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Sleuthing Creeley's Eye


from the Boston Phoenix,
April 8, 2005, is that a SECOND
<--------- eye or what??!

The first person to think that there was something weird abt Robert Creeley's R eye in the Pressed Wafer postcard and poster announcing a memorial reading at MIT for Creeley was Creeley's wife, Penelope. Have I gone mad, she asked me. It looks like Robert has two eyes. Did you do anything to the picture? Did you? Did you? I assured her I had printed the picture myself, from the original negative, abt twenty years ago at least. It was a so-called vintage print.

Subject: Re:postcards/posters

.......pen looked at the postcards and she swears bob has a glass eye in his 
missing eye, facing right!!!!!!do you remember if way back bob had a glass 
eye???? pen thinks he lost his glass eye in india and never replaced 
it.  do you have a memory?  I don't have a memory.  anyhow. that might just 
be the ONLY portrait of bob w/ his second glass eye, one other than the one 
lost in india.  I wrote to ask bobbie!!!!   ......pen says the card looks 
grand and she seems very pleased, if perplexed by the EYE. I have never 
noticed the second eye, because i KNOW there is just one eye and because of 
one eye spot in the image.  I always thought that one eye spot and one eye 
bob made the picture perfect. cheers,e.

to: Bevcobett...., PenHC
Subject: Fwd: here it is....

well, the mystery continues. like the shroud of turin or seeing the crying 
madonna.  I NEVER saw an eye in that image before pen mentioned the "eye" 
to me and now that's all i see. and it must be an illusion. it is my 
negative. never printed by anyone else. never touched. long long long 
before photoshop in any case. cheers.e.

From: bevcobett.....
Subject: bob's "eye" ()

You're right.  I keep looking at the photo and seeing the eye that can't be 
there.  Wouldn't the socket be dark? yes, but that looks like an eye to me. 
AAGGHHHH!......See you Saturday. Bill

from: bobbie hawkins
date:5/1/05  11:59:39 AM
subject:here it is

Dear Ellie,

     The question is, did this print come from your files?  At which point 
it is a mystery.
     But there were instances in the past where publishers took photos and 
"improved" them by making a second
eye.  This isn't the one I had in mind, but it does look like a second eye 
is there.

And no, bob never wore a glass eye while I was with him.
Let me know what the outcome is.

from: bevcobett....
subject:Eye for an eye (, )

to: elsad@comcast.net

Ellie:the plot thickens.  Last night in Providence, where I had gone to 
hear Clark Coolidge read, I gave some of your cards to a poet named Mike 
Magee who had known Bob slightly.  He took one look at the photo and 
exclaimed, "Is that an eye? It is, isn't it?"  He wasn't really asking a 
question, just assuring himself that the eye he saw was there.  I admit 
that I'm now convinced that Bob wore a glass eye that summer.  When did he 
remove it for good???.......See you Saturday, Bill

to:bevcobett,pen creeley, bobbie hawkins, from:elsad@comcast.net subject: you will not believe this........... but when I had the original photographed SCANNED, for Bill's commentary on Bob for the Boston Phoenix, the scanner person at the Phoenix apparently put the other eye in the foto of bob!!!!!!neither bill nor I noticed when we proofed it. I totally forgot the scanner step when I assured Pen no one had touched my negative. No one had touched my negative but the print had been SCANNED.....a step I still haven't obviously incorporated into my psyche as being a possibility. I was just this hour housekeeping in my studio and found the ORIGINAL print that the scan was made from and bob has only one eye. I am dumbfounded. bill: how did we not catch this?????? I am beside myself. I am beside myself. So much for modern technology and how it lets people run away w/ things.....and on my side, so much for attention to detail. this is like a stamp w/ the flag upside down. xox.e.

To: bevcobett
Subject: Re: you will not believe this...........
Cc: PenH, bobbiehawkins

i think i figured it out. when i sent the original foto to the phoenix they 
scanned it.....if you blow up the image you and i have you can really see 
where they scanned in the second eye.....when you know what yr looking 
for.   I only realized when i found the original print that I sent the 
phoenix. they had made me a cd w/ the image. it is hard to tell in the 
phoenix issue.....really hard to tell. anyhow. I am so 
dumbfounded.........it's like fdr standing by himself.......crutches 
airbrushed out....etc. etc.
I don't know. it is definitely scanned into the cd i got from the phoenix. 
but it is easy to see how we didn't notice in the phoenix. but neither of 
us noticed in the card/poster proof.    good thing we aren't radiologists 
reading mris. e.

from: bevcobett......
  02:53 PM 5/4/2005

This is unbelievable! Who scanned it? Why would someone do that? I'm
dumbfounded. Bill

-----Original Message-----
From: Elsa Dorfman [mailto:elsad@comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 2:49 PM
To: Harvey Silverglate
Subject: Re: Creeley & dog

harv . you won't believe this. but the phoenix photoshopped in the
eye in the creeley picture.
you imagine.........the phoenix added an eye when they ran bill's creeley 
obit. xox.e.

From: "Harvey Silverglate"
To: "Elsa Dorfman" 

You gotta tell the Phoenix they can't do that on your photos. I'm
aghast. The eye socket is an important part of the picture and the

From: Bevcobett
Date: Thu, 5 May 2005 08:05:21 EDT
Subject: Re: you will not believe this...........
To: elsad@comcast.net

Checked with our designer Cris Mattison who didn't see it either, but 
that with photoshop it's easy to add/subtract/airbrush, etc. What amazes 
me is why anyone would think it their right to put in the eye? Did an 
empty socket offend someone? Did they think the photograph left Bob's eye 
out? I think we didn't see it because we knew the photo so we weren't 
really looking at it. Yes, it's a good thing we're not reading x-rays! see 
you Saturday, Bill

From: Bevcobett
Date: Thu, 5 May 2005 08:07:31 EDT
Subject: Re: the phoenix
To: elsad@comcast.net

Don't feel like an idiot. We missed it because we weren't looking for 
and were looking at the original. That's the photo that was in our mind's 
eye. Why not call Peter K and say did you know that someone at the Phoenix 
photoshopped my photo of Creeley and put in an eye that wasn't there? Of 
course he'll be as dumbfounded as we are. I can, if you want, let Jon 
Gareliuck know and he can look into it. Amazing! Bill

Date: Fri, 6 May 2005 07:01:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mary Panzer
Subject: Re: read this pls
To: Elsa Dorfman elsad@comcast.net


what a story --- and what a warning. obviously the photo-shopper had no
idea that he/she had done something terribly WRONG. but it's a perfect 
example --- of the way a correction can slip in through a technological 
step that is almost invisble -- imagine how hard it would be to catch if 
it had traveled any further --- does this mean that from now on every 
single image that anyone sends anywhere has to carry a warning: DO NOT 


I am still working. but it has to end very soon.



Date: Thu, 05 May 2005 17:04:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Concerning Robert Creeley
From: Ben Carmichael
To: Elsa Dorfman elsad@comcast.net


You know, that's really funny, because it was the first thing I noticed 
when you sent it to me. And, to be honest, I didn't know whether I was 
going to print it or not, because I felt like everyone else who knew 
him - that his missing eye was a part of who he was. And to memorialize 
him with both eyes raised some questions. What a great series of posts 
- I'm glad to know how it came about!

I'll be sure to send you a copy of the magazine when it comes out. Many 
thanks, once again.

All the best,

P.s. Your interview on NPR was lovely. Bob was great at email. That bit 
made me laugh.

X-Originating-IP: [] 
From: "Kadzis, Peter" 
To: 'Elsa Dorfman' elsad@comcast.net 
Subject: RE: creeley has one eye 
Date: Fri, 6 May 2005 10:53:02 -0400 

One eye indeed! 

Can we write about this for next week's paper? 

It is soooo weird that someone added Bob's missing eye. Bob was so much abt his missing eye. Seeing w/ one eye changed his perspective and I always thought made him hypersensitive to art, to understanding/ catching on to work that I only got much later. And Bob always had a bandana, a red one, or a paper towel in his hand to mop his missing eye, mop the socket. The eye was gone but its absence was always there, weeping in its weird way. The way someone is tall or very short, or IS, in some physical way, Bob was the way he was, w/ his one eye. For those of us who have Bob imprinted in our brain, we don't even notice the two eyes. Our brain takes one out. But for all those people who forevermore won't see Bob Creeley, if they see him w/ two eyes in this portrait, they don't get the impact, the whole of one eye creeley. and the portrait loses its humor. it is no longer one eye dog and one eye man. Roland Barthes wd go insane. The missing eye was the PUNCTUM.

For me as the photographer i am totally flummoxed. The people at the Phoenix are family. And someone at the Phoenix was being helpful. trying to make my image better and trying to make Creeley look.......what.......like he had the two eyes they thought he had. Make him look normal. Someone who didn't know Creeley because to know Creeley is to know he writes in short lines and he has one eye and is a great poet.......So an age gap perhaps between me and Creeley and the photo person @ Phoenix. . But not to call me just to make sure they were clarifying an eye that was there but was hard to see. I was a phone call away. Everyone is a phone call away these days, even if almost anywhere. What does this say abt photoshop. Everyone who uses photoshop is so used to getting rid of the hair on the arms, the wisp on the forehead, of taking off ten pounds, of adding jewelry. used to making a person conform to some ideal the photoshopper has, w/o knowing it, in his/her head. the improvements the photoshopper can bestow go on and on. Reality hardly matters . I guess when 1spends hours working w/ photoshopand has inhaled the pssibilities of photoshop, endless that they are, one can't resist adding an eye to a poor guy w/ one eye.Can the photoshopper contemplate that the eye is gone and should be gone and doesn't need to be added to the poet's face. The missing eye isn't about missing light. The photographer doesn't need help.

In my portrait of bob creeley, reality really matters. The missing eye is essential Creeley.

What wd Bob say? I can imagine two scenarios. In one, he blows it off. Things happen. And in the other scenario, he's bugged. And in either scenario he worries if I am upset. And will Bill Corbett have to waste all the postcards and posters.

(scan of original print containing original eye)


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