Saturday, October 28, 2017

Il Cimento dell’Armonia e dell’Inventione [sic]

 L’autunno.

At some point I wanted to do a series of this nature, with a couple sets entitled L'estate and L'inverno, but as with most ideas, they gradually dissipated and were absorbed into the creative chaos of whatever I can do right now, which is not much.  I often find that I simply don't have the energy to plan anything out, and when people do show interest in shooting, I am more compelled to go do it before they change their minds.
The history with this one is much more personal, as she used to climb me like a jungle gym when she was five and I worked for her parents.  Later she would disappear completely, and I dealt with her sister pussy-footing around shooting, but never actually committing to it.  Regardless, both of them were dear to me, like sisters, like kids, and her recently showing up as an employee at my brewery opened an odd door for me to reconnect.  She hit me with a lot of sad stories, and the mere mention of certain names would cause her to break into tears.
Another reason why it is difficult to shoot local people: there is always a history and there is always a story; there are always people who will assume; and there are always people that you would put on an exclusion list to view the work, or even know it exists.  I, personally, have an odd history with this town, as my work and story were entirely inappropriate when I started doing this, but I never shied away from doing it how I needed to do it, so that I could evolve how I needed to evolve, and any negative opinion of my work was met with a couple middle fingers.
I have always said that if you don't want to see my work, stop looking at it.  If you don't like what I have to say, stop reading.  This one is having trouble finding footing in life because she doesn't really understand a lot of things, but that's what life is.  You have to figure out who you are.  Most fall right in to who everyone around them wants them to be, but they just want you to suit their needs; they don't really care about who you actually are, but that doesn't really matter because most spend the next 6-10 years figuring that out, and even after that you figure shit out every day for a really long time.  The great thing about having genuine friends and family is that they love you no matter what.  I never really had those friends; I never really had that family; but the only thing that makes that constant butting of heads worth it is to have someone on the other end of all the bullshit.  Sometimes it takes 20 years; sometimes it takes a lifetime; to get those people who claim to love you to understand that their love doesn't exist on their conditions; sometimes it just doesn't ever happen, and you have to figure shit out.  I'm rambling again.
“He left the Senate and ended his life by starvation.  His books, so the Senators decreed, were to be burnt by the aediles; but some copies were left which were concealed and afterwards published.  And so one is all the more inclined to laugh at the stupidity of men who suppose that the despotism of the present can actually efface the remembrances of the next generation.  On the contrary, the persecution of genius fosters its influence; foreign tyrants, and all who have imitated their oppression, have merely procured infamy for themselves and glory for their victims.” ~ Tacitus, Book IV, 35

Someone in the ancient world wrote some books that did not say great things about Rome, so he found himself standing in front of the senate defending his work.  Regardless of the sentence, he decided *insert middle fingers* to take matters into his own hands and get the fuck out of a tainted system.  I don't wish that on anyone, but it is ancient testament of the lengths to which people will go to prove very simple points.
I had told her that I would remove her scars, but upon further review I told her that I didn't want to.  The things we go through make us who we are, and scars are a roadmap to the soul.  I remember being so bored with the mundane fucking bullshit that this world tried to condition me to be ok with that I would slice my skin open, just to feel something the least bit extraordinary.  Other people have deeper, darker reasons.  Some people are just tired of being ignored.  None of the reasons are more or less significant than others, and all of them are very easy to deal with, with minimal effort and humility.  There are two sides to every story; more people, more sides.  Who's to say which of those stories is correct?  No one.  Not a single person on this planet is great enough to say how they feel is right, especially when another individual human soul, who is free to feel and think whatever they want, is involved.  Try explaining that to someone who has it all figured out.
I don't write very often anymore.  partially because I don't really have time to even feel anything, but mostly because whenever I do I am just overwhelmed by what a shit show human beings are.  We are a precious few who are just trying to survive; and an ignorant majority who assume power and beat us further into submission.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#bebetterpeople

 “Mankind in the earliest age lived for a time without a single vicious impulse, without shame or guilt, and, consequently, without punishment and restraints.  Rewards were not needed when everything right was pursued on its own merits; and as men desired nothing against morality, they were debarred from nothing by fear.  When however they began to throw off equality, and ambition and violence usurped the place of self-control and modesty, despotisms grew up and became perpetual among many nations.” ~ Tacitus, Book III, 26

This is Tacitus reminiscing about the time of Romulus, when everything was rainbows and butterflies until “man” happened.  This is a very early example of how easy it is to remember the good old times, but times were never so good.  In Plutarch’s painful to read biographies, Romulus was born of a virgin and raised from the dead, and that was easy enough to forget a thousand years later when the gypsies and thieves stole the story to suit their own greedy needs, but not only does every society reminisce about the good old times, every fucking generation does it.
 Times were never better; they were just different.  Maybe they suited your needs better, but it is more likely that you just weren’t educated enough to see through the bullshit.  Ignorance is bliss, that’s why we can’t help but start and end our lives knee deep in it.  

I have been very open about how difficult it is to read the ancients, because it’s all power struggle and war and assassinations and mutiny and death and fuck all patriarchal bullshit.  I’m only 62 pages into this 302, the beginning of Book IV, and I just want to skip ahead.  The next volume is Ptolemy/Copernicus/Kepler, which I am confident will read like a physics textbook.
 Then, finally, Plotinus; oh how I just want to get to Plotinus, then Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Chaucer, Machiavelli… dot dot dot *drool*.  My ethical mind is telling me to suffer through Tacitus, but my heart and soul are telling me to skip this and the astronomers, and get to some philosophy.  The only part of any of this that I skipped was the last two thirds of Aristotle’s second volume, which was his biologies, because as much as we knew about the human soul 5,000 years ago, we understood fuck all about biology.  At least Hippocrates was fucking hilarious because it was so absurd.  Believe it or not, the decision to skip ahead is a stressful one for me, because I need to have all of it in my brain.  I love history, but most of this history is about people whose names I can’t pronounce, much less did I even know any of them existed, and it’s all the same destructive cycle repeated over and over again.  Then again, that’s just history in general.  I want to believe that we are a beautiful, matriarchal species, destroyed by a very specific political structure and mindset, but this whole #metoo movement has got me thinking about this species, and where the true problem really lies.
 The patriarchal attitude of ‘conquer and take’ seems like the obvious culprit.  You’ve got people now complaining about a boss touching them inappropriately, like that has emotionally damaged them forever, when (not excusing the pig mentality) it should be worth an eye-roll.  Imagine being a boy in ancient Greece, where all you could really hope for was to make it to puberty before some olive oil drenched doucebag slipped his dick in your asshole and said, “you’re welcome.”  We demand that we’re civilized now, and things should be different, but we aren’t really that “civilized”;  we have proven time and time again that we are a barbarous, vile species, pretending to be civilized, and the more we are forced to pretend, the more disfunction seems to become exaggerated.  There was a very specific moment in history where what we call “western” took over philosophy, religion, and politics, and everything seems to have been in a perpetual downward spiral since.  Part of the reason I never felt like I fit in was because I never had that mindset; I am incapable of conquering and taking, so I was left behind.
 When I see something beautiful I want to appreciate it; I don’t want to fuck it and destroy it.  At the same time, having always felt like that, when I see #metoo my mind goes directly toward accountability, and I start running through all the relationships in my existence where I may have wronged someone out of sheer negligence and conceited ignorance.  My teens were a clusterfuck of a child who wanted to be a psychopath, for reasons that I have documented thoroughly.  I have confronted all the boundaries that I crossed, and I have apologized to most of the individuals involved, who generally assured me that what I did wasn’t that big of a deal, but it is a big deal to someone who lives in accountability.  
 I could write a book about all the whys and psychological excuses, or I can just stand up and say what I did was wrong, and beg for anyone who might read this to forgive me.  Nothing I am talking about has ever existed on a professional level; it was all teenage stupidity; but not a day goes by that I don’t think about some stupid thing I did or said, just to see what I could get away with.  I have approached every single professional relationship with complete respect and integrity, and I love it when I work with a model and in a matter of minutes the tension and apprehension dissipates as they realize that I’m just a nice guy.  
 I am still trying to wrap my head around all of this, and did not mean to write so much, but this is my process.  So to all the models who are #metoo-ing, keep going, and keep supporting each other; fucking bravo.  I always knew this existed, and wanted early on to do a documentary on the subject after so many models trusted me with their horror stories, but we really need to start calling people out on this bullshit.  Be careful, though, because I have already seen a number of people on blacklists that are there for the entirely wrong reason.
 Everyone does this different, creativity and life, everyone lives and communicates different; a pat on the butt to one person is a “hello,” but to the next it is sexual assault.  I used to greet everyone with a hug; now I wait for them to hug me; because I don’t want to offend anyone or make anyone uncomfortable.  I hate that we have to tip-toe around people’s chosen perception, but if there’s one thing I learned, having been put wrongfully on a list of child molesters and rapists for over a decade, it is this: people will ASSume what they want; all you can really do to combat their misconception is don’t molest any children or rape anyone; easy enough.  
Obviously, I have a lot more to say on the subject, but, again, I didn’t mean to rant in such a scattered way, and I sure as hell didn’t mean to excuse any of this behavior.  I could have said #metoo as well, but I chose not to because that is my story (and not my movement), and I believe that if we didn’t survive something, we haven’t lived, so those things we survive make us more beautiful souls.  That’s hard to explain in a situation like this, so I primarily kept my mouth shut over the last couple days, and I wish more would’ve done the same.


#bebetterpeople

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Concede

 “Arminius, meanwhile, when the Romans retired and Maroboduus was expelled, found himself opposed in aiming at the throne by his countrymen’s independent spirit.  He was assailed by armed force, and while fighting with various success, fell by the treachery of his kinsmen.  Assuredly he was the deliverer of Germany, one too who had defied Rome, not in her early rise, as other kings and generals, but in the height of her empire’s glory, had fought, indeed, indecisive battles, yet in war remained unconquered.  He completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve years of power, and he is still a theme of song among barbarous nations, though to Greek historians, who admire only their own achievements, he is unknown, and to the Romans not as famous as he should be, while we extol the past and are indifferent to our own times.” ~ Tacitus, Book II, 88

 The last line of book two, (Who the fuck is…) Arminius is mentioned as a cliff note in a chapter primarily about the death of Germanicus.  While it is a positive note about the man’s life, more notable is the reality that a man’s life makes no difference when interpreted by nation’s histories or those interested, if not loyal by funding, in allegiance to empires.  Think about how many people...  

I wrote an entire post yesterday about the legitimacy of any of us, as individuals, and severely destroyed the average mind’s obsession with stupid shit, comparing each of us to specks of matter in an infinite dust bowl.
I decided to sit on it, for obvious reasons, and today was reminded of a Nietzsche quote I posted three years ago, which in turn got me thinking about Nietzsche and his severely misunderstood approach to pointing out the obvious bullshit he was surrounded by.  Pointing out the obvious to a blind people has never worked.  So now I’m just sitting here thinking, “what the actual fuck AM I doing?”  I’m not going to get anyone to understand, and I’m no Nietzsche; not even close.    The aforementioned retracted post circled around to the fact that not only has everything been said, but it has been said by far greater souls, who accomplished far greater things, and that was before the Nietzsche realization.  So I’m just going to stare blankly at the wall for a bit.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mirror

Before photography, the only way anyone could ever get a glimpse of what they really looked like was in a mirror or reflection, which is not a real representation because it will always be backwards, but close enough to drive narcissism or self-hatred to the absurd points that they have reached today.  Mirrors will always be aesthetic; they will never represent who you are; other than scars, they will never show what you’ve been through; but we are all haunted by them.  We put so much importance on them (and what we look like), that we even think that we’ll have bad luck if they break.  What if we all stopped putting so much importance on what we looked like and focused our energy on actually being beautiful people, regardless of those petty things?  We would swiftly become a society of absolutely beautiful people.

Stop looking in the mirror (but look in this one, because I made it meaningful…and creepy).


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Step Forward

Most of the time I really write something important to me; when I absolutely tear my heart out, rip it open, and lay in on a pedestal before the internet; I find that it goes completely unnoticed.  I don’t know what I expect, really.  Maybe people really don’t get it.  Maybe people expect me to quote some cutesy poetry with my photos.  While I do quote what I’m reading, usually, I don’t have a bank of cliche words to attach to cliche photographs, so I write about my life and what I am going through... things that I think are important.  

*shrug*

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Phoenix

The discipline of ballet mirrors the discipline of being successful at anything: you have to eat, drink, and breathe what you want; spend every waking minute thinking about it, and spend every sleeping minute dreaming about it.  So many people out there want success, but don’t understand what kind of work it actually entails.  What they truly learn when they try to pursue something is how much they actually want it, and how lazy they really are, unless they are simple enough to settle for good enough.  

This beautiful soul drove herself into an emergency room because of her want and need to succeed at what she chose, regardless of what anyone told her to sway her from her goal.  That was her drive before she succumbed to the reality of it all, and that is her drive now on a different level, slightly adjusted, to…you know…survive.  As a creative with similar obsessions and dysfunctions, the more others would tell me I was doing it wrong, the more I would flip them off and delve deeper into what I wanted, because I knew what I was doing.  I will always see a kind of honor in that, and I will always respect that kind of discipline, even if it isn’t what everyone thinks it should be, and even if it’s completely unhealthy and dangerous.  I understand, and while there are aspects of the obsession that shouldn’t be glorified, like American media celebrates mass murderers, there is a certain line that must be crossed, or you will never know what you are capable of, or what you can truly accomplish.  I have crossed that line many times, and am lucky to be alive and not in prison.  She is lucky to be alive.  

 The difference between those who die for their obsession, whether it be art, or religion, or justice, et cetera, is the basic need, an instinctual human desire and understanding, that while you may have accomplished something amazing on this run, you could accomplish things so much greater with even more time.  Hunter off’d himself because he couldn’t take the bullshit anymore, but not a day goes by that I don’t wonder what he would have to say about our current state of affairs.  Cobain off’d himself because he didn’t like what gear in the machine he’d become, but what could he have accomplished if he just removed himself from the machine, took some time off, and approached it again with a different perspective?  Beethoven poisoned himself to death trying to fix his hearing problem, but what if he would’ve embraced that he was just fucking deaf and kept writing?  What profoundly beautiful things has the world missed out on because people were so stuck in their obsessions that they didn’t see any rational way out?  

 I could go on with the notable historical characters, but I think I’ve made my point, and while there is a creative argument that those who succumb to madness and dysfunction leave a greater mark because of the severity of their obsessions, there is also a very practical argument that success in creativity doesn’t have to be such an extreme case of madness and obsession.  Greatness, however, will always be greater than this, and obtaining greatness will always require a better you, regardless of where you are and what you’ve accomplished, and when you get bit by that greatness bug, it completely takes over your life and mind, which is impossible to get anyone who hasn’t been bitten by the obsession to understand.  

The world basically just thinks there’s something wrong with you, but to those precious few who have the drive, the wrong things with you are actually the necessary right things with you.  Who you are is only the result of the character arc that you survived.  If you want to reduce your potential to the character arc that killed you, then you are free to do that, but your infinite potential will always be reduced to that specific moment that you stopped accomplishing something.  

 So… breathe on… fight on… bask in the glory of life… fly, enflamed, from the ashes of what could have been all you did, and soar into the world of what you never knew you could accomplish.  Take a little time to set the drive aside and appreciate the absolute beauty that is this life and your existence in it, but never stop pushing your wings into the wind; never stop feeding the fire you’ve become.  It will always be worth it to keep going until you absolutely can’t go anymore.  

None of us make it out of here alive, but let the universe decide when your time has come, and accomplish as much as you can on your way, but, above all things, be true to yourself; be who you know you are, completely, and don’t settle for anyone or anything in your life that makes you feel like you should be less or more.  Then, and only then, will this world be a more beautiful place to live in. 

Purgatory

 “…that his father had not had a place in heaven decreed to him, that the honour might be turned to the destruction of the citizens.  Cassius, the actor, with men of the same profession, used to take part in the games which had been consecrated by his mother to the memory of Augustus.  Nor was it contrary to the religion of the State for the emperor’s image, like those of other deities, to be added to a sale of gardens and houses.  As to the oath, the thing ought to be considered as if the man had deceived Jupiter.  Wrongs done to the gods were the gods’ concern.” ~ Tacitus, Book I, 73

Funny how we are half a century past the supposed crucifixion and supposed resurrection of that supposed savior, but the empire that would go on to destroy the world in his name gives no mention of that Jesus fella.  


Vik kept apologizing because she never really poses with anyone else, and when Maya mentioned wanting shoot with her I was surprised that she was up for it.  I just sat back and let them fumble over figuring out how everything should go, and it turned into something biblical, like an angel being drawn down to the purgatory of sensual earth by this matriarchal siren.  I just kind of smiled and hit the shutter button, in a kind of awe that this organically happened.  I feel very blessed to have this woman and these friends in my life.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Vik

 I worked with this beautiful soul two and a half years ago, and that was that.  I was initially drawn to her because of her skillset and my obsession with dance, but she was a model in New York, and I didn’t imagine that she would want to work with someone with my photographic portfolio and financial situation.  Once I noticed that she had moved to Las Vegas, I passively responded to one of her posts showing interest.  That turned into a few emails, but she told me later that she didn’t really think I was serious about shooting, or that I was even going to show up, until I sent her photos of my scouting a location just north of Vegas the day before, primarily because of the way I communicate and work.
 That will always be my short-coming, but I do show up when I say I’m going to.  I even go so far as drive most the route I was supposed to drive models, by myself, when they ask me for a ride, then back out last second.  It seems out of place to say that, but it happened a number of times in the creatively dark years after Vik.  I say creatively dark because I wasn’t creating like I had been for the years prior, but the truth is I was fully occupied with this current muse that I had found, and this family that we were creating.  The photos and work were abundant, they just weren’t the static work that I had become used to; they were personal, which I will also call back to my roots because my entire creative career has been incredibly, sometimes offensively, personal.
 I did write about working with Vik in my last blog, ID@B, but I refrained from getting too much into it, for reasons that I wrote about recently in this blog (The Ghost of Vik).  I was not disappointed with the work, per say, but there was an elephant in the room, and it was not my place to tranquilize it and drag it out, so I just kind of moved on, while passively following her career from the other end of an internet connection.  A couple months ago she cheated death by said elephant in the room, and has since been on a new lease on life… a beautiful, healthy lease on life.  She was always graceful, a beautiful dancer, and a beautiful soul, but this new Vik was glowing and happy and healthy, which made her all the more beautiful, but for the first time in my life I began to realize how lonely it really is on the road, constantly working, which is what I always wanted and wanted to document.
 She and my wife hit it off immediately, which was nice because I’m so bad at talking.  Obviously, we’ve been to this location before, so I wanted to find something I hadn’t shot.  We showed up early and wandered around, finding even more unique stuff at this crazy location.  While shooting, we didn’t have time to make the whole loop, but we did get some good stuff, way too much to post immediately, and Vik was nice company and more of a friend than before.
I realize this post isn’t too profound.  I just wanted to put it up.  Honestly, I’m still just really tired.  I don’t want to say I’m lacking inspiration, because I’m surrounded by it, but something is missing... maybe this boring Tacitus that I'm numbing through.  We had such a great time with this soul, and Maya is getting more excited about this kind of life that I’ve been passively fighting for.  My boss is out of town for the next week or so, so I am responsible for things, which is a little terrifying.  We just keep fighting.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Zzyzx (slight return)

 Ok, we'll call this a teaser, since it's a little out of focus in some important parts, like the people I'm actually shooting.  I really can't tell you why I had the depth of field dialed all the way to 1.2 in such a small and texturally unique place, other than the fact that I can go to 1.2.  I tend to do that a lot.  I am not used to working with two people, which obviously requires more dof.  I should've known better.  I did get plenty of amazing shots, but I skipped ahead to these because we were excited about them, and I haven't the energy to go through them all tonight.
We decided to head out a day early and car camp, and by "we decided" I of course mean that I was told we were heading out a day early to car camp, and by car camp I of course mean back to our roots...throwing a mattress in the back of Cricket, her Subaru mom wagon.  Vik had agreed to meet us in this unique little corner of the desert on her way to LA, so "we" made a little adventure out of it, and we had an amazing little time.  The closest campground to Zzyzx was Afton Canyon, and, on a crisp October night in the Mojave, under a 98% illuminated moon, we had it all to ourselves, which was amazing.  We were up to watch the sunrise, and shot on a unique little bridge on our way out...like you do.  There is obviously way more to come, but I just wanted to put something up because we had such a great time today.


Now... we sleep.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Augustinian Mutiny

 “That terrible night which threatened an explosion of crime was tranquillised [sic] by a mere accident.  Suddenly in a clear sky the moon’s radiance seemed to die away.  This the soldiers in their ignorance of the cause regarded as an omen of their condition, comparing the failure of her light to their own efforts, and imagining that their attempts would end prosperously should her brightness and splendor be restored to the goddess.  And so they raised a din with brazen instruments and the combined notes of trumpets and horns, with joy or sorrow, as she brightened or grew dark.
When clouds arose and obstructed their sight, and it was thought she was buried in the gloom, with that proneness to superstition which steals over minds once thoroughly cowed, they lamented that this was a portent of never-ending hardship, and that heaven frowned on their deeds.” ~ Tacitus, Book I, 28 

Oh those silly Romans.


Vik + Zzyzx… coming soon.