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Believing Is Seeing

Observations on the Mysteries of Photography

Errol Morris - Author

Paperback | $25.00 | add to cart | view cart
ISBN 9780143124252 | 336 pages | 27 May 2014 | Penguin | 9.13 x 7.36in | 18 - AND UP
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Summary of Believing Is Seeing Summary of Believing Is Seeing Reviews for Believing Is Seeing An Excerpt from Believing Is Seeing
Academy Award–winning director Errol Morris turns his eye to the nature of truth in photography

In his inimitable style, Errol Morris untangles the mysteries behind an eclectic range of documentary photographs. With his keen sense of irony, skepticism, and humor, Morris shows how photographs can obscure as much as they reveal, and how what we see is often determined by our beliefs. Each essay in this book is part detective story, part philosophical meditation, presenting readers with a conundrum, and investigates the relationship between photographs and the real world they supposedly record. Believing Is Seeing is a highly original exploration of photography and perception, from one of America’s most provocative observers.


"Morris's book is beautifully designed, underscoring that visual evidence has its own texture, its own feel. Like Arbus, Morris knows that photographs gratify some of our deep cravings, but also that they also never fully satisfy. A photograph "partially takes us outside ourselves" and "gives us a glimpse . . . of something real." This is a key part of what Arbus and Morris are both after.
Photography's preservation of traces of the past offers the possibility that "we too can be saved from oblivion by an image that reaches beyond our lives." By paying such close and caring attention to traces of the past, Morris greatly increases the possibility of their living on. He shows us what it means to do the hard work of saving memories from oblivion."
-Michael Roth, The Washington Post

"Morris brings an insatiable and contagious curiosity throughout to the convolutions that arise between art and truth telling."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"...Morris's book feels less like traditional photography criticism than like the novels of W. G. Sebald, which are similarly obsessed with truth, memory and war. We get odd, absorbing pictures of Mayan ruins, of Picasso and his mistress, of the high heels worn by Morris's tour guide in Crimea: shanks, shoes, a shadow (presumably the photographer's) falling across the once boot-trodden road. Like extra problem sets in a textbook, these photos offer us additional opportunities to practice the art of looking, while simultaneously multiplying the scale of, as Morris's subtitle puts it, 'the mysteries of photography.'"
-New York Times Book Review

"Believing Is Seeing is an important book: It reminds us, at a time when it is remarkably easy to manipulate images and we are daily inundated with more and more of them, to ask: 'What, after all, are we looking at?'"
-Wall Street Journal

"[A]n elegantly conceived and ingeniously constructed work of cultural psycho-anthropology wrapped around a warning about the dangers of drawing inferences about the motives of photographers based on the split-second snapshots of life that they present to us. It's also a cautionary lesson for navigating a world in which, more and more, we fashion our notions of truth from the flickering apparitions dancing before our eyes."
-Los Angeles Times

"Delightfully conversational..."
-Boston Globe

"...simultaneously bewildering and thrilling, like finding a fathomless secret world hidden behind the seeming simplicity of everyday life."
-Salon

"Morris' assiduous and profound inquiry into the relationship between reality and photography is eye-opening, mind-expanding, and essential in this age of ubiquitous digital images."
-Booklist (starred review)

"Students of photography-and fans of CSI-will find this a provocative, memorable book..."
-Kirkus Reviews


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