“Beauty has become a modern-day super drug”

From Timothy Ferriss’s Tribe of Mentors, this is a quote from writer/filmmaker Soman Chainani:

There’s this dazzling short story by Ted Chiang called “Liking What You See” that did a number on me. The story asserts that beauty has become a modern-day superdrug, that with filtered and face-tuned social media, retouched models on advertisements, and rampant pornography, we’ve overloaded the senses so that our natural instincts can no longer recognize or react to real beauty anymore. And it’s making us confused and miserable, both in how we judge ourselves and how we judge others. That crystal clear warning—beauty is literally ruining our lives—has improved my life tenfold just by making me consciously aware of it (and by making me ignore 90 percent of what’s on Instagram).

This quote resonates with me on an equally inspirational and hypocritical level.

As a photographer, I have been retouching images for the duration of my career. I believe that lots of people like to view a better version of themselves … And yet the truth is that in split second form, you look almost exactly like you do in any given photo.

Yes, there’s some distortion involved with certain lenses. Hopefully you’re not on the edge of a group shot taken with a wide angle lens. You may incorrectly believe you need to lose some weight. Or you might think your forehead goes on for miles if it’s at the top of a wide angle lens frame.


There are some things, like blemishes, that we all would like to remove from our faces. I have this little white cholesterol deposit thing on my face (in the wrinkle of my right eyelid) that I absolutely hate. So sometimes I remove it in photoshop, other times, I don’t. It’s like a little piece of me. It’s been there for over 15 years.

But pushing in fat. Removing moles that make up someone’s look, I can’t always agree that needs to go.

As riders of this globe around the sun, too many of us have a false sense of beauty. And I’m partly to blame, because while I hate doing it, I also Photoshop, at times, too much. I’m perpetuating an un-genuine perception of beauty. Shame, shame, shame on me.

I would LOVE not to. Maybe I’m addicted. Maybe I have a problem.

“Hello. My name is Jeremy Witteveen. And I’m addicted to perpetuating a false image of beauty via Photoshop.”

It’s food for thought.


Let’s check out some advice from Ben Stiller

I think people are too aware of trying to figure out what’s “hot” and trying to emulate that. Ultimately, you need to develop your own voice as a filmmaker or even as an actor. It takes time. In terms of bad recommendations, don’t believe anyone who tells you they know what they are doing. William Goldman, the screenwriter, once wrote, “nobody knows anything” in the movie business, and it is true. I know I don’t, and I have been doing it a long time … So don’t listen to anyone who tells you what kind of movie to write, or how you should look, or what kind of work to do.
Ben Stiller from Tim Ferriss’s book Tribe of Mentors

This is a quote I could return to again and again. I don’t have much time, but I wanted to jot down a couple things:

I certainly believe in trying to develop your own creative voice. I feel like that’s an ever-evolving concept and I am enjoying the ride of my own creative voice’s development.

Then there’s the part about “Nobody knows anything in the movie business.”

I believe you can easily change out the words movie business with a lot of different industries.

I was once photographing a model who had worked at Playboy. It was early in my studio photography development, and I remember her saying at one point, “You’re not doing it any differently then the most seasoned expert. Everyone looks like they’re not exactly sure once in a while.”

I’ve heard that elsewhere. And that makes me both sad and happy. Ha.

Also, from experience, I’ve seen way too many people who graduate in fine art, or photography or in graphic design, who knew shit about the industry except for maybe a little bit about how to design. So much of art is the technical, and they knew zilch. I never got a degree in those things, but I was able to train myself. Said and done, a lot of what industries know as pro is often a self-involved process to reach and not necessarily some kind of exact education.

These are only suppositions. Not entire truths. Just observations.


Oprah Winfrey receives Cecil B. de Mille award at 2018 Golden Globes

This speech from Oprah is awe-inspiring. I wish we had more of her voice, and voices like hers, on a daily or even weekly basis.

While I would certain vote for Oprah Winfrey in a contest between Donald Trump and her, I do not agree with the growing chorus of voices hoping she’ll run for president. I agree with those who are saying, “Rise through the ranks and run for president after learning politics first.”

The current president has made enough audacious mockery of the most prestigious and powerful seat in the US and possible the globe. The seat of the president isn’t a popularity contest for wealthy celebrities. You want experts in positions of power.

Just this morning, I read that Trump’s work day is currently 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. He probably takes two hours for lunch, and more breaks than a lazy kid at his first job bussing tables.

Oh wait, I was kidding, according to the article:

  • On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11am. He then has “Executive Time” for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it’s another 1 hour 15 minutes of “Executive Time” followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of “Executive Time” before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45pmmeeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15pm.

  • Other days are fairly similar, unless the president is traveling, in which case the days run longer. On Wednesday this week, for example, the president meets at 11am for his intelligence briefing, then has “Executive Time” until a 2pm meeting with the Norwegian Prime Minister. His last official duty: a video recording with Hope Hicks at4pm.

  • On Thursday, the president has an especially light schedule: “Policy Time” at 11am, then “Executive Time” at12pm, then lunch for an hour, then more “Executive Time” from 1:30pm.

Of course it’s all fake news.

Fake fake fakity Fake.

But there’s this breakdown of his schedule of what’s public, so I’m thinking the Axios article is legitity git.


In the world of — fill in the blank — everyone wants to succeed immediately …

In the book Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss, there’s a quote from Steven Pressfield that reads:

In the world of writing, everyone wants to succeed immediately and without pain or effort. Really? Or they love to write books about how to write books, rather than actually writing . . . a book that might actually be about something.

In reality, you could probably replace “writing” with almost any profession.

“In the world of photography, everyone wants to succeed immediately.”

“In the world of cooking, painting, accounting, lawyering, everyone wants to succeed immediately.”

Hell, you could replace it with nonprofessional things like, “Marriage,” “Friendship,” “Parenthood” … “being human”.

Nothing worth a good goddamn is immediate. Life is ongoing and recognizing success is not immediate and maybe even a constant effort … it reboots the brain into a sympathetic state.

In the world of empathy, I hope to be a better success story. I hope you do, too.


Reading recommendation: Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

I’m midway through reading Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss.

In a nutshell, Ferriss interviewed a shit-ton of celebrities, scientists, entrepreneurs,  thinkers, successful people, notable people, etc. etc., asked them all the same 11 questions, and he compiled most of their answers into a book.

Mind you, it feels culty and a little contrived at times. But damn if it’s not inspiring and thought provoking. I’m recommending it to you. Yes, you. Go pick it up and read it.

It’s interesting to see the crossover from different people. When asked how to get out of a funk, almost universally, people say they take a walk. Rather than beat your head over trying to stick in front of a conundrum, get your head out of your ass, away from the computer and switch it up.

Another crossover between the most successful people seems to be meditation. Meditation is something I already practice, so I’m looking forward to maybe doing it more. Right now, I have a reoccurring calendar item that reads Two O’clock Two Minutes. Just doing two minutes at a time is better than nothing. But as I wrote in my last post, I use my swimming time and my running as time to lose myself into a nothing in my mind state. The longer the run or swim, the better the meditative durations. I LOVE THAT.

One of the things I may do for a while here on Café Witteveen is share a quote or quotes from the book. I will either talk about the quote or won’t. Just let it sit and resonate with you or not. I won’t necessarily tell you who or what the author is. You’d have to google him or her yourselves. But the quotes will, in some way, inspire me and I hope they inspire you.

I absolutely hate the New Year’s resolution racket. But New Year’s are as good a time as any to at least try to get back into something or another. Or re-new one’s love for different things. I loved blogging several years ago, and my hope is to get back into it. For no one else but me. And if other people jump onboard for the ride, cool.

If you are onboard, jump into the comments and let me know. Tell me your story. Tell me where to find your blog. Or your tumbler or Instagram.

Here’s a quote just to whet your whistle, because it’s something I started doing a year and a half ago, which is: emphasize sleep. I didn’t realize just how much sleep helps so many things, clarity of mind, better workouts, and a lowered resting heart rate among other things.

Over the last five years, I’ve started to become more attuned to the various ways I need to take care of myself. And at the top of that list is sleep. I need eight to nine hours of sleep to function properly, and I’ve started guarding my sleep time mercilessly. I spend a lot more quiet nights at home, and when I do go out to dinner, I’ll insist on an early-bird reservation or cut out early. I’ve even been known to go to bed while my guests are still partying. They’re happy, I’m happy, it’s all good. My obsession with sleep has improved my life immeasurably.
Samin Nosrat

Twenty Eighteen, excuse me, but were you invited to this party?


I’m limping into 2018 with a skepticism, determination and hope. Skepticism is ranking highest on my list.

Twenty seventeen was a good year for a lot of things.

  • My business: revenues up!
  • My marriage: tents and tits up!
  • My love of learning French: Eiffel Tower up!
  • Physical achievement: Feet thumbs up.
  • Psychological awareness: meditatively a positive feeling but a work in progess (as it always should be).
  • My family life: what a disaster.

My overall grade for 2017, a solid B.

Care to read more, dip below the fold.

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