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Tuesday, 20 December 2016


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". . . it took John (the photographer) and ME four days . . ." [emphasis added]

Mike: No need to post, of course, but you have a mistaken pronoun in your second paragraph. It' not "it took John...and I," but rather "John...and me." As always, me loves reading your blog!

[Thanks, fixed now. Maybe I need to pay more attention to my Strunk and White. --Mike]

Looking forward to the details. Coincidentally, I am in the midst of reading a book which may be of interest:
"Photography as Meditation" by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann, Rocky Nook publisher. It is quite interesting, short chapters with photo examples, Torsten discusses the commonality between elements of Zen Buddhism meditation and the act of photography.
Highly recommended.

' . . . added a paragraph explaining with uncommon thoughtfulness why he doesn't care for the word "spiritual."'

They can be tricksy things, words. And one like 'spiritual' is more so than, say, 'automobile'.

I was in a small group listening to Thomas Moore speak about one of his books. There was some restlessness in the group, a sense of uncertainty or disagreement.

Finally, someone asked Mr. Moore what he meant by 'religious' and 'spiritual'. He explained that 'religious' meant to him true devotion to closeness to the Divine, however named. He defined 'spirituality' as something related to the spiritualism of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, much of the New Age movement of the 20th and the hucksters and con men who used the ideas of these movements to gain control over people and relieve them of excess funds.

As an ex Catholic monk, who left that life on good terms with himself, his church and his God, that makes sense. It was, however rather directly the opposite of the definitions held by at least most of his Berkeley audience.

He would, it seems, describe his many best selling books as essentially religious, with psychology, while his fans there would likely call them something like psycho-spiritual.

Once terms had been defined, things went very well.

'. . . "Photography as Meditation" by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann'

Thanks for the mini review, Mark. I've tried a few similar sounding books.

I found The Practice of Contemplative Photography - Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes by Andy Karr and Michael Wood very helpful. Its roots are in Tibetan Buddhism, and especially the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa.

OTOH, they led me to God is at Eye Level, by Jan Phillips, which sounded good in their description, but did nothing for me.

I found The Tao of Photography, by Philippe L. Gross, Duane Preble and S. I. Shapiro, interesting. I find myself in dialog with it, wandering between agreement and disagreement, irritated at its non Tao tendencies to be directive and didactic, enlightened by some of its ideas and images. So I suppose it must be pretty good.

Then again, I find the secular, descriptive and critical approach of Why Photographs Work, by George Barr (another Rocky Nook title) useful as well. It gives me interesting images and lots of idea and opinion about them to interact with. I find I can learn as much, maybe more, through disagreement as agreement.

He'd be a good guy to fix your website too....

I've studied Buddhism on and off, but would not call myself religious. I see it as a philosophical leaning, but respect those who seek the spiritual aspects too. Not there is anything wrong in calling oneself spiritual, but is a term that is so loaded. Does it inform my Photography? Yes, yes it does.

'It took x and me a year to ...' is completely acceptable in many English dialects including, probably, mine when spoken (and, you understand, I am writing this -- or, in fact, dictating it to my butler of course, as one does not do one's own writing on the internet -- in my country house in Devonshire, as I am down from town for Christmas).

(Some of the above is a lie, but prescriptive grammar must die nonetheless.)

Your book offers might actually be called "curated remaindering". That sounds a little harsh, but the fate of most photo books otherwise is far worse. And the curation part is vital. I hope that you can do this every year.



I would welcome a post on meditation. I think it would fit in very well with your Hopi commandments. Mindfulness to me means trying to understand things including other people's points of view and also having compassion for everyone.

More fun in the new year made me think of the X album "More Fun in the New World" that I've been listening to at work recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUsA76rGzYk&t=1151s

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