Perspective: What is it?

Perspective: What is it?

Did you guys read about that thing? Or did you see that news piece about that guy? You did? Then it is about due time I get my soapbox and preach. Sorry.

René Margritte. Does that name mean anything to you? If it does and you know where this is going, you can skip my sermon altogether. If not, then read on. I will keep the history lesson as short as possible. He was a Belgian painter born 1898 and died 1967. If you want to know more, head to a library or look him up on wikipedia. I will even give you the link here.

One of his paintings La trahison des images – In English: The treachery of images – is a masterpiece that is as relevant today as it was in 1928-1929 when it was made. This work of art is fairly simple

"Ceci n'est pas une pipe," the painting states. In English this translates to: "This is not a pipe." Get it? Do you understand the point Magritte was trying to bring across? If you do, you are done and the lesson is over. If you do not, do not fret. I did not get it right away either.

At first it appears the painting contradicts itself as it present the image of a pipe and the text "This is not a pipe," but the painting is not lying to you. It is not a pipe and as Magritte commented himself: Try to stuff tobacco into it. It is an image of a pipe. An image of a pipe. This may seem like a petty play on words and as such an exercise in futility. If that is your conclusion then – like me – you have yet to discover the cognitive method this painting presents. Let me explain you the application of this painting.

Say you turn on your TV and watch a news report. What you are presented with is not only the facts of the matter, but the ever increasing tendency towards coverage of emotional impact of these facts yields a lot of subjective material injected into the news and what you are watching is no longer the reality laid out before you. What you see is not reality. It is not a pipe. It is a presented image of reality, and any presentation comes with bias. In some instances more than others and a news show may be rather close to presenting the true reality of a story, but it takes two to a tango and two is a crowd. Let us consider reality TV, shows that should strive to present to you its namesake: reality. What you will encounter is a constructed reality made to entertain you and ease you into a pleasant state of smug superiority. If the 'real' people on screen can be that incompetent, say something that horrible or profoundly stupid, then you – the viewer – are a better person and you should feel good about yourself… at the expense of the stupidity of fellow men. And by the means of editing and casting much of reality TV is constructed to do just this. It is not reality. It is constructed and composed by a producer with this in mind. It is not a pipe.

A news story is not facts, it is how Fox (or any other channel) presents some facts. Reality TV is not reality, it is the producer's presentation of people and I can start listing everything covered in media, one by one until nothing has been left unlisted. The same goes for any medium and especially the Internet where 99% of the people you 'stumple' upon will lie to get anything they desire from you, be it e-mail, personal information, credit cards etc.

So what can you trust? What can you believe if you believe the painting is not a pipe, but an image of a pipe? This way of thinking changes nothing, but adds a layer of skepticism. Always stay true to the source material. What was once "Did you hear this and that happened?," becomes "Did you hear this and that happened, according to source?" And that at the essence is the point of the painting. You are rarely or never given hard truths about anything, but you are given interpretations of truth and reality and everything delivered as such should be received and processed with sketicism and caution that presented material is presented with varying bias.

Here endeth my lesson.

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers

grasshopperGrasshoppers are one of nature's tiny miracles. They spend their little lives hopping around sun kissed meadows, bringing joy to all that hear them. In my youth I spent many happy hours tracking them down, just to marvel at their little insecty forms. And how can anyone fail to love any creature that befriends and helps a delightful cartoon marionette?

They are great. At least they are when they are hopping around sun kissed meadows. However, when one of the little bastards finds it way into your bedroom, waits til you are just falling asleep and then starts 'chirrup'ing as loud as it bloody can, you tend to go off em pretty damn quick.

It took me 10 minutes to find the little fucker (who turned out to be quite a big fucker). And then as I was trying to carefully catch it in a glass, so as to cause it no harm, it jumped away.

It was perched on top of a candlestick on the book shelf by my bed. I mention this for two reasons. Firstly so you can understand that this one little hop, could have taken it a good few feet in any direction. This will help you see why, after another 5 mins of searching, I had failed to find it. Secondly to point out that the sadistic little shit bag couldn't have got in a tactically better position to disturb my sleep if he'd surveyed the room during the day. And I'm not yet convinced he hadn't.

Still, all was quiet. So I went back to bed. Within moments the bastard started again!!! It only took 5 mins of hunting this time, to find my tiny nemesis on the opposite side of the room on top of the TV. And I swear blind it was laughing at me!!!

This time less care was taken in it's capture. And rather than a gentle release out the door, it left at some speed through the window. That'll teach the little git to mess with me!

A couple of interesting grasshopper 'facts' in closing…

  • They can jump 2 to 3 feet on level ground.
  • The chirrup noise is made by rubbing their hind legs rapidly on the chitin of their abdomen.
  • They are a lot quieter and don't jump so much when you pull their fucking legs off.

I hate being woken up.?

Online – Offline

Online – Offline

Last week I was at a friends birthday party, I met their nieces and nephews who I had seen on Facebook before but some of them never in real life. I realised the world has changed significantly in the last 20 years. I have seen some of these kids grow up online, baby pictures, first steps, first bike, first school day.  It was nice to see them run and play. But after the party, back home, I started wondering if online social media has made my social life better.

The answer I have come up with in the end is "No". 

No? I don't think I have a fuller life than I had before online social media. I do have more knowledge and more insight, or so it seems. The fact of the matter is I know about the life people want to share online. 

This has had major consequences on my social relationships, that I could think of. 

The friendships I built after online sociale became more flat – it is easier to leave out actual real life interaction if you think you already know they are doing alright. I remember wondering "How would Vicky being doing today?" and inviting her over or calling her to have a good chinwag. Now I might look at her facebook see a happy picture and put it all off for a bit. And a bit longer, and longer. The longer you put it off, the harder it becomes to actually do something. It is like you get stuck in this little happy bubble thinking you know all there is to know. I lul myself into a false sensation that I am a good friend because I write "Happy Birthday" on their wall once a year and say "Aww I hope you feel better" when they are ill.

However what is a "No" without a good "but", so here it comes.

But I can't fault the social media for this, I just think I was not prepared for this new phenomenon. Being a child of the 80's I grew up without mobile phones and internet but became an adult in a world full of online wonder. I was able to keep in touch with people I have seen maybe once or twice, and that has made my life richer. I have found great comfort and strenght in simple little comments of strangers. 

Finding a balance will become more and more important I think in this brave new world.

For me this balance means making time for face to face meetings or voice to voice phone calls with my dearest friends, not being satisfied with following certain peoples life from a far but getting involved. Getting out of the house and seeing things instead of looking them up and gazing at pictures.

I feel blessed for the opportunity to have these online social ties but I will guard my offline social ties from being neglected. I hope you will look at your social landscape and make something beautiful out of it. You have all the tools at your disposal to build friendships all around the world, but never forget what it entails being a friend.

Dedicated to my friend Suzanne, who inspired this journey that I hope will make me a better friend.