With apologies to Gertrude Stein, who wrote her Toklas autobiography only for the money anyway, on the occasion of “Selfie” being named the word of the year by the OED.
Chapter 1 — Before I Got My Smartphone
I was born in San Francisco, California and there were no digital images. I have in consequence always sought an easier way to capture myself but it was difficult for a long time, on the continent of Europe or even in America, to find a device to point at myself that would then render me duplicable and shareable, or even an environment online–someplace social–so my likeness, my photo, could live in it. My mother’s father was a pioneer, he came to California in ’49, he married my grandmother who was very fond of photography. She was a pupil of the Xerox PARC people in Palo Alto. He was there when they made the computer mouse, but it was far to the east in Rochester where the origins of the selfie happened. And then of course Japan at Fuji. My mother was a quiet charming woman named Emilie. My device of choice is the iPhone.
My father came of Polish vested technology stock. His grand-uncle raised a regiment for Hewlett-Packard and was its colonel. His father left his mother just after their marriage, to fight at Redmond, Washington, but his wife having cut off his supplies, he soon returned and led the life of a liberal well to do stock owner. I wish I had the photos to prove it all, but have only these of me, which doubtless you have seen.
Gertrude Stein With Her Self, (Man Ray, The Sandor Family Collection)