There is a certain pleasure on execute things that is distinguished [here] in two categories. The first is the pleasure of archiving the end goal and the second as the pleasure in the activity itself. Both, or any activity we start or engage in is caused by a mental inquietude. Every mental inquietude, according to Antonio Damasio, is caused by somatic experiences; the reaction when we experience irritation, pleasure and everything in between. Reaction as striving for life balance. We react (emote), then create a mental picture (icon) of the experience which we associate to a meaning, from which we create feelings. Feeling, then, connect us back to mental picture, activating our memories (of experiences). We like to believe we are rational beings when in fact we are emotional beings. We learn, remember, think and execute things based on our mental pictures brought by emotion associate to them, even when we believe we are being pure rational, like in science.
We don't perceive the world and reality as it is but as we are. As the mental picture we have from our experiences are, and meanings associated to them. Our five senses are not meant to reveal us the world out there but to help us keep our life balance regulation (preserve and perpetuate life), in finding food when we are hunger, in find shade when we are tired, in identify danger to avoid and pleasure to chase. The evolution presented us with our mental capacity in order to quick, or better adapt in the short term, to our environment changes, increasing our chances of survival and life perpetuation. Nonetheless, we use our highly developed nervous system to attempt the understanding of reality. We can't experience all, or many, mental pictures at once but one by one and consequently the feelings associated to each of them - although we can experience them so quickly that we don't realize it. - It means that we experience our mental pictures in a linear way, which allow us to experience what we call as train of thoughts. As we are the tool we use to give meaning to reality, we fall in what Kant used to call as The professional thinker fallacy. We perceive time, reality, history and even science in a leaner and progressive way because it's how our mind - and our verbal communication - works; not because reality, time, history and science is linear and progressive. It doesn't mean science does not progress. It means that progress is subjective to our mind.
The will is a mental activity inquietude. Will is not merely the power or choosing or making decision - it's not a mere desire, strive or wanting. - It is rather a conflict between two drives: yes and no, as Hannah Arendt describes in her book The Life of The Mind. The will, before become a concept or mental organ known by philosophers, was interpreted as a duality in one person, as a hidden person inside a person. It's as to have two "I"s, the "I" who commands and the "I" who obey, which the second one perceive both "I"s as a whole willing desire obedience anticipation. The first one is the will. The will is the commanding thought, as described by Heidegger. We Will as overcoming this mental duality conflict.
Every mental activity ceases the sense experience and our senses experience cease our thinking, meaning that when we are thinking (our attention in our mental pictures - train thoughts) we are unaware of our senses perception. If something happens to grab our sense perception attention, we then become unaware of our thinking. In order to fulfill the will we act through our senses (act in the world) which once completed ceases the Will and put us at a mental fulfilling rest (no mental conflict/inquietude but just being), because we cease to want things once we get them.
The first kind of pleasure from execution that I mentioned at the beginning, that means reach to it's end, comes from the wish against the activity itself, which we do in order to overcome it, as an obstacle to or real goal. It's like the Aristotelian thought that says the goal of work is leisure, as the goal of war is peace. Once you execute the activity and reach it's goal you feel fulfilled and at rest, without mental conflict/inquietude (at least for a while).
The second kind of pleasure we have from executing things, is not in the activity end but in the activity experience itself. Duns Scotus, one of the most original and important philosophers from middle-ages, called it as love. The transformation of the Will in love. It's the activity that doesn't need to reach it's end in order to bring a restful mind. At the same time, because it never reaches it's end it never ceases the will. So the activity causes temporary pause in the Will expectation for an end, and such temporary pause, during the activity, causes us a constant fulfillment, the pleasure in the activity and not on it's end. Or in other words, the goal of the activity is not to get something once it's end (like leisure we expect get from the end of the work or peace we are after when we do war), but the goal is the activity itself.
Coming from a religious philosopher it explains that the divine love, or true love, is the fulfillment one have for a desired object not through possession (which would ends the desire) but through pure activities interaction/creation around, or related, to such desired object.
While for Nietzsche the will is a destructive power. The goal of the will is to become it's master, but once events happened the will have no power. You have no power in shape the past, or as in Nietzsche words: The Will cannot will backwards. For him, as well for Heidegger, it's the source of our duality (the will) conflict. What is left for the will frustration of not being the master of past events is to destroy it, by willing new events to pass in which the Will can be the master.
Ancient Greek philosophers didn't know the will, but they had a parable about the best athlete being the one who is not looking for glory or fame (the goal to archive at the end of the sport activity), but the one who finds the pleasure in the sport itself. Something similar we think today about artists, photographers or creators in general. The true or the best creator being the one not doing it for money or fame, but for the art sake. The activity not as a gateway to happiness but the happiness itself. Or as the Greek philosophers described, one as both actor in the stage of life and spectator of their own act. The individual duality working together and overcoming it's internal duality conflict (inquietude).
The Oriental thinkers (Daoism) had a similar allegory about life being a stage, where we act, but through our act we forget who we originally are, causing a conflict between our acting character and who we are inside. The conflict is solved when we realize our acting character and, from such realization, we become our own spectator of our own acting in life, enjoying the stage of life both as actor and spectator - enjoying the activity by finding fulfillment in it, doing it for it's on sake.
In a modernist philosophy this duality is interpreted as the social self and original self (this second called Being). The social self hides the internal Being. The Will is the spontaneous and intuitive pulse of our internal self (our Being) emerging during activities focused on the pleasure of the activity sake, as if enjoying our internal self emerging.
What the Ancient Greek Philosophers and Daoism have in common is the perception of life not as linear but as a cycle. In the west, the linear view of life and reality gained space specially because the way we associate our mental picture and meanings to our linear verbal writing system. The concept of a willing-Ego is only possible through such linear view of reality. During Middle-Ages and Renascence, both linear and cyclical philosophical perception of reality developed parallel to each other; as Hannah Arendt describes, Descartes and Leibniz in one side, Hobbes and Spinoza in the other side. Kant somewhere else. Our scientific path during modernism was influenced by the linear perspective which brought the concept of the Will. Such influence was mainly because of a linear religious doctrine imposed by the Catholic Church as political institution in Europe. As Antonio Damasio narrate in his book Looking For Spinoza, he [Spinoza] influenced our great thinkers and discoveries but in a hidden way, behind the linear perception that creates the contradiction betwen free will and causative effects of a linear event of life. The Inquisition banned any kind of Spinozist philosophy to be learned, used or mentioned for more than one hundred years, consequently (and accidentally) giving more highlight to Descartes philosophy.
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.
...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.
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.