Post-Truth… That’s Life

In truth, this post, like so much of life, and perhaps death (a subtle reference to the classic tweet: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”), these days, was inspired by a tweet:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. (

Among the many questions that this word of the year invokes, perhaps the least important is: is it possible to make a blog post out of this? Are there relevant photos in our huge, beautiful, big league and hygge-like archive? Perhaps images of propaganda or trick photography might fit the bill. But maybe it would be thought-provoking (and bloggable) to present photos of life in a pre-post-truth world. Here are a few versions of John Filo’s famous photo from Kent State. The series won a 1971 Pulitzer Prize for “Spot News Photography: John Paul Filo of Valley Daily News and Daily Dispatch, Tarentum and New Kensington, PA. For his pictorial coverage of the Kent State University tragedy on May 4, 1970.” ( The photo “became a symbol of college protest in our country. The impact of the photograph is immeasurable even today.” ( A fence post was airbrushed out of a widely used press print in the early 1970s. (More info here.) The back of the photo is demonstrative of a pre-post-truth world. (Overheard at a recent protest: “Build a fence around Mike Pence!”) This is not to illustrate a post-truth world, but to do the opposite, to propose that photography can often preserve and memorialize “less influential objective facts.” And what’s true is not always black and white and in focus; memory is post-truth. A post-post photo and pre-post-less photo in a post-truth post.

John Paul Filo, [Mary Ann Vecchio grieving over body of college student Jeffrey Glenn Miller shot by National Guardsman during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University, Ohio], May 4, 1970 (1919.2005)

John Paul Filo, [Mary Ann Vecchio grieving over body of college student Jeffrey Glenn Miller shot by National Guardsman during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University, Ohio], May 4, 1970 (57.1998)


LIFE, “Kent State: four deaths at noon,” photos by John Filo, John Darnell and Howard Ruffner, May 15, 1970 (2012.46.4)


“I was standing to the right of the Guard when the shooting started,” he [Howard Ruffner, photographer] recalls. “I assumed they were shooting into the air. I couldn’t believe they’d shoot into a crowd. Suddenly I understood and dropped to the ground – right on top of my cameras. In a few seconds it was over and I began to photograph the wounded and dying. People kept saying, ‘No pictures, don’t take any pictures,’ but I had to. I knew pictures were the only way to tell this story.”
Ralph Graves, Managing Editor. Life, May 15, 1970, p.3

Vik Muniz, Memory Rendering of Kent State Shooting: The Best of LIFE, 1995 (155.1998.2)

These are photographs of drawings done strictly from memory. The source of imagery employed in the execution of these works are utterly mental, bearing no direct connections with former pictures or depictions of the events. Vik Muniz, The Best of Life portfolio.

PS. In truth, these pre-post-truth and amazeballs pair of “word of the year” posts from the past: Yolo! and unfriend are perhaps better than this post-truth post. That’s life or Yolo!

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1 Response to Post-Truth… That’s Life

  1. I am Scottish but I know of this from Neil Young’s song Ohio what a great blog about something that considering I was only 6 years of age and born across the Atlantic I am aware of is quiet impressive

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