Ruminations on Paul Graham’s A1 The Great North Road
by Luuk van den Berg on Nov 13, 2020
“The way in which we write history is tinged with this conundrum. It suggests blinders in the very least and in doing so, should compel an understanding of context that is piecemeal or limited”
Written by Brad Feuerhelm
This article was published on American Suburb X
It’s often difficult to unpack a particular body of work or historic book that has been republished without regarding the circumstances of the time in which it was produced. The point is not to say “It was like this” or “When it was…”, the point is to put some amount of context into the periphery of the images whether one was present at the time or not. Of course, to historicize also favours annotations that are often half-blind in their assertions of the disconnect between memory and representational “realities”. The way in which we write history is tinged with this conundrum. It suggests blinders in the very least and in doing so, should compel an understanding of context that is piecemeal or limited.
Though much has been written about Robert Frank’s The Americans with its brooding melancholy and implied “outsider” look in, it would be very hard to understand the book without taking into consideration the Post-War America that it was obliquely critical of. Without an awareness of how the American dream was pandered at home and abroad, it would be nearly impossible to gauge the impact of the book. We must to some degree historcize its content and in our evaluation keep the era of its production in mind, even if the current moment is largely removed from the memory of said production. It is of course a subjective book of images and a book about the fleeting occupation of being bound to the road and the moment as seen through Frank’s eyes and kerouac’s writing in equal measure to the world it vaguely represented.
Thatcher’s Britain of the 70’s and 80’s was a complex historical period. There are social and political machinations at play today that make the period hard to succinctly regard nearly forty years later. Having not been of age nor country to experience Thatcher’s Britain, my limited understanding of the atmosphere of the times is conditioned to what I have read or drawn from my own interests in both history and culture. My understanding of the time is that of utter confusion and perhaps above all, economic lament and terse and unyielding displays of governmental power moves upon or against the British citizen. From my outside position and from examining the cultural debris of the time through documentaries, books and films like Withnail and I from the future, I can draw a strange aimless conclusion about the time manifested by rain, joblessness and the ever-present and charming brand of British brand of black humor.
Full article →
Paul Graham - A1: The Great North Road
View book in shop →