Archive for March, 2010

Demon Days

I do not have an aggression problem. And if I repeat it enough, I’m sure it will become true eventually.

I do not have an aggression problem. What I do have, is a Jekyll and Hyde-like personality lingering in my endorphin gland (which is located around um, here somewhere). I am not aggressive, it takes a lot to really anger me. I will defend myself but rarely, if ever attack. You could follow me around where ever I go in my spare time and you will scarcely even hear me raise my voice in anything other than excitement.

But for some reason, I turn green and hulky whenever I pick up something heavy. It’s a very strange phenomenon, and it hasn’t been around for all that long or I’d be much better aware of it. It’s only for a couple days that I’ve paid attention to it and by now I can pin-point the moment I go into “Apeshit” mode.

I yell at the slightest reason, am rude to others, curse whenever the opportunity arises, and solve problems by kicking them. It’s efficient, but obviously only on short term. That is, if you consider the goal to be doing the job in an enjoyable manner, which I do. It really is strange: We could be having an interesting conversation over the table one moment, and the next I am shouting to get out of my way.

I do not have an aggression problem. I am not “angry” with anyone. I would just like them to step aside when I am holding something heavy, or go and annoy somebody else. It’s nothing personal and I am not a bad person, I just adopt that way of communicating. When I get really pissed, I go quiet for a while, and that is when you want to leave me alone. If I raise my voice, I’m merely enjoying my work.

I do not have an aggression problem. Aggression is functional. As I said once before, I am on the small side compared to my colleagues, so when I kick a tipped flight case in place, I need to put a little more effort into it. I don’t feel like being pushed aside and have someone do it for me; I want it in there fast because everyone is waiting for me. So, I go berserk for a few moments and open the floodgates on aggression, kicking and ramming the snot out of that case until it sits right where it needs to be, after which I turn around to receive a few strange looks.
It might look like I get really pissed because the case isn’t doing what I want it to, but that’s not so. In the words of Maynard James Keenan,

“Anger and aggression are very different emotions. Only one of them is destructive to a personality and it is important to know the difference between these two.”

Those aren’t his exact words and screw me if I remember where I got them from (in fact screw me either way), but the point is clear.

I think it’s that kind of behavior I’ve grown used to, and the reason why I am so gruff a lot of the time. It also seems to be a combination of factors that trigger it, some of which are:
– My colleagues are male or I forget they are female.
– They are people I know and feel comfortable around.
– They’re not my superiors (although I never put much consideration in that).
– I am not their superior (odd but true).
– I am doing physical labor like heavy lifting or something that requires a lot of attention.
Also, stopping or slowing the process down seems very difficult, because I simply forget about it when the occasion arises.
It’s not all the time, either. When I’m going an easy job, I’ll be as enjoyable as a bunnyfly. But so little changes; I still care about those around me and I wouldn’t harm a fly, and I do hope that shows, somehow.

I do not have an aggression problem. They have an aggression problem. But I’m the source of it, and it will turn around on me. Yet another thing to work on by this summer, I suppose?

 

 

Norway. Norway Norway Norway Norway. Norway. Norway. Welcome to my life.

Another plan is materializing to go and hike the incomprehensibly beautiful Lysefjord (seriously, check that out) in the first half of May. Plane tickets are now ordered (despite me hating planes) and we are in the process of doing our gear check.

“We”, that is the same crew I went to cross Scotland with, minus one who couldn’t make it. Despite the experience we have both individually and as a group, the planning of this trip is turning out quite difficult. Not only do we have the usual issues on who takes what where how and when, but on top of that we have to map out our route all on our own and decide whether we are actually going to use the overpriced cabins we initially thought were free. If not, that means another 3 kilo’s of tent.

Ahh, kilo’s. A little trekker’s worst enemy. If it were up to me, I’d bring six pairs of spare pants (I lose bladder control when I get scared) and a shovel. The problem is that all these things weigh something, and a lot of something is a lot of weight. Or how gravity always gets the final say.

Last time we carried around fifteen kilo’s each, including water and such. It took one day for my knee to go “fuck this” and give up on me, leaving me limping heavily for the ninety kilometers ahead of us.

A piece of information: Scotland has an “old” topographical landscape. The mountains are rounded and though they can be steep, there are no real cliffs around anywhere. Norwegian fjords on the other hand, are cliffs by definition. Trails there are a lot more difficult than the nicely groomed pathways we previously saw. As a result, heavy gear is out of the question, especially if we want to cover the whole fjord as we intend to.

So make that two pairs of shorts and a can of deodorant to go with that sleeping bag, and we’re off. Ten kilo’s is the absolute maximum, and I’m aiming below that, even. I don’t care much if I reek like a wet dog upon return, if it enables me to return in the first place.

I got to pick the location this time, which instantly provided me with an excuse to go look up an old friend of mine. Rather than seize the opportunity to explore the unexplored, we’re going to the exact region where I’ve been about a dozen times before, and walk the trail I already um, walked. And you know what else? I’m not sorry. If you’re in love with a person, you don’t really mind visiting them a second or third time, do you. So if you were like me and for some twisted reason smitten with a country full of ‘em, you wouldn’t mind “going south” again, either. It’s the country that I’ve grown to love, and in a sense it’s only natural that I tend to look up the region I know best. Make sense? It does to me.

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Milk, Inc.

Milk, Inc. is viewed, even by their fans, as Belgium’s tackiest of tacky pop music. Which immediately explains why they’re so immensely popular. They were “so nineties” until a while ago, when they made a successful comeback and now sell more records/tickets than ever before. Their show is cheered upon by critics and “party people” alike, and while it is safe to say that their music definitely isn’t my cup of tea, I was still expecting an impressive gig.

With a “gaze set to infinity and mind set to zero” I sat and let myself be immersed in mass hysteria, the one thing that makes these events so popular to begin with.
Fuck me was I disappointed. Beneath the point of “lousy”, there is that area where something can become so bad it’s actually good, with much lower still: this kind of performance.

I’m not sure how to describe this. If they want to portray the awkwardness of Europe in Hollywood movies, they show images of gigs like these. A whole venue of them: strangely dressed people going absolutely Chuck fucking Norris over… Nothing. There was no music. There were no performers. There was hardly a stage.

What there was plenty of, were speakers. I think this situation would come closest to a sound technician’s nightmare, where a relatively small venue is stacked to the roof with line array speakers, which are made to “project” the sound forward. Not that they had to, because 20 meters into the crowd there was another set blasting horseshit music over these defenseless teenagers. The place was filled with noise; getting the sound right wasn’t even an issue anymore.

The songs were lousy, but not even close to the one-liners those asshats spat out in between. Whatever the fuck they were on about, no sane person cared. The jokes were bad, the info uninteresting, and the cliché cries for “making noooooise” completely misplaced in the awkward silence before and after. They literally took minutes to finish being retarded and get on with the performance, already.

Effects were poor. The whole production was about half in quantity than even the most optimistic ones of us expected. The immense and insanely expensive video screen was somewhat impressive, but generated little more than what two projectors and a silver screen could manage. The lights could best be described as “whatever”, and pyro was misplaced and hopelessly off.

“Oh well,” I thought to myself. “At least they’re not stealing work from people more talented than them in some gay, heterogeneous cover medley.” And then they started a cover medley. Outrageous.

If I had paid for this gig, I would have left. If it hadn’t been freezing cold outside, I would have- Oh wait, I did.


Dilbert

The Peter Principle is a principle where an employee of a company or a member of a hierarchy will rise or get promoted until he reaches his level of incompetence. If an employee is good at his job, he will get promoted. If he continues to perform well, this process gets repeated until he reaches a function where he can’t, well, function. His chain of promotion ends and we have a frustrated, incompetent employee, stuck where he is.

This principle, along with many like it such as the Dilbert Principle and, to this idea’s more relevant Parkinson’s Law, is easily generalized to a metaphor of life. It popped into my head as I was reconsidering my “supertheory of supereverything” (I’m not going through it again- find it in the archives) and my colleague’s reaction where he stated that he was happier considering “free will” a factor in the universal flow of events without physical or logical proof, than believe that they are predestined, which would be the dry, logical conclusion to the rationale that everything can be explained by math. I let it rest for a day and later asked him if he had come up with a reasonable explanation for it, but he shook his head and basically told me, “I don’t have to.”

Since the point of figuring things out is the gratification of doing so, I couldn’t blame him, but still chose to continue that train of thought to what I thought was the very end. I didn’t realize my arrogance at the time. I was willing to admit and even expected to be wrong (I know the limits of my knowledge and thus fuel for reasoning), but I still assumed to have a complete, encircling theory on the table.

I was watching spring-affected ducks chase each other the other day, while abstract-ifying the Peter Principle and applying it to my conclusions. In a situation where subjects can grow or raise nearly infinitely, there must be some reason why they no longer do. In a company it is the employee’s coincidental incompetence, in a mind it is the idea’s… what, really? What blocks an idea from developing further? What makes one satisfied with his thoughts and uncaring to develop them further?

As stated before, the point of figuring things out is the gratification to do so. At least with me, who has no practical use for the theories he comes up with (although they make surprisingly effective small talk- depending on your conversation partner). As an immediate effect, the feeling of gratification causes me to stop reconsidering and accept my reasoning as true. Because it fits.

So again: What makes one satisfied with his thoughts and uncaring to develop them further?
The answer is contentment. If I am happy with my theories and they seem harmonious, I will consider them complete.
Some people have the exact opposite tendency: to accept a theory as true if it somehow conflicts with perception. Religion falls under this category, along with conspiracy theories and such. I think it gives them the illusion that they see the truth beyond the obvious stating otherwise.

I prefer to start from perception and simple logic (since I am incapable of anything else) and work from there. In all honesty, I think I made it further than most people, but now that I look at it this way, my visions seem incomplete and infantile.

I once read an article in EOS magazine on a man by the name of William James who stated,

"If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn’t seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white."

Inductive reasoning: interesting stuff but not without its problems. It would imply that a good theory is one that should easily be proven false, but simply can’t. This is not without logical fallacy but for me, in this case, it works.
Occam’s Razor applies here: the simpler the theory, the more likely it is to be true. The simplest solution is usually the best one.

This plays in my favor: Once a conclusion is reached, it might not the the smartest thing to do to add all kinds of footnotes and side-theories, because that makes the whole easier to contradict. If one experiment of some kind would contradict a sub-theory, that might topple over the whole reasoning. While my theories are fun to come up with, they still must answer to reality.

I don’t cook these up to be right; I do so because I want to understand. So while it might be “safer” to leave it at that and look the other way like my colleague did, I don’t want to. I soundly believe that reality is harmonious and I will find “oasis points” in the discovery of it, where it all makes sense and seems complete. Like where I am stranded now.

I’d like to point out however, that my supertheory is not a stand-alone thought. Quite a few ethical theories that I built from the ground up come to the same conclusion: that life is meant to be enjoyed. Although I would be willing to admit heavy bias, which might have influenced me.

There is more to be discovered, I now realize. Of course, I knew that all along but I considered that part of my endless questioning pretty much answered.
The main problem is that I’ve run a little dry on “food for thought.” I started off with the cliché questions like “what is the purpose of life” and concepts such as deity and afterlife. Now that I’ve pretty much done all the thinking I can manage with my limited education, I need input to progress further. A single idea (like the Peter Principle) or influence (like my old therapist) could send me off again for days, weeks, maybe longer, and allow me to further complete my supertheory. Or start it over again, if I am proven wrong.

In my environment, I realize that’s a lot to ask for. I expect absolutely -no one- to even get anything between the third and eighth paragraph (not that I blame you, my ramblings often seem chaotic in retrospect), let alone guide me further. I miss it, though: that sense of discovery. How my mind was exploring the universe while I was sitting in a tiny room with nothing to distract me. It’s been so many years since I really felt that way; my ideas all seem so familiar now. I am very happy that I managed to organize them, but I haven’t felt that kind of wonder ever since.
Perhaps I should just look better, if I want to see.


Art ‘n Ethics ‘n Mags

So I got my family’s blessing to go through with this photography plan. Yes, I asked. After all, I’ll be spending their money, not mine. Okay that’s not true; that money is long gone and it will take me a while before getting out of debt. For that starter budget I got me:

-One body.
-One lens.

Ta daa. I need to revise my financial plan.

Either way, I’m glad they gave me the green light. Not just because of money, but moral support, as well. I think they’re happy to see me actually pursue some constructive goal. Vibrant as I may think my life is, they usually don’t see more than me still working that same job as before.
My father often told me how sad he thought it was that I didn’t manage anything serious with the education I got back when I had my video camera. I made some pretty nice shots, even with that cheap thing, and even taped the formal events he organized. His reaction when I said I wanted to follow a course, was very encouraging.

I can use this kind of support from a family that generally doesn’t really get what I’m about. Finally it’s something tangible to them, and they’ve been nuking me with good advice and positive words. No cold hard cash, though. Damn.

The moral obligation I got myself in might stimulate me, too. And with my habit of going “fuck this let’s find something more interesting,” I can use all the stimulation I can get.

 

 

“Take nothing but photo’s, leave nothing but footprints.”

Photography is a complex mixture of technique, technology and creativity and takes a long time to master. It’s no coincidence that the real artists out there take it very seriously and stick to all sorts of self-implied rules and unwritten laws. The same goes for a family of photographers called “urban explorers”, for whom I have a huge respect, even outside photography. Entering abandoned buildings and areas, often in the pitch dark or with real danger involved, takes balls. And, they too, have a set of ethics they stick by.

“Do not force your entry (you are not a burglar). Do not steal (you are not a thief). Do not leave anything behind or leave your mark (you are not a vandal).”

I read this recently in an article and found it rather amusing. I could follow the photographer interviewed in everything he said, but at this point I just thought, “He’s saying this because he knows it will get published.” And even if he did not, and even if he sticks by it, and even despite the fact that I admire him, I won’t abide by any of these three rules.

Crime is crime because there are victims. Turn it any way you want, no matter what the law says, crime only has effect when somebody, somewhere feels like he is wronged by your actions. Theft, murder, whatever: Laws are made to protect the victims. In my eyes, if there is no victim, there is no crime.
Now don’t jump to conclusions: I don’t go anywhere simply for the sake of breaking in, stealing or leaving some tag. But if the gates are closed, I will climb them. If I know items are permanently abandoned and nobody will miss them, I consider them fair game.

I see why most people disagree with me: it’s because they were raised to do so. With my limited education and moral guidance, I composed my ethics though experience and while I detest antisocial behavior, I will ignore the law and common regulations in favor of my own (as long as I don’t get caught, obviously). I admire a man who lives by his principles and I try hard to do the same,… but mine are simply different. Don’t get me wrong, I try to have respect for the photographers that come after me, the locals, or the owners; but if neither are involved, I’ll do whatever the fuck I want, thanks.

This is a dangerous way of seeing things, because I rely on something else than the status quo, which is proven to work to adequate (for most) extent. By the rationale of the law, if “everyone” just made up their own rules, anarchy (the bad kind) would ensue and society couldn’t survive. And I agree with that completely. But I’m not “everybody”, or even just anybody. I’m me. I am capable of living with people without harming them or myself.

Get this: I’ve been breaking laws since puberty (back when it was just plain cool) and it has never come around to bite me in the ass. Why is this?
It’s because no one notices. The harm I cause is marginal if even existent. If workers climb their scaffolding, they will never know that I was there. And if by some means they do know, they certainly won’t complain about it. There’s just nothing to worry about for them. Yet still, the police would stop me if they saw what I was doing because they assume the worst: that I am out to steal from the yard or buildings, or cause damage. I’m not. I just want to take pictures, and there was a fence in my way.

 

 

I never thought I’d be one of those morons who collects magazines of whatever hobby they have. I can understand being into stamps or hentai collectibles (to a limited degree) but to go so far as to buy magazines about them? What could possibly be so interesting that they can fill 40 pages with it?

As of this moment, I have about five of them laying around in various places because I forget them all the time. In one month’s time.
I’m not one to start buying whatever just because it seems vaguely related, but god damnit these clever bastards always put technical tips in them, which I am currently soaking up like a dry sponge in a urinal. Additionally, I am posting my questions (and countless examples) at professional forums to get the harshest criticism I can get. My latest challenge entry (which I thought was kind of nice) ended up on 94th place out of 99, though, I might not try that again too soon.

I’m hoping to improve as much as I can, in the least amount of time. My equipment, but more importantly, myself. I can’t help but wonder what will turn up next, and I can barely curb my excitement. Looking retarded with magazines under my arm is just a sacrifice I’ll have to make.


Small Change

It seems I am stuck with an inferiority complex I was previously proud not to have. Just when exactly it stuck in my clothes I’m not sure about, but I only grew aware of it the last couple days.

If you work, sleep and walk together with people bigger, broader and stronger (although that still need proven) than you, I suppose it wouldn’t come as a coincidence that you try to compensate for that somehow. Not only do I make myself noticed with my actions, but it seems that I do so even more with my voice. In other words, besides trying to be the hero, I also have the tendency to boast about it.

This retarded behavior comes attached to a vicious circle, which I suppose is why it has escaped my attention so far. It’s something that occurs mostly (I should hope) at work, where I’m usually the smallest and in this kind of turbulent environment, it’s very easy to lose track of my own behavior and any attempts to keep my ego in check go right out the window. Since I am increasingly distracted by whatever is going on, I lose track of myself more and more the worse it gets. The only feedback on the job you will get is “shut the fuck up, will you”, which has the opposite effect on me (“YOU shut the fuck up- I’m trying to work here”) and restarts the process from square one.

I’ve noticed that I become numb to it all once a certain stage is reached. I’ve had a female colleague stand in front of me screaming “Will you please knock it off!?” for about ten seconds before I noticed her, because my attention was focused on somebody half a venue away.

The moment I noticed was when this cycle was broken, in the exceptional event that I got together with a few colleagues for no other reason than to amuse ourselves. After exhausting ourselves we sat down, and one of them pointed at me. “Since you were last, pipsqueak, you’re fetching us drinks.” I immediately got defensive, to which he rolled his eyes. “I knew you were going to say that.”
That kind of put me in my place, since I wasn’t busy enough to ignore what was being said. It was the first of many. Apparently, I not only tend to bring down the atmosphere with my loud remarks, but it has reached a point where it becomes predictable. I somehow knew this already, but I never cared much about it because I was largely oblivious to the effect of my behavior. I blame my colleagues for not just simply telling me in a milk-and-cookies moment, but then again it’s not something I would do, either.

I picked a hell of a time to start wondering about this, because the next day was one with a collective mood that got lost under stage. It sucks to be actually aware of feedback if it is of the spontaneous “you’re a fucking idiot, you know that?” kind. We’re taking down that same production for the last time tonight (after about six venues in one week) and I hope things will have lightened up, because I’d like to put some effort into breaking that cycle and seeing if it can be done some other way. I sincerely hate people who ruin the atmosphere and of all things, I do not want to be one of them.

 

 

My grandfather died- if you can call him that. He was the father of my stepmother and died peacefully in the local hospital, after successfully cheating death for a long time.

I could dedicate today’s writing to him. Because I feel his loss and mourn his death. Because he was a good man and a light in our lives.

I could explain how I regret the distance we had until it was too late, that I never got to tell him how much I appreciated his wisdom and learned from his company.

I could bow my head and ask for silence in respect for a great man, a tolerant being, an example to us all.

But I won’t.

 

 

Considering how irony likes to be a recurring theme throughout my (and pretty much everyone’s) life, it would only appear fitting how, after spending most of 2009 in heart-wrenching struggle with myself, that same progress I had been trying to force from myself would simply come naturally, slowly after giving up. A large chuck of my life, summed up in a single, overly long, sentence.

It seems I am finally growing a pair and besides relieved that there is hope after all, I am first of all wondering what the fuck is up with me that after I give up and turn my head for a few months, suddenly my confidence is growing on its own accord. It’s a great thing in itself, but I wouldn’t be me if I wouldn’t be laying awake at night, wondering what caused this change. Is it my efforts paying off? Is it my lack of them? Would it have something to do with my last relationship?

As was always the case when I tried to figure out what got me these issues in the first place, I am drawing blank. It’s like trying to find a pattern in a white wall: you can go batshit insane but it simply won’t work. What I did back then is curse reality for being what it is and cope with it, and today it seems that I’m pretty much stuck doing the same thing. Except I should thank whatever responsible, instead.

But for the sake of over-analyzing:

Why? Why why why?
Why was it this way? Why does it change? What’s the cause? What’s the reason? What’s the result? What’s the goal? Will it continue? Will it last? Will it stagnate? Reverse? Can I encourage it? How? Why? Am I encouraging it? Does trying to find out help, or slow the process? Why? Does it come with other change? Is it an effect of change? The cause? Why? Why couldn’t I artificially bring myself to it? Why? Why?

Sometimes I could split my skull wide open, knowing fully well it would be the end of me, so I could just organize and make sense of the spaghetti flushing out. So much in there that I still don’t understand, and of all people this is me we’re talking about. The sole person I’ve been analyzing and predicting for so many years, and whom I know like my back pocket by now. For each and every single thing I do, I can think up possible and/or probable causes, and I (think I) know the origin of almost all my feelings, allowing me to be very much in tune with them. It allows me to do the right thing when it matters the most, a feat I was always rather proud of.

And here I stand, without an answer, and as suggested before, it could drive me batshit insane right here. But that’s something to avoid, right?

So…

Fingers crossed, I’m just going to go with the flow. Hardly enjoying the ride, but at least interested. Until some epiphany presents itself, I am stuck with not knowing, and hoping that things will turn out for the better. Wishing me luck.

Life is a lesson,
You’ll learn it when you’re through.
-Fred Durst