It's said that most people are hiding from themselves but they don't know it, although we can find through their expression what they really feel and what they really want to obtain or say. Even if it's pointed out to them they will tend to not recognize what they have been hiding because there is a reason for them to hide it and it is not a rational one but emotional. What people want to deny the most in a debate is the evidence they are being emotional rather than rational, despite the fact that we are essentially emotional and not as rational as we like to believe, as demonstrated by Antonio Damasio in his book "The Strange Order of Things".
A lot of people are starving for recognition. The reason is because identity is ephemeral in a society where we can dream and pursue to become whatever we want. Otto Rank describes the past civilizations - where people normally continued to live in the same community of their parents, grand-parents and grand-grand parents, working in the same field and business that their family had for generations, without ever think or dream about become an aristocrat or a noble - as society had a strong sense of belonging and identity through their activities. Each social group and their jobs, they had their own distinct psychology, mentality, behavior, fashion and culture where individuals tended to bound together, since it is where they would always find their sense of belonging and identity. People were recognized by their work and community. David Harvey goes further by presenting how the community's land and landscape are so strong related to individual sense of identity. It justifies the socialist worker unions in deteriorated industrial economy - conflicting with globalists socialists - fight to keep their unhealthy jobs as well as polluting industries in their community. Because without it they feel they are losing something about themselves, the sense of identity and belonging that they get from such activities and landscape, because it's what their entire community have been doing all their life, inherited from their relatives or past generation. With the development of capitalism, and consequently the rise of the bourgeois psychology, as Hannah Arendt describes it, the national sense of equality as the dominant social ideology, people begun to move from their communities and traditional activities to cities, looking for better economic opportunities in different jobs - also losing their "know how" with the development of technology and specialization. The result is the crises of identity we find in society today.
Our identity is presented through our expression and every expression is a message to an other real or imaginary person (sometimes ourselves). Siri Hustvedt explains, there is no "I" without an "other" because the other feedback is what makes me perceive and know who I am. Since we can go after whatever we want to be, by chasing the best jobs opportunities we can get and better neighborhoods for our job and social life convenience, we then need constant feedback about what we become. Or even worse, the feedback of what we wish we had became even if not true, because through images we can pretend (to the other and to ourselves) that we are the result of our successful realization. John Berger shows this is how the glamour was born, the acquisition of the image that other people wish to have. The aloofness is the bureaucrat attitude of those who are the gatekeeping of the social recognition and consequently social integration (the group acceptance that gives one the sense of belonging) through images, as described by Frédéric Lordon.
The biggest fear of any bureaucrat is to lose their power. A power that is imaginary comes with insecurity, because it depends on others recognition and believe of who they are (their image). Certainty is the tool insecure people have in order to convince themselves - and believe they can convince the other person - about who they are. And by believing in it they believe they have overcome their insecurity. They have to believe that what they are is absolute. They need to believe in the absolute in order to overcome the insecurity of today's ephemeral image and identity.
In a debate we talk about our opinions, knowledge and beliefs but these three things are not just data that we put in and take out our mind, they are identity. Identity is related to people's cognitive experiences because the brain does not compute, it emotes. What we have as truth is from what we trust. Trust we get from what we identify ourselves with, as being from what we belong or wish to belong to. Insecurity makes many people to believe that opinions, knowledge and beliefs are absolute. Or even worst, it makes people believe that science is absolute. When the person believes something is absolute they don't need to question it ever, and they will not like if somebody else questions it. Questioning something the person believes to be absolute if for him as if you are questioning his identity. Changing opinions or point of view demands a changing of how you perceive and identify yourself with the subject, which literally means changing who you are. The person who looks for absolutism doesn't want it because it is exactly what they are hiding behind their absolutist beliefs.
Many people want to believe that science and logic are absolute so they can convince themselves that their supposed absolutist beliefs are scientific and logical. So they can use personal attack on the identity of those who question them, and their absolutist believe, as no logic or no sense. But science is the opposite of absolute because reality is in constant movement and changes. So it requires the person to always question, challenge and change what they believe to be their knowledge in order to gain and grow their knowledge forwards. Certainty does not allow it. If a person questions the thing they believe to be "the truth" then they may not be certain about it their "truth". They are not certain about absolutist views and such uncertainty exposes insecure people to their own fears.
At the end, most people will tend to search and research about what confirms their bias, what they strongly identify themselves with, often pretending they are looking for knowledge. Absolutism is not for people who want knowledge but certainty, as the David Bowie 's "Law" song narrates.
Certainty is for people looking for control (about themselves, about a group of people or about society). The faith of an absolutist rule that will not allow things to change (so people believe). The lack of control, especially in a fast shifting world, makes many people feel insecure. Every search for control, of moral traditions and traditional order comes out of fear. The fear of the change, the fear they have a lot to lose with such change. Also the believe they have the logical and scientific absolute knowledge to stop any change and keep things as in "the old good days".
Nothing of this is new. It is so old that the Greeks dedicated many of their narratives to it. It's called Tragedy. Stories about heroes who try to run from, or change, their fate but they can not. Greek Tragedies teach us about our incapacity to control the reality symbiosis. A symbiosis that we are not able to fully understand. More than that, it's good that we can not control it because it is the over control that breaks life and nature symbiosis, so shifting times come as the symbiosis own self regulation.
If we understand it we become able to stop blaming other people for the changes in society, in groups and in ourselves that makes us so insecure. Then we better can recognize our insecurities and fears because we become more honest with ourselves and with the other. Through honesty we start to identify ourselves with other people and find comfort in them, feeling belonging instead of feeling the fear of social segregation (the losing of an image and its segregating privilege), the fear of a lack of belonging in a society of ephemeral identity.
Without Agape there is no Christianity. Those who speak about Christianism without Agape are not Christians but something else. Agape is the most pure Christian love. It's the love for God through people and the love for people through God, unconditionally. Through such love one becomes able to recognize themselves through others, so being able to love themselves where they find God. In other words, It's to find God inside yourself through empathy and consequently you will find god in others. This is basically Jesus' message.
Neuroscientists and Psycoanalists, such as Stuart Brown and Winnicott, discovered the relation between play and empathy. In short, it means that the more time we spend interacting with others in a relaxed manner and for no reason at all (playing and art), specially during our brain development while we are growing up, the more we become empathic, which means the ability to see oneself in others' situation as their own situation (being able to recognize themselves in others).
True empathy has no utilitarian meaning, the empathic person is not looking for any reward or gratification from their empathic act, other than feeling happy with themselves for acting towards other people, as if they are acting towards the self which they find in others' shoes. Jesus literally interpreted it as the unconditional love, which in order to have one has to find God in themselves, the security against their own fears.
If we mistake Agape for Philia, which is the love for oneself only - and not for God - for utilitarian relations (also known as fraternal love), such Christianism is not the one that comes from Jesus but from the Church as institution, that emerged inside the Roman's patriarch tradition and proto-capitalist culture.
The opposite of Philia (as well as Agape) is Fobia, the obsessive fear of what one believes to be a constant threat or danger. Those who have Phobia can not find God in themselves, so they feel on their own with their tragic fates. By not finding God inside themselves they are not able to find god inside others who they consider as a threat, thereon not being able to have empathy, they tend to become cynic. Therefore, not being able to love God through people and love people through God.
It is also not Christianism if Agape get mistaken as Storge, the instinctive love for your family and those considered as the same and so belonging to a family. Even less Christian is it is confused with Eros, the carnal or erotic love.
Maybe because the Jewish spent so long in the desert without a land of their own, they believed they were being punished by God. Jesus, who was a Jewish, came up with another interpretation about God; A God of love and not a God of fear. Jesus had a libertarian preach from both Jewish and Roman moral laws that became strong in their social crisis, so he ended up crucified by both. But Jesus wasn't alone in his view about conservative traditions because Greek tragedies also taught people about the dangers of rationalism (born with Socrates), its individualism and moral traditions that attempt to control nature out of fear. Greek tragedies tell us that nature and its mysteries can not be controlled, it has its natural symbiosis which we can not fully understand, so we can not escape our fate that is part of such symbiosis. But Jesus had a positive love message, about how we can find comfort in each other despite our fate; Such love is literally God. Once Christianity is institutionalized under Roman economic, political and military brotherhood tradition (Philia) and rationalism (under wish was born the self-consciousness and consequently the responsibility of each one for their own fate), Agape in Christianity became faded and mistaken with another kind of love; A materialist love.
Jesus' message has a lot in common with oriental metaphysical religiosity. For this reason some people speculate that Jesus may have traveled in East Orient where he might have learned the bases for his message. I don't know about it, but I prefer to believe that Jesus was just a guy who had a metaphysical experience and interpreted such experience in the monotheist language of his religious tradition, as Alan Watts suggested. Especially because Jesus wasn't the only one who by intuition could feel and understand something beyond common understanding during his time and culture. Think about Greek philosophers and mythologies, Taoist monks or even Spinoza and Einstein in a more recent historical times. Many centuries later (or few years later if considering the modern thinkers) a lot of what they realized by intuition became accepted by rationalism and in many cases confirmed by empiricism.
If one has fear and they are not able to recognize such fear in themselves - especially because they want to be tough or fit in a group in order to have the social belonging feeling (Spinoza and Homeostasis) - , such fear turns into hate. In order to not hate themselves (for feeling weak or vulnerable) they tend to transfer such hate towards outside themselves, towards others. Without realizing, hate becomes a self-victimization; A product of fear of what they find in themselves.
Nothing would mean anything if I didn’t have a life of use to others, says Angelina Jolie.
Oliver Sacks said we are our internal self-narrative, the narrative we describe our experiences, the experiences of our acting and the experiences of our feelings. Without an internal self-narrative we have no identity, we don't know who we are.
We become ourselves through others who we interact with, who we share experiences, feelings and emotions. It means the self is always touched by the otherness, it's about finding or identifying the self in the other-self, according to Susan Sontag, who we recognize their features, mood, feelings, culture, believes and acting in ourselves. We can literally say that plurality is the law of the earth, without the other we are left with our thoughts and living solely in reflection creates insatiable desires, the endless pursuit to fill the emptiness (a biological unbalance) and feed a starved self-image, says Hannah Arendt. An urge to act because only through acting we can feel real and fulfilled. Experiences nurture our senses and through it is born the Self, says Fréderic Lordon who describes it as the economics of joy.
Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in others shoes so we become kind and honest to others as if we were doing it for ourselves, because we are feeling how it is to be in the other's position. This causes the brain to produce serotonin, that makes us have a well-being feeling. The same when someone is kind and honest to us, we have the empathy to put ourselves in their shoes and we understand they putting themselves in our shoes, allowing them to feel good in such expression towards us. For our brain it means we are socially understood and accepted. It is the cause of a socio-biological harmony because from others acceptance and understanding comes self-reassurance and self-acceptance. But we can also call it as love (Agape love to be more precise, the highest form of Christian love) that you can have towards friends, neighbors and even strangers. But if people feel alienated from each other in society it causes an opposite feeling and reaction called cynicism.
Empathy, social confidence and play are strong related, Play is embedded not only in humans but in all kind of animals; Fish, lizards, spiders, birds, they all play. It was found that play is part of evolution and as important as sleeping and eating according to scientist Stuart Brown. Animals that grow up playing have more social confidence and social intelligence, more empathy even towards other species, becoming less aggressive by showing less sign of violence and more relaxed. Some animals, such as rats, become depressed if hindered of playing. On the other hand, when growing up without playing animals and humans develop social anxiety.
Play is universal, part of every human being’s creativity and the source of a meaningful life. The capacity to add something of one’s own to the common world is the most elementary form of human creativity. If such capacity is destroyed, which can happens for many reasons such as economic isolation, social isolation or cultural isolation, isolation becomes all together unbearable, according to Arendt again.
Happiness is found on joy. We have joy on things that make us feel a biological and social harmony. The biggest joy one can have is to appreciate oneself as the cause of joy to others, which gives the person a grate power of acting and interaction (socially acceptance or the sense of belonging). Unfortunately, in our society, there is a big competition for that power through glamour, popularity, money, fame, status, etc; Things that causes the monopolization of joy, of the acting power, of social integration and harmony. Consequently, from such monopolization comes hate, blames, humiliation, envy, jealousy and further distress people causes to others, including exploitation of others or submission to others since being social is a biological necessity. Aloofness is the bureaucratic self images, or illusion, of a social power of belonging, as well as the power of being a gate-keeping of the social belonging.
Acting and playing means appearing. To appear involves confidence and risk, both that comes from trust. Trust we find where we identify ourselves with otherwise the other feels alien to us. When the otherness appears as alien to us we feel judged, excluded, hatred, cynic and not being able to act because of anxiety caused to such feelings, consequently not being able to become; Not being able to build an "I", said Alan Watts. The monopolization of joy through money, aloofness and even culture alienate people, the cause of feeling excluded from the socio-biological harmony.
The conclusion is that have fun is a serious matte. Through acting and playing we develop imagination which is important for us to gain a wider perspective of our reality, from our senses nurture , which means less alienated or less averse to different things and people.
So love people for let you express your empathy and let them express their empathy. Feel the serotonin effect together. Don't take life and people too serious but play and then let them go, move on. Be grateful for the moment experience you got and the nice memories they helped you stamp in your self-narrative. Be grateful to have an other person who accept you for such exchange for your socio-biological harmony, because it demands trust above all. If you have nobody to play with, make art.
At the end we are all the same only in different circumstances. Thank you for your trust on my act, that gives me a self-narrative about who I am and where I belong to, which without I would not be able to find my Self and there would be no “I”.
As a newborn we don't know that existed a world before us, we don't know that the things and people we see, hear and interact were there before us, we don't even know the concept of "before". When a newborn cries as a reaction of the uncomfortable or painful feeling of hunger their mother offers the milk from her breast, while for the newborn it is as if they have created the milk out of his cries, it is as if they have create the breast, as if it is appearing from nowhere; for the newborn even their mother is his own creation, as everything that there is out there and come in contact with them. Donald Winnicott explains it's natural for newborns to feel like everything comes from them. It's not a thinking, not a conceptualization in their heads (since they have none) but only a sensation.
If we feel people and things comes from us then it is as if they are us, it is specially true in relation with newborns and mothers who they experience the more frequency and intense touch, glance and care; who the newborn recognize the voice, the movements and the heartbeat when in their her womb.
The process of growing up is a phase of frustration because it is when we face the harsh reality that we can't have things as would please us and whenever we want all the time. It is when we start to realize that our mothers are an independent person with her own individuality, that things don't disappear when we don't see, feel and hear them anymore but they just go somewhere else, in an other place and reality that exist independent from us and was there before us came to the world.
Winnicott explains it is important for the child to express their frustration; The frustration expression happens in many ways, from associating people and things with good or bad personalities they learn from stories, by expressing and illustrating such associations in drawings, through playing which Winnicott described as a serious thing for the child, because it is through playing children try to make sense of the world and express their feelings; by expressing the act of love or hate and even destruction when the frustration feels unbearable, such as kicking doors and throwing things on the floor in anger. When toddlers are repressed, forbidden or punished, for being aggressive or destructive, they express their frustration in dreams, often as a nightmare.
All expression, of any kind, is an act of creation and destruction of our wishes and frustration even for grown ups. The act of building things, shape things, drowning and interacting are acts of creation that often help us to deal and overcome things in life that we can not have as we wished. In building and shaping things, or painting and drawing, in an aggressive manner or in an odd, freak, antic form can be an expression of destruction. At the end, what differ adults from toddlers other then becoming civilized, which means learning to repress and express our feelings of love (creation) and frustration (destruction) in a civilized way?
Depending on how we were allowed to overcome our unbearable frustrations is how we learn to deal with it in adult life. Not being able to overcome our natural frustration while growing up creates damaged adults who becomes little dictators, manipulative, aggressive, expressing their emotional pain with mean comments about people, through aggressive identitarian expression (such as football team support, nationalism or so) or through political and ideological position as representation of good and evil to be fought and imposed as they wish. The wanting of creating the world the way they want and the frustration of not being able to, which turns people nihilist.
Art helps us to deal with our feelings, it helps us to become civilized, it is the playing and the symbolic association we do to things, just like toddlers do which deep inside it is always serious for helping us to make sense of this world. Every act and interaction is an expression; From the little help we offer to a stranger, in mean comments some people do about others' appearances, in art, especially in confusing art, all is a form of expression.
Maybe because of its expressiveness representation people normally expect art to have a message, so they try to interpret what pieces of art say or what they are about, turning art into a utilitarian object that needs to have an explanation in order to be accepted and recognize as art. But as Susan Sontag says in "Against Interpretation", art is not about something, art is not supposed to have an utilitarian use for the public who appreciate and collect it, art is not about something. Art is a thing of its own, its only use is to experience it, sense it, as we are supposed to sense the world around us, shapes, sounds, colours, texture, composition pasterns and so. The same was a child kinking the door because of frustration is not a message but a sole expression of frustration, a something to be experienced in order to overcome the frustration, a hope that out of the destruction a greater figure will establish order. Reason why adults should not ask toddlers why they are misbehaving, they don't know and according to psychoanalysts such question only creates more confusion and frustration in their heads, which causes them to overthinking, leading them to mental stress and depression.
We can create and recreate meanings according to our own individual or collective understanding and experiences. Meanings are important, they are the associative representation we use to make sense of the world, consequently we use such meanings in our conceptual expression. But meaning and truth are not the same thing, so art is not about the message it carries (the meaning we give to it) but about the experiencing of its expressiveness, as creation and destruction, as overcoming our deep painful and unbearable feeling that causes us to overthink, so we can quite our mind and experience the fulfilling calm stillness behind everything, after the fulfilling act.
We photographers, or any creative and art lovers, have a lot in common with those in love with business and money. Despite the criticism and sometimes conflicting attitude among our differences, resulting the feeling of being against each other, we are looking for the same through different means.
Either if we care about it or not we can't deny that society is highly driven by money, status, aesthetics and so. Values, that are things related to the power of influence. The influence to create and the influence of attracting people persuaded to collaborate with us for our creation. Collaboration that others offer as exchange of some of the access to such values,d which once acquired enough gives them the power to create and influence.
We know about people who have the believe that human interaction has only one meaning, and that would be money (which all other values are related to). In this particular perspective, money is what defines you. Your abilities, your brightness, your position in society, your level of access to goods and services and your level of creative power. There is a truth in it, not for natural reasons but for cultural reasons. The only way to survive with an healthy and integrated life balance in today society is through acquiring money (which ironically, the stress and worries related to money often scorn our health and life balance). The amount of money needed will depend on the values and views of those around you I suppose.
What I disagree in this view is about money being the means of every human relation. It's the meaning for social integration at certain level but not the meaning of human interaction. Humans, as any alive organism, strive for survival and according to Antonio Damasio such survival is measured by the organism balance. We have the perception of balance through emotion (visible or invisible somatic action and movements in reaction to something that provoked them), meaning that we perceive what causes us joy or irritability (and anything in between) and react according to it. In short, we build emotional defenses against what causes us distress and emotional attachment to what cause us joy in order to maintain a balance for life preservation and perpetuation. Simple living organisms such as insects, mono-cellular and even bacteria don't have consciousness of their emotions (which is not the same as feelings). Only animals who have feelings (mental images) can feel what they emote, which require a more developed nervous system. As Antonio Damasio simplify in a short quote, "emotions play in the theater of the body. Feelings play in the theater of the mind".
We can then conclude that the meaning of human interaction is Joy. Even if the job we work with is not joyful, we do it for the payment, normally through monetary earning. Money which bring us a joyful feeling, not because of the money itself but because of the joyful things (and people) we can obtain through it. And the most joyful thing one can have is to contemplate oneself as the cause of joy of others according to Lordon.
"Since this [joy] is renewed as man considers his virtues, or his power of acting, everyone is anxious to tell his own deeds, and show off his powers, both of body and mind." - Frédéric Lordon, Willing Slaves of Capital: Spinoza and Marx on Desire.
During my early adulthood I was often taking the buses in front of the building I used to live. As normally, at least for me, I had always been ignored. Not disrespected but ignored. At least until I started attending a flight attendant course that imposed on me the demand of a very formal looking and behavior. When I left home for the first time wearing suit and tie, in a such elegant and status symbol outfit, was when I noticed I had people attention, servitude and privileged treatment. Bus drivers welcoming with "good morning sir", shop attendants looking forwards to serve me first and women who usually would avoid contact and interaction with me were now smiley and approachable. I was the same poor guy as before only that I was in a fancy clothes going to, and returning from, a fancy neighborhood. The talk about the social prejudice in Brazilian society back then was still a kind of taboo among many people (despite today's obviousness), but it was a clear fact I deduced from my experience. Such experience made me feel good about myself, but I could not just ignore the fact that people was treating me based on a believe they have about me that wasn't true, based on my clothes symbolism. A believe on my power of acting, my power of causing others joy, biological and social harmony satisfaction, which they wish to acquire through me.
In 2008 I arrived in Ireland where I met great photographers and models who, thanks to them, I could learn from, build my portfolio with and get some jobs as photographer through. Over all, excluding some exceptions, we were not looking for money or status in a direct way but have fun, have joy. Models, makeup artists and photographers among other creators were happy to be part of projects for the creativity and joy sake, that consequently helped us in further opportunities in our respective industries. Enjoying and respecting each other's work without a snobbish attitude, aloofness, or competition about who has the privilege to be the joy provider to others but agreeing that we share joy among us, making we all feeling in harmony, working with each other, a biological (consequently emotional) and social harmony balance, all offering and acquiring the power of acting from each other, without the monetary gate keeping. Money? it always could be negotiated according to what we could afford. I was paying my bills working in a convenience store which was fine. My time in Ireland was the most joyful and prolific in my life, all that required little money but only trust. I found models searching among university students and I met many people through street photography.
Money is the value that gives us the power of acting, but we must not forget that the monetary value is not in the money itself but in the power of creation, of acting. This is the joy we are after and to truly obtain such joy it requires trust. Otherwise, the joy of monetary power monopoly creates envy and segregation, consequently social stress. John Berger says that the happiness of being envied is called glamour.
"Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance. It depends precisely upon not sharing your experience with those who envy you. You are observed with interest but you do not observe with interest - if you do, you will become less enviable. In this respect the envied are like bureaucrats; the more impersonal they are, the greater the illusion (for themselves and for others) of their power. The power of the glamorous resides in their supposed happiness: the power of the bureaucrat in his supposed authority.” ― John Berger, Ways of Seeing
I arrived in Germany with the expectation to continuous the photography life style I had in Ireland but I was wrong about it. Making contacts became rare, everybody is looking for money even though they don't need it. Being able to offer joy through my work became not enough, because people are not interested in sharing joy but in monopolize it through monetary status, using the money status as gate keeping, as trust symbol. Even among models and creators who look for no payment collaborative work, they often are looking for photographers who show to have fancy tools, a dedicated studio in a fix address. It doesn't matter to them the result and the joy of the activity unless it can be provided through monetary status, as the access to a monopolized joy which they can justify their aloofness and segregation.
It also results on a social fear, a distrust on people who look for joy sharing without segregation, suspicious of them as if they have second intentions, the intention to steal something from you maintained through the monetary gate keeping. Them seen as segregated from the privilege of your monopolistic joy, the ones who lack acting power and consequently have not much to provide as a joy, therefore desperate to take it from you.
Models and photographers seem to compete on their self importance, on who is the joy provider to the other, instead of enjoying it as a joy exchange though helping each other for a same result goal. People are not approachable because of the distrust that strangers attempt of interaction has either monetary or sexual (joyful) goal or is a mad person. The other human interaction attempt can only be about dubious intention of climbing and preserve the intrinsic joy of being the joy provider in a monopolistic status kept through monetary (and sexual) border.
I think the key is empathy and understanding of what really matters, what we are striving for. We are striving for balance that comes with joy. Through such understanding I suppose we can learn the importance of trust and honesty required for us to be able to enjoy life and society together. Because Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance.
If you walk paying attention on how your legs walk, you tend to walk in an awkward way. Your best walk is when you walk unaware on how your legs do it. The same way a painter or a writer will do their paintings and writings in an uncomfortable way if they pay attention on their tools and fingers when working. As a photographer I feel that my best photos happen when the camera becomes an extension of my arm, so I don't have to pay much attention on the tool itself which would be in the way of my attention to what I am photographing. Allan Watts exemplify saying that we know when the shoes or belt we wear is conformable when we walk and forget about it. If the shoes or any other accessory we wear keeps remind us about itself, catching our attention because we feel something about it, it means it's not comfortable and it becomes a distraction, on the way of our attention to other things and to our spontaneity. The very same happens with self-awareness. When we are self-aware, that means the attention of oneself before any other attention, reminding us about who we are, what we are doing and how we are doing it, we become uncomfortable and awkward, because we have our attention is our body position, body movements and its many meanings. It's watching ourselves as if in the eyes of others (who are actually watching us) that blocks our spontaneity. This is why the best actors are the ones who forget they are acting, by stopping watching what they are doing as if in the eyes of an other person (their spectators in a theater for example), and become or incorporate their acting characters, feeling its pain and pleasure as their own. Otherwise the acting looks fake, artificial, awkward, or simply acting.
Women (specially the attractive ones) often suffer the stress of unwanted attention. Even worst when it turns into catcalling. You get the awareness of the dirty eyes from others. When one get too much of it it becomes toxic, polluting the attention and mood in it. We know that many men catcall because they know, or have a high expectancy, that women and others around will not react and confront them, or repress them, about it. They feel an individual freedom to do it, as well as a cultural freedom or duty as a prove to others and themselves that they are a man, a real man. Like years ago, when I was with a friend walking in the streets of Israel, I noticed a beautiful woman who my eyes felt hypnotized at, but I only became aware of my gaze when I notice she acting uncomfortable and I quick looked away from her. I told my friend how uncomfortable and unhappy I feel when I make women feel uncomfortable with my attention to their beauty. He told me that as a man I am not supposed to be ashamed of making women uncomfortable, otherwise it shows them I am insecure and women like men who are confident and dominant in attitude, like looking at a woman with no shame when attracted to her, according to him. And he's right, but only when the woman feel attracted to such man, so she wants his attention.
If a man is confident and spontaneous it shows the target woman that he believes to have something to offer, as well as good experiences that lead to his confidence. It can be confirmed ones really have what to offer, on the eyes of others around, when the guy is around friends and women, the people who are enjoying his "acting power", as Frederic Lordon call it. Eventually his confidence ends up convincing someone that he has indeed something to offer. While at the same time, he is also always risking of putting some women in an uncomfortable situation, specially if he is alone, or depending the situation such as when she doesn't have any interest on him.
A man may be more conscious and cautious in order to make sure women who he interacts with feels completely safe and comfortable, who consequently may feel more comfortable around him, but with the risk of being over cautious with a woman who may be interested on him and expecting a confident, dominant, doubtless attitude of him towards her, that if not shown he becomes an insecure man to her (a socially not man enough, because for society a real men is always sure about himself, about what they do, about what they have to offer).
Robert Levenson did a long study with couples emotion, finding that the longer the allele in serotonin transport gene, the less sensitive the person is to the environment emotional stimulus, while the sorter is the allele the more sensitive is the person to emotional stimulus. If we place two person in an situation that stimulates them to feel happy and then sad, the person with shorter allele will react more to such stimulus, feeling more happy and then more sad than the person with the longer allele. It could be the reason why people mood and atmosphere around me causes great effect on my mood as well. So if I feel a person is feeling unconformable it makes me feel uncomfortable as well, such as the woman who I was gazing. If I am not wrong I guess we can call it empathy, the counter-transference of putting yourself on the other person shoes and feel as the other person feel or may be feeling.
I watched a documentary about Incels (self-denominating involuntary celibates men) and what got my attention the most was when the teacher, in the documentary, says that it's not merely about feeling sexually frustrated but about feeling socially excluded. I used to believe that women are more or less friendly to men as reaction to how men approach women and condition women behavior. It may be true to a certain point and places but it's not an universal law, it vary from place to place and from people to people. After living and moving among different countries and cultures I came to realized it's a vicious cycle, with men and women conditioning each other. I can tell that where women are friendly even when rejecting a man, men tend to accept better the rejection because they don't feel segregated, humiliated but socially accepted and understood. The contrary, with empty aloofness, scare or disgust women or any human being can cause others irritation, because it means social segregation, as if you are treating others inferior than you and it makes others to feel not accepted socially (not welcome for the social joy). Some people may say they only need to grow thick skin and brush it out, but it's easier to judge people as over sensitive when the one who is judging have close friends or a family, from which they have a sense of belonging in this world, otherwise one feel alienated, displaced, and the number of people aging in solitude is growing as never before.
Solitude is nowadays a disease. As social animals being alone, feeling segregated, causes us emotional distress with side effects worst than smoke and drinking. Lonely people have a shorter living expectancy, higher risk of heart disease and have higher chances of develop cancer, all because of the distress of feeling socially excluded.
In a social media some Americas were saying that they are over stressed because they work too long hours, which is true but in Europe, such as in Nordic countries and specially in Germany, people are also often easily over stressed. I believe it's because people don't like to interact with strangers. When you feel apart/alienated from others around you feel hostile. When I first arrived in Germany I wasn't much bothered by women in supermarket counter turning their face away from me when I was paying for my groceries, without me doing any kind of verbal or visual interaction with them. Later I noticed that some women also turn their back to me when I am being introduced to their friend's cycle, as well as when stepping in public transport I notice women looking angry at me for apparently no reason at all, they all seem in distress. I thought first it was some kind of xenophobia, and it actually is to a certain extend when you feel socially alienated and afraid of others, disconnected from strangers who we have to be careful about. Talking about it, it was confirmed to me that women in Germany do it as precaution, just in case I, as a man, hit on them and such kind of misandry is not only acceptable but expected as part of their culture. Whenever I talk about it people tell me that it will never change it, that it's their culture or a simply women thing (as saying that I have to forget about it and pretending everybody is doing fine), despite the fact I have never experienced anything like it anywhere else I have been other than in Germany. To me it's like saying that it's ok to be racist or antisemitic just in case, and it should be accepted because it's a cultural thing, which I don't agree. It will never change indeed because people refuse to talk about it. It it's not only bad for men who suffer misandry but also for women, because if they behave like this it means they fear others as have the potential of being highly hostile against them, even in one of the most safe places in the world like Germany.
I see people burning out for small stupid things that could be easily solved with a little talk. But people hesitate and avoid talking afraid of others reaction, creating a kind of social phobia. Instead people expect to conform, so everyone should conform on certain behavior and agree to things which help them not need to talk and interact with others. If you don't conform people show their reprehension with dirty look and other kinds of frustrating reaction, and in such social control you feel being hostile. Little mistakes are not acceptable and frustrate people for have to deal with strangers. The Nordics like to blame the weather but in Ireland and Canada people are much more relaxed and easy even with their dark winters and wet weathers (because they have a more liberal culture - I am using the "liberal " word not in a political meaning here), because they don't feel alienated from others.
There are two kinds of freedom because there are two kind of self in every person: the individual and the social, each of them limiting the freedom of the other to a certain extend. People today talk a lot about freedom but If not considering the two kinds of freedom the talk is just a no sense ideological sophism. Social freedom means safety from others in society according to Montaigne, which requires a certain control and limit (responsibility) on the individual freedom. If you want a total individual freedom you are being against social freedom (individual safety from others in society). Despite the nihilists, one of the main reason (if not the main reason) we live in society and think society is for the individual safety sake.
We live in a society of control, which Deleuze described to be in gradual change from what Foucault called Disciplinary society. The disciplinary society may not be completely vanished yet but many of its characteristics we find still strong in more conservative societies. Although Germany have a very liberal approach to individual affairs, the German social conduct and mentality to changes (which they are averse) are very conservative. So we can still find strong characteristics of a disciplinary society in Germany, that is based on social hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and examination that induce people to control their behavior to a standard. The first means that people has the duty to observer everyone's behavior. This is why in Germany it's normal and a cultural thing to stare or give long gazes to others in the streets. If you act different people watch you, not as spectators but as judges, because you are suppose to conform. It's important and kind of funny to have to tell that most Germans are not even consciously aware about it, but unconsciously they react to it the same way a person who claims to not like or care about Picasso paintings, who despite their claims they somatically react otherwise without realizing it. It means that both men and women experience unwanted attention and suffer the natural human distress about it, of feeling constantly observed and consequently behaving awkwardly and in introversion (which Germans are well aware and considering part of their cultural personality, although not questioning its causes), for watching themselves as in the eyes of others and not being able to be spontaneous. Consequently, as part of conformity duty, you are not expect to question much but to accept, to conform. Questions are often seem as an attempt to not accepting, to not conform, to break the rules, to promote changes.
The conformity seems to be part of an other psychological aspect: Identity. Before Nation-States people had their identities associated to ethnicity. The use of ethnicity to judge other individuals based on a supposed natural tendencies of their ethnical qualities and vices. Some countries today, like in Germany, strong kept some aspect of it. Reason why we find so many people born in Germany, from second or third generation of immigrant families, still being seen and called as Turkish, Italians, Portugueses, etc. The concept of nationality came with Enlightenment values, that every person has to be seen as equal and responsible for their own individual success and failures, which required the formation of Nation-States, where the political body would be apart from the social body. So under the Nation-State comes the nationality, under which one is supposed to be seen not as belonging to an ethnical value but seen as equal under the law and included in the society identity regardless their blood origin. Many countries in Europe conserved the tradition of seeing the individual not a mere individual belonging to the nation, but as a individual belonging before anything else to an ethnicity (and its supposed mentality, qualities and vices) and conformity (the mentality of people who try to know you by asking you where you are from and what your profession is, instead of trying to know and understand your world perspective as an individual). To conform is a way to feel belonging to a group, as being socially included, as have its identity. In such view, when questioned about one social conforming and group perspectives, they feel as if their identity is being attacked.
Along with it all there is the social willful blindness. Oliver Sacks narrates that Tourette's syndrome was well reported with many cases and with a rich literature from it's discover in 1885 until the end of its century. Charcot, Freud, Babinski and Tourette (the syndrome discoverer) were among the last of their professionals with a combined vision of soul and body, the "it" and the "I", in neurology and psychiatry. At the turn of the century professionals started to interpret the "I" (the mind) as independent or apart from the "it" (the body). The soulless neurology and bodyless psychology. In this change, not only the understanding of Tourette's syndrome disappeared but the syndrome itself had disappeared as well. No more reported cases, no more literature about it. It was took as extinct. Many professionals even thought the past literature was a mythical report of naive imaginative professionals from the past, because they could not be converted in the new framework tradition of 20th century neuroscience and psychology. Oliver Sacks claimed to have never seen a patient with Tourette's syndrome, until in 1971 when he published an article about Tics in the Washington Post. Many people who read it wrote to Oliver Sacks telling him that they have the symptoms he had described in the article. After visiting one of his correspondents, Sacks realized that the man he went visit had Tourette's syndrome. Not only that, after the visit, Oliver Sacks could easily identify many people in the streets of New York with Tourette's syndrome, only by walking home and from home to work.
Often, when I try to talk about such subjects, many Germans tell me that they don't stare, they just look a little longer to others and there is nothing wrong about it. But then, why women behave in such distress and men have apprehensive manners? Because of the lack of talking and awareness it seems to me that women think they are the only ones being gazed at, and men are the only ones gazing at, as if it's (only) a man thing and not a German culture thing. And it's half funny and half depressing experiencing every day being stared at by women which causes me to naturally look back at them, because it's what we do when we feel there are eyes watching us. But when I look back at them they react in distress as if I have any interest on them in particular, as if I am being a toxic man when in fact they are unaware that they have been inconveniently staring at me first. When I avoid to look back, pretending I don't notice they are looking at me, their stares became even stronger, longer and annoying, because we know they are not looking and judging with good eyes. I am a visual disturbance.
I am not suggesting that the privatization of a social problems is exclusive to Germanic culture, it's actually an industry which by ignoring a problem that is social, people are induced to believe that is not the society that has to change but you as individual who has a problem for feeling affected and react negatively to society's problems, convincing people to join classes and buy materials for meditation, going to experts talking about self-improvement, buying self-help books and even convincing people that they need to do more sports. Meditation and sports are good in themselves for personal health, but not good when used as tools to ignore that people stress is a social condition and not an individual one.
A lot of Germans (at least in the internet, which is a small group that do not represent the nation as a whole) get really irritated and aggressive against me when I touch such subject, because they convince themselves that I am being against their culture and consequently their country, when in fact my allele in serotonin transport gene is probably way too short and feeling the heavy atmosphere among women (and men) in distress, storming reacting or in fear for no apparent reason, effects me, and I can't help thinking about it, trying to understand it (as I try to to understand societies, humans and life in general) and hope for its eventual change although I don't have much faith on changes. I don't have anything against the culture or the country but I care about others well being, regardless cultures, ethnicity and nationality. Specially my well being. I just don't like to ignore the problem pretending it's a individual problem. It's a social problem that people may try to ignore in order to conform, but somatically they can not ignore it.
Introduction: Here I try to present some of the ideas could grasp (so far) about the causes of our mental inquietude and drives caused by it. Also, how it was interpreted in some epochs and by some thinkers .
Cupid is the Roman god of love. He is the counterpart of the Greek god called Eros, the god of erotic love, the painful desire of what is not possessed, of what is somewhere else, inciting the imagination about the absent desired other.
Her eyes gazing the void while she is deep immersed in thoughts. Her hands as trying to reach and hold the pain inside. As Siri Hustvedt points out, the somatic experience induced by thoughts are no less real than a direct somatic experiences out in the world. Or as Hannah Arendt said, every emotion is a somatic experience. The source of our imagination and thinking are our feelings. Our feelings are the interpretation and meanings given to what our body senses experience. According to Antonio Damasio, the mind is a product of our body, not a distinct apart from it.
The image has a kind of movement, she is not still but moving, either in a bodily sense reacting to her feelings or in a mental sense of the dizziness, caused the mental travel.
Such movement in the image is not only suggested by her body expression and composition but also by the backdrop in a leaning position. The rugged backdrop is a curtain which suggest the scene is in a private setting. We look not as spectators of the scene but as a voyeur of what was supposed to be behind curtains. On the other hand, it also symbolizes a stage background of a performed act, like in a theater, like a fancy sculpture.
The comedian Jim Carrey said in an interview that with his comedy he has realized what all people want is to be free from concern. Despite the fact people usually don't take him seriously I don't think he said it casually. We tend to believe through thinking we will find understanding to things, solution to problems and knowledge but - the most likely - often we think to withdraw us from reality, without realizing it, so thinking becomes an addiction specially when we are going through stress.
We don't experience what is going on in our mind with our senses. It is as whatever we think about ceases to exist once it's projected in our mind. We experience our thinking through meaning, ceasing to be a somatic one. Or as Alan Watts used to say, those who think too much has nothing to think about other than their own thoughts. Hannah Arendt explained it in her book The Life of The Mind: "All thoughts arise out of experiences, but no experience yields any meaning or even coherence without undergoing the operation of imagining and thinking. Seen from the perspective of thinking, life in its sheer thereness is meaningless; seen from the perspective of immediacy of life and the world given to the senses, thinking is, as Plato indicated, a living death".
Plato's associating thinking to a living death wasn't his negative point of view though. While we are thinking we are unaware of our own corporeality, which Plato understood as achieving our pure soul quality. Plato philosophical tradition was perpetuated through Europe during Middle Ages and Renaissance by the Catholic church, influencing philosophers as Descartes who concluded "the soul can think without the body". This reflects the believe of a duality. The distinction between body and mind (soul).
Against the occidental philosophical tradition is the believe that we think because we have a body; the mind being a product of our body and not distinct from it. Again, thoughts arise out of experiences - from our body senses. As our experiences turn into thoughts the bodily experienced thing disappears. As Arendt puts it, "in order to appear in my mind only, it must first be de-sensed, and the capacity to transform sensed-objects into images is called imagination". The imagination deals only with what is absent to our senses. The mind deals with nothing other than itself. Perhaps we could say that the opposite of thinking is body experience - perceive with our senses.
On the other hand, as the Greek philosophers believed, only the spectator and never the actor can see and understand the spectacle of life, because the spectator is free from concerns. The spectator is not acting in the spectacle but only contemplating it. Different from the old occidental philosophical believe, something suggest this contemplation is not done through thoughts and imagination but only through somatic experiences.
I personally believe the best meaning we can give to life is leisure. As Aristotle understood it, not the free time we got after a day of work, not a play and not a recreation but the deliberate act of abstaining, of hold oneself back from the ordinary activity determined by our daily wants in order to contemplate it. This contemplation is the act of leisure, "which in turns was the true goal of all others activities, just as peace, for Aristotle, was true goal of war" - quoting Arendt again.
While for the Greeks "as spectator you may understand the 'truth' of what the spectacle is about; but with the price of have to pay a withdraw from participating in it", the oriental wisdom presented by Alan Watts suggest something different; that we can be both the actor and the spectator. As the Taoist story goes, imagine if you were god and knew all without surprises; how boring would it be!? So we play this theater of life for fun - just as children do their play sometimes taking it too serious and forgetting it's just a play - and as we grow older we forget who we are, we forget we are wearing a phony by taking it too serious and thinking it's what we are. The spectator is the one who can see the play and enjoy the spectacle while still playing it, only knowing now that it's all a play and people forgot about it. - Like actors playing a scene for a movie sometimes taking it too serious mistaking the playing character as themselves.
As I understand it - or from my point of view which is questionable - contemplation is the way we can experience what is around us with our body senses, until the moment we gain the awareness about the spectacle we are in, without our thinking distraction that alienates us from our somatic experiences. This is why I think art is important for. The thing that makes us stop and listen, see, feel through our senses. Pay attention on our somatic experience and step aside from the vicious meaning thinking.
Truth and meaning are not the same thing. Our thinking doesn't bring us the reality truth but meaning, because our verbal language, associated to words, is metaphorical and not analog to the mental images created from our somatic experiences. "Most people have experienced the odd sensation of estrangement that comes from looking long enough at a single object", says Siri Hustvedt in her book Mysteries Of The Rectangle. She goes on: "for all of us there was a time before we knew what things were called, and then the world looked different. Cézanne's still life are a rigorous effort to return to a vision unburdened by meaning". In other words, Cézanne attempt was to see in painting what was lost in language.
When we look, listen, feel hard enough, long enough we contemplate and find a world beyond meaning which tell us something else and which our verbal language is too limiting to comprise.
I remember 15 years ago when I use to see people everywhere talking about the democratization of information and learning thanks to the internet, along with the democratization of expression where anyone can share their knowledge and opinions. The free information accessible to all. It's ironic seeing fake-news and conspiracy theory popularized nowadays.
When I was about 14 years old, in 1997, bullying and other sort of offenses was considered kind of normal, at least in my neighborhood. Often such kind of provocation wasn't taken seriously despite of verbal aggressiveness. This kind of communication was somehow the standard nevertheless, meaning people verbally attacking and defending themselves with further attacks. It was in Sao Paulo (Brazil) which I believe to have an aggressive communication culture probably because of socio-economic gaps, along or as consequence of social segregation and prejudices. Prejudices often disguised as jokes.
In a weekend when I was returning home, I met one of my friends arguing with a bunch of other guys a couple of years old than us. They were calling him stupid and laughing at him because he said Alberto Santos-Dummont was the inventor of wrist watch. This was an information that I also believed to be true but back then I would never waist time and get angry trying to convince others about what I believed to be true. Maybe because life seemed to be already too stressful back then that I would rather avoid any more of it. So I called my friend inviting him to hang out somewhere else, and somehow helping him to distance from the situation he was in. Still stupefied while we were walking away, he was explaining me the other guys didn't want to believe on him. I replied to him suggesting to let it go. At that time I had not conceptualized it but I felt that there are many people who are not curious and interested to know things but only in self-affirmation. I feel I am right so you must be wrong (It has something to do with identity that I will expatiate in an other blog post eventually). Without any real argument to explain they are right they rely on verbal violence by offending and making the opponent angry, in order to feel as the winner of the argument. Honestly, this kind of conversation and its violence is what I see being popularized the most in the internet.
Recently I have been wondering if we really can teach others. My thinking is that probably people only learn things if they want to learn (curiosity or duty) or if the situation is conducive to learning. If such thinking is somehow true the goal of teaching is not only providing information but also help to create the situation that is propitious for learning. And this may be the reason why the internet is dominated by fake-news and conspiracy theory believers. A place where everyone can spread ideas of any kind in a moment of economic and, consequently, social distress.
When I began with street photography I was apprehensive about people reaction. What would they think? What if they get angry? I then thought that if there are others doing it I can do it as well. It was in Ireland where I had the mostly friendly strangers experience ever but my first attempt of stop someone and ask if I could take a portrait of them was considered a shameful failure by me at the time. What my subject said that made me feel ashamed was a single simple word: "No". So I went home frustrated for not obtaining what I was expecting. I watched some videos about street photography and one hour later I was in the street trying again. This time I told myself to not expect anything. If people says "no" it's ok and there is nothing wrong about it. Actually, we are supposed to take risks in order to learn and grow, in order to see what is possible and what is not, and in order to loose ties to expectations that narrow our perception about things. With this twist of mind I endured a couple of other "no"s before hear a "Sure". From that moment on I felt there was nothing to worry about.
With experience I learned to improve my communication. Being more direct and specific, ask as a suggestion or as an offer and not as a expectation or demand. One of the main reason of violent communication is the thinking that what others are asking is an order instead of a request. People hate to do things when they are demanded to and the natural reaction is to reject. On the other hand we all like to feel useful and helpful. Antonio Damasio tell in his book Looking for Spinoza that our brain produce Serotonin, which gives us a well-being feeling, when we help or cooperate with others as a team. It's part of our empathy which make us place ourselves in others shoes, sensing others emotion and feelings as our own.
Marshall Rosenberg, who wrote No Violent Communication, tells a story about an interview with a Nazi war criminal, who was asked "Was it hard to send ten of thousand of people to death?", which he answered "No, it was easy. Easy because our language makes it easy". He then explained that his fellow officers had a name for this language: Amtsprechen, the bureaucratic language. A language that denies option, consequently it denies responsibility. It is interesting to know that there are many people who can not distinguish between rule or law and morality, which is the same as distinguish can and can't from should and shouldn't. When we try to obtain some kind of alternative collaboration for a solution which would help make all the parties happier or less stressed such kind of people are not able to do it, they start quote what they believe to know about the law and their rights, meaning "I can do it so I will not do what you what me to do". Basicly they view others request as demand and in return react in a defensive way. They don't understand the saying "Just because you can do it, it doesn't mean you should do it (in consideration of others)".
In Ireland, after I got used to it, most people I approached was happy to let me photographing them, which they saw as a request which they could help with. In Germany most of my attempts with street portrait result is rejection, some people even get angry with my approach and can become verbally violent. I see it as a social phobia, worry that I want do something bad with the photo such as judge them or use the image for commercial purpose. worry about what might happens with a photo someone took of them, where can it end and who can see it. Worry about my approach has a second intention such as sell things, demand money or sexual intention when I am approaching women. In short, a lot of expectations which place people in the fear zone.
I think the coolest Germans are in Hamburg, although I have not been in most German's region yet. It was in Hamburg that I met Lucie Nechanická. We used to meet and wander in the streets to photograph it together. When she saw me approaching strangers asking if I could take their portrait she looked apprehensive, saying that she would not feel comfortable doing it, which reminded me when I was attempting it for the first time in Dublin.
Even still doing it in Germany I didn't feel as confident and easy as in Ireland, so I approach people with less frequency. But have Lucie on my side was different because she is a woman transmitting other women a sense of safeness with my approach. They actually became more friendly thanks to her. It was most evident when I was waiting Lucie in a train station and around me there were other people waiting to meet their friends. I saw a woman with a cool outfit, nice hair and interesting tatoo on her leg so I came to her asking if I could take her portrait. She looked at me with doubt and unsure but suddenly Lucie arrived saying "you don't waist time" to me. After my subject saw Lucie and realized we knew each other, she readily accepted to be photographed.
Street portrait in Hamburg is much easier than in other places I have been in Germany, but people still have some kind of fear about other people reaction. It's a different world than in Ireland where I could talk and photograph most people specially women without any tension, and I think it reflects in the way people communicate, in their expectations and consequently in how they learn and perceive other kinds of experiences.
Unlike when I was a boy, I have recently engaged in useless argument with people who didn't want to believe on what I was saying (in the internet), consequently I was annoyed and offended with others provocation, calling me stupid and names. Later on I was wondering why I was behaving like this. What changed? Did I forget my youth knowledge? And the only thing I could think about was my reality change, which created different expectation and frustration, therefore changing my experiences and learning. I am now in a process of no violence redeem.
The photography field attracts many technology and machines enthusiasts who come with the technicist attention to it. I see it as one of the reason for the commercial photography to be seen and used as standard or reference for quality among many people interested in photography (although the debate on preferences between perfectionism and rusticity exist since Ancient Greece and probably even before). The other reason is the fact that commercial photography dominate our visual experience wherever we are through publicity. Commercial photographers are mostly technicians who create images based on someone else ideas. Most of it is technical reproduction and solutions, even the advertise photography in fashion magazines that mimic conceptual fashion photography. Depending how alienated the photographer is in this approach to photography he may comes to the conclusion that what goes beyond such technical and commercial standard is poor executed or wrong.
Fortunately photography is not a black and white thing limited to right and wrong. The meaning of anything is in the context. When we talk about quality we have to think about the context and meaning the work has. The commercial photography has its context and language, its main purpose is the tangibility, make the product or service presented in the image as tangible to the viewers, as if the spectator can touch and possess the object in the photo with their eyes. The visual sense appeal. It could not be different when the goal of the image is to sell a sensual joy to people's eyes and stimulate possession desires. As John Berger says in Ways of Seeing, The publicity image offers an alternative for the public, a better version of themselves, that they can obtain for the price of the product.
Photography that has other purposes will, or should, use other language. The language that fit its message and context and which can be many. None of them are better or worst than the other nor more or less correct. Each of them are only good and bad based on their own context, public and message.
Siri Hustvedt in her essay "Playing, wild thoughts, and novels underground" refer to writing in this quote but it actually applies to any kind of artistic work: "There are no rules for writing novels. Those who believe there are rules are pedants and poseurs and do not deserve a minute of our time. Modes of writing and various schools come and go: Grub Street, Naturalism, the nouveau roman, nagical realism. The novel remains."
When I photograph I often stay away from the sensual appeal which Cicero in ancient Rome used to call as the sense corruption, because it works on provoking anxieties. Instead I like to express my feelings and experiences. Technicality is about have control, the technical control of a machine precision appreciated from automated tools, catching our attention for the tool settings and control for the precise control result. In order to better express my feelings and experience I rather let this technical control aside, I take the advantage of the manual control which comes with my spontaneous human touch and failure. Or even when using automated tools, trust the automated failure as my own human failure with the machine, assuming therefore my sincere experience and adding it to the narrative context where it belongs.
Brené Brown, who wrote The Gifts of Imperfection, explains that it's important to understand the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism. “Healthy striving is self-focused: "How can I improve?" Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think?”. And I think it's important to remember that we should improve in relation to ourselves on or own language, context and message. Not in relation to a pre-determined standard or have somebody else as reference of improvement goal/quality. This is not the same as be inspired by other creators and their works, because we all get inspiration from other creators, even unintended, in any way.
At the end, I don't want the viewers of my photos seeing themselves transported in the image by provoking anxieties. I want them to take the image as a memory or dream that inspire their feelings and contemplative own creative imagination. Or at least tell us what or who we are, or who I am.
We need rules as reference or start point when we are introduced to new activities, when we have no much from ourselves to put in a new work but practice, get inspired through copy, to fit in looking for results with a pre-determined expectation. We can get great pleasure on reproduction, from the empathic recognition of other creators and social feeling, or only for the pleasure of tools manipulation and the transformation observation. By doing so we can develop our own feeling, voice and personal way to create when we have a voice to express.
I was watching a documentary a while back, about french soldiers returning home after the second great war, the war which France was the country that had more dead and injured soldiers, maybe because it was the country that sent more men to the war. When survivor and fit-to-work soldiers returned home after the war, looking forwards their families and labour routine that was occupied by women during the war, they found themselves lost, as lack of identity and purpose. As soldiers those men got used to follow orders, giving themselves to the battalion rhythm for its greater performance, the fellowship was their identity. Later on in society, working in their family farms, shops and industry they found themselves on their own with their individual decisions for their personal life and activities, and specially their own rhythm. What was missing was their inner voice.
I can't help on seeing some similarities in the corporation team work culture specially in the 80's and 90's, when they wanted workers to see the business which they worked for as part of their family, where one find their purpose and identity through the job and culture provided by the business and their people.
Behind it all there is the fixation, the focus which people becomes alienated. As Frédéric Lordon describes, alienation is not loss but fixation. The more limited is your attention and experiences range (fixed) the more alienated you find yourself. Through alienation it is easier to drive a person or a group attention, work and goals to a determined direction, the direction aimed by their leader or ruler which the followers take as their own.
The Teutonic (Germanic) tribes has such principal as tradition. The military and hierarchical rules in society culture by the Prussians for example, expecting people to give up their own personal goals and interests in order to follow their social hierarchy determinism, looking forwards the to the greater completion of their "nation" (society) as their individual aim, instead of looking towards climb the social hierarchy. Like this workers can focus on only improve their ability on their own work and behavior expected from their social hierarchy (like in the army), instead of the distraction of dreams, looking and expecting eventually to get somewhere else. It's alienation where people get attached to rules for their guidance, and which one deep alienated they get lost, disorientated, messy, when there is no leader and their rules to follow as their own goals and identity.
The opposite is the ability to listen to our own inner voice, our timing, have a wide scope to observe and react in accord and spontaneously to each situation by following our guts, when rules are not what give us direction anymore but what make us feel limited, limiting our experiences, our observations, or experimentation, our self learning and expression. When desalination becomes necessary because rules funnel us to the alien aim that we take as our own.
Listening to our own inner voice is not the same a individualism and selfishness because when we are listen our inner voice we are listen others around us as well, sensing the world around us and trusting our our feelings. Then our expression take others in consideration.
Rules are for reproduction, and for creators who can not feel or trust their inner voice [yet]. A true creative work is a work that has its own voice and rhythm. A sincere self expression and feeling.
...and the truth about reality is it boredom. Nobody wants to be bored or at least most people seems incapable of being bored in our vicious entertainment culture.
Being able to talk about events is the most effective way to distance ourselves from reality. Once we concentrate on events, events about us, about others, about here or about anywhere else, we are not conscious about reality. Events are not reality, they are lapses of time and thoughts. Based on this principle we can say that reality is eventless.
Here is where the contradiction lies. Most people will say the opposite, associating reality to events, but which version or point of view of of events they are associating to reality? Which one is the real one? We could say all are real because they are the different side views of the same thing complement each other. But we could also say that none of them are real because they are analyses from thoughts and therefore language.
And the problem with language, which we humans have highly developed, is that it is always a translation. It is never reality but the organised thought of our perception. Therefore it is always a metaphor.
Our consciousness are never the feedback of our reality or of our existence in real time. It is a echo in a delayed time. And we get it by challenging reality because people don't believe in reality, everything has to be evaluated and giving a meaning because we can't stand a meaningless life.
We can then say that thought is not compatible with reality, which contradicts the discourse of reality and rationality. We rationalize to give meaning and objective. We create a illusion world in metaphors to push us to move forwards, to the next stage of objective and meaning. Language and writing are the illusion of meaning.
On the other hand, while we become seduced by all the joy and beautiful worlds of meaning which creates addicting meaningful events, reality itself must becomes enigmatic. If not enigmatic it becomes too obvious. If it is too obvious it doesn't seduce. If there is no seduction, there is no meaning. If there is no meaning, people won't take it serious. Like reality itself.
Photography is not easier to make art, it is just easier to have confidence. We have a natural feeling to find easier to do things we feel confident doing.
"While photography is the easiest medium in which to be confident it is the hardest medium in which to have a distinct personal vision." Chuck Close.
Photography is the easiest form of the art of mimesis "the copy of reality". And is the copy of reality on which people are usually more attract of. And is the copy of reality most people will judge as good quality work.
But when trying to do something else a part from mimesis photography can be even more challenging than other form of art. Because it quite completely copy of reality, especially now a days with digital that most people don't even need to craft their work in order to have a image ready to print, so most people with a camera will be confident that they are doing a good photo as soon as they can see a good image quality (not good art) in their LCD screen.
It means, to go beyond mimesis, painting, sculpture, etc are easier than photography. It also means that to self expression in photography may be more difficult because you have to work with real things that you photograph instead of create images straight from the imaginary. And that's why photography is the hardest medium to have a distinct personal vision.
You don't need much skills to press a button on the automatic camera or to throw paintings or mixing colours on canvas, or even to create shapes in sculpture, as far you can do it with good composition, harmony or even message. But photography and other medias can demand more skills and craft if you want to make something else.
If you ask a child if painting is easy they will tell that it is very easy because they feel confident doing so. Until they grow up and is told that the good stuff looks like things.
What makes some people suspicious about the "art status" of photography is the fact that the photo creation is highly dependable from a "photo machine". I have read a couple of years ago a study by an academic artist saying that photography is not art. His argument was about the technology limitation which the photographer is dependable to create his works.
For decades many photographers have tried to bring photography to the art discussion and galleries to make it more recognized as art. Until now a days with many people buying photographs and many photographers calling themselves as artists, there are still those who doesn't consider photography a true art. Or at least as artistic as painting or sculpture.
Recently I saw this question again when somebody wrote in an art community:
"When artist depends on machines (not tools) to create; the machines' capabilities are the controlling factors of the joint creations that comes from the union of artist with machine.
An Artist's tools on the other hand can be created by the hand of the artist and is not dependent on the bureaucracy of technology."
It is hard to don't agree with what the quote says. It is right.
But when thinking of cameras, are every camera machines? Certainly digital cameras are pure machines, or a body filled with electronic in it. But a true camera obscure is just an empty box, that can be made with any material, with a hole where the light comes in. Which means that it is not a machine at all but just a tool for the photographer as the brush is a tool for the painter.
Photographers can make their on negative (and positive images) preparing his own plate or paper sensible to light as painters can make their own canvas or any other material they which to paint on.
Cameras, negatives and even light have their limitation as canvas and ink have their limitation as well. What makes people feel more like an artist is the ability to craft with self expression and a vision for their creation in mind. The reason many photographers still use pinhole cameras or film negatives is because they can craft it with their own hands instead of just operate machines that are digital cameras and computers.
Yet, even when highly dependable of the machine work and capability, digital photographers and digital artists still can express their creativity and vision through their works. Which I think is what matter after all. Not much different from a director who is dependent from actors works and abilities, or from contemporary artists who have never touched their creation but paid somebody to build the work setting for them.
It is funny to think of it because before Renascence artists weren't considered artists as they are today. They were just crafter-men. Hand workers as any other.
I can see Krider and Aldridge don't mean to criticise, instead he makes it clear and explore the evidence of object women in our culture.
The dummy look of the woman who has no personality and the lack of her soul and individuality is pointed out in Krider image through her covered eyes.
It explores the sexual image of the woman through model's pose and the fetched presentation of accessories and objects.
This photography style which Glenn O'Brien described as "high glamour photo fiction" is interesting because it uses the culture and language of publicity image in a explicit way and not the implicit manner explored in publicity, which is a good evidence of the mediatic and publicity visual culture of our time.