This site crossed a quantitative threshold last night when it surpassed 250,000 page views. It was almost two years to the day when I installed the WordPress.com stat counter to measure Internet traffic here, and a little more than seven months since the count reached 100,000. On that occasion I reposted Degas’s Spartan Girls Provoking Boys, which remains the most viewed page on the site (18,718 and counting. I’m celebrating today with the legendary Kiki of Montparnasse, who posed for Man Ray’s iconic 1924 photo montage, Le Violin de Ingres. This image was first posted on February 6, 2008; with 14,982 page views, it’s giving Spartan Girls a run for the money.
I harbor no illusions about what all this means. It’s a nice round number, but 250,000 page views are not 250,000 pages read. The lion’s share of these page views were images such as Spartan Girls and Le Violin de Ingres that turned up in Google Image search results. In that respect, Google has been good to me. Very little of the vast and sundry things I choose to write about would ever make it to the first page of web search results without an image.
No one ever questioned why or how a blind flaneur could produce web pages showcasing such images. It didn’t happen by accident or irony. It doesn’t represent “leakage” in some categorical imperative separating sight and blindness, as a scholar of visual culture once suggested to me. I’ve done a lot of photo editing throughout a forty-year media career, and the Internet continues to expand my ability to pursue the work even as I lose sight. It could be that this blog is documenting a process of perception and attention that will culminate someday in a final image, the last one I manage to see. But, honestly, I intend it to document a different process, an evolution into another understanding of what an image is and can be. Take a look at this blog’s very first post: Walter Benjamin pointed the way in his essay “The Return of the Flaneur” when he spoke of the flaneur as curator of images and the genius loci.
Those of you who have followed the blog may have noticed that its appearance has changed significantly in recent months. My posting has become erratic, too. This happened as the result of a WordPress security problem that began last July, which I have been fighting ever since. The hacking shows up as hidden code that’s aimed at scamming the Googlebot. Fortunately, my readers haven’t seen it unless they examine source code. I had to drop the outdated and vulnerable Moonlight theme that once graced the site’s design, even though it enabled me to better view the images. Fighting the hack has consumed much of the creative time and energy that otherwise would have gone into new content. There have been times when I was so discouraged that I thought I might just take the site down, but its web traffic has continued to grow despite the hack, and 250,000 hits tell me to hang on. Something is working right.