My first post considered photography in the context of its dissemination within consumer capitalism, a context that, I suggested, secured the medium’s presence within modern culture even while dissipating its identity, thereby making possible the very thing it also makes impossible. This contradictory character, in Benjamin’s view a key aspect of the political economy of capitalism and therefore of photography too, is embodied in every aspect of the photographic experience.In my earlier post I spoke of “a disconnection of the photographic image from photography itself, blurring any firm distinction of form and substance.” It is striking, in the literature on photography, how we tend to look through a photograph as if the photograph itself isn’t there, as if a photograph is nothing but its image. In Camera Lucida, for example, Barthes provides a moving rendition of the indexicality of the photograph, telling us that “a sort of umbilical cord links the body of the photographed thing to my gaze.” But he’s in fact talking about images he has seen in photo-mechanically illustrated magazines like Nouvel observateur. He’s talking, in other words, about reproductions of photographs that are themselves reverse-toned reproductions from a negative, the only thing in this equation originally touched by Barthes’s “carnal medium” of light. And yet almost no-one thinks of a negative when confronted with the word ‘photograph’ (look at all those published rhapsodies about photography’s indexicality and see if any of them refer to a negative). We are all, it seems, quite happy to see through the act of reproduction as if it is invisible, or as if this act is indeed what constitutes photography, is what photography is.