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Wednesday, 08 October 2014


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I find it... interesting that you define enthusiasts by their interests rather than their activities. There's not necessarily anything wrong with this definition. For example, I wouldn't argue that you have to be a photographer to have have a keen interest in photography or cameras. On the other hand, I would say that someone who actually reads or writes books is a lot more enthusiastic than someone who is simply very "interested" in them.

"two channel music listening" -- that's an interesting distinction.

I know you choose your words carefully. Why did you specify two channel -- isn't that what 99% of us consider music listening? As opposed to surround sound, or quadrophonic, or monaural? Or do you mean, as opposed to live music, in which case I would have written "recorded music listening."

You've certainly got to draw the line somewhere. I'm not a true foodie or a major wine enthusiast, despite spending time and money on enjoying those (not just eating to stave off hunger) every single week. Same for music, for me; I listen to some most days and go to local performances now and then, and love going to informal music parties (and photographing at them), but it doesn't seem to really dominate even a narrow portion of my life.

"Reading" may be far too broad a category; the difference between re-reading an old favorite mystery and a new Jo Walton fantasy is huge, and then reading John McPhee is another big step in some different direction, but not the same as Malcolm Gladwell.

I've been actively photographing nearly all the time since I was, oh, 8 anyway (I have negatives from that long ago), and it costs me sleep far too often :-) . I'm certainly an "enthusiast" photographer.

Computers, I guess, would have to be another. I didn't get access to those until I was 14, but I've been deeply ensconced in them since then (and they're my day job, too). I suspect a lot of people wouldn't rank what they do for a living on their hobby list, and I have to admit that sounds pretty unpleasant to me.

And science fiction, SF fandom and conventions -- not sure that can be "one thing", might be "reading SF" and "SF fandom and conventions" for purposes of this list. (Where SF includes fantasy for these purposes.)

How do you list friends, family, lovers, whatever on this sort of list? Sometimes they're a duty or obligation more than a hobby or pleasure, but a lot of the time they're fun and represent yet another way to amuse yourself; they're not clearly and obviously distinct from this list to my mind, though it could be politically kind of dicey to discuss it with some people in those terms I imagine. (In any serious hobby there are is time you spend doing actual work which isn't always fun, but is necessary to sustain the fun you want; maintenance on that fishing boat say, or waxing the skis, or whatever.)

Your limit of three strikes me as arbitrary — why not four? Why not two? An reasonable argument could be made for limiting yourself to one: if there is not a single burning passion in your life, buddy, you don't know what enthusiasm is!

I recognize that there is a trade-off of breadth vs. depth in the enthusiasms of one's life. Breadth works for me: I am an enthusiast for whatever is in front of my nose at the moment. I leaned back in my chair just now and looked at a patch of morning light on the bark of the spruce tree outside my window. I didn't see a photograph in it, but for a few moments the intricacy and beauty of that bit of bark captured my attention completely — for that time I was a spruce bark enthusiast with the same total intensity and passion as I have had for making photographs or loving another person or Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Given the intensity of focus and enthusiasm for a topic or activity, I don't think it less worthy because it is transient, or that I am less of an "enthusiast" in that moment. (Some of my enthusiasms last for months … or decades … or all my life.)

I am an enthusiast for/of/about life. If I get to make a deep pronouncement as the final words on my death-bed, I expect it will be "What? So soon!"

Music. Photography. Movies. But the question is more complicated because the time of day that you think about each of these differs, the pull may be less at 4pm to listen to say, Eleni Kairandrou, and then, in my case, that is music from a movie, so which one is the dictating passion? And then after work is done, which for me is movies, photography floods in with music to back it if I have time to indulge myself... Did I mention wine? And reading might be number one most of the time, but that is also work, so it's hard to distinguish. Darn you Michael. Now I am confusing myself. Drive, he said.

I'm with you Mike. Since I was 7 or 8 it has been photography, hi/fi and motor racing. Forty too-many years on still the same. Still loving gear, still loving the images and the sounds. Enjoying TOP too.

Photography has been number one since, out of boredom in Guantanamo Bay in 1967, I bought an Agfa Optima 35mm camera at the Navy Exchange. By the end of the first roll I knew that that is what I wanted to do for as long as I drew breath. I have been lucky to have made it to 68 and still feel that way.

I used to love watching a print come up in the Dektol. I get just as big a thrill now watching a print come out of my Epson 3800.

I love reading and gardening too,but they're definitely #2 and #3. So put me down as an enthusiast.

I qualify as a photography enthusiast!

With best regards,

Stephen S. Mack

Sex & drugs & photography.

Photography enthusiast sounds too jolly. As if it was fun.
T.O.P. readers are addicts, always on the move for the best shot.
You do not even need a camera for that.

I'm not sure I completely understand the term (there is no obvious equivalent in German, the closest perhaps being "Liebhaber"), but I often get the impression "enthusiast photographer" and "enthusiast camera" (the latter often combined with the prefix "serious") are marketing terms more than anything else. Many people are nuts about cameras; telling them they are "enthusiasts" and the items of their lust "objects for enthusiasts" officially sanctions the passion, thus making the recipients of that distinguished title more likely to keep on with it and buy more stuff.

Apart from marketing, I'd argue that the number of your hobbies shouldn't be relevant. What about someone who—time and other resources permitting—can name four activities he is really, and actively, passionate about? Or if someone names two that are really important and six more that aren't, why should the third item automatically qualify as "enthusiast"? And what is the sorting criterion of that list, anyway? After all, it can't be how enthusiastic you are about a given topic...

"Speak to..."
This horrible locution is spreading like Ebola.

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