Yearly Archives: 2016

Henri Cartier-Bresson, inheritor and photographer

The Inheritance Project

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”

“Born in France in 1908, Henri Cartier-Bresson studied painting with Andre Lhote in the late 1920s and made a serious commitment to photography in the early 1930s. [ed: Cartier-Bresson’s work as a photographer was made possible by his father, a successful industrialist, who wanted his son to be free to pursue his passion.] Some of his most famous images, made in France, Italy, and Spain, date from these early years. . . . He returned to Spain in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War to make a documentary film on hospitals in Republican Spain. In 1940 he was captured by the Germans and spent three years in prisoner-of-war camps before escaping. He then worked with the Paris underground, and filmed a documentary on the homecoming of French prisoners of war.

“In 1947, two years after the apocalypse ended that was called the Second World War, Cartier-Bresson . . . co-founded the photography agency Magnum. The world’s most prestigious photographic agency was formed by four photographers – Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson [ed: two of the four] . . . had been very much scarred by the conflict and were motivated both by a sense of relief that the world had somehow survived and the curiosity to see what was still there. They created Magnum . . . to reflect their independent natures as both people and photographers – the idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum, emphasizing not only what is seen but also the way one sees it.

“Back in France, I was completely lost,” Cartier-Bresson explained in an interview. . . “At the time of the liberation, the world having been disconnected, people had a new curiosity. I had a little bit of money from my family, which allowed me to avoid working in a bank. I had been engaged in looking for the photo for itself, a little like one does with a poem. With Magnum was born the necessity for telling a story. For the next two decades his work in photography continued to take him all over the world—including India, Burma, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, the U.S.S.R., Cuba, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.” Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photographer:

“Back in France, I was completely lost,” Cartier-Bresson explained in an interview. . . “At the time of the liberation, the world having been disconnected, people had a new curiosity. I had a little bit of money from my family, which allowed me to avoid working in a bank. I had been engaged in looking for the photo for itself, a little like one does with a poem. With Magnum was born the necessity for telling a story. For the next two decades his work in photography continued to take him all over the world—including India, Burma, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, the U.S.S.R., Cuba, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.”

It is clear from this brief summary that Cartier-Bresson was committed to revealing war and other kinds of injustice to the world.

He worked using a tiny Leica, so small that he was able to photograph people without their knowing it was happening. His pictures are both spontaneous and beautifully composed, which is remarkable when one considers that, as he said, “photography is the simultaneous recognition of a second, of the significance of an event.” For example,one photo is titled “Gestapo informer recognized by a woman she had denounced. Deportation camp, Dessau, Germany, 1945” Seeing this picture the intense anger on the face of the woman who had been imprisoned and the shamed face of the informer, is remarkable. I wonder: How did Cartier-Bresson happen to be present in this place and at this moment in time?

Almost all of his photographs show people in motion —children playing, homeless men  in the street, children running—moments in time. The vitality of the images he captured is astonishing.

This phenomenal productivity and the scope of his work would not have been possible without his father’s financial support, although Cartier-Bresson was not wealthy in the conventional sense of the word.

After a long career, Cartier-Bresson died in 2004.




Jane Dough (obviously a pseudonym, and a clever one), in her own words, ” grew up in the suburbs of an industrial city, went to college, worked a few years, inherited a buttload of money, and retired. This is what it’s like to be closeted, conflicted, unheroic, and rich.”

Commentary by The Inheritance Project: This is just the kind of offering from a reader of publications I love to get. At the end of the post you will find a link to all the other posts by “Jane.” Originally published at McSweeny’s Internet Tendency.

“It’s not relaxing to be in charge and responsible all the time. Luxury vacations don’t offer much relief for rich people because there’s always something to complain about, like bad pillows or the way your human coffee table keeps shifting position. And yes, we hidden rich need a break from our own dictatorial tendencies just as much as the proud rich. We burn out not from commanding others so much as from commanding ourselves.

For a true sabbath from the penal servitude of willing, consider a luxury renunciation vacation at an 18th-century Franciscan monastery or an organic farm-to-table yoga retreat. Or turn your will over to a stern, passive-aggressive guru and enjoy daily metaphysical beatings about the head and face. Whether you’re an independently wealthy crystal-loving theosophist or a billionaire paranoid recluse, here are ten ideas for personal-growth vacationing.1

[From The Inheritance Project: unfortunately, the rest of this piece was pasted into this blog post with the numbers in reverse. But I don't know how to fix it, not being a techno-nerd. You'll enjoy this in its backward format.]

10. Swim with dolphins on a cruise with The Skeptical Inquirer.

9. Hire shaman, create safe ceremonial space, ingest Scotch bonnet.

8. Tell family you’re going on a yoga retreat in Bali but instead go to New York and have facelift. Walk around Central Park looking elegant and creepy in bandages like Claude Rains in The Invisible Man or that weird self-portrait by Paul Outerbridge. Form lifelong friendship with bellhop.

7. Be forgotten in a sensory deprivation tank. Have psychic break. At intake center, pen narrative of experience on roll of toilet paper. Live quietly at “rest home” for 38 years. Be rediscovered by Aucklander fan who informs you your memoir has become a cult classic in New Zealand. Go on book tour.

6. Attend legendary weight-loss boot camp called the Ashram in Southern California. From website: “You’ll release yourself from any decisions, as our amazing staff guides you to your goals using their talent, joy, heart and lots of contagious laughter.” Translation: “You will hate life as we force-march you up mountains, feed you bark chips and rouse you after a sleepless night listening to your Oscar-nominated roommate’s soft moaning.” Lose 10 pounds. Cost: $5K.

5. Attend five-day intensive for codependency at annex to world-class East Coast drug and alcohol rehab center. At daily recreation hour, do best to fulfill assignment to “play” or “have fun” with your inner child. Learn you actively hate inner child, who’s none too fond of you either. Realize inner child has hidden from you. On second-to-last day, while on rusty carousel in nearby park, notice inner child loitering by the swing set, pivoting toe of sneaker in dust to feign indifference.

SELF: Is there anything in particular you’d enjoy doing?
INNER CHILD: I don’t care.
SELF: Nothing?
INNER CHILD: Whatever you want to do.

Attain breakthrough by having fun together smashing acorn with big rock. Cost: $3K.

4. Attend 10-day silent meditation retreat. Focus on breath. Focus on sound of people coming into the hall late. Focus on how loud they are but then focus on the people sighing loudly as if to chastise latecomers. Focus on how much better you are for not being uptight like those jerks who police everybody. Feel warm surge of contentedness. Take joy in one’s goodness. Get teary with compassion for those poor uptight bastards bound to their wheels of suffering. Feel somewhat dynamite about the fact that you, you, have detached from your ego and understood that the self is impermanent. Fidget as you realize you will have to wait three more days before you can post about this on Facebook. Cost: $700 (sliding scale).

3. Become dismayed at spoiled couch-potato offspring. Suggest kid play outside. After third time saying it, shout kid’s name. When kid looks up innocently from iPhone, debate whether to pack child off to Outward Bound or NOLS. Instead choose small boutique outfit that promotes “life-awareness skills” by having your child dropped into wilderness with nothing but an EpiPen and a trowel. Cost: $6K.

2. When offspring returns looking sinewy, bright-eyed and disconcerted by interior spaces, decide to climb Mt. Everest. Ascend by being carried to the summit in Sherpa’s arms like a baby. Cost: $85K.

1. In your drug-addled late 20s go regularly to steam rooms and saunas to sweat out toxins and improve future highs. Discover juicing, then, once, get a colonic. Injure latent problem area. Experience pain so bad it feels like someone is pouring lemon juice in a paper cut, in there. See charismatic proctologist, a big man with a resonant deep voice like Robert Barone fromEverybody Loves Raymond. Explain that you’ve had problem for 10 years and have treated it with Preparation H but it hasn’t really worked. Explain how sometimes on long car trips it gets so bad you sit facing backwards with your head on the glove box and your legs on the headrest. Before continuing with your story, shift uncomfortably in chair, not because you need a writing cliché to indicate transition but because it really hurts down there. Tell him about the colonic. Listen as he clears his throat and says,

“I’m going to ask you to take a look at something for me.”

Watch his graceful, Vanna White arm gesture toward an antique wall cabinet.

“Go on, take a look.”

Limp to cabinet and peer through glass at giant speculum with hand crank, stainless steel tongs big enough to lift ostrich eggs out of boiling water, and cracked rubber bulbs that you guess were for sucking god knows what out of god knows where. Hear him speak kindly to you, as if you were a small child.

“I call this my cabinet of curiosities.”

Spot something that looks disturbingly like a pulley. Spot familiar object, turn to him and ask,

“Is that a winch?”

Watch as he closes his eyes and nods sagely. Spot, oh god, stirrups. Hear his soothing voice intone, almost naively,

“I like to look at these objects. They calm me.”

Admit maybe he didn’t say that last part, the part about being calmed. Listen as he tells you these devices were used by quack doctors in the 19th century. Finally, hear him, in the kindest possible way, lecture you about how the colonic microflora know what they’re doing. Schedule surgery. When the anesthesiologist squeezes your hand to wake you, experience brief moment ofanattā, pure consciousness without self. Fall in love with anesthesiologist. Cost: $200 (after insurance).

- – -

1 All prices are close to what it actually costs to do these treatments and programs.

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Like a Second Mother: Nannies and Housekeepers in the Lives of Wealthy Children — available again

from Barbara Blouin, The Inheritance Project

The book Like a Second Mother: Nannies and Housekeepers in the Lives of Wealthy Children is officially out of print after I gave away hundreds of copies in the early 2000s. It wasn’t selling, which broke my heart because I think it is my best book. I recently spoke with a friend who I interviewed for the book; she told me that all her siblings (five) are currently reading the book. They love it! It’s as simple as that. (I don’t know how they are finding the books … probably in used bookstores).
This is a big collection of interviews with people who had caregivers (nannies and housekeepers) in their lives—often in families where the children were neglected or sometimes even abused. These caregivers were their protectors, and the children bonded with them. Many of these stories are accompanied by photos. I also interviewed many caregivers, as well as combinations: adults who had caregivers; caregivers; and sometimes also parents.

It is not possible to order this book online, but I encourage you to buy it directly from me, the author. The original price was $24.95 because it is a big book and was expensive to produce. I am now offering it for $15.00 US plus shipping. The cost of shipping depends on where you live.

Please contact me directly. You can pay me through my Paypal account.

Anna Maria Tremonti interviews investigative journalist Jane Mayer, author of “Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Radical Right”

Contributed by The Inheritance Project

On February ? (the date has been removed from “The Current” website) Anna Maria Tremonti, host of CBC Radio’s public affairs program, interviewed Jane Mayer, an investigative journalist for the New Yorker, about her new book, Dark MOney: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Radical Right. the Koch brothers and their mostly hidden activities to undermine democracy in the U.S. I am bound to adhere to the CBC’s policy of not reprinting their transcripts, but you can read this transcript, “Dark Money,” in the link given here. You need to scroll down a few pages to find it, but it isn’t difficult.

This interview follows the frighteningly successful efforts of Charles Koch and David Koch, currently the fifth and sixth wealthiest Americans, to make use of the “Citizens United” movement to subvert U.S. democracy. “Citizens United’s stated mission is to restore the United States government to “citizens’ control,” seeking to “reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.” To fulfill this mission, Citizens United produces television commercials, web advertisements, and documentary films.” (excerpted from Citizens United Organization)

A Supreme Court ruling in January 2010 “tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates. In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.” Citizens for Public Integrity.

For more, read the entire transcript.