Lunchtime Photo

This photograph, Untitled 17, is an ironic commentary on the current state of ironic commentary in modern photography. It is, after all, not merely a banal picture of modern human civil engineering captured with a banal example of modern human consumer electronics. It is that, of course, but, ironically, what it represents is the most singular and miraculous condition of the human species throughout history: thirst. But not the quotidian thirst of a lion for its prey or a mosquito for a bare arm in summer. It represents thirst on a grand scale, thirst so essential and so vast that it can never be sated. Not even by 10 million gallons of suburban water treated to meet federal requirements for purity and trace metal content. It is this sort of thirst that distinguishes man from beast; a raging and, for most of us, ultimately unknowable longing for dominion that pushes the unwary to the inky edge of death, but ultimately allows an architect to create the Parthenon, a writer to dare use a semicolon, or Microsoft to produce Excel.

And yet, in the end, this representation of the most human of all desires is reduced to nothing but pixels, the most evanescent of all man’s creations. It is appropriate, then, that these pixels, in turn, be reduced to money, the most concrete of all man’s creations.

A 6 x 20-foot gelatin on metal print of this photograph will be auctioned next month at Christie’s with a reserve price of $1 million. Please contact them directly if you wish to be involved in the bidding. You are all my dear friends, but I’m afraid that asking me for a “favor” because this image would look great over your new sofa is quite out of the question. But don’t take it badly. This is business, not personal.

January 6, 2019 — Lake Forest, California


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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