Nonsense and Non-sensibility

Sometimes I feel a sense of futility in life. Perhaps no more than once a day, and then never for more than 24 hours. Occasionally less.

I have doubtless spoken before of an insatiable curiosity. Life is lived vicariously through books and articles, through photographs and conversations. Life is a series of hyperlinks. Reading one thing sparks a leap to another. Cerebral spaghetti. Some things stick permanently. Others lie lurking, flashing briefly through the mind then disappearing again. Some gnaw away, taunting and goading as they do so.

The problem with seeking inspiration is the sense that it is all just too late. I made an horrific mistake today. I picked up Frans Lanting’s book, Jungles. Twenty years in gestation, a image-chronicle of photographic derring-do, losing 10 camera bodies to the jungle in 3 months, watching larvae emerge from his leg, seeing the wires of his remote camera gear eaten by ants as well as their devouring his tents. I’m afraid I’m a sad case of derring-don’t. I can’t stand leeches. Jungles and leeches tend to go hand in hand. If I started a 10 or 20 year project know it would probably be part of a boxed set – with me in the box. It is tempting though.

I am also about to re-read The Endurance by Caroline Alexander. This is of course the account of Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. I shall feel like a complete wimp at the end, realising what the human mind and body can do if survival is at stake. My biggest decision today will be whether to eat the blueberries or not.

One thing I have taken up in the last few days is a position as a Moderator on a Google + Community. Not surprisingly it is Bird Photography. I had no idea how many people there are who merrily post images under their own name having ‘lifted’ (for want of a harsher word) the image from another site. The Community owner introduced me to a clever little extension for Google Chrome called TinEye. With this and Google’s own image search tool it is possible to find out quickly if an image matches another on the web. Then the detective work starts to see whether the posted image is owned by the same person or requires proper attribution and/or consent. I am also allowed to select images for Photo of the Day. Each of the moderators will I am sure bring their preferences to the assessments. I have never before moderated a social media group. Yet another learning experience.

I am also impressed at the quality of the work I am seeing. I find the selectability of G+ to be much better than FB. My home page filters to me a selection of posts from those who I have elected to follow. Since I know very few of them personally the issue of “friendship” simply does not arise. I think FB has corrupted the concept of friendship. Many people on my list are ‘people with common interests’. Others would undoubtedly pass the friendship test but with them I tend to maintain a dialogue away from FB also. G+ feels more professional once you get used to it. Looking at high quality work is almost guaranteed to inspire you and make you strive to do better. It also gives me ideas and, equally importantly, reminds me what has become so standardised that frankly unless I can do something different I am failing to create, only copy, knowingly or not.

I am now beginning to think about next year. My contract expires on December 31st and that means no pocket-money. The cash has been helpful but the real benefit has been in keeping my brain active, researching, analysing, presenting, writing, listening, coaching, all things that give me a sense of usefulness. Sharing knowledge and experience is rewarding. Someone said to me recently ‘thank you for sharing your wisdom’. I was quite taken aback. Thoroughly chuffed, I was. And it was sincere. That is what I worked for over the decades. Not money but recognition, professional respect.

In some respects then I feel that futility is in itself futile. We all have a contribution to make. We all have a passion that drives us if we unlock it. My challenge is getting off my *** and doing it. Whatever it is, I feel it involves a camera, the written word and a teaching component. I wrote a piece recently trying to explain how I believe photography can be used as a tool for learning new perspectives. If only I could follow my own advice.

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26 thoughts on “Nonsense and Non-sensibility

  1. In regards to your comment that photography is a tool for learning new perspectives, I would add that it is also a tool for introspection.
    Thanks again for the interesting read, which always leads to both the former and latter.

    • Thank you Barry. I sat on this post for several days, wondering whether to post it. Often I find the comments people make as helpful as it is cathartic to write the original piece.

  2. Dear me!

    I’ll be honest. I worked for money. And competition. What gripes me is that I can’t get a decent job (not that there are many) and I see work put out by so-called professionals full of flaws. But do I want to work? No. But I wouldn’t mind the money. I wasn’t impressed with the shortest interview of my life for a job for which I was perfectly well-qualified because it was an obvious set-up.

    One of the reasons I blog is to keep writing, read, share, learn. As my trade is totally spin, I doubt anyone would ever thank me for my wisdom. I remember someone once praising a colleague and saying how wonderful she was at her job. Well, no, she wasn’t. But she was good at promoting herself, and in my business that’s a large part of it, sadly. You don’t have to be good at what you do, just good at telling everyone you are good at what you do. I made the mistake for many years of believing my parents who told me that if you worked hard you would get on. B****cks.

    Anyway FB is appalling. Not sure how long I have been FB free but probably not long enough. Think I only joined to spy on a few others. What a waste of time out of my life. I object to G+ and Google on moral grounds but I think the concept is good enough. Interestingly, I joined quite early on, but people just would not leave FB.

    I’ve done moderating and site admin and all that before on forums. Good luck to you. A friend did mention Tineye to me a while ago. I did check out a couple of Pippadog pix as I figured they were the only ones anyone would be remotely interested in πŸ˜€ It was good. Nobody had nicked them.

    Some years ago someone posted a photo in a forum camera competition (no prizes apart from fame and glory). It was nicked. He was found out and admonished – and actually denied it! I have no idea why people nick photos. It defies belief.

    You sound like me, the elephant’s child with ‘satiable curiosity.

    (I’ve answered your post from end to start, sorry about that, sometimes ’tis easier).

    • “I’ll be honest. I worked for money. And competition. ” Well I did as well for many years. And interestingly enough I always said ‘competition’ not ambition – there is a difference. At some point though money ceased to become a real motivator for me. The trouble is who knows when they have enough to be independent? What I have learned is that there were bits of my job I loved and bits I loathed. The balance was wrong. Having spare cash did however allow me to support causes that I considered deserving and I can do less of that now. It is quite sobering though that I worry about solvency in 10-20 years time whereas you look at Gmb Akash’s survivors and they worry about eating tomorrow. In some ways that thought triggered this latest round of soul searching. On the bright side I have just seen 3 Hair-crested Drongos in the garden. Sadly they flew before I could get the camera set up. Life can be cruel.

      • The ambition came first, but it was overtaken by the competition. It was fierce I tell you. I wasn’t the money sphere obviously, but it was pretty tough. When I saw people who couldn’t do my job and they were getting paid more than me, and attempting to tell me what to do, I was in there. And I figured I could do theirs. After some controversy I was allowed to have a go, but on a lower salary because I was just starting, or on trial, or something. So I got that changed after a year.

        My name’s roughseas and I’m here to say that once upon a time I was hungry and kicked arse. qv Lottie’s comment below. Looking back I can’t believe it!

        Maslow. I love Maslow. I don’t need to say any more do I? It is so true though.

        What happened with my job was that the Chief Exec and the culture changed. Disaster. typical story, the new one wanted to change the whole top tier, and wanted sycophants. The former one had taught us to think for ourselves. Dangerous. I was discussing it with a colleague once, with whom I frequently argued, but we both agreed about the cultural change and bemoaned the loss of the first CE. I actually did like most of my job. I didn’t like the restrictions on my areas of responsibility. I got on well with clinicians in hospitals, to the extent that when left, all my leaving cards/notes/flowers were from hospital colleagues not from my own authority.

        As for causes, ours were always animal sanctuaries and hunt sabs. Once in India, my travelling companion said ‘life is in the streets’. And it was. When it’s in the streets it’s cheap. When it’s westernised it’s not which is why we all worry about money in 10-20 years time. Which is why Partner is working 55 hours a week on a building site at 57.

        I saw a beautiful butterfly at the finca on a plumbago leaf. Not only did I not have time to go in to get the camera, it had gone when I blinked. Life can be cruel.

  3. I ain’t no crystal ball reader, and nor do I read the carrot cards but I have a feeling that you are on the verge of something new, very creative and most satisfying. I hope that my hunch is right.

    I’m also terrible about getting off my **** and getting on with things that I really want to. I know what it is, fear. Fear of failure which is pathetic because nothing is worse than not trying or even giving something a go. I’m my own worst enemy much of the time. Help, this is beginning to sound like ‘let’s all pour our heart’s out and confess on Andrew’s post!’ Forgive me πŸ™‚

    As for Facebook, I have a love/hate relationship with it. The only reason that I bother with it at all is as a way of keeping in touch with friends and seeing what everyone’s getting up to back in London. Having said that I do on occasion find some really interesting posts to read and share and that’s a bonus. I’ve not got my head round Google + yet, maybe I should. It sounds like I need to check out what you are up to on there if nothing else. Oh, and what’s this Tin thingy? I’m interested in that – I was a rather put out the other day to find that TripAdvisor have used some of my images and not credited me for them. That sucks and I need to sort it out but I’m not sure how?

    Great post Andrew, and lots of food for thought πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Lottie. I think TinEye only works with Chrome. I have started using Chrome for G+ as it also auto translates pages in languages other than English (apparently there are some). It seems to be more reliable than Google Image Search but using both picks up pretty much anything. With Trip Advisor I suggest you write to them first of all and ask them to take them down or, if you are happy for them to stay up, credit you and link to the source. They can’t really argue that it is for non-commercial use. If they ignore your request then it depends how strongly you feel about them. Maybe I should check some of mine!

  4. I use Google Chrome, Andrew, have done for while, as it seems the swiftest of all the browsers, and as you said in the previous reply, it’ll translate on auto if you set it right. (handy for two foreign sites I follow) There seems all sorts of traps on the internet just waiting to suck you in., and people able to claim what is not their own. NO problem with me, (other than being a spammer of course, sheeesh!! πŸ˜‰ ) Who’d want my poems and thoughts? I did use Facebook at one stage but got fed up with the inane comments and such, and got bullied at one stage so deleted. This comment is taking me ages to complete, someone keeps trying to butt in. BUT ( πŸ™‚ ) I will say this, I love your photo’s and find such a joy in ‘seeing’ so many new species of flora and fauna, and without sites like yours and Steve’s and whoever else. I’d be bored to death. Um, what else? One thing, if this goes to spam Ill tear my hair out.. (I won’t really ‘cos it;s hairdressers on Thursday!!) xPenx

    • Well it did go to spam but now I check regularly and I rescued you and tagged you as ‘not spam’. I think many people enjoy your poems, Pen. The challenge for everybody is getting recognition on any scale. Most of us never will but some may make that breakthrough. I am thinking of writing a new blog under the pseudonym J K Rowling-Pin. I hope it catches on.

  5. Thanks Andrew. You do because you do. I have been fortunate not ever to have been very ambitious or competitive and at 72 am too old to now become a good policeman or join the army. I suppose my parents migrating away from The Netherlands and I having to earn a cracker on arrival meant that a PhD or a career of sorts were fading fast. However, je ne regretted rien as E. Piaf would say.
    I admire and am always knocked out by your photography and am amazed you are not invited by National Geographic as a contributor. However, if you were, you might well end up in a nightmare of consignments and in-fighting. I remember doing some background work for a large advertising agency. They would spend days photographing an ad for ice cream. They had deep-freezers full of ice-cream. Shot after shot waiting for the right melting run of ice cream along the mouth of a girl model. Geez, what a world that was. Yet, the female model thought she had it all made. Perhaps she did; but having photos of ice cream on your face is hardly proof of achievements.
    Andrew, you are doing amazing work and I hope you are going on with it, I also hope you will continue at least with giving us the pleasure but understand that it is, at times, hard to keep going.
    As for FB, my pieces appear there without my doing and so does it in twitter. I often get ‘friendship’ requests from people I never heard off together with mouth-watering girls from Russia that want to marry me, together with spams in my e-mail for dubious enlargement tablets with promises of ‘screaming for joy’ women.
    It’s all so much.

    • Gerard, you are really so kind. NatGeo standards are way above mine in all seriousness. Would I accept an assignment – you bet I would – but it will never happen. The blogging community I belong to seems blessed with wonderful storytellers and I count you among the best. I love looking for posts from you, Rod, Lottie, Chas and the gang. I like RoughSeas posts because they provoke and make me think. Steve posts wonderful images. Bente takes us to places I’ll never see. Greg gives me perspective. Pen makes me smile wistfully with her poems. I really enjoy Jayde-Ashe’s book reviews. I always look out for Yvonne’s heartwarming animal tales. I admire Mike Hardisty’s photography and that of Stephen Hipperson. I lap up Phil’s alligator and spoony sagas. AV always makes me chuckle as he waits for beer o’clock. Marsha can hold my attention on most things and Ben is my photo processing guru. Alessandro is THE monochrome maestro. I am sure I’ve missed someone who will be deeply offended. Sorry!!! Its already bedtime. I’m tired. My point is simply that we all contribute a lot in our small way. My problem is a sense of what might have been.

      I think you should get your PhD in Dutch-Australian contemporary historical literature – its a very narrow field and one in which I feel you already dominate. The downside of course would be even greater popularity with the gorgeous, pouting, Russian dolls. I suspect you could live with that. Dank u wel, Gerard.

  6. Very insightful peice Andrew. You will make a wonderful moderator. I have learned a lot from your self-criticism of your photos which I would have been over the moon to have taken.

    Finding our passions isn’t always easy, but when we do, it’s wonderful.
    Best wishes in your quest. You certainly have great talents in both photography and writing.

  7. That’s a great post Andrew, it puts so many of my sentiments into words, and this: ‘unless I can do something different I am failing to create, only copy, knowingly or not’ is worthy of a bumber sticker at the very least! πŸ˜‰

  8. Crikey πŸ™‚ , Andrew. Now you’ve made me go and think about all of this. I just want the pretty pictures. Despite your protestations you do post lots and lots of them. πŸ™‚

    I think a trap many of us fall into is the lack of satisfaction with our lives. Satisfaction is a double-edged thing. On the one hand it is an important component of happiness. But the other side is a lack of drive and pursuit of our curiosities. I am like you…when something new pops up I want to follow it and then I lose track of where I had been going. It is hard to maintain our focus/discipline when the world is so interesting. Sometimes tunnel-vision is a good thing.

    Good luck with moderating. I am getting nowhere with G+. With the exception of your +1s I am invisible there. As far as the concept of Facebook friends…where would you and I be without it. πŸ™‚

    I am quite groggy this morning so it is best that I don’t keep going on about things. I think my foolishness is self-evident without my adding more evidence. πŸ™‚

    • Steve, to make headway on G+ you need to join a few communities. You wil quickly gather followers. Sharing with the public doesn’t help much because nobody knows you are there. With a community you have a guaranteed audience.

      I hope the grogginess wears off soon. My lack of satisfaction today is with yet another deluge of rain 😦

  9. I am really not surpriesed by the the number of people lifting images, it is the scurge of the modern world. If imitation is art, stealing it must be something higher. Hope you have fun moderating, it is something i would love to do but when if it was offered to me I think I would then experience a little fear.

    • Ben, I can’t imagine why you would experience fear! I think you would be ideal but it does take up a fair amount of time at weekends. During the week most people seem to have a rest from image pilfering!

  10. I’m sure you’ll do well at the “moderating”… can we get Gurgle/the US authorities to arrange Drone strikes on the known addresses of people who thieve images ?

    Futility…. rhymes with “Utility”, there must be some inspiration to be wrung out of that, although many of us -especially of a certain age – know what you mean.

  11. I have been giving G+ a try from time to time but I simply can’t feel comfortable with the concept and the way it works. So I will try not to lose contact with you by following your blog and by encounters at FB.

  12. I’m very glad you did decide to post it, Andrew, it has such authenticity (as do your other posts), also made me nod with knowing certain feelings and smile at other parts. I liked it very much. FB seems to give me an uncomfortable vibration if I stay on for more than a few minutes but so useful to see friends and contacts across the globe and how they’re enjoying life.

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