Little Dragon performing “Feather”.

No. 304

I’m in love with this band, Little Dragon. It’s as if I were walking along and I discovered a cave, and in it contained not a conservative small chest of gold coins, but a boundless pile. (If you have any preconceived notions about this, use them.)

This just about sums up the way that I feel about any band that I come across whose entire discography just exudes brilliance. I usually and subsequently have an insatiable urge to plug in my headphones, and I won’t stop listening unless something’s required of me to unplug.

It’s true that I more often than not find muses in women, and especially the musical ones. This time it’s Yukimi, but only because her mannerisms remind me of a friend of mine – and myself – at once. 

To disclose a little further, I formerly had a professor who – I’m not kidding – said on the first day of class, “I really like cats, but I think I may have been a dog in a former life.” I think this anecdote does a pretty good job of describing myself except with respect to gender. I’m definitely happy to be a boy - ahem, I mean man - but I may have also been a girl in a former life. So, for those of you that have had the good fortune of being born a girl, may I suggest: Own it.

No. 303

This first week of school is always an orienting one. It’s a chance for me to gauge the climate of each classroom and to assimilate myself to it. Now that I’m through with this process, it’s time for me now to adapt my school schedule with the rest of my life. I used to make a distinction between school and life, but now I’m no longer counting the hours; everything at this point is intermeshed, especially since I try to maintain a consistent sense of self throughout. This wasn’t always easily done.

The main distinction between summer and school, of course, is a temporal one. During the summer it was easy – and preferred – to let time pass without thinking much of it. But now time has to be parsed out and priorities have to be collated, and if sleep is lost at this expense, fuck it. I can sleep, or I can be productive.

My birthday’s coming up in about a week, and I’m looking forward to seeing all, if not a majority, of the faces that I love. I wouldn’t be the person I am if not for these people, and they’re worth everything to me. It seems that growing up has functioned at light-speed these past couple years, and I have these people to thank—for challenging me, but also listening to me. As Christopher Owens might say, “Love is in the ear of the listener” and I thoroughly believe this.

No. 302

On writing:

I often say aloud what I’m writing to help me write conversationally. But whereas I’m adapting my voice onto paper, the writing, I noticed, is also changing how I speak. I try to express what I mean in few words, and in as many words as it took to say that, there’s one word for it: laconic.

To comment on the above, I performed a quick search and found that Hemingway does this, too. (However, I picked up this up from a reported practice by Vonnegut.) This, Hemingway wrote in 1963:  “I do most of my work in my head. I never begin to write until my ideas are in order. Frequently I recite passages of dialogue as it is being written; the ear is a good censor. I never set down a sentence on paper until I have it so expressed that it will be clear to anyone.” He goes on to say, “A writer’s style should be direct and personal, his imagery rich and earthy, and his words simple and vigorous. The greatest writers have the gift of brilliant brevity, are hard workers, diligent scholars and competent stylists.”

To be honest, it’s really hard to speak about Hemingway without the modifier, “fucking”, before it. He’s the master.

No. 301

On photography:

If someone were to ask me why I take the pictures that I do, the simple answer is that I’m fascinated with the trite and the banal—or at least, the seemingly so. I’m concerned with the human condition, even in photographs absent of people; I consider these commentaries by omission. Also, the way light slants, reflects, and casts, at every moment there’s some ostensibly common thing that’s made beautiful because of the light it’s in. I’m unsure if many people realize this, or perhaps they’re unaware. It is possible that some are focused more on the subject being photographed, and less so on how—Not that this is wrong to do, because, to be frank; with art there are no rules. There is, however, an underlying methodology.

No. 300

I arrived at home tonight to the immediate response, “I thought you were going to hang out at your brother’s?” It certainly had been a few hours since I left, which had me wondering how long he thought things take. Receiving this, I thought I’d fill him in on all the happenings; I like Fridays because, well, it’s Friday, but it’s also my film day.

My dad was never the type to ask me many questions, and my mom is just the opposite. However, I think both of them hardly ever ask me the right ones—or at least the ones I want them to, so when it happens it catches me off guard. This was not one of those days, so every response I made I adorned with supplementary info. I said a number of things, but what is appropriate for now is photo-specific.

The one thing, the reason why I left, is because I went to have my first roll of color film developed at George’s. I did this with the half-intention to roam around North Park to do some street photography, this time in black-and-white. I was made to feel as if I had everything I needed: a camera, afternoon light, unsuspecting people, and an urban environment.

So I said to my dad, “I’m really starting to get used to the sound of the shutter. I’m so glad you kept it.” And he responds, “That’s the camera I used when I met your mom.” He’s shared this story with me, literally, dozens of times of how he and my mom met, but never did I suspect that this was the camera. That I inherited it from him is just beyond words.

No. 299

I went outside last night and the sky was the most perforated I’ve seen it this season. I wasn’t privy to this before, so hopefully I can keep it in mind for next year.

I turn twenty-four in a few days, and already, with each word, it’s practically ineffable the person I know myself to be. If you know me, I can speak pretty candidly about my traits, my preoccupations, and my plans—as if I have any fragment of control over these things. Generally, I employ what I can and allow the results to carry themselves out like an experiment. I get more and more meticulous each year.

Recently, I’ve had it in my mind that I’ve acquired a healthy dose of friends over the years. And, actually, the quality of friends has improved significantly within the last two. Did I do anything to deserve it? I’m not sure.

These days I’m not as reticent as I used to be—I choose to speak or not to speak. Likewise, I choose to participate in friend things if I want.

This is particularly conditional, and I personally don’t find them qualities conducive to having many friends—that, and being poor. But if these are the qualities that permit me to have the few quality friends that I do, then I’ll hold them as close to my heart as my friends.

***

If there’s anything to know, the least I can do is know myself. I believe it was Kerouac that said, “One has no direction to go but inward”, and I do feel that this is the overall trend. I notice this trend, too – with photography, music, and even stand-up comedy – that they can be especially diaristic.

With any creative, humanistic pursuit, I think it’s important to make it personal, and I think it’s important to allow oneself to be utterly vulnerable. In the words of Miles Davis, “Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”

“As explosive as I feel, it is nice, too, because I feel like I’m holding onto a secret. I will sit here and brace myself, my knuckles white as my insides burn, and no one will know this fire.”
— Juliet Escoria’s Black Cloud

No. 297

In my mind I maintain a list of things that I should do relatively soon, kind of like a conceptual nebula. I know that many of these things will expire soon, granted I need to do them, so I don’t bother writing them down. 

This weekend I was able to take my mind off this minutia and participate in a festival called ‘Fuck Yeah’. This is a necessity for me from time to time. In the way that I have no choice but to postpone these things, my motivation is distilled and pent up like a spring. By the time I return necessity dictates I follow through, and there’s no intermediate step like second thought.

The festival environment was new and old in simultaneity. I forget the drudgery that comes along with trudging along from stage to stage, or the relentless eyes of twenty somethings that are all there for their ears. In any case, everyone was beautiful, and I enjoyed seeing the changes between people. It’s fascinating how music can be transposed from the bedroom, to the main stage, and back, being both intimate and encompassing. I felt very human being there, and feeling good came easy.

I thought about the experience of standing in a crowd of people, operating as an individual soul and a cohesive animal. I also considered how people as a crowd move and turn, ebb and flow, as water would. The path of least resistance is where we went, essentially, and it was comforting thinking of everyone as fluid this way.

Many of my efforts were directed toward listening actively, listening for the nuances that come with live play, and inferring on the emotional state of the artist. I closed my eyes often because I had faith in the artist to sway me. I cherished the time for it being temporary, and occasionally danced, too.

No. 296

My plea to become a Media & Design Intern at MOPA:

http://www.mopa.org/internships

Why I want to be a Media & Design Intern for The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) is simply because I am a supporter of what MOPA does and the way it operates. I want to be a part of it.

I am currently earning an A.A. in Photography and a Certificate of Proficiency in Graphic Applications from Southwestern College, and already maintain a degree in Art History from SDSU. So, resulting from this experience I have extensive knowledge in the ways in which images communicate and express certain ideas. I also have fluency in programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Bridge, and some experience using Illustrator. InDesign is being covered this semester.

As a burgeoning photographer, I understand the logistical and conceptual processes through which someone would take a picture. I run a fledgling website currently (heysymmetrical.tumblr.com) and post regularly to Instagram (instagram.com/chillwhale). Both websites illuminate the photographic rules I willingly restrict myself to.

As a relatively new category of fine art, it is essential for me – for the sake of my own knowledge – to immerse myself in the processes through which images perpetuate. I have a deep interest in why things are made, how they become ‘great’, or become canonized, and what allows them to stay relevant. I consider MOPA concerned with these things too, along with the idea that photographs operate on at least two levels, as much cultural artifact as a form of personal expression.

I aspire to teach, so I hope to marry my love for photography with my passion for learning should I be an intern here.

No. 295

Little Italy has slowly become one of my favorite places. I’ve been here most days this week and it’s something of a second home for me. Its cafes effectively function as my living room.

Yesterday I heard the phrase “La Jolla South” in describing this place, and I can see that. It is undoubtedly a cultural melting pot populated by wealthier people. Nonetheless, I hope it’s a particularly convivial place for Italians it being called ‘Little Italy’.

There’s a strong coffee culture here and ubiquitous are the places to eat pizza. Granted these are two things I subsist from, it’s easy to see how I would come here often. Then there are the anomalous places – a ramen place here, a burger place there – but they’re of quality, so I won’t complain.

I may come here for the granola at Influx, or the house salad at Na Pizza, but mostly I come here to recharge. For as sociable as I can appear to be, I also require copious amounts of personal time. I use this time to collect myself and to collect my thoughts.

Today, the intrusive idea is the wish that I would work as intently toward my professional goals as I do my personal ones; I do a lot in terms of things that please me and feed my soul, but they have little to do with moving onward to better things. Now that I’ve expressed my desire for this to happen, it’s only time to make it happen. 

To list the things that I could do:

+ Design my resume

+ Submit it to those jobs that I could work long-term

+ Complete any other prerequisites for the job

+ Keep reading

+ Keep writing

No. 294

The way that I think about it, so long as our eyes are open we’re looking at something. Even when we’re daydreaming, the photons are still reaching our eyes and our brains are still translating this as visual information. The same applies to sounds; it’s heard even if we’re not listening, so to speak. I guess that’s why I choose to take pictures or read text, because I’d much prefer to think while I see.

No. 293

I learned in class today that it really doesn’t pay to purchase a printer at least in the initial stages. There are plenty of good printers (the people kind and the mechanical kind) out there, and there’s more to be done at the foundational level. One thing that I recently found out is that the camera and the monitor can be calibrated so that the colors you see in the camera will faithfully reproduce on the monitor, and so forth into print. This is all really cool in concept, but I wonder if it’ll be worthwhile in the end.

Man… I’m hard-pressed to let go of the personal printer idea, but it’s also cheaper to purchase the means for calibration. Once I know more hopefully it will sway me in the cheaper direction. It would be nice to have predictable, and predicted, results.

Anyway, I want to start printing already because printing’s where it’s at.

No. 292

I’m not a week into the semester, and I already feel as if I’m in the thick of it. I can be the sponge that I want to be and a comment by my instructor confirms this—“Keep ‘em [the questions] coming.” The dozen or so photography-related questions I’ve withheld during the summer were answered today, with the exception of a couple that I’ve forgotten.

My first day in Graphic Design Layout included a ‘warm up’ where pairs of us stood up in front of class and discussed an object. Most to choose from were small and could be grasped in one hand. Essentially – more than our perceptiveness or acumen in discussing objects – it was an opportunity for us to warm up to each other—like, this is who I am, got it? Now the learning can start.

I wasn’t nervous and I really got into it.

***

This weekend a couple of friends and me are going to LA to engage in the rapture that is musical festival. If it’s not already apparent by my egregious use of hyperbole, I’m extremely excited about it. This weekend I get to sip up the last rays of summer, and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be satiated.

All I have to do really is smile, listen, and dance to the music. That, and feel it all.

“A consideration of the vase, the ultimate object for and about display, seemed a natural conclusion to our floral folly. We couldn’t help but think that, while the ‘chair’ is endlessly considered the ultimate cultural design object, perhaps the ‘vase’ fits the bill just as well.”
— Laura Houseley, Editor-in-Chief of Modern Design Review, Spring/Summer 2014