Brian Dillon

Postcards from YouTube

How to See the World

By

Pelican 333pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

The word ‘selfie’ – colloq. (orig. Austral.) – entered the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014, having been declared word of the year at the end of 2013. ‘A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media’ is how the OED describes it. The earliest citation for the word is from 2002. The internet had by then been messing with modes of popular self-presentation for several years. Nicholas Mirzoeff, in his ambitious – too ambitious – survey of contemporary image-making, calls the selfie ‘the first visual product of the new networked, urban global youth culture’ and writes of the ‘evolution of the self-portrait into the omnipresent selfie’. This last remark suggests he has an odd conception of ‘evolution’, which ignores the long history of photographic self-portraiture – there’s not a mention of the fun once had with photo booths – in favour of a thrilled insistence on the exceptionalism of today’s selfie-conscious culture.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'To be clever without wanting to glory in it, put dimmer people down or make an act of covering it up (viz Boris Jo… ,
    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,