screw the pooch on that one….

  • jt from BC

    PTate in MN > “If you turn off the in-group/out-group filter, how is what Chavez said all that different from GWB standing up and calling the heads of other nations “evil”? ”
    Perhaps the context ? try this interview
    Sunday, Sep. 24, 2006
    The Sound & The Fury By TIM PADGETT
    TIME: Why do you attack President George W. Bush with such jolting language?
    CHAVEZ: I believe words have great weight, and I want people to know exactly what I mean. I’m not attacking President Bush; I’m simply counterattacking. Bush has been attacking the world, and not just with words–with bombs. When I say these things I believe I’m speaking for many people, because they too believe this moment is our opportunity to stop the threat of a U.S. empire that uses the U.N. to justify its aggression against half the world. In Bush’s speech to the U.N., he sounded as if he wants to be master of the world. I changed my original speech after reading his…” –google
    The Sound @ The Fury by Tim Padgett

  • MonsieurGonzo

    To the status quo ~ perhaps the most disturbing aspect of le phénomène Chavez is that his political basis is “people power” rather than any traditional military or petro-industrial like crony complex.
    That is different; this is something new, hitherto rare if not unknown: in all other States within which OIL riches reside, for example ~ those régimes become no longer dependent upon, nor representative of, nor responsible to the fruits and labours of Their People.
    The peoples’ commerce becomes, thus subservient to an enriched class in the singular service (if given even that dignity) of the extraction of their wealth. Any notion of nation = Vox populi, for all intents and purposes, ceases to exist.
    Chavez does not write or otherwise articulate this, his essential manifesto… which would be i daresay his most dangerous export. Rather, here he reads Chomsky. A curious choice (?) Chomsky the Jewish intellectual, himself an anti-Zionist; some say “socialist” (but i really wonder) : is a great grenade-thrower; a shatterer of illusions, yes ~ but a nation-builder, not.
    To his credit, Chavez is not a petty dictator. He is simply petty. And to the oppressed peoples of all other resource-based régimes, that’s a pity.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    MG:
    I would agree with you up to the point that Chavez is a trheat to the Bush administration, in the sense that he can give teeth to the Latin American rebellion against North American Imperial power. As an interesting sidenote, the History Channel (in the U.S.) is broadcasting a documentary on the Mexican-American War. The parrallels to the Spanish-American War and the current war in Iraq are uncanny and tragic. Chavez speaks to an audience that knows U.S. history better than many of its citizens.

  • Peanut

    ummabdulla: Please don’t be so critical of ODL. He has read many, many books just this year:
    My Pet Cat………….My Pet Dog
    My Pet Gerbil……….My Pet Horse
    My Pet Parrot……….My Pet Pig
    My Friend Karl………My Friend Karen
    ….And many more.

  • http://www.theunapologeticmexican.org Nezua Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    If for no other reason but to justify my ridiculously overpriced (film) education, I must speak, now that two people have referred to this as a “wide” shot taken with a “wide” lens. It is neither. It is a MS (Medium Shot) taken with a long lens, or a telefoto lens. You can tell from both the depth of field (shallow), as well as the fact that you don’t feel close to him, really. You are seeing him as if through binoculars.
    A “wide” shot would show the area around him, a very big room, the bldg, or the horizon. A wide lens would introduce distortion toward the center and edges of the lens, and generally have a very deep area of focus.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/richsodergren/ rchsod

    although he`s a bit to huey long for my taste i think he is still a force that bush will have to deal with whether he wants to or not. the picture has all the elements that bush`s pictures lack. an image of an adult who can think on his feet and understands the world around him. i doubt chavez had to write a note wondering if he can go potty.
    the photo editor had a picture that conveyed everything bush is not,an adult in charge of his surroundings

  • John Walsh

    Bush is a fan of Camus (and therefore Sartre), which he keeps next to his, underlined and thumb worn copy of “My Pet Goat”. Chavez, a Socialist, is drawn to the works of Sociologist Noam Chomsky. That the book is the Spanish edition is a pretty shrewd highlighting of the so-called “Clash of Cultures”. Offering cheap heating oil to the “impoverished” residents of Harlem fits in with his “charm offensive”.
    His comments about “Bush the Devil” and the smell of sulfur remaining fits within the hyperbole of our current politics and frames Chavez as an adroit player. His comments were not directed towards Estados Unidos but to the Third World representatives who gain a measure of silent pleasure seeing the beard of Uncle Sam tweaked.

  • jt from BC

    Chavez’s Reading, Bush’s Reading
    “..He never talks about reading anything himself, but last summer his staff made a big deal about him having read Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger. In French, The Stranger is so short and is written in such simple language that it was for years the first novel given to American high school French students in their third semester…”
    Read more for the exciting details
    http://www.counterpunch.org/jackson09292006.html

  • Aunt Deb

    If Chavez had held up a copy of one of John Kenneth Galbraith’s books, there would have been less furor, don’t you think? It’s the promotion of Chomsky that was inflammatory. Chomsky has a certain position in this country, no matter how hard the right and the mainstream and the afraid-of-being liberal leftists work to undermine or deny that position.
    I thought, personally, that in the context of the speech he gave it was clear that Chavez was referring to JKG’s death, not Chomsky’s. I also found it a bit amusing to see the NYT and others attack Chavez for thinking Chomsky was dead when they themselves treat him as if he doesn’t exist. And they gave Bush’s inabilities to demonstrate knowledge when asked such soft coverage during the 2000 campaign — remember that? I’m quite sure Bush wouldn’t have known which of the two, Chomsky or Galbraith, was dead or alive on the day of Chavez’ speech, had you asked him.

  • jt from BC

    John Walsh: a few facts that may be helpful re Noam Chomsky and Cesar Chavez
    Noam Chomsky is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    –(Linguistics is the scientific study of human language.
    –Someone who engages in this study is called a linguist.)
    –describes himself as a libertarian socialist and a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism
    According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, between 1980 and 1992 Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar, and the eighth most cited scholar overall.
    > “That the book is the Spanish edition is a pretty shrewd highlighting of the so-called “Clash of Cultures”.
    Chomsky leaves this ‘Clash of Cultures’ nonsense to Bernard Lewis. His book deals with economics and empire, hence the title Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance.
    > “His comments were not directed towards Estados Unidos”
    Check the interview above: The Sound & The Fury By TIM PADGETT , you will get a more accurate picture toward whom his comments are directed.
    > “(and therefore Sartre)”
    Are you familiar with any work of J.P Sartre “W” has read recently or at anytime ?

  • readytoblowagasket

    Aunt Deb strikes *gold.* But thanks to jt, John Walsh, rchsod, and Mad nVT for sprinkling wisdom and wit along the thread.
    The reason the shot is *wide* is to accommodate the beautiful diamond shape of diagonals, which move from the railing in the background to the podium and down along the book and up Chavez’s lapel to the angle of the pink jacket behind him (the pink pulls our eye along that subtle line across Chavez’s body and off his shoulder), bringing us back to where we started. If pink jacket were cropped out of the picture, the “circle” would be broken and the image would be static. This image is powerful visually and symbolically: because it is dynamic, because red and green are complimentary colors, because the writerly themes that reverberate from this historic moment encompass poetic oration and contemplative solitude, passion and intellect, idealism and action (among other things). A brilliant shot.
    Gonzo, I can’t completely follow your diamond. Would you kindly connect your diagonals?

  • jt from BC

    AuntDed > “I also found it a bit amusing to see the NYT and others attack Chavez for thinking Chomsky was dead when they themselves treat him as if he doesn’t exist.”
    I see it as part of a deliberate casting of Chavez in the buffoon or clown category, re my post above of Kruschev depiction of some 45 years ago-”the more things change the more they stay the same”
    The MSM would have been less threatened by Kenneth Galbraith as he had been an advisor to virtually every president since John F Kennedy. Even “W” may have heard mention of him at a frat party when he was doing his MBA, not that he would recall anything past a vague name recollection.

  • http://www.keirneuringer.blogspot.com Keir

    Hey, one thing. . .it’s not exactly that NYT (or other mainstream media) completely black Chomsky out. He himself refuses to talk in soundbites, and so doesn’t go in for brief articles and tv appearances.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    gasket: I can’t completely follow…
    if Chavez wanted to learn how to grow a successful, Democratic-Socialist Government of a resource-based nation, that knowledge is not found in, say ~ Chomsky Chutzpah : He would make an alliance with NORWAY, and humbly seek that shining diamond’s know-how.
    if Chavez had any Cojones, he would seek not to merely entertain but to inspire the people of, eg., Middle Eastern oil emirates, or African blood-mining states; faced, as the peoples there are with the hideous choice of subjugation by Monarchy or Military Dictatorships, or the sale of their souls to Fundamentalist Theocracy…
    ie., there is a third way in the Third World: there is hope!
    instead, Chavez appeases the ruling elites of OPEC (!) He crowd-pleases the well-bred, well-fed ‘representatives’ of the Third World by what, making fun of a clown = BUSH?
    => I say there is NO RISK in that act; it is NOT a revolutionary or even a non-conformist action : it is an appeasement for the sake of applause; grand-standing ~ not grand; l’idée petite, and simply petty, thus.
    ANYBODY can blow holes through BUSH WORLD. c’est facile!
    There is little COURAGE, no revolution, in ridicule without remedy.

  • Jonathan Berhow

    Amen to N-L X-J, jt from BC, Aunt Deb, and Rafael (7:00).
    Chavez is only a “loon” if you think that he actually believes that Bush is in fact Satan incarnate. The coverage in the NYT and elsewhere indicates otherwise: he was engaging in a black comedy, theatrical schtick to make his point about the danger of US hegemony, and many at the assembly who heard him laughed along with the joke (remember when Bush was touring Latin America and Chavez showed up at a rally with a shovel and said, “I’m here to bury the trade agreement”?). The photo above conveys the seriousness of Chavez and the point he was making by indicating a source concerned with relevant data.
    Ptate in MN,
    “The whole war on Terror is a movie plot, to Bushco.” Indeed. A terrible fiction.
    “I do wish these guys would get a grip on reality.” They have a very firm grip. The trouble is, theirs is the reality of oligarchs, which is different from the reality of a great many of the rest of us.
    In re ummabdulla’s, and many other people’s, confusion over Chavez supposedly thinking that Chomsky was dead, and jt from BC’s note on word choice (using “attack” versus “counterattack”): This is how public opinion gets molded, or, “Now we see the violence inherent in the system.” :)
    MG,
    I don’t think that Chavez is petty, but we shall see. While I understand your point about cojones* (and your 4:02 was insightful), my take is that Chavez is at the “identify the problem” stage, as evidenced by the context of his speech in relation to changing the UN away from a tool of the US toward an international body that can stand up to US domination. Or…?
    * What do you make of his efforts to wrest more than 16% of Venezuela’s oil from foreign concerns?

  • http://www.futurebird.com futurebird

    Why did the photo editors run it so wide?
    So you know he’s in the UN. If you crop it he could just be at a desk, not a podium.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Jonathan:
    A word of caution when it come sto figures like Chavez. It is easy to imbude them with a larger than life aura, especially if you agree with some of their statements, but MG is right, there is a risk that men like Chavez can turn like some many figures in Latin American politics have done in the past, into a Napoleon. Not as conqueror, but as a false herald of change. We must all tread with extreme care.

  • Jonathan Berhow

    Rafael,
    Indeed. And I intend to “tread with extreme care,” although a little more can’t hurt. I take “but we shall see” seriously – perhaps Chavez will move past the Bush-bashing to something more substantial, more inspiring, perhaps not – and the question following the asterisk was not meant rhetorically. Also, what Chavez appears to be reading so intently is quite possible only the title page. Thanks for your advice.

  • Jonathan Berhow

    “Possibly” more “extreme care” is required.

  • Dave Mc

    Maybe the picture is meant to portray something else. If you didnt like Chavez and you liked chomsky even less you could interpret this picture a little differently, maybe something like this:
    “Ha- that tin-pot dictator wanna-be is nothing but a mouthpiece for that traitor son-of a b**** jew” .
    In this picture Chomsky looks bad to those who will see his book inspiring a sworn enemy of the US, and Chavez is equally confirmed as evil for reading Chomsky, who is in fact a freedom-hating Commie.
    What i see is Chavez getting in a bit of media outreach to the type of person who reads Chomsky and would be especially pleased to see that Chavez does too, that hes on your side, that hes really a nice guy.

  • mesquite

    I may be wrong, but I remember Bush’s suggestion on Musharref’s book was “Buy the book,” not “Read the book.”
    I remember thinking, “Typical, he’s thinking of money, not learning.”

  • Roger Q Callaway

    The “smell of sulfur”: comment and the “Devil was here” comment resonate with the very religious Christians who quote from the book of Daniel to prove that G.W.Bush is the antichrist and we are in the end days. Strangely, it is some of this group that Rove mobilized last election. After all, if you are one of the saved, the last days can’t come too soon. Soooo is Chavez working for Rove?
    (Just for the record, I like it here in this day and time.Let somebody else be raptured.)

  • lower_case A

    I’m wondering if anyone else noticed that the figure to the right and behind Chavez, in the red jacket, is a woman. I believe she is important to the story in this photograph. President Chavez often speaks about how important women are in a social revolution. I believe the photographer could have changed the angle just enough to have left her out, but intentionally added her as part of the overall theme.
    Another thing I noticed was the slight cropping of Chavez’ head, and how the end of his microphone is hidden behind the open book. What both of these say to me is that, what Chavez said in his speech has less to do with what he thinks personally, and more to do with what is said in Chomsky’s ‘Hegemony Or Survival’. In other words, if we read the book, we will better understand his position and his words. His facial expression tells us that we will find it very thought provoking, and somewhat surprising (but not shocking).
    There are other important aspects to the photo, but they have already been touched on in the comments.

  • Richard

    I’m a Canadian working in Southest Asia, and am well aware of the subject of the photo,and the controversy that he engenders in the North American press. To get a neutral view of the photo I asked my Asian wife to look at it and give me any impressions that she drew from the image. She did not recognize the subject of the photo, and moaned about commenting on something that she was not familiar with,(she has a background in the sciences). In the end she allowed that he seemed like a “good fellow” and that he looked serious. I then told her it was Hugo Chaves, and she said, “he’s that crazy South American”

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