014: Monday [and Fever 333]

“If your everyday life appears to be unworthy subject matter, do not complain to life. Complain to yourself. Lament that you are not poet enough to call up its wealth. For the creative artist there is no poverty—nothing is insignificant or unimportant.”  - Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903.

My modern relationship with poetry is evolving. I wasn’t educated very well growing up, so my forced exposure to the greats is limited. Throw in an early 20’s avoidance of university, and I end up as a full blown adult, somehow, without dancing with the grand laureates of time. Honestly, my truest desire to learn about poetry was when I was 15, and thought I could use romantic prose to will unsuspecting emo girls into the cyclone of my dating career. A few attempts at memorizing Edgar Allen Poe later, I decided I would be better successful if I crashed my bike in front of the cute jogging girl, and she would help me tend my scrapes, and I’d have a real life female person to talk to. I gave up on this attempt as well, after two practice crashes returned data that I would have to probably harm myself more than anticipated in the original brainstorming session.

So this Rilke dude, I guess he’s famous and big shit in the written word world. The above quote seems challenging, putting down the gauntlet to the one who requested advice. A more modern version of the same statement, is a quote from an unknown orator, and more appropriate to the visual artist rather than the lyrical creator, is that “there is five great photographs waiting to be made all around you at any particular moment.” Whether it be a light and shape study of the pencil cup on your desk, or an intimate profile of the Bic you dropped on the floor a few days ago, it is your job, as a visual explorer, to find the story in the shadows, bring out the feelings from hiding in plain sight around you, and communicate that emotion to the correct audience. 

If we are to re-write the Rilke quote, for the picture generation, perhaps it would be stated as thus: “If you sense there are no pictures, then your sixth sense is not honed or educated. Do not blame the lack of gear, the location, nor the light, but only blame yourself, for you are simply not muscled enough to pry the frame from the air around you.”

Photographers love buts. Not the Nicki Minaj butts of the current zeitgeist, but the excuses we lament upon ourselves for bad images. ‘I would have shot a better, more interesting frame, but the autofocus on my crop sensor camera is shite.” “It was too dark the ISO is noisy.” “I forgot my memory card.” “The subject was late and then he was an asshole.” If photography is to be an honest exploration, and that is a conversation we can have at a separate occasion, we must first be truly honest with ourselves. Look in the bathroom mirror at why our images don’t communicate. Look deep into the eyes of the one holding you back. 

And now it’s Monday, time for the work to begin. Let us take a deep breath in the moment between us waking up and the sun rising, and prepare for the war of artistry we shall embark on this upcoming week. Let us shake off the feelings of inadequacies and unworthiness, let us cast aside the shiny objects that are demanding attention at this moment, for us to allow focus on the greatest cause, our life’s work of an artistic journey. Let us not not accept last week’s excuses, and let us not craft new ones. The internal rants of the previous seasons can be closed up, we’ve listened to them, and now it is time to move on. The successes or perceived failures of the yestermoment are gone. It is a new week, a new season, and a new chapter on your journey.

Let’s go exploring. 

Here’s The Fever 333 from a few months ago: 

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