I own a selfie stick.
This is not really by choice. That’s not to say it was forced upon me; it was somewhat consensual, coming free with a purchase of something I actually wanted. I have never used a selfie stick, and I don’t think the mere fact that I now have one all to myself is going to change that. Its only benefit to me will be to reduce the net loss on the original purchase when it goes to a loving home via eBay.
Nevertheless, this glistening shaft of photographic egotism’s awkward intrusion into my home led me to consider the selfie more widely. This coincided with my reading a Guardian article by art critic Jonathan Jones who, even by the standards one might expect of a Guardian art critic, is so pretentious that if he were to look down his nose any more his eyeballs would be poking out of his nostrils.
Still, let’s try to forget for a moment about the fact that this is a man so out of touch that he thinks a member of the Royal Family is the arbiter of the cultural zeitgeist; instead, we will delve into his musings on the symbolism of self-portraiture:
The self portrait for Van Gogh and Picasso was a thing of fear and dread: we’ve taken that dread and airbrushed it out of existence. Selfies deny and erase a fundamental human self-consciousness. […] The widespread delusion that selfies have anything in common with real portraits – that when Rembrandt painted his own image he was somehow daubing a “selfie” – is a tragic attempt to reduce the most profound human experiences to total banality.
Is this really a “widespread delusion”? For me to try to compare a selfie I take with the work of Van Gogh would be like drunkenly falling on a piano’s keyboard and declaring through boozy breaths that the sound created was on a level with Debussy. However euphonious it sounds to me, I know this to be folly. The selfie is not about art, just as Picasso didn’t daub his visage to record his night out with the lads.