Hero: how to synthesize

As of September 28, 2013, the prose of Wikipedia’s article “Rudolf Berthold” pants with a breath smelling of nineteenth-century hygiene.

Throughout the summer of 1918 Berthold continued flying, increasingly relying on morphine for pain relief. Such was his strength of will he also taught himself to write with his left hand.

The image that comes to mind is less a picture than an idea, less an idea than a corpus of prose. Since the day of publication of A Farewell to Arms, at the latest, it hasn’t been possible to understand the phrase “Such was his strength of will” as anything but a phrase from a textbook. “Such was his strength of will” is language attempting to stand alone, without the aid of image.

Charles W. Sanders, Sanders' school Speaker, 1857

But look at the image on its own terms, with its explanatory language (“Unser erfolgreicher Kampf-Flieger”) reduced to a remainder left flatfooted at the bottom.

San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, catalog number 10_0017272

Then follow the image’s hinted command, open Photoshop, and use the Dodge control on the eyes.

You must. Such was the image’s strength of will. And now you cannot stop seeing.

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