The helpless feeling of anger


Over the past 15 years or more, I’ve sat off again and on again on the couch of a therapist. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and the inner tickings of this old brain of mine.

Abandonment is a large issue for me. I trace abandonment back to adoption, a mental place of loss before I could decipher what loss was. Feelings of abandonment can trigger a swing. Abandonment can encompass betrayals. Abandonment can be triggered by another’s behavior that has nothing to do with mine.

Keep in mind, I realize that the best, most loving result of the situation that occurred before I could walk on my own was that I would eventually be adopted by two incredible parents. But all the good in the world won’t change my chemical and physical makeup for what my head thinks it needs, wants, desires and hopes for.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Amanda Palmer sings the hits


jeremywitteveenrocknroll-24.jpg

A portrait I took of Amanda Palmer in 2016. 

“In both the art and the business worlds, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple: The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not.”
Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

I’ve been reading Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking” thanks to a recommendation by my new little adopted sister Aynsley. She’s the daughter of my college mentor and she recently moved here from Michigan to pursue a career in esthetics.

When recommending the book, I told Aynsley I photographed Palmer a few years back. She was all, “NO WAY! I am one degree away from Amanda Palmer. I think I’m going to throw up.”

She wrote that if she had a religion it would be Amanda Palmer. And now after reading a good bit of her book, I get it. Amanda Palmer is rich with a good honest kick in the teeth. She reminds us that vulnerability and honesty is key to creative exploration and execution. Secrecy and shame are the Devils that suppress art and kill self exploration.

And, I hate to write it, but in a world where women don’t have nearly the presence in the art world as they should, Amanda Palmer is a tour de force of originality and motivating presence!

I watched Palmer’s TedTalk back when I photographed her. She’s an inspiration for sure. She’s super creative and tends to fly under radars while having the biggest following you never knew about.

That quote above. That shit about knowing and not knowing. That shit is true. And it’s not until I embraced the insecurity that I started feeling like there was art in winging it, art in chaos, art in vulnerability, art in acceptance.

Yesterday, I was on set with an amazing crew photographing a lovely model for a new mattress company. I had my gear out everywhere. I setup lights and mods, and my equipment was spread out from the bedroom to the bathroom, down a hall and into a bedroom. I leave lenses all over the place, all uncapped and exposed.

And when we walk away, we magically get beautiful photos. But in the act, damn, I feel like the world is a chaotic as it can be.

And you know what, I love it and hate it. I’d much rather know exactly what gear I need. Not leave gear out to be stepped on or knocked over. But I love it at the same time. It’s a weird presence that I bring. It’s me. And I accept that.

Over the last few years, I’ve suffered from mental challenges of fear and creativity paralyzation like no other time in my life. I amplified levels of shame and dishonesty in ways that I’m discovering don’t make any sense.

There tends to be an ebb and flow within most people for a time of negativity and a time for positivity. I’m enjoying the flow of positivity at the moment. I only hope I can keep it up.

There’s this model I know who has discovered her own, let’s say, religion. I’m really not sure if that’s accurate. Her name is Nasreen Ameri, and she calls her idea Carrorism, an extension of the made-up word “Carror” which she defines as the opposite of “Terror.”

On Facebook, she’s been posting positive quotes and pictures of what appear to be hearts she finds everywhere in the world, in cracks in the pavement, in oil spots on the road, in the way food is shaped on her plate.

How cool is it to look for love in everything, even things we find as inanimate as pavement.

I’m not necessarily going to call myself a Carrorist. But I love when positive people influence me with thoughts of wonder and intrigue. When the build while destroying. Isn’t that what it’s about? Creating one thing while eschewing something else? You can’t be both lazy and productive. So when you concentrate on art, you are also demolishing zombism, paralytic fear, shame, doubt, dishonesty and war.

Or maybe I’m missing the point all together. I need to go think on this a while.

Wait, genius means what?


A couple nights ago, I read Steven Pressfield’s the War of Art. I flew through it. It’s as inspiring as any concert, any museum, any art gallery I’ve ever been to.

The crux of the book is to discuss the obstacles that prevent creativity or the pursuit of a goal and inspire, encourage, warn, man-splain … how that person should jump off the woe is me train and onto the Airbus/space shuttle/galaxy destroyer of creativity …

I haven’t been this inspired in a long time.

Gosh, I remember as a kid going to church and feeling like I should be inspired by church sermons. And sometimes I took nuggets here or there. But never did I feel wow’d by sermon speak. If anything, you’d think that after an hour of so-called “uplifting music” and “biblical encouragements,” I’d leave church and feel heavenly and refreshed. Those were feelings I was supposed to feel. And I was good at faking them. But bored, guilty and shame, maybe, those were emotions I walked away with. I was rarely inspired.

But this book, holy shit!

Maybe it’s the Whole30 diet and the clarity it’s giving me. Maybe it’s reading it on the coattails of Tribe of Mentors. But holy damn. I love this book and want everyone to read it and love it.

Pressfield describes the antithesis of art as “resistance.” Anything that prevents you from doing you: resistance.

This makes total sense to me.

He discusses the origin of the word genius, which is not necessarily a person who is superior in his accomplishments because they make everyone else look un-genius. According to wiki:

In ancient Rome, the genius (plural in Latin genii) was the guiding spirit or tutelary deity of a person, family (gens), or place (genius loci).[3] The noun is related to the Latin verbgenui, genitus, “to bring into being, create, produce”, as well as to the Greek word for birth.[4]

“To bring into being, create, produce.” That is powerful stuff. In no other time in history have we had so many ways to, not only create and produce, but share it. And in my world, I’ve got a fire under my ass to not only create and produce but share. This takes focus, organization and deliberate attention to ambition and accomplishment.

It takes recognizing that Resistance is the asshole who wants to stand in my way, and doing everything but being polite to get Resistance out of the way.

Pressfield writes:

“A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center.”

On this blog in the past, I’ve written several times about thoughts I’ve had that artistry and certain religious beliefs are impossible and incompatible bedfellows. At some point in my career as a student and then as an evolving artist, I kept running into blocks that were religious in nature, and I was forced to let go of religion and replace it with unfettered passion for production of art.

Never have I read someone else who comes close to validating that perspective (emphasis mine).

Pressfield writes:

“The fundamentalist (or, more accurately, the beleaguered individual who comes to embrace fundamentalism) cannot stand freedom. He cannot find his way into the future, so he retreats to the past. He returns in imagination to the glory days of his race and seeks to reconstitute both them and himself in their purer, more virtuous light. He gets back to basics. To fundamentals. Fundamentalism and art are mutually exclusive. There is no such thing as fundamentalist art. This does not mean that the fundamentalist is not creative. Rather, his creativity is inverted. He creates destruction. Even the structures he builds, his schools and networks of organization, are dedicated to annihilation, of his enemies and of himself. But the fundamentalist reserves his greatest creativity for the fashioning of Satan, the image of his foe, in opposition to which he defines and gives meaning to his own life. Like the artist, the fundamentalist experiences Resistance. He experiences it as temptation to sin. Resistance to the fundamentalist is the call of the Evil One, seeking to seduce him from his virtue. The fundamentalist is consumed with Satan, whom he loves as he loves death. Is it coincidence that the suicide bombers of the World Trade Center frequented strip clubs during their training, or that they conceived of their reward as a squadron of virgin brides and the license to ravish them in the fleshpots of heaven? The fundamentalist hates and fears women because he sees them as vessels of Satan, temptresses like Delilah who seduced Samson from his power. To combat the call of sin, i.e., Resistance, the fundamentalist plunges either into action or into the study of sacred texts. He loses himself in these, much as the artist does in the process of creation. The difference is that while the one looks forward, hoping to create a better world, the other looks backward, seeking to return to a purer world from which he and all have fallen.

As a teenager, I followed in the footsteps of the legacy that preceded me. I found solace and love in evangelical things. But I was miserable doing it. When I noticed that all I was doing was finding out what was wrong with everyone else and finding the need to tell everyone else how sinful they lived, it made me into a person with his gaze always fixed on a backwards perspective. Backwards in its different meanings.

As a collegiate, I started seeing more as a progressive and a forward thinker. Every time I looked backward, I became consumed and overcome with excuses for why I wasn’t growing as an artist. When I finally started looking forward, I learned how to pursue dreams. Resistance, though, is awful and wanted me to hold on with clinched fists to the past. So I turned to shitty habits of alcohol or even reading web sites or hanging with people who weren’t helping me look forward.

Right now, I’m a zealot for positivity and for focus. I’m impassioned by creation and for self exploration.

It’s a better vessel for me to ride on. I love it.

I leave you with this last quote, as it says so much about what it means to be an artist.

“The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.”

What do you think? Is it possible to be an artist and a “believer”? What things do you do to remain on task and move around or past obstacles to pursue your goals, art or whatever?

Surprise! I joined a cult


 

Image resultLeading out of last year, there were many conversations between Tina and her cousin Kelly about trying a new diet in the new year.  One that Kelly learned about through a dietician is called the Whole30 diet.

Dubious at first, Tina researched it and discovered that it was a diet recommended to her a few years ago by our doctor because of Tina’s ongoing, persistent allergies. According to our doctor, whom we both loved and looked up to, the recommendation is that there might be foods in one’s diet that exacerbates certain allergies.

To discover if this is true or not, the dieter must eliminate several food types and groups for 30 days and then over the course of a couple weeks, reintroduce the different foods one at a time. The hope is to discover which foods are causing or exacerbating the allergies. Continue reading

Media diet, busy-ness, relationships, life, learning and you


The last few months have been some of the busiest of my career (Thanks, President Trump!*).

The level of busy is positive for income and also for how it’s teaching me about my craft. While I make mistakes all the time on sets, I’ve learned how to deal with them better.

Another way to look at it is that I turn failures into opportunities. And that generally feels good.

Tina and I haven’t had a day off in what seems like forever. There wouldn’t be any real way to count. It would be exaggeration to claim no day off in months. There’s not a day that goes by when we don’t do something work related.

When we’re busy, my social life, media diet and reading life turns to shit. It kills me when I feel like I can’t keep up with my friends, or even maintain my personal media diet of books, exercise and mediation. Through the thick of it, I try my damnedest when and where I can.

Last Saturday night, Tina took some time to spend with her cousin Kelly and other girlfriends. I hunkered down and worked the night away on some interiors photography that had a hard deadline. It’s work that I’m really proud of, but can’t share because it has to publish first in a magazine. After that, I can share it.

Most of the night, I listened to one of my favorite radio stations: Nova Radio France. They play a mix of House, Jazz, some disco, etc. I heard a version of a Radiohead song once that I can’t find and it’s killing me. A lot of the music on Nova is bass-driven, and I think that’s why I like it so much. I used to play bass (try to anyway). Plus I get a little taste of French between songs, or in French songs, or in interviews they do with DJs.

Lately, they’ve turned me on to a pair of beautiful twin artist who go by Ibeyi. They’re super thought provoking and talented. Plus, I have a weakness for female vocalists.

Continue reading

With the horror of last night’s Las Vegas shooting comes a flood of responses


I don’t have time to properly respond with a personal reaction to the horrible terror shooting last night in Las Vegas.

I can say that: I hate violence. This stuff weighs on me. Hard. It makes me angry. It makes me emotional. It makes me sick. I’m sure I’m not alone.

The variety of responses though is sometimes awful on its own.

David Duke blames the Jews.

Alex Jones is claiming a liberal conspiracy by the Democrats and their Islamic allies.

Pat Robertson is blaming disrespect for president, flag and God.

President Trump sent his warmest condolences to those affected.

I spent about a minute reading the conspiracy nut blow jobs over at Breitbart on their thread about the shooting.

If the above five resources are any indication of the future, man, we’re fucked.

On the flip, I’m particularly drawn to bright minds like Jason Kottke, who wrote this morning:

America is a stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen?

The whole post is worth a look. Link above.

If you read/saw some worthy responses to the shooting, please share them in the comments. If you read some particularly disgusting ones, hell, post ’em too.

Thanks.

 

 

Is reality real? The Simulation Argument


One simulation argument proposes that:

at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

Hit the link to read more.

I really don’t know how I feel about all of this. I haven’t explored it enough.

I don’t have a degree in math. I accomplished a few viewings of sci-fi movies and took different philosophy classes in college that explore Cogito Ergo Sum. How do we know we exist exactly and what surrounds us is anymore than a computer construct.

I attended a Christian college in North Carolina called Montreat College. It’s a little school in the mountains with a Christian slant, but I feel that I got a pretty good liberal arts education. Our bible classes were pretty in depth and showed us scripture from a more rounded perspective. My freshman year challenged my level of evangelical faith more than any other time in my life.

In high school, we were brainwashed taught that a liberal arts education at a secular college would basically be — to put it in realistic terms —  the equivalent of being Satan’s bitch.

I chose Montreat because it promised a liberal arts education with a Presbyterian influence. The staff were all Christians, after all. Safe!

At the time, I felt like that was safer for my mortality. I kind of regret that choice now. I wish I had a more prestigious educational diploma to point at when people ask me what college I went to.

Since I spent a semester overseas and I wanted to graduate on time, I had to make up some classes the summer of my junior year. I took two or three literature classes and a Philosophy class at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Going to a state school placed me close to whoring myself to Satan’s grasp. I assure you I thought I was going to hell just walking through their doors.

I remember being blown away by my Philosophy 100 or 200 class. It was as secular as nothing I had ever experienced. Extremely “Liberal” by my waining extremely conservative standards. There was not a hint of any familiarity with the “Christian” worldview that I came from.

I remember the classes discussing how philosophical thought brought us through some ideas of wondering about our existence and whether we know for sure whether its true or not.

When Matrix came out, all I could think of was that it was Philosophy 101. I thought it was beneath me, if you will. And I yawned the entire movie.

This is all to say that I’m somewhat turned on by the subject, but I feel like my level of education suffers too much to really make a statement of any substance.

Something that has been rattling around in my head again lately thanks to a few different current events in my world, though, has been the idea of the paranormal and the afterlife.

Think about it this way:

Many people think souls or life essence exists at the point of birth (yes, some at conception). Whether or not you’re a Christian or whatever, most people I know think that the body dies and a spirit lives on. Some think that the spirit then goes on to live in heaven (or hell). Some think that the spirit might dwell in an invisible realm at earth level with a kind of connection to the so-called tangible world we live in.

My problem with the whole idea that humans are born and then live their life and then die and then live in another dimension is that what in the world was going on before they were born. What were they before that point?

Say you think the world is 10,000 years old and you were born in 1975 and died in 2000.

The “they” is telling me that your spirit was not existent for 9,975 years. It floated around without a voice. Without a language. And it wasn’t until they passed through the vaginal wormhole that they were given the ability to possibly communicate with others in the “afterlife”. What about the goddamn prelife?

There are people out there waving their hands over crystal balls, turning over tarot cards or wiggling divining rods only access spirits of those who were born and died. The mediums only have access to those who were named, lived a life of some kind, and now speak through mediums who are sooo blessed with psychic gifts, they can talk to only the ones who passed through the vaginal wormhole into the world.

The spirits/souls all speak the language of the medium as well. Kudos to them.

It’s this idea that for all time, before you were born, you were ABSOLUTELY nothing. Somehow a zillion other people became brains of thought millions of years ago. They, and only THEY are either in heaven, hell or wandering the earth communicating through psychics.

Given passage through a vagina, these people, and these people only, landed the opportunity to pass into heaven, hell or whatever the fuck you believe in.

I happen to accept that the universe is billions of years old. And the idea that all these “souls” waited eons before mental birth some millions of years ago … and that that birth, life and finally death passage through the wormhole into the next life or eternal life … and that that ONLY pertains to human spirits … that shit needs to be revisited when looking at the Bible, the Koran, the Matrix, et al … except the Simulation Argument.

That one is safe from this kind of head scratching.