Why do we like what we like?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by landrum_kelly, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. I like this shot, but I'm not sure why.
    [LINK]
    The grain is a bit overdone, and I have seen a lot of similar shots, but this one strikes me as a cut above. I can more often tell what I do not like about a photo than I can explain what it is that I like.
    I am puzzled by all this. No matter what the genre, I often am at a loss to explain what it is that appeals to me in a photo. We can talk about rules of composition and other formulae for making good photos, but when it comes to analyzing what makes a particular photo appealing or compelling (or simply beautiful), I often find that I am at a loss for words. I read the forums, and I pay particular attention to those who feel compelled to write at length about what is noteworthy in this or that photo. That is fine, but most of the time all of those words do not help me understand precisely what it is in a photo that makes it special. In fact, for me, all those words really are quite often just a waste of time.
    Can anyone out there explain what makes them like a given photo, whether their own work or someone else's? Examples would be most welcome.
    I came to this question while thinking about an exchange on another forum, one that is still active--the thread over the issue of whether or not there is or can be anything really new in nude photography. As the discussion unfolded, it became clear that persons often seemed a bit confused when they said, "This is not new." What they really seemed to be saying was, "I don't consider this worthy of being called new." Those were not the precise words used, but that was often (not always) the message. Again, I was struck by the ease with which we explain what we do not like, but the difficulty in really explaining what it is that we do like, and why.
    I sometimes wonder if all of the intellectualizing is mostly just a waste of time. Maybe Facebook is right after all: thumbs or thumbs down. I don't much care why people tell me that they like or dislike about one of my own photos. I just want them to cut to the chase and tell me whether they like it or not. If they say, "I like the way the light comes off the wall," I can accept that; but if they go on for several paragraphs, it's just snooze time for me. In other words, there usually are only one or two things that I can identify in a photo that make it special for me--if that.
    --Lannie
     
  2. I meant to say, "Maybe Facebook is right after all: thumbs up or thumbs down." I know that that is overstated, but--for me--not by much. I sometimes wish that persons would try to explain in just twenty-five words or less what they like or do not like. I suspect that that would get to the core of what it was about the photo that caught their attention in the first place. Most of the rest of the critique (positive or negative) is all too often simply fluff.
    I'm not trying to be contentious here. The problem is not any particular individual or individuals. It can even be the rare person who really likes one of my photos. Just say it, friend, in a few words, and then move on. All of the verbiage does not really improve my eye, my compositional skills, etc.--with rare exceptions. If I have made technical errors, a few more words might be required to tell me how to do it better, but if the issue is finally about aesthetics, it is rarely the case that more words will add much insight, in my opinion. In general, I think that the photo pretty much speaks for itself, at least in terms of aesthetics.
    I know that there are certainly exceptions to what I have said. There are a few photos that really are deserving of considerable analysis. I fear that they are few and far between. Most of the verbiage is unnecessary, I think--at least most of the time.
    I am not necessarily happy to come to this conclusion. It is simply the conclusion that I have come to. Give me a volume of Eggleston or whoever. There's really no need to hang around and explain it to me. I appreciate your drawing it to my attention. Thank you for the gift. Now please just go away and let me enjoy it.
    "Go take a picture. Your words are just getting in the way." I have never actually said that to anyone. Maybe I should.
    --Lannie
     
  3. That photo you linked to doesn't do it for me. Perhaps because there is no deliberation, no discipline. I suspect that the subject has a great body, though!
    We tend to talk about photos because we like to talk about what we like. We just should not take it too seriously. I love it when someone writes about a photographer I like, but this usually expands into tangents etc, so it's not merely a clinical dissection of the photos.
     
  4. Well...why do you need to know why do we like what we like then?
     
  5. Well...why do you need to know why do we like what we like then?​
    Why are you puzzled at my puzzlement, Leslie? Why are you asking why I am asking why?
    Why do we have why questions, Leslie?
    Perhaps there is an aesthetic sense after all?
    If so, why is there such an aesthetic sense? Why might there be? (I use the subjunctive mood deliberately: there might not be, although I suspect that there is.)
    If there is such a sense, perhaps there is no verbal improvement upon it. "I like this. It pleases my eye. I wonder why it pleases my eye." Then we try to explain why we like this (whatever it might be)? We hedge about what we like visually with various visual descriptors. We describe why we like this or that in a photo or in a scene that we might photograph (or would photograph if we had a camera with us)? When we have finished our verbal rambling, have we truly come any closer to understanding why we like it.
    I would submit to you that the more we try to describe why we like this or that visual feast, the more we show that we cannot go very far beyond simply saying, "I like it!" We throw words at the problem, and in so doing we think that we have accomplished something, but all too often we have only shown that there is no way to express in words anything very helpful.
    What a fruitful line of inquiry you have opened up for us, Leslie!
    Lannie
     
  6. That photo you linked to doesn't do it for me. Perhaps because there is no deliberation, no discipline. I suspect that the subject has a great body, though!​
    I wonder why I like it but you do not, Karim.
    I wonder why Stephen Hawking wonders why the Big Bang occurred? He really and truly believes that it happened. He does not believe that there was any God behind it. He does not see the necessity for positing the existence of God as the cause of the Big Bang.
    If we were to put the question of this thread to Hawking, he surely would not think of saying, "You like what you like because you were made to like it by God." He would not because he does not believe in God. Therefore he will continue to search for naturalistic explanations.
    Maybe I like this CAUTION: NSFW PHOTO of the model Rebecca of Jim Phelps' photos because God made me that way. Maybe others do not like it for the same reason: God did not make them to like it. Perhaps God made me feel or think or say, "She is beautiful, especially when unencumbered by clothing." Perhaps someone else might look at her in that condition and say, "Euw! How revolting!" Perhaps both of our responses are authentic expressions of the fact that we are what we are and that we like what we like--even though we cannot explain why we like what we like.
    Why do you suppose this is?
    Why do I think that a photo of Rebecca is beautiful? I don't know. I gave up on trying to put that sort of thing into words a long time ago. Stop talking, guys. Enough words! Can't you see that you are interrupting my visual meal? Please be quiet and let me enjoy my visual feast.
    --Lannie
     
  7. "[W]e cannot explain why we like what we like."​
    There. I have just said it--at the end of one of the last paragraphs in the preceding post.
    So let's just shut up and enjoy the view. Or perhaps we will rave on a bit, perhaps call our ravings "criticism"--but let not our ravings be mistaken for explanations!
    Just don't rave too much about my wife or girlfriend, though. Watch your mouth.
    --Lannie
     
  8. "I wonder why I like it but you do not, Karim."
    I think people tend to develop an affinity toward things they have some felt significance to - it's only natural.

    That grainy B/W nude appears to be in a settings from the 1960s which was at the time presumably thought to be artsy, so if I'm right, and you lived through the 60s with an appreciation for that kind of mood, then your felt significance to the setting and mood will be greater than someone who has either no connection to the period, or intrinsically dislikes that type of image.

    I think more than academic analysis, ones better understanding of the story behind the picture will generally allow greater appreciation, so I think more people will be more accepting of the photo had there been a couple of paragraphs to explain the shot.

    This is the reason why I generally write the comments in my photos to explain the background notwithstanding those who emphatically believe a picture should speak for itself.
     

  9. I think more than academic analysis, ones better understanding of the story behind the picture will generally allow greater appreciation, so I think more people will be more accepting of the photo had there been a couple of paragraphs to explain the shot.​
    I think that you have offered an academic analysis, too, Michael, although I have to say that it is one that I like. Okay, so perhaps I like it because it reminds me of the sixties or the seventies. But why did I like it (or something like it) in the sixties or seventies? Well, I think that you are right in suggesting that it might then have been embedded in some narrative that gave meaning to my life.
    Still, why was the narrative meaningful? Where does beauty come from?
    Now I am asking where meaning comes from.
    Stephen Hawking (last I heard) is still out there wondering where the Big Bang came from.
    --Lannie
     
  10. Good grief Lannie, what will be the next?
    You are really a guy with great unanswerable questions.
    If anyone really have a go on this one, I would expect that the wealth of knowledge from : psychology, social psychology, history, sociology, cultural sociology, and neural research (to mention a few) are drawn upon and that any answer of the like: "I like what I like because I like it" will be denounced strenuously.
    Good luck with this one.
     
  11. Why do I like anchovies on pizza but not chocolate?
     
  12. "Good luck with this one."
    Meh, Anders. Don't be such a killjoy. The alchemists never found gold, but they did find science (much to their chagrin).
     
  13. And what, Julie, do you imagine could be found with a question on why I like what I like ? I see the killing but not really the joy.
    Reading frequently Lannie's posts, I know that he is totally able to come up with something better, but coming from a Scandinavian academic background we did in fact regularly give the following oral exam question to students in basic philosophy classes : "Why is the Moon made of green cheese ?" - resulting in much fun and serious reflections and rhetorics.
     
  14. to name it or to put that feeling into words would be negating it.​
    I think that Barthes is right on that point, Phil. I do realize that I have over-stated my position in the original post. There is really quite a lot that we can say--up to that critical point at which we have to explain the core issue of the aesthetic appeal.
    I have deliberately dropped the "God issue" into the conversation, not because I have any greater insight on the "God v. not-God" debate than anyone else, but because both the existence of God as well as the ultimate foundation for aesthetic judgments are probably both metaphysical questions and thus ultimately unanswerable. We can speculate, but evidence is hard if not impossible to come by. We have at some point, that is, moved beyond the realm of the falsifiable (science) to the realm of the non-falsifiable (metaphysics, philosophy).
    Science has a lot to say, that is, about both the workings of the physical universe as well as the internal workings of the psyche (including what gives us pleasure)--up to a point. It is my general view that, once we reach that point, we are up against the metaphysical wall, such that science can carry us no further. Exactly where that wall is is the question. We cannot demarcate the limits of scientific knowledge prematurely. Science has blown past some metaphysical claims in the past, but I am still inclined to think that some claims about aesthetics (and everything else) are ultimately unanswerable using science alone.
    I do not think that aesthetics is totally separable from issues of "pleasure"--with the caveat that at some point intuitive judgments seem to enter, and these possibly transcend judgments of "pleasure." I might be able to scientifically explain good sex, for example, but "being in love" might or might not be within the purview of science. I would not want to try to rule on that last one a priori. One never knows what science is going to come up with next. After science has had its say, however, the ultimate questions yet remain. That is what seems to torture Hawking. He wants it otherwise. I personally think that he might as well accept that, even if the Big Bang is the final scientific explanation about the origins of the universe, it will not end metaphysical speculation about the "cause" of the Big Bang. Rather than conclude with Hawking that "philosophy is dead," I would say instead that philosophy will always be there--science can take us only so far. The ultimate metaphysical questions will always remain--at least for us mere humans. So, though I would not dare try to match wits with Hawking on physics, I will gladly take him on on the philosophical questions. Sometimes he sounds like an eighteen-year-old kid in philosophy class. He wants everything to be amenable to some kind of scientific reductionism. I don't think that he is going to get what he wants there. Science, I believe, does have its limits. I don't think that he wants to acknowledge that.
    Howzat for a friggin' tangent?
    --Lannie
     
  15. The alchemists never found gold, but they did find science (much to their chagrin).​
    Maybe they thought they were doing science all along, Julie, but their "science" was simply flawed.
    --Lannie
     
  16. Reading frequently Lannie's posts, I know that he is totally able to come up with something better. . . .​

    To paraphrase one of Jack Nicholson's characters out of context, Anders, "Maybe this is as good as it gets!"
    The old science v. metaphysics divide is what we are up against here, I think.
    --Lannie
     
  17. Because we can. Because as a human being I can like whatever I like and no one has the ability to make me like what they like. That's good enough for me.
     
  18. I am able to talk about aesthetics without having to reach a conclusion about "why I like." I can talk about the things I see in a photo, the achievements of a photo, the historical place of a photo, without it necessarily being about what I like. Aesthetics and narcissism are separable.
    I can talk about subject matter and how it's handled. I can talk about how shadow and light reveals that subject matter. I can consider whether I, myself, have a purpose in making a photo and whether I have achieved that purpose. I can consider the difference between those who are making a claim to express themselves, to make art, and those who are making a claim to relax and entertain themselves with a hobby after a hard day's work.
    Philosophizing about aesthetics is different from discussing photos. That's likely why this thread was moved to the Philosophy forum. If it were about the aesthetics of a photo or series of photos or body of work, it might have remained where it was originally posted. If it had been a concrete discussion of the photo linked to, it might have remained. But it was none of that. It is a philosophical foray into whether aesthetics can be meanifully discussed rather than a meaningful discussion about the aesthetics of a photo.
    I see a difference between comparing a discussion of aesthetics to a debate about God vs. actually digging into a photo and talking coherently about what it offers. The latter would benefit from learning the history of photography, reading photographic criticism, and starting to put together an aesthetic and an understanding of the world of aesthetics. On the other hand, one can come home from work exhausted and not do any of that and just go out and take and look at pictures to relax. I'm not claiming one is more valuable than the other. I'm just claiming they're very different things.
    Aesthetics and photography itself, like faith in god and religion, have rich histories, traditions, and canons. Whether I like this or that photo and why and whether I believe or don't believe in God are but one aspect of those rich areas of human existence. There's a whole lot more to each than whether what I believe in or what I like can be proved. My own curiosity has led me to explore some of the richer aspects than just my own beliefs or tastes.
     
  19. Because we can.​
    Dave, when I read this, it sounded familiar, and then I remembered George Leigh Mallory's response to the question, "Why climb Everest?"
    "Because it's there," he famously responded (or so the story goes).
    I know that the two responses "Because we can" and "Because it's there" are from two entirely different conversations, but they have a remarkably similar sound to my ear--maybe the similarity is only about rhythm and cadence, nothing more.
    They are both powerful retorts, though, in my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  20. My own curiosity has led me to explore some of the richer aspects than just my own beliefs or tastes.​
    Perhaps you are not sufficiently impressed by the fact of your own existence, Fred. Wondering about why you like what you like does not make you a narcissist.
    I don't have a theory of narcissism, however, and so I won't pursue that further here, except to remind you of how you started:
    "Aesthetics and narcissism are separable," you said.
    Very well. Therefore what? Then again, "Trump makes me sick" and "Trump is a narcissist" might be linked as well. Can they be both separable and linked at once? One is a personal statement: "Trump makes me sick." The other is a more general claim: "Trump is a narcissist." We start from where we are. Yes, Trump makes me sick. Is it because he is a narcissist? (Well, that is surely part of it.)
    Word games. . .
    --Lannie
     
  21. I am able to talk about aesthetics without having to reach a conclusion about "why I like."​
    Of course you can, Fred, but why would you want to avoid that latter question? It's fascinating to me, and it is not only about me. Why YOU like what YOU like is equally interesting, I think--to ME! I just don't know how to answer that.
    My opening question in the OP was not really only about what I like and why I like it, was it? I was really asking a more general question about human nature. Why, then, did I not open with, "Why do we like what we like?" The answer is simple. I noticed the Bjorn Moback picture (the one that I opened with) and immediately wondered why it is so much more interesting to me than many other photos.
    So. . . that is why the question was posted as it was. I had no idea that I would be talking about God a few posts later. I have no idea where these threads are going to go when I start them. That's what makes them fun.
    So what drove the thread from its inception? Well, we had been talking about nudes for some days, and suddenly here was one that I liked. It was not new, though, and so I didn't bother to post it to the other thread. It was the start of a new thread because it raised a somewhat different question--and I think a fascinating question. It's been around for a while. I didn't come up with it.
    --Lannie
     
  22. Why do I like anchovies on pizza but not chocolate?​
    E.J., if I knew the answer to that one simple question, I have a hunch I could answer all questions relating to aesthetics--maybe even questions about God.
    All philosophical questions are related, after all, and so "Why do I like anchovies on pizza but not chocolate?" seems like a philosophical question par excellence to me. If I had thought about it, perhaps I could have opened this thread with that question.
    --Lannie
     
  23. Archetypes
     
  24. Here is another Bjorn Moback image that caught my attention:
    [LINK]
    I like this one, too. I wonder why. I usually like my women with heads.
    I think that it has something to do with the sky and that dark landscape. If the photo is part of a story, I would like to know more about the story. I want to know how we got to this point in the story, and I want to know how it comes out.
    Yet, yet, even without the story, that sky and dark landscape are fascinating, arguably more fascinating than the woman walking alone only in a slip near sunset or dusk.
    This is one that one hesitates to call "a nude" simply because there is a nude form in the photo. It is so much than that--depending on what the narrative is. I wonder if Moback had a narrative in mind here--not that it matters too much.
    I wonder why MOBACK liked this enough to photograph it and post it. I would like to get inside his head on this one.
    --Lannie
     
  25. TV eyes. A TV mind.
    As described way back in 1976 by Marshall McLuhan as "a ceaselessly forming contour of things limned by the scanning-finger."
    It does. Not. Stop.
     
  26. Archetypes.​
    I am not sure what that means, Andy, but it impelled me to go look at your portfolio.

    There isn't a one there that I don't like.
    --Lannie
     
  27. TV eyes. A TV mind.
    As described way back in 1976 by Marshall McLuhan as "a ceaselessly forming contour of things limned by the scanning-finger."
    It does. Not. Stop.​
    Now what, Julie?
    --Lannie
     
  28. No answer, and not sure whether it is coincidence, but just read this article today. Brings up some nice points to ponder about.
     
  29. If I look at a mountain and say, "Look at that mountain!" If I look at a tree and say, "Look at that tree!" etc.
    Are not these and comparable statements eloquent expressions of aesthetic judgment? Do I have to elaborate?
    If you have a picture of a wall, and I say, "I love the way the light comes off that wall," was there much more that I could have said that would have helped?
    --Lannie
     
  30. Whoa! Wouter! Is this not an act of divine Providence?! What a great link. God is about timing, great timing.
    "What It Is Like to Like" What a great title!
    --Lannie
     
  31. See Wouter's post. Or, prove me wrong and take John Elderfield's instructions and apply them to your linked OP photo. Post your results:
    .
    It always takes time, of course, to read a painting. Even with a painting that presents itself instantaneously, we will want to explain that instantaneity to ourselves by returning to it, to examine its parts and hold them in readiness in our mind until they fall back into place and can be perceived instantaneously again.​
    .
    Not. Going. To. Happen. So, see Wouter's post again.
     
  32. I was reading Wouter's linked article while you were posting, Julie.
    Now what?
    --Lannie
     
  33. Vanderbilt is intrepid; he is also fair. He desperately wants to find a non-circular account of preferences, something better than “People like this kind of thing because this is the kind of thing that they—or people around them, or people who are supposed to know—like,” but he has to admit defeat.​
    Alas. We can talk around it, and talk around it we do. Then what?
    I have noticed that very often what I like at first is not what I like last. Some things require some time to "acquire a taste for." Some of the best things are not appreciated at first very much at all, but the things that endure. . . in taste. . . ; those are the ones that we remember, that I remember.
    There is an emotional resonance for me in that which I remember.
    Compare "meaningful relationship" to "raw sex."
    --Lannie
     
  34. Wondering about why you like what you like does not make you a narcissist.​
    Actually, you're right. Let's scrap my original thoughts and approach it differently.

    What I like can sometimes get in my way. What I liked when I first started photography is much different from what I like now. I've grown suspicious of what I like to the extent that when I find myself liking something, that will now often spur me on to challenge myself to move on to something different.
    When I first got into classical music, I was so impressed by any professional pianist I heard that I liked every version of my favorite Beethoven sonata. As I learned about music, and studied and practiced piano, I developed an ear and began to discriminate more, hear more of the subtleties of playing, and appreciated the difference in performances.

    When I started in photography, I appreciated the more easy to digest stuff. It was less work for me. As I learned more, did more of my own photography, exposed myself to different types of work, I began to develop a deeper appreciation for more challenging work.

    "Like," to me, often represents a state of comfort. And I've come to appreciate discomfort and challenge as a way of getting through to deeper expression. Things like longing and tension have become more important to me than "like."

    "Narcissim" was the wrong word. Maybe, for me, it's more about self indulgence. If I make too big a deal over what I like, I risk getting mired in that and not challenging myself to explore other things.

    I may have, but didn't mean to, imply that what I like is unimportant. I just meant to separate aesthetics from taste. If I'm having trouble putting my finger on why I like something, I can still intelligently discuss the aesthetics of it. I can put it into historical perspective, talk about the way the light and shadows act on the subject, talk about how it makes me feel without necessarily being able to say why I like it.

    You talked about a lot of the words you read being a waste of time because they don't really tell you why someone likes the photo. I was merely trying to say that maybe a lot of those words aren't trying to be about why someone likes the photo. They're about simply observing the photo and talking about how different elements and qualities of the photo interact and how that's perceived. The words may have meaning beyond a concern for taste.

    In thinking about this more, I realize I often do know why I like a photo, if I take the time to think about it and to articulate it.
    HERE'S a Nan Goldin photo I like.
    I like it because it suggests a loose narrative to me. I feel a story going on. I like how the saturated color seems to be emanating from the light while seeming also not only to bathe the people in it but to actually become a part of them. I like the mood. It's a bit mysterious, somber. I like that I can't quite tell if she's looking at him or at me. She seems engaged in the scene. He seems more aloof. I like that contrast. I like that it's somewhat downbeat. I can hear jazz playing next door. I like that he's smoking. It's a bit subversive but also symbolic. It helps connect this to an almost film noir quality but without really being so. The cigarette is suggestive of a broader association to style. I like that the cigarette is echoed in the picture on the wall. I like that that picture already has an obvious orange tint which is then further emphasized by the orange tint of the entire photo. I like that kind of layering and subtext. I like that the light on his face is hot. There's a sexiness in that and I sense sex in the air. I like the lonely heat pipe in the corner. It adds to the pensiveness and quiet. I like the way the shadow on the wall divides the frame and seems to separate their two spaces a bit.
    All this is not how I view the photo. My initial viewing is wordless and my gut reaction is important. But, if asked or if I ask myself, I guess I can articulate why I like it. One reason to do that is to help develop a visual language and coherence that will inspire and infuse my own photography. Not because I will necessary copy something like this, though doing something like that isn't a bad exercise, but because the more of this visual language I can internalize, the more fluent I will become in being able to express things visually.
     
  35. I just meant to separate aesthetics from taste.​
    "Taste" has always left me feeling a bit unnerved, Fred, or maybe just a bit more vacant than I already was. I am not sure why. "I like" is the beginning. "I still like it" is better, but only because something there is memorable. . . maybe.
    My first real love still rattles around in my mind, in my soul. She was no ghost then, nor is she now, though she passed some time ago. What makes her different from all of the others? Wow, have I ever asked that--over and over! Yet, yet, I am not sure that I am any closer to an answer than I ever was.
    --Lannie
     
  36. I was merely trying to say that maybe a lot of those words aren't trying to be about why someone likes the photo. They're about simply observing the photo and talking about how different elements and qualities of the photo interact and how that's perceived. The words may have meaning beyond a concern for taste.​
    I concede those points, Fred. I was just struck by something else that we seem to "have to" talk about: disasters, great and small. I will not give examples, but I remember disasters (mine or those of friends of mine) that we just had to talk through. We needed something, something that it seemed that we could only get in our conversations with each other. I am not sure what it was. I don't know why it was. Maybe it was about comfort. Maybe it was about our communing. Maybe it was about supporting one another.
    I also remember being so totally in love in the summer of 1965, but she was not there most of that summer. I kept talking about her to my best friend. He finally said, "You only want to talk about her." Yes, alas, since he had never met her, the conversation was a bit one-sided. He took it as long as he could.
    She was not a disaster. She was a work of art. Though not the prettiest woman I had ever met, she was somehow the most beautiful. . . in some sense.
    There was meaning there--in her and in the disasters. I had to talk about them all, but especially about her.
    --Lannie
     
  37. HERE'S a Nan Goldin photo I like.​
    Yes, Fred, that is special. I shall come back to it, but what you have said resonates with me.
    I guess I can articulate why I like it. One reason to do that is to help develop a visual language and coherence that will inspire and infuse my own photography. Not because I will necessary copy something like this, though doing something like that isn't a bad exercise, but because the more of this visual language I can internalize, the more fluent I will become in being able to express things visually.​
    Well said, Fred. Very well said. You have thrown a lot out there. Let me think some more.
    --Lannie
     
  38. ...my pen rai
     
  39. Leslie, this is so funny. I just googled "my pen rai" and in the google search blurb, what comes up is this . . .
    “My entire house is flooded with two metres of dark, stinky water and crocodiles are raiding my kitchen."​
    And I wondered if this was your metaphorical comment on something you saw or something that was said here. Then I opened the LINK to see that that quote is not the meaning of "my pen rai" but that "my pen rai" could be a response to it.

    The author claims that "Thais are remarkably resilient in their quests to not get stressed out." ;-)
     
  40. Coming from a more psychological perspective, I think photos (and art in general) have the ability to "trigger" something in us. We may not know exactly why, but ideas or emotions are triggered by the image. We then find ourselves experiencing thoughts and emotions we hadn't planned or expected. I see this phenomenon all the time working in psychology and addiction, and often the reaction is severe or detrimental. I think for most of us things that are "triggered" come from our past experiences in life and may be very pleasant as much as negative. Just think of all the experiences you've had in your whole life, and how they are all woven into the complexity that defines your individual uniqueness.
     
  41. This thread is similar to me attempting to explain Kierkegaard to sister. Or, explaining the hayflick limit to my great aunt. Fred: When I wrote my (mai) pen rai, I was thinking what will be, will be...
    The absurdity of attempting to explain, say, why Trump is actually more left on a few issues to HRC, to my friends/asscoiate on the left.
     
  42. Leslie, I am not sure that the difficulty (or even impossibility) of answering a question means that the question is or was meaningless. . . or unimportant. This question ran up against the wall of metaphysics, of ultimate questions about ultimate reality, of Ultimate Truth (a concept not held in high repute in some quarters). Some would thereby define it as off-limits, meaningless. I will not.
    Mai pen rai. Está bien. It's okay.
    It may yet require an answer from each of us.
    --Lannie
     
  43. I think that between personal taste, aesthetic's vague definitions, cultural differences, generational differences, subjective experience differences etc...it's absurd to explain, or describe verbally our feelings/thoughts on a web forum. That is *my* opinion. Don't let my opinion stop anyone else from participation from this thread;)
     
  44. I have often pondered over why I like something. In visual art, I refer to a lot of things as liking, intrigue, mystery,
    confusion, uneasiness, sorrow, empathy, pretty much anything that is opposite of boring. To me, combinations of all these
    culminate into 'linking'. Now as for the question of what exactly went on in my head when I liked something, I often cannot
    explain it. What is explanation? Isn't it the same as trying to put something in terms of words? May be it was never meant
    to be expressed in words. May be it's the shortcoming of language. Is it surprising? To me, not. If science can't explain
    everything, so can't words. But, IT still exists. I know it, because I can feel it. Like there is an universe beyond what is
    visible, which we will never see due to constraints of natural laws, but it's there.
     
  45. If it were not so, so difficult...perhaps pandora, spotify and the likes would have already created the perfect "like" algorithm?

    it's visceral/emotional...*irrational*, we are not computational/robots!
     
  46. Lannie's post on the metaphysical question of why Big Bang happened --
    I am sure, there is a scientific explanation behind it. There is probably a scientific explanation behind everything that we can observe or feel. I don't think that undermines the philosophical question behind it. I think science and philosophy address completely different aspects of the same questions. Why do I exist? Because of some biochemical reactions, genes combining together ... NO, I mean, that could be anybody. Why me? Who am I?
    In my opinion, every phenomenon can have a scientific aspect and a philosophical aspect. Mixing both has always been a disaster to humanity, from the time of Plato to present times. I would be interested to read Stefen Hawking's writings about Big Bang's origin to see whether he really overstepped the realm of science. Although I am not sure, I think a man like Hawking is very aware of science's place.
    I think, everything has a physical reality that is a consensus reached by all humans (scientific reality), and then there is the subjective reality that is only perceived by me. Both are equally valid to me. When I see Jack McRitchie's photo of a electrical meter, ask a scientist, he will describe it as a collection of wires feeding into a box. To me, it resembles a monster with tentacles. Both interpretations are equally valid. So are scientific and metaphysical interpretations of Big Bang.
    I find this relevant to this discussion: A conversation between Einstein and Tagore, a celebrated poet from the Indian subcontinent: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/04/27/when-einstein-met-tagore/
     
  47. Lannie's post on the metaphysical question of why Big Bang happened -- I am sure, there is a scientific explanation behind it. There is probably a scientific explanation behind everything that we can observe or feel.​
    Stephen Hawking would agree with you. He has sought his "theory of everything." I like his physics very much.
    But his fundamental premise is that the physical universe needs no further explanation.
    I doubt that, for what that's worth. My own "theory of everything" would start with a very different premise: God exists, and the world exists in the mind of God.
    That is, "this" is not all there is. From that I cannot deduce why we like what we like, but neither can I deduce that from Hawking's premises, either.
    We won't settle this here. . . .
    I have been reading Alfred North Whitehead over the last few weeks, his Process and Reality and his other works on science and mathematics. I remember working through Principia Mathematica in grad school in a course called "Advanced Symbolic Logic" back in late 1971 or early 1972. That work was co-authored with Bertrand Russell.
    Whitehead is famous for saying that "Consciousness is an emergent property of physical processes." Fair enough, but is that the end of the story, or the beginning?
    Russell was a noted atheist, and so I always assumed that so was Whitehead. I was astonished to find out this past week that he was anything but. He had a lot of negative things to say about orthodox Christianity, but he was definitely a theist in that tradition.
    Both men worked together with a lot of mutual respect, but I am quite sure that neither ever got the other to agree with him on first principles.
    Moral of the story? Reasonable persons have always disagreed and always will.
    The great conversation continues, and it reaches into every little corner of human existence. Should we be surprised that it sticks its nose into discussions about beauty and other aesthetic considerations?
    It goes wherever it will. Whoever tries to stamp it out or shut it up will find it shouting from the rooftops.
    The moguls who run this outfit don't want this stuff on the front page. What are they afraid of? Why?
    This has been a busy thread the past twenty-four hours, but it is not showing up on the front page of Photo.net yet. It is not because it is about God or not-God. It is because it is about nudity, about argumentation, about anything not sanitized in the tradition of the Grand New Photo.net.
    Repression takes many forms, none of them good.
    --Lannie
     
  48. This question ran up against the wall of metaphysics, of ultimate questions about ultimate reality, of Ultimate Truth​
    It didn't run up against any of that for me. I answered it. There's a part of this I will choose to leave a mystery (with a lower case "m") and just wouldn't try to put into words. But there's much that's really not so impossible when I give it some thought and take the time and energy to articulate those thoughts.

    By the way, HERE'S a photo by Eugene Smith that moves me greatly, that I think is deep, personal, and important, but that I wouldn't describe as a photo I "like." As I said, "liking" is not necessarily the hook I'm looking for in photos I view or make.
     
  49. Why are you moved by what you are moved by, Fred?
    --Lannie
     
  50. I imagine it has to do with a combination of my genetic makeup, my past experiences, the photos I've been exposed to, my family life, my third grade teacher yelling at me for cracking jokes in the back of the class, my brother loving film and influencing my visual appreciations, the socio-economic status I was born into, my culture, a Shakespeare class I took in high school, my memories of parents' and grandparents' deaths, the crush I had on Gary Schultz in Junior High School. Honestly, what do you expect me to say? Might as well ask why I am the person I am. Any question can be made metaphysically impossible to answer, extra specially deep. It can always boil down to the basic WHO AM I and WHY AM I HERE? For me, though, those questions often seem a colossal waste of time and a convenient way to avoid the task of learning about the history and aesthetics of photography and putting just this kind of curiosity into photography instead of navel-gazing.
    Why do you ask what you ask? (That's a rhetorical question.)
    Most of the answers to why I am moved by what moves me are in my photos. That's where that energy goes rather than answering such questions. As I've said before, I mostly gave up Philosophy for music and photography because I felt music and photography could better approach some of these questions than logical and expository analysis.
     
  51. The question "Why do I like what I like" is not the same as asking "Why do I have likes at all?" The OP question calls for an inventory. The latter question doesn't have an answer.
    As to an inventory, our 'likes' exist in social contexts. Social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji discusses implicit bias here. A personal example of implicit bias is my statement "I'm white and I had a black uncle." Implicit bias exists in my terming "black" a man that was at least half white and we often aren't aware of our culturally acquired implicit biases. Mahzarin also says in the interview that she doesn't believe we can offer to each other a self-description that is coherent. I agree. It isn't coherent of me to say I had a black uncle, instead marking me as part of a culture that could say such a thing. Nor would I expect a coherent answer to the question: "Why do you like what you like?" Too much guesswork involved in the answer.
     
  52. Honestly, what do you expect me to say?​
    I have no particular expectations, Fred. I was just reformulating the question to extend to photos that are deemed to be important, even when they do not "please" us in some ways.
    Might as well ask why I am the person I am. Any question can be made metaphysically impossible to answer, extra specially deep. It can always boil down to the basic WHO AM I and WHY AM I HERE?​
    I think that you have tried to answer why you are the person you are. It's all interesting to know.
    For me, though, those questions often seem a colossal waste of time and a convenient way to avoid the task of learning about the history and aesthetics of photography and putting just this kind of curiosity into photography instead of navel-gazing.​
    Yeah, philosophers, those lazy, navel-gazing bastards. . .
    Thanks for trying to answer, Fred.
    --Lannie
     
  53. I don't mind philosophers. Some of my best friends are philosophers. It's just that this is a photography forum and I thought we would be discussing issues as they relate to photography. You've barely mentioned it. Over and out . . . seriously . . . for the last time.
     
  54. I don't mind philosophers. Some of my best friends are philosophers.​
    Hahahaha!
    I have an eight o'clock class that goes for four hours straight three days a week--that's what happens when you put education majors in charge of a college. It's a Spanish class, not philosophy. Even I need a break from this stuff. Spanish I do for fun. Philosophy I do because I have to. Don't ask me why.
    For the record, I do think that the issues that I raised do relate to photography--but I am tired of the whole issue, too.
    You've barely mentioned it [photography].​
    The thread turned very early when Leslie Cheung challenged the question and I took the bait. I didn't mind the turn, but it apparently bored most people. I'll ignore the baiting next time and see what happens.
    --Lannie
     
  55. The question isn't boring, but the invariably the answers to it are.
    Where I was going to go was to ask, if we accept Banaji's opinion that there are no coherent self-discriptions, is if in art we have a better chance at coherent self-descriptions?
     
  56. My inability to absorb, my genius for forgetting, are more than they reckoned with. Dear incomprehension, it's thanks to you I'll be myself in the end. — from the Unnamable​
     
  57. The alchemists never found gold, but they did find science (much to their chagrin).​
    Maybe they did find gold, but kept secret what the "gold" actually was? Was it all an esoteric metaphor?
     
  58. They did find 'gold.' But the gold they found was grace and they found that they didn't need beliefs to experience grace, where grace = philosopher's stone. Hence, they used a metaphor to conceal a heresy.
     
  59. But do you "like" gold? Shall I expound upon the color symbolism, the esoteric color complements and discordances of gold upon the mind? Its delicate flavors, its nuances, where it flutters in and out of "like"-ness?
    Look at Eggleston: he does what he does because, unlike 99.9% of photographers, he actually sees, understands, feels color before, aside from, object and form -- as well as in relation to object and form.
    Do you do that? Do you have a clue? Or, like so many photographers do you have no awareness at all of your response to colors as such. Do you flail sadly at the saturation slider, craving color satisfaction, like a cow licking for salt (I like that ... "cow licking for salt" -- if you guys don't bludgeon me for that one, you're all asleep ... or I bore you to tears. Perhaps a little more saturation .... COW LICKING FOR SALT ... will help. Hmmmm .... )
     
  60. I certainly did not care about getting a picture of the local Wells Fargo branch bank building, but I was happy to take their gold.
    [LINK]
    There was gold everywhere. Oh, joy!
    Just seconds before, I had passed Krispy Kreme and they had kindly turned on their more-or-less-gold "Hot now!" sign, just so that I could photograph it:
    [LINK]
    Both businesses also kindly put up yellow-gold covers on the guy wires stabilizing their telephone poles. I should have sent them thank-you notes for spreading the gold around.
    Rukmini also showed me the gold in her sari, but that was some years earlier:
    [LINK]
    [LINK]
    Rukmini liked gold, too. She took a higher-paying job in Albany, NY not long after I shot this.
    --Lannie
     
  61. Why do I like this picture?
    [LINK]
    I don't know. I just do. Maybe someone else can tell me why I like it. There are hints of gold and yellow (the poor man's gold) throughout.
    --Lannie
     
  62. And there I am, with my white beard, sitting among the children, babbling, cringing from the rod. I'll die in the lower third, bowed down with years and impositions, four foot tall again, like when I had a future, bare-legged in my old black pinafore, wetting my drawers. — from The Unnamable​
     
  63. . . . wetting my drawers.​
    Something to look forward to, I guess. . .
    --Lannie
     
  64. I must have liked the poor man's gold here. There certainly is not a lot more to say for the picture:
    [LINK]
    Likewise, I'm sure:
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  65. like a cow licking for salt (I like that ... "cow licking for salt" -- if you guys don't bludgeon me for that one, you're all asleep ... or I bore you to tears. Perhaps a little more saturation .... COW LICKING FOR SALT ... will help. Hmmmm ....​
    Okay, Julie. I'll lick some salt with you, and you can get pictures of the grand event. Wear gold so that I will know who you are. Maybe we can meet on the Appalachian Trail near your house and get down on all fours and pretend we're deer justa lickin' that salt. (I don't want to be a cow.)
    Now suppose you tell me what it is about licking salt that you LIKE so much this morning?
    Perhaps a little more saturation​
    Mm, what color is your salt, Julie? Is it perchance Jamaica Gold? Be careful that the entire Photo.net contingent doesn't come looking for you up on the A.T., down on all fours licking that special golden salt you love so much.
    No more Jamaica Gold for that lady back there at the third table on the left. She's had enough already. She doesn't have to wear gold. We can identify her by her laugh:
    --Lannie
     
  66. http://www.photo.net/photo/7782273
    http://www.photo.net/photo/18223273&size=md
     
  67. I think it is the case that we can't offer to each other a coherent worded narrative of ourselves. Since we can't offer that to each other, we can't offer it to ourselves either, you can't say what you don't know. We can attempt it with worded communication, attempt comprehending and attempt being comprehensible. I say attempt because with the OP question, we don't know why we may like this or that photograph. An example of such a worded attempt is in Fred's response to Lannie: Jun 24, 2016; 03:05 a.m. quoted in part:
    ...my memories of parents' and grandparents' deaths, the crush I had on Gary Schultz in Junior High School. Honestly, what do you expect me to say? Might as well ask why I am the person I am. Any question can be made metaphysically impossible to answer, extra specially deep.​

    That's a good example of how I would respond to the question "Why do you like that picture?" Once asked why, I have no idea why. When pressed for an explanation by an inquirer, I'll produce an unsatisfying inventory of personal factors, influences that aren't really causes of the 'like effect'. When we can't explain ourselves to ourselves we can't explain ourselves to others: yet nevertheless we remain compulsive communicators as a species.
    So rather than being boring, I think the OP confronts us with the fact of our own incomprehensibility. That incomprehensibility is worth exploring. That's a difficult task because we don't know what we don't know.
    I'm becoming more certain that we are incomprehensible except to the degree that from necessity we cultivate imagery, metaphor, story, drama, dance, song, etc.
     
  68. Yes, Charles, I was being a bit facetious in citing my crush on Gary Schultz in Junior High School but not so much when I mentioned my brother's influence on me in my formative years. I wound up "liking" a lot of the kind of visual imagery he liked because I respected him, knew he studied film seriously, knew he had a broad exposure to all types of films and photos, etc. He also helped teach me how to look . . . carefully. He showed me different connection points, helped me understand what I was looking at, put a lot of visual imagery into context for me, showed me who influenced whom and how fascinating the threads running through visual arts history could be. That was valuable and that could be expressed and comprehended. We also laughed and cried together while watching movies. We shared an emotional connection when visiting museums or looking at photo books together.
    Like many other things, I believe my likes go beyond just me. There's a shared aspect to them, a cultural and community component. There IS influence. Sometimes, liking is belonging. (NOT ALWAYS!)
    As opposed to any sort of serious confrontation (as you call it), the question posed here, why do I like what I like, if I got stuck on it, would be an evasion for me. What I CAN talk about sensibly and articulately is what I see in photos, how they fit into different aesthetic ideas, how I respond to them, and how they relate to others I've seen. It's all those meaningful and relevant things I shared with my brother growing up and hope to share with people here on PN.
    So, yes, I wonder why I'd want instead to talk about what I can't talk about when an alternative would be to share and learn something about photos. I was able to talk concretely about the Nan Goldin photo I liked. That felt productive to me. That's what I find challenging.
     
  69. About liking a particular picture, some will answer with something like "It spoke to me." I regard that kind of answer as in part an evasion and in part as the best that words can do at times. As at times the best answer that can be produced is "I just do."
     
  70. Charles, there seems to me a basic conflation running through this thread. There's a big difference between why I like a certain picture and why I like what I like.
    In any case, 'the best that words can do" (to coin your phrase) is communicate meaningful things. The worst that words can do is not do much of anything.
    I tried to communicate meaningful things about a picture I like. I recognize the futility of having done so in this thread.
     
  71. This was in my original post as well:
    "Can anyone out there explain what makes them like a given photo, whether their own work or someone else's? Examples would be most welcome."

    Had persons offered specific examples and given answers on their own terms, then something useful might have come from the OP. Indeed, it still might.
    "Why" is one of those words. So is "like." They are ambiguous enough to allow persons to interpret them as they will--not all have to offer some metaphysic of aesthetics. No one has to, in fact. The questioner has no monopoly on the use and interpretation of words.
    A safe way to answer any question is to word one's response in such a way that one does not become a slave to someone else's way of framing the question. Is that evasive? I don't think so. I think that doing so is an affirmation of one's own intellectual autonomy. It is a sly way of saying, "Here is my way of stating the question, and here is my answer." The fact is that, if we are cunning enough, we can escape most traps set by bullies by not even letting such tyrannical questioners know that we have reformulated the question. That is our right. The questioner does not own the question.
    It's also the way I passed my preliminary doctoral exams. I had my answers, and I found a way to modify or reformulate the questions to fit my answers, or, more precisely, to show my strengths. I knew that I could not master every possible question that could be asked, and I did not even try. I also knew my strengths and my weaknesses. I found a way to answer in such a way as to show what I did know, not what I did not. That way, no one could say, "Your answer is wrong." At best they could say, "You didn't answer the question." On balance, my repertoire of responses in each sub-field was deemed adequate, and so I passed all of my sub-fields the first time. (Two attempts were allowed in each sub-field.) In only one sub-field was I challenged--by a single professor, who was over-ruled by the others. He was the youngest on the committee and, by the way, the most treacherous and most abusive.
    All of us always have similar options--unless we are dealing with the cops or the Nazis. If someone gets really imperial and tries to pin us down to respond in accordance with that person's intellectual agenda, we have the option of using such a technique as I have described--or simply walking away. We have no obligation to submit ourselves to interrogation on the part of intellectual bullies--and there are many.
    These discussion questions which I throw out are not intended to be interrogations or traps. They are attempts to get people to open up--on their own terms! Next time I get a bullying question as a response to my own question, I hope that I remember my own advice.
    The world is full of intellectual bullies. We do not have to subject ourselves to their intellectual strangleholds, which simply reflect their worldviews and their intellectual agendas. There is more than one way to challenge both of those--their worldviews and their (often hidden) agendas.
    --Lannie
     
  72. [T]here seems to me a basic conflation running through this thread.​
    Fred, sometimes you tie yourself up in your own knots. I am not responsible for that.
    You can be a bully--and were in the preceding thread. (Ask around.) I was not going to let you get away with it. I NEVER WILL.
    Go back and reread that long thread where you and Julie attacked in tandem, the one where you accused me of posting soft porn. I was not going to subject myself to that crap--especially not when you posted--in the same thread--that "great work of art" of Andy in drag and displaying an erection.
    --Lannie
     
  73. "Can anyone out there explain what makes them like a given photo, whether their own work or someone else's?
    Somewhere in the middle of this thread I offered a psychological explanation. Nobody responded. So, here I will offer it again, because I believe there are natural reasons for our response to any given image. Just think of all the experiences you've had in your whole life, and how they are all woven into the complexity that defines your individual uniqueness. In this uniqueness, there are emotions that correspond with events in our lives, which are encoded in the brain.
    Memories of our experiences are likely characterized by representations in the form of neuronal activity. Activity among a network of neurons represents a code for the experience of, say, a birthday party. When this network is activated by some cue that triggers a reexperience of that event, we are said to have recollected the birthday party. Emotional events are often remembered with greater accuracy and vividness (though these two characteristics do not always go together) than events lacking an emotional component http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2265099/​
    So, events in our lives that had particular impact are often connected with emotions, which strengthens the vividness or accuracy of the memory. Furthermore, these memories can be “triggered” by cues that reminds us of those memories. Visual things such as photographs, smells, sounds, etc. can all be such cues. Some things are universal, such as sunsets, which have a perhaps “archetypal” stamp on all people. Hence, some things tend to become clichés more easily than others.
    My point is, that because we are all uniquely different in our life experiences, we will experience different cues that trigger various emotional responses. These responses lie deep in our memory and are subtly or not so subtly retrieved with the right cue/trigger. This is simply the way we are wired. Most of it has to do with survival and attaching emotions to the things and events that are important for survival. But, I am sure there are a broad range of experiences that become stored in memory along with the emotions that occurred during the event that are simply there, and can be cued/triggered for better or worse by some form of stimuli, such as an image. I suppose an image can trigger a negative response as well as a positive response. Anyway, this is what I thought of in response to the original question
     
  74. Steve, I think that what you are saying has a great deal of truth to it. I doubt that there is any single "global" answer that addresses all possible ways of interpreting the question--or that could satisfy all of the respondents.
    --Lannie
     
  75. Steve, you make many good points, though I think there will be a good deal of future orientation to these questions related to photography and wouldn't want to overemphasize memory.
    I think much of the way I see relates to where I'm going as much as to where I've been. My goals, my projects, my plans, my own relationship to my own finality, death, will go into provoking what I like.
    Photos I make are actions I take, leading me onward. It's a journey forward. It's the unknown and unforeseen as well as memories and the past. I think to relate to my own photos and those of others is to be open to "liking" what we do not yet know and have not yet experienced.
    The photo creates that new experience which only later will become a memory. Liking becomes secondary, IMO, to taking the action of making or experiencing the picture. By the time I "like," the moment has already passed. I wonder sometimes if liking may be a weight around the neck of experience.
    [​IMG]
     
  76. Here is one by Sam Ryan that was just posted as the "Latest Request for Critique." Whatever it may evoke from the past or conceivably promise for the future, it is as close to being "in the [present] moment" as any photo I have seen lately:
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  77. Fred - "There's a big difference between why I like a certain picture and why I like what I like."
    The way I read "Why do we like what we like." equates "what I like" to a particular picture. That which I like (what I like) is a picture. Why do I like it, the particular picture and where the picture is what I like. I wasn't aware that a conflated reading of the question was possible.
     
  78. Lannie, I won't fall into the "trap" of presenting a photo I like, as there are many of those, both my own and many others. I think it all comes down to personal taste. Taste is not always a constant value (we are creatures of some occasional change) but it is related I think to social consensus (our milieu and how that affects us) and to what I would simply call familiarity. The more we see examples of things we like, the more we like what we have decided to like. Taste.
    The 54 or 55 photos making up my current summer exhibition at a local cultural foundation are all what I "like" (I guess that I wouldn't have printed and mounted them otherwise). An artist friend suggested to my partner the other day that I likely posted too many (he has yet to see it, or each of the five themes involved) and he may be right, but I wouldn't change it, and will do so only only when I can add something different to the project via my future works (and the ideas there are exciting). My exhibition pub (announce) is rotting slowly in the Member Photo News forum, where the last time I looked it had received 0 hits. I think I really like that 0 score, as the possibility of any member being in my area during the summer showing (now to Sept.5) is probably nil, so the visibility both here and there are in synch.
    One theme is "visualising the immaterial" (related in this project to identity of place and its people, or to its placelessness). I may not like the photo as much as I like what it suggests. The non material countering, and in, some cases, assimilating the material (whether the the photo or the portrayed symbol).
     
  79. Fred, yes, the future orientation and goals could certainly have an emotional component, which is cued/triggered by an image. I guess I am positing here that "like" has an emotional component to it, but emotional components aren't always positive either.
    I do have an example of one of my photos that triggered an emotional response readily identified by one person commenting (Bela). http://www.photo.net/photo/18196040&size=lg
    Not all reactions are as readily identified as this, but it does illustrate.
     
  80. Steve, the familiarity of classic black and white for that photo seems unnecessary. And, for me, a reading of your photo that makes it subjectively memory-inducing for the viewer tends to yield a reading that feels more possessive than empathetic. This is what I mean by memory having the potential to be an albatross. The wonder here, for me, is the new and unique relationship I'm privy to.
     
  81. Steve, yours is a nice example and someting the viewer (like Mark, Bela and Jack) can easily empathize with, while not even knowing the subjects. Love of humans for each other is the core statement and one which resonates. Bela said it reminded him of another older person he was close to, which is one value one can receive from it, but the general reason it can be an image liked is probably more abstract than that and yet meaningful for other viewers. Nicely done. Simplicity is often the key in strong visual works.
     
  82. Cues and triggers are parts; the sum of those parts is another thing entirely.
    A 'psychological explanation' goes to motive. A picture, a never before seen whole (no matter how familiar the parts), has its own motives; I am taken by surprise. My psychology conditions or mitigates whether I take its arrow in the head or the heart —or it misses me altogether — but my psychology is not what initiates the attack.
    I like pictures that work; that work on me (in all the delicate-to-violent flavors of that word). Of course I react, but the chemistry of the interaction is driven, powered by its work. Pictures teach me what I like, to my eternal surprise.
     
  83. Look. A question such as Why do you Like. The elephant in the room is: that question calls for a discussion of feelings and emotions elicited by the photograph. Why do you like this photo? Do you like the photos that are abstract so you don't have to discuss your feelings? What a bunch of men.
     
  84. Julie H said:
    I like pictures that work; that work on me (in all the delicate-to-violent flavors of that word). Of course I react, but the chemistry of the interaction is driven, powered by its work. Pictures teach me what I like, to my eternal surprise.​
    But they "work" on you in a unique way because you are unique in your past experiences and genetics. Cues and triggers are unique to each individual and don't have to bring up a memory, as in my example. Cues can just trigger emotions or other reactions not expected at all. A picture "works" on each person in a different way. That's all I'm saying.
     
  85. Steve, have you ever been to the holocaust museum or a similar exhibit. Isn't there actually a great deal of similarity in the way people feel and react: revulsion, horror, nausea, sadness, anger? You might well expect a fair amount of lighthearted, bemused, yet still quite moving reactions from people viewing a show of Bresson, but I think you expect a very different sort of reaction from people coming out of an exhibit of Larry Clark's Tulsa photos.
    Visual cues, visual symbols, visual languages are not just a matter of individual subjective responses. They communicate in human/community/cultural shared ways. That's not to say there won't be subtle and sometimes fairly obvious differences in reaction to various photos, but photos are to some fair degree about communication and human expression and in those things we tend to have a lot in common.
    I'd question your assertion that we are unique in past experience and genetics. While, of course, at a certain level, we are each genetically unique, we humans also share many, many important traits. And we also share experiences.
    Imagine most of us seeing the famous picture of John Jr. saluting his father's casket in Washington, D.C. in 1963. Sure, some may not have appreciated Kennedy's policies or whatever, but the common experience of those few days and what that evokes in most people (certainly here in the U.S. and probably world wide) is really not all that unique to each individual.
     
  86. Fred,
    I see your point, but you are referring to a common reaction to a particular photo by thousands of people, that may not equate to a 'liking' for the photo by that same group of people. For example, I may emotionally react to John Jr's picture, but I may find Weston's pepper more appealing due to my individuality. On the other hand, someone who has experienced the traumatic loss of a close relative in the past may identify more strongly with John Jr's photo.
    Multiple persons may show a common reaction to a particular photo, but each one may prefer a different photo over all others due to individual experiences and genetics, I think that's what Steve was getting at.
     
  87. Supriyo, I still don't really know what is meant by "like" and I'm not sure I actually care all that much about it. I associate "liking" with popularity. Many, many people "like" the same things. Isn't that why Beethoven is popular? There are a myriad of reasons why lots of people like Beethoven, among them the influence of knowing Beethoven is considered great . . . in addition, of course, to the fact that he is great! ;-)
     
  88. Fred,
    I agree many people like what they like due to a lot of factors, may be because their friends like those things, among others. Or because they are friends with a photographer, and haven't really explored anything beyond their friend's work. Making oneself believe that he/she likes something, and truly feeling for a work of art from the bottom of one's heart are probably two different things. I agree with you on that.
    I noticed that you pointed out early on in this thread the distinction between 'liking' as in 'facebook likes' as opposed to deep individual appeal for a certain photo. I have assumed throughout that Lannie referred to the latter when he used the word 'like'. I agree it is better to clarify what he meant. For now I assume, liking here refers to the feeling of an individual who is in the art world for a while and had the chance to see some quality works to develop a 'benchmark', as opposed to casual viewers of photos or casual listeners of music etc.
    Here in PN, I see many photos where I find nothing to dislike, but I also don't find anything to make me stop by. 15 years back, I might have been fascinated by the very same photos. Even now, if someone points to one of them and says he/she likes it, I may not disagree, but my search definitely lies elsewhere. I think people are constantly changing, so do their tastes. Past experiences play a major role in such changes, and by past experiences I not only mean personal life, but also studying of others' works in the past. I cannot say that I have experienced any major personal life event in the last 15 years that can potentially affect my photographic taste, but during this time, I have seen a lot of other people's works that have impacted my taste majorly.
     
  89. Yes Fred, I did mention earlier on that there are certainly universal perhaps even "archetypal" themes that humans respond to such as the ones you mentioned. I would add things like sunsets, scenes containing pathos (homeless people etc.), babies, etc., many of which become clichés.
     
  90. I suggested "taste" some posts ago as the basis for liking and remain surprised that nobody seems to have tweaked on that aspect. Liking is both a personal and communal reaction and what seems to me to drive it are familiarity with the liked thing and what social consensus we have acquired from our milieu, education and experiences. It is for me not something that is very mysterious, or requiring of great reflection or pondering.
    I very much like my work (here referring mainly to the non-photographic work) and what I accomplish by it, not just the financial reward. I like the people I choose to frequent on a daily basis (even those I strongly disagree with on some subjects, as they allow me fresh windows on what and how I think or see, with the possible reward of new knowledge and insight).
    It wasn't some form of nepotism that made me say in my last post that I like every one of the 50 or so photographs in my summer exhibition. I like them because I have been closely connected to the intention and chance associated with their creation, their raison d'être, their physical production and framing, and perhaps because I wish others to share a bit of what motivated me to peceive and capture those subjects. I am just as happy to hear the reasons why others may "like" them (often for somewhat unanticipated reasons) as to hear those who state that the image for them is without significant meaning, punctum or aesthetic value. Once presented, their future is determined uniquely by the viewers. Taste or liking is happily not a constant or unique value for all, even though the advertisers and opinion makers of this world may desire that uniform response.
     
  91. Phil, are you not putting the cart before the horse? Taste or liking is what the viewer contributes or brings, independent of the image. There can be symbols and signs that mean something to the viewer, but the liking or taste is in the viewer's head.
    It can be argued that the "photograph" has absolutely no intentions, it is a medium, initially a blank piece of paper like that before a writer until he determines what it will contain, or a photographer will determine what it contains and is visually displayed. It has no intentions, but it does have a life, and, in the absence of its maker, it can interact with the viewer. But what is interacting with the viewer, if not simply the photographer and the subject matter? Any variability or ambiguity is in the perception of the viewer, or in what the photographer created, intentionally or accidentally. The photograph is simply a vehicle for that.
    Here is one of my exhibition images with an intention. The woman who has stopped bicycling to reflect on either the supernatural or on her cultural heritage, is seen on a country road, which the photographer centers and allows it to trail to infinity, suggesting the nature perhaps of her pondering?
    00e1Up-563973084.jpg
     
  92. I suggested "taste" some posts ago as the basis for liking and remain surprised that nobody seems to have tweaked on that aspect. Liking is both a personal and communal reaction​
    Arthur, as usual, had you taken the time to read the thread and posts made by others, you would have seen that taste and the personal and communal aspects of liking have already been discussed in some depth. Perhaps your points had been "responded to" before you even posted them. But you'd have to be interested enough to read what other people have written in order to become part of the dialogue. I know, I know, you're busy and don't have the time. That's all fine, but then please don't chew us out for not addressing your points, so often written in a vacuum.
     
  93. a work or art in general is best approached with as much a blank state of mind as possible​
    Phil, I am wondering how shooting with "a blank state of mind" would be different in practice from "mindless snapping."
    --Lannie
     
  94. Fred, I have no intention of challenging your lofty position that allows you to frequently make such challenges to the ideas and sincere comments and motives of posters. But I guess that is likely normal fare on an Intenet site where one doesn't even know the identitly of posters and apparently one fees little need for politeness. You in fact said ""Perhaps" your points have been responded to before you even posted them".
    Fine, you may be right, but back that up by showing me where that occurred in the preceding discussions, because in my usual haste to enter into a discussion at a late stage "perhaps" I missed them?
    I also posted an image above with a photographic approach of "intention", to add to the present discussion of that aspect, but it seems few are interested in concrete examples or willing to critique or question that point via an image.
    I understand that you feel that an occasional poster who is not glued to his computer and Photo.Net discussions has really no place in the discussion. Please continue to feel that without the need to always aggressively assert your opinion of others and their motives, as the others (me in this case) are really only interested in making positive contributions and not terribly interested in verbal dogfights with yourself or others. Open your shutter, but open also your sensibility to fellow posters.
     
  95. "a work or art in general is best approached with as much a blank state of mind as possible"

    Phil or Lannie, where does this statement originate? Unless I miss the context that would better situate it, such a statement is I think quite far from fact. Perghaps you are thinking of some mental analogy to what Erenst Hass once said, that he could not be creative on a full stomach (He would go out before eating as that allowed him to be more sensitive to his subject matter). Sometimes we also have to clear our mind of unrelated noise or preoccupations, but the act of creation most definitely excercises much we have in our mind, including values, experiences, aesthetic intentions, etc.
     
  96. "a work or art in general is best approached with as much a blank state of mind as possible"

    Reading the original comment, I think Phil was referring to viewing and appreciating an artwork with a blank state of mind rather than shooting or creating an artwork in such a state.
    Trying to understand the message from another person's artwork with a mind full of preconceived notions or attitudes could be counterproductive.
     
  97. a work or art in general is best approached with as much a blank state of mind as possible --Phil
    Reading the original comment, I think Phil was referring to viewing and appreciating an artwork with a blank state of mind rather than shooting or creating an artwork in such a state. Trying to understand the message from another person's artwork with a mind full of preconceived notions or attitudes could be counterproductive. --Supriyo
    Supriyo, yes, that's what I meant and what I wrote. Thanks. --Phil​
    Thanks for that clarification, Phil. I really didn't know what you meant, even though you probably said it pretty clearly.
    Arthur, that is the entire exchange at its most basic, I think.
    --Lannie
     
  98. THESIS:
    Sometimes analysis is neither necessary nor helpful.
    (I really mean that. In spite of the fact that I asked the original question, perhaps there are photos for which the question is pointless--for whatever reason. Maybe that would be a question for another thread. . . .)
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  99. If we have come full circle back to Barthe's punctum that Phil linked to earlier, so be it.
    If the emotive force of the shot that I just linked to in the preceding post were simply a result of showing flesh, then many of the photos in this folder would be even more compelling. Yet, for me they are not. Others may differ in their preferences.
    Barry Fisher has actually given us a fascinating study of human beings "at play." Photos of that sort can be compelling. I am sitting here a bit puzzled as to why Marc Todd's shot just above does indeed hit me with more force. Both Marc Todd's and some of Barry Fisher's shot succeed equally well at getting one's attention, I suppose, but my first reaction upon seeing Marc Todd's shot is that I really do like it. It is more than a "grabber," although it is that, too.
    In other words, though I have tried to "sum up" and reaffirm what I said at the outset of the thread, now I am myself beset by doubts. I don't doubt that the punctum is real, but is it irreducible, as Barthes seemed to suggest?
    Have we come this far only to conclude that we can reach no conclusions? In any case, I cannot, at least not at this late hour--and I have another eight o'clock class staring me in the face.
    --Lannie
     
  100. One more thought: I have just revisited Marc Todd's photo again, and I left this brief remark: "Perhaps it is the hint of intimacy that is most appealing. Let me think about this."
    It is certain that the nudity in Barry Fisher's folder is not associated with any particular sense of intimacy. The nudity is far too open to be truly "intimate"--I think. There is no nudity in Marc Todd's shot (though it is sexually charged), but I think that there might indeed be a sense of intimacy--a vicarious intimacy for us as viewers, since we are looking at a fairly intimate situation between two people, but intimacy nonetheless.
    The force of Marc Todd's shot might also be related to the fact that this degree of intimacy is being displayed in a public place--but am I not now contradicting myself? (Did I not just say above of Barry Fisher's shot, "The nudity is far too open to be truly 'intimate'"?)
    Is there intimacy in putting in eye drops or contact lenses? Well, perhaps there can be. Perhaps there is some sense of intimacy in domesticity--even if in a public place. So. . . perhaps we have both intimacy and incongruity, and then there is that issue of domesticity. Is the punctum exploding, at least in this case? We are certainly spectators in both shots. Barthes' intellectual presence is almost palpable.
    If it should be the case that it is indeed some sense of intimacy that makes Marc Todd's shot more compelling (again, speaking personally), then perhaps we have to go back and examine Barthe's punctum once again--not to mention my rather flippant opening claims of this thread. This is not to say that I would like to do this thread again, simply that the issues raised remain (in my mind) unresolved.
    --Lannie
     
  101. I will close with this observation: I wish that Kant had lived long enough to meet Barthes.
    I would like to know, that is, what Kant would have said about Barthes' idea of the punctum. Would Kant have claimed that there is no possible perception that is not "filtered" by or through an underlying conceptual qua cultural framework? I wonder what Barthe's response might have been to a Kantian challenge--and I am pretty sure that Kant would have offered a stern challenge.
    --Lannie
     
  102. Speaking of Barthes' punctum, this one hits me like an arrow: http://www.photo.net/photo/11541091
    This one is from Barry Fisher's folder, it relates to some shackled expression, some stifled voice waiting to burst out of the shut lips, I connect to it immediately. Moreover, the beautiful light highlighting the sculpted body, and the man's sideways glance work together to make this a winner for me.
     
  103. "a work or art in general is best approached with as much a blank state of mind as possible"​
    I don't agree with that at all. Some art requires quiet; some art thrives in noise; some goes with the flow and wants you in your full-own chattery noisy persona on arrival. There is endless variety -- there are collective becomings; there are projections; and there are works that make a private, quiet living space [location, containment, surroundings] for the spectator, intending no further guidance at all.
    Signifiers-signified have more than one meaning. They can and almost always do have conflicting meanings for the same person at the same time. The degree to which one prevails over (but does not silence) the many other contrasting, conflicting and directly opposing perceived meanings is infinitely varied and infinitely individual (per both who and when he/she is looking).
    Take erections, for example ...
     
  104. Julie,
    I will leave it to Phil to explain this his way. At least In my interpretation of the statement, a blank state of mind does not necessarily equate to a calm serine mind. There are always going to be thoughts and ideas, but the desired state of mind (IMO) is one where a single idea or belief does not get precedence over others and overpowers my judgement. Many thoughts and ideas should get equal weights in my
    mind and together they will constitute the white background. Blank = white as in white noise. Your second paragraph, if I understood correctly, is in line with my description.
     
  105. This was shot earlier this evening with a little hand-held Sony A6000. I liked the actual view better than I like the photo--but that happens so often with outdoor shots.
    I like to feel the wind on my face, and I don't like that I cannot feel what I felt when I saw this scene not even two hours ago.
    HERE is another view, shot a few minutes later from roadside where I pulled over to get these shots.
    I actually like wholesome pictures of fresh things like rainbows. I wonder what on earth is wrong with my aesthetic sense. Am I warped, or perhaps just not very artistic or imaginative?
    --Lannie
    00e1fv-563997784.jpg
     
  106. Thanks for the comments on my photo Lannie. I'm surprised anyone still looks at these photos, they have been there for eons and I've just been too lazy to update it. This picture was taken in Union Station in LA. I used to do as lot of shooting in there up until recently when they roped off the waiting area for people with train tickets only. Little by little thought I'm starting to shoot there again and so far no problems. I do like your use of the term intimacy. It's nothing that I set out to do, I don't have any rhyme or reason when I'm out shooting, I just shoot on instinct. I do like for my street photos to describe some sort of thought or emotion on the people in them however vague and impossible to predict.
     
  107. Random addition:
    I was scolded, yesterday, in the Picture of the Week forum, for not appreciating 'fun.' It reminded me of a passage in (sculptor, painter) Anne Truitt's diary/book where she writes:
    .
    For one whole day I entertained the notion, which had been creeping up on me, of turning my back on the live nerve of myself and having fun.
    This morning I am sober. I would be a fool to sacrifice joy for fun.​
    .
    While doing my morning busy-work, I've been parsing the difference between fun and joy in what makes me 'like' a picture. A lot of the photos I like are not fun — not at all fun — but I find joy in looking at them. To joy, I'd add 'satisfaction.' [I do notice that I'm sounding sanctimonious and I will add that, Laura, the PoW poster's heart was in the right place, even if I disagree with everything she wrote.]
     
  108. Why do we like what we like?​
    Psychoanalysis anybody?
    I leave the subconscious and unspoken when they are. Maybe this is what I like about visual arts - things can be left outside of words.
     
  109. Here is one that I really like. Again, as is so often the case, I cannot say exactly what it is that makes me like it so much.
    [LINK]
    Here is another:
    [LINK]
    Bill Eggleston, eat your heart out!
    Here is yet another compelling one:
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  110. Here is one that I really like. Again, as is so often the case, I cannot say exactly what it is that makes me like it so much.​

    I think it would be arrogant to claim I can definitively explain what I like in these two photos, but I can put forward some keywords to describe my mood.
    Photo 1: Intimacy, tenderness, past memory (recall Steve J Murray), unfolding of a story
    Photo 2: One word - contradiction (and associated uneasiness)
    For photo 2, I strongly feel my own beliefs and mental inclinations play a major role in imparting my mood. While Gun rights advocates may not find this as a contradiction between tender childhood and violence of firearms, others may find this just funny and light hearted. However all of them including me will probably find it a compelling image, not sure if 'liking' is the word to be associated with that compulsion.
     
  111. Not bad, Supriyo, not bad!

    --Lannie
     
  112. A viewer could find all kinds of meanings in your picture, given the rich symbology of rainbows in myth and culture.
    That costume store in Eyes Wide Shut was no coincidence...​
    Gosh, Phil, the ambience of that old farm just didn't evoke images of Eyes Wide Shut.
    I actually like wholesome pictures of fresh things like rainbows.​
    I never said, of course, that I always like wholesome and only wholesome images--unless there is a category of nudes called "wholesome nudes." (There actually might be--Jim Phelps' "Rebecca photos" come to mind.)
    --Lannie
    00e1ln-564016884.jpg
     
  113. I like to feel the wind on my face, and I don't like that I cannot feel what I felt when I saw this scene not even two hours ago.​
    Generally speaking (with exceptions, of course), my photos don't make me feel what I felt when I was taking them. As one example, when I took THIS PHOTO of Andy, we were both feeling a little chilly because the beach was windier and foggier than we'd expected. It wasn't the scene or the elements or the beach or the ocean that was the cause of my feelings, though they were contributing their part, it was my excitement at composing and creating this picture. It was the idea in my head and that idea being translated to a photo. When I look at the picture, I don't think about that day or how I felt on that day. What I like about it is that it makes me feel something else.

    I think a lot of photos I appreciate work that way as well. They don't seem so much tied to the photographer's feelings about the subject as much as they are tied to a passion for making a picture. I doubt Eggleston, for example, was trying to create the feelings he had when looking at that red ceiling. I think he was seeing that red ceiling in a very special way and intent on turning it into a photo. It was the making of the photo that I perceive to have been exciting him.
     
  114. When I look at the picture, I don't think about that day or how I felt on that day. What I like about it is that it makes me feel something else.
    I think a lot of photos I appreciate work that way as well. They don't seem so much tied to the photographer's feelings about the subject as much as they are tied to a passion for making a picture.​
    I can certainly relate to what you are saying, Fred, and I can say the same thing with regard to much of my photography. When I go chasing thunderstorms, on the other hand, the activity of being "out there" is primary--much as climbing mountains is about, well, climbing mountains. I do want to capture something "out there" which transcends my personal feelings, of course, and that "something" is indeed the photo; but there is also a sense in which taking the picture can be part of an expressive function of how I feel in nature. The result of that expressive function is often linked to some kind of transformative experience, emotionally or spiritually speaking. I would simply call it a kind of "replenishment." Others may get it through exercise, yoga, music, religious ceremony, etc. I am not into religious ritual, and so for me I avoid group activities and instead seek solitude and nature as part of a quest to get back to who I authentically am. I tend to leave urban concentrations when I am seeking these replenishing experiences. Getting away from people is a big part of it for me. Most religious people I know seem to want to congregate. That is pretty foreign to what I am talking about.
    How this got mixed up with photography for me is puzzling, but both have this in common: much of my photography is like my wilderness wanderings in that both are escapes. The link to photography probably started from carrying a little Instamatic in my coat pocket when I first started going off trail and into wild places on my own back in the mid-sixties. Needless to say, what I captured did not bring back images that either looked like what I saw or what I felt.
    I don't really know how much of my photography is like this, but enough is that I want the photo to help me remember not only how it looked but also how it felt.
    Seeking souvenirs? That is part of it, I suppose, but putting it that way trivializes it for me and would not express just how important my nature-seeking really is for me. If I forget the camera, I can still have the experience. I go back out again as mountaineers go out again, as one said, "because the mountaineer remembers that he has forgotten so much." That special emotional or spiritual experience cannot really be captured, of course, and so there is always a sense of futility in trying to recapture those special moments by looking at the photos later. One must go out again. Since there is beauty there for the eyes, I carry a camera of some sort most of the time.
    Since real wilderness almost does not exist in the East anymore, I have to try to find that special feeling in nature where I can. For some reason, I gain a sense of replenishment from nature by feeling the wind from thunderstorms--and sometimes in other very ordinary settings. It is about experiencing a certain kind of tactile beauty, not to deny the visual aspect, but to emphasize that it is more than what the eyes (or the camera) can capture.
    Perhaps what I am describing is simply the practice (or experience or expression) of a kind of mysticism that somehow got mixed up with photography.
    --Lannie
     
  115. How this got mixed up with photography for me is puzzling, but both have this in common: much of my photography is like my wilderness wanderings in that both are escapes. --LK​
    Even more puzzling is how this got mixed up with my appreciation of certain nudes. Nudity can be a distraction, but there is a kind of nude that makes me feel more serene, tranquil. I would say that perhaps one or two of the shots in the folder by Jim Phelps are in this category. The others tend to be more distracting, even titillating. That is pretty foreign to what I am seeking when I am in my nature-seeking mode. In that mode the nudity is "no big deal." In other contexts, nudity can indeed be a very big deal--sometimes too big a deal to associate with spiritual or emotional replenishment.
    Spirituality in the viewing of the nude? Perhaps that is stretching it, even in those few nude photos that are tranquilizing, but somehow even in the viewing of the nude there can be a kind of attempt to transcend the ordinary, the banal, the soul-killing aspect of "civilization."
    I cannot even explain "it" to myself, but the fact that it is real for me is obvious enough--and is part of my pain upon having someone else tell me what viewing the nude is and must be about. Some (quite a few, I imagine) may see all nudes as porn. Others might try to factor out the beauty from the titillating side. (I see John Peri as being in that mode--some of the time.) Some simply say that viewing nudes is always about sex. That might be, but sex can be sublime and transcendent--or not. I really do not know where sex is in my consciousness when I am in the viewing mode that I am describing. I think that it has to do with beauty, but beauty and sexuality have long been seen to be related.
    Viewing the nude can, in any case, be a transcendent experience in some sense--not to say that it often is. I wish that I understood all this myself.
    is it about some quest for lost innocence? I suppose that one could come up with all kinds of psychological explanations. I would probably give the thumbs down to most attempts to explain it. I will say that sometimes it is like sitting on a high cliff and having a cool or cold wind blow upon my face, as unlikely as that sounds (in the extreme). It is transcendent, whatever else it may be, and it is not at all impure (speaking subjectively). It is also comparatively quite rare for me. It is yet special and worth seeking, I think, almost like seeing that special light on one's favorite mountain or other subject.
    Almost. . .
    --Lannie
     
  116. One of the quotes I used above is in all this, which I found in summitpost.org. It is in boldface below as it was actually written by Geoffrey Winthrop Young:
    Why They Did It (Notable Quotes)

    The Forum thread "Climbing/Mountaineering Quotes" has included some beautiful expressions of why people climb mountains. Below is a sampling of this rich treasure (listed in the order they appeared and with the first person to post that quote acknowledged as the contributor):

    "Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence – the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes – all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose by the seriousness of the task at hand." --Jon Krakauer (contributed by Haliku)

    "The mountains are calling and I must go." --John Muir (contributed by Mark Doiron)

    "The mountaineer returns to the hills because he remembers always that he has forgotten so much." --Geoffrey Winthrop Young (contributed by Mark Doiron)

    "Although civilization is a nice place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there ..." --Tobasco Donkeys, "I Don't Mind" Lyric (contributed by jomal)

    "Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it." --Sir Edmund Hillary (contributed by Mountain Girl BC)

    "You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Because what is below does not know what is above, but what is above knows what is below. One climbs, one sees. one descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know." --Rene Daumal (contributed by supermarmot)

    "Eventually, I sickened of people, myself included, who don't think enough of themselves to make something of themselves--people who did only what they had to and never what they could have done. I learned from them the infected loneliness that comes at the end of every misspent day. I knew I could do better." --Mark Twight (contributed by GravityPilot)

    "Better to be in the mountains thinking about God, than to be in church thinking about the mountains!" --Ace Kvale (contributed by Hulio)

    "Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up, as did men of another age, to the challenge of nature. Modern man lives in a highly synthetic kind of existence. He specializes in this and that. Rarely does he test all his powers or find himself whole. But in the hills and on the water the character of a man comes out." --Abram T. Collier (contributed by SJD)

    "I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar, and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities." --Everett Ruess (contributed by mtnpainter)

    Here are some other notable quotes that have been submitted to this album:

    "To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits." --Sir Francis Younghusband (contributed by gimpilator)

    "If the conquest of a great peak brings moments of exultation and bliss, which in the monotonous, materialistic existence of modern times nothing else can approach, it also presents great dangers. It is not the goal of "grand alpinisme" to face peril, but it is one of the tests one must undergo to deserve the joy of rising for an instant above the state of crawling grubs." --Lionel Terray (contributed by gimpilator)

    "Climbing mattered. The danger bathed the world in a halogen glow that caused everything - the sweep of the rock, the orange and yellow lichens, the texture of the clouds - to stand out in brilliant relief. Life thrummed at a higher pitch. The world was made real." --Jon Krakauer (contributed by gimpilator)

    "Because it is there." --George Herbert Leigh Mallory (contributed by Dalton1)​
    --Lannie
     
  117. Some may see the above post as off-topic, since it is not about photography per se.
    To that narrow viewpoint I can only say that the larger philosophical context which is often invoked when one once starts talking about aesthetics can have much to offer. We do well to avoid declaring prematurely what is off-topic or irrelevant, in my opinion--especially where philosophy of anything is concerned. Insights can blindside one from nowhere in the theoretical realm.
    --Lannie
     
  118. I just noticed this quote from the mass of quotes above:
    "You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Because what is below does not know what is above, but what is above knows what is below. One climbs, one sees. one descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know." --Rene Daumal
    Maybe the above captures a bit of why I like what I like.
    Here is another example of what I like, this one by Glenn McCreery:
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  119. A couple of things strike me at the moment.
    The "souvenir" type photo tends to be more literal. Other photos are less so. In art, I tend toward the less literal.
    There are at least two ways to approach this notion of why I "like." One is what the picture has to offer. One is the psychology of the viewer. I tend to focus on the picture.
     
  120. There are at least two ways to approach this notion of why I "like." One is what the picture has to offer. One is the psychology of the viewer. I tend to focus on the picture.​
    Very well, Fred, but the two approaches are hardly mutually exclusive, nor would the ascendancy of one approach for a given photo necessarily imply the superiority of that approach for all photos.
    I tend to be skeptical that anything objective inhering in the photo has more explanatory value than the subjective values and mental states of viewers.
    On your view, even beauty itself might be seen to be objective. The eye of the beholder be damned.
    --Lannie
     
  121. I wasn't talking about objectivity and subjectivity. I was talking about looking at photos. You are definitely right that looking at photos and discussing the photos themselves and looking inward are not mutually exclusive. It's only you who have done only the latter here. You have once again used this thread to throw up (in both the sense of linking to and in the sense of vomiting) a bunch of examples and follow them with the statement that you can't say why you like them.
    We're talking about photos, presumably. Our subjective responses are very important, as you are well aware. But they are important relative to the photos, not in and of themselves. There is a photo before us and our personal feelings can certainly be ignited by those photos. But, I maintain that if we don't address what, in the photos, is causing that ignition, we've missed an important part of the story.
    You continually wonder why your photos don't express your feelings. You've said it again here. Now I know you're going to default to see this as ad hominem on my part because I dare to pick up on the many doors you, yourself, open by talking about yourself so much. Hey, I do it, too. But then I don't mind when people address me as a person and make personal observations about my photos or my comments here. I don't accuse them of playing the ad hominem card because I know they know how important who I am is to how I photograph and any discussion that involves someone expressing their own inability to express something they feel in their own photos kind of demands dealing with issues of who that person is and how their thinking may be affecting their photos. Looking within and looking at your feelings will not help you with expressing your feelings in your photos. You've got to look at the photos as well, both yours and others. Your inability to talk about that side of the equation, as I've stated before, is directly related to your inability to express your feelings in your photos. It's about articulation. It's about being able to output what's inside. And it's not necessarily about doing that only in a literal manner.
    Now, you've also said that you just do photography to escape. So there's your out. But that doesn't quite gel with your declared inability to express what you feel in your photos, which seems to suggest there's more to it than merely escaping.
    You've repeated many times how analysis may be counterproductive and yet you've expended more words analyzing here than anyone else. I just think you might consider that you're analyzing the wrong things, or at least not analyzing all you could be analyzing . . . hint . . . photos.
     
  122. I tend to be skeptical that anything objective inhering in the photo has more explanatory value than the subjective values and mental states of viewers.​
    Just to be clear, I think putting this in terms of objectivity misses the point. It's not that there's some objective thing working in the photo to produce Emotion A or Emotion B. It's that there's something in the combination of photographic elements and qualities with your own experiences and feelings that's at work. I do think one has to look at that interplay.
     
  123. Another thing that strikes me here is the difference between mysticism and boudoir photos. You mentioned John Peri and have linked to other similar nudes. I see a mystical aspect to very few of those.
    This whole subjective quandary is interesting here. Because you could certainly come back and say here's a subjective difference. You see mysticism or feel it where I don't. I don't know exactly how to square that (because there is truth to it) with the fact that I think some people see better than others and I know from my own experience that I've learned how to see better over the years and have come to realize that my previous so-called subjective ways of seeing were just not very honed or in touch. So, while I think there is a lot of subjectivity involved, I also think subjectivity can be severely flawed. That may sound like I'm suggesting a kind of objective right or wrong, but I'm not. I'm suggesting the possibility of learning and evolution in seeing as in everything else.
    Because of certain things you've said, about your lack of knowledge of the history of photography and aesthetics, as well as your lack of desire to or inability to articulate why you like what you like, that has to go into my assessment of your subjective viewpoint. Your conclusions may very well be reasonable and I accept them as your honest conclusions, but I'd have to question how you got there.
    Consider this. Someone without any real knowledge of Philosophy argues for free will. Just on gut feeling alone. That's subjective and that person is entitled to whatever opinion he has. I might very well agree with him that free will trumps determinism but I still won't give his opinion much weight because I know how he got there. Even if I ultimately disagreed with someone else who makes the case for determinism with a knowledge of the ins and outs of the problem and a clear articulation of the arguments against free will, I'd give his opinion more weight even though I might disagree than I would the naive guy I agree with.
    That, to me, is how it is with subjectivity and art. Different subjective opinions carry different weight with me.
     
  124. You have once again used this thread to throw up (in both the sense of linking to and in the sense of vomiting) a bunch of examples and follow them with the statement that you can't say why you like them.​
    Thank you, Fred. Have a nice Fourth.
    --Lannie
     
  125. Presence of Eternity

    The stone grows old.
    Eternity is not for stones.
    But I shall go down from this airy space, this swift white
    peace, this stinging exultation;
    And time will come close about me, and my soul stir to the
    rhythm of the daily round.
    Yet, having known, life will not press so close,
    And always I shall feel time ravel thin about me.
    For once I stood
    In the white windy presence of eternity.

    Eunice Tietjens
     
  126. We like what we like because what we like makes us feel a good feeling.
     
  127. The eternal nude? The mystical nude? You decide:
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  128. We like what we like because what we like makes us feel a good feeling.​
    Well, Charles, at the most general level, I think that that is precisely what it does--although the idea of "feelings" does admit of a variety of interpretations.
    --Lannie
     
  129. You mentioned John Peri and have linked to other similar nudes. I see a mystical aspect to very few of those.​
    Fred, I also linked to Jim Phelps here on Photo.net, among others.
    You made reference to "very few of those" in your quote above. Should we expect anyone to "knock one out of the park" every time they snap the shutter? I do believe that people like Peri and Phelps (and Owen O'Meara, among many others) are looking for something. If they were to succeed only time in a thousand, that would be enough for me. For the record, I think that you are looking for that special something in your own work as well.
    As for good mountain pictures that "touch my soul," may I recommend my "Favorites" folder?
    --Lannie
     
  130. I didn't say anything about knocking one out of the park. I'm not talking competitively or even about good photos. I was talking about the difference between mystical photos and non-mystical photos. There are good and bad mystical photos and good and bad non-mystical photos. I don't find much mysticism in Jim Phelps's photos. By the way, I don't find much mysticism in my own either. I don't equate mysticism with hitting it out of the park.
     
  131. Now's the place where I ask you what is mystical about John Peri's or Jim Phelps's photos compared, for example, to some photos that you don't think are mystical. But this is where the rubber might hit the road.
     
  132. Okay, so "mystical" is not a good word for you. . . .
    How about that "Je ne sais quoi"?
    --Lannie
     
  133. Now's the place where I ask you what is mystical about John Peri's or Jim Phelps's photos compared, for example, to some photos that you don't think are mystical. But this is where the rubber might hit the road.​
    Fred, what makes you think my rubber is ever going to hit your road, or vice versa?
    (I could say that for anyone, by the way.)
    --Lannie
     
  134. Nudes (and nudity) move people in different ways, of course.
    [LINK]
    [LINK]
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  135. Fred, what makes you think my rubber is ever going to hit your road, or vice versa?​
    I was asking for your rubber to hit your own road. I was asking you why those photos are mystical for you, what about the photos led you to choose that description. But now you've changed it from a fairly specific descriptive word, "mysticism" to a much less specific and more evasive "je ne sais quoi." And I'm not at all surprised this is where we end up and not at all surprised to see five more links to photos which I'm not going to look at.
     
  136. Fred, I am a theoretically-minded person. I like the "big picture."
    You guys want a formula? Ask somebody else.
    So, "je ne sais quoi" is now evasive? I have been consistent throughout--not evasive. I simply cannot identify or explain the intangibles that you are looking for.
    I have said that FROM THE BEGINNING!
    --Lannie
     
  137. five more links to photos which I'm not going to look at.​
    There are none so blind, etc. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  138. Stop evading and making things up. No one asked for a formula. I asked why some photos you called mystical are mystical to you. That's not asking for a formula of how to make mystical photos. It's asking an adult to say more than a first-grader might say.
     
  139. I have been consistent throughout. As I said above, "I have said that FROM THE BEGINNING!'

    I cannot identify it for you. Or, as I said above, "I simply cannot identify or explain the intangibles that you are looking for."
    Now you want me to objectify the "Je ne sais quoi" and locate it in space-time for you!
    FIND IT FOR YOURSELF!

    When you find it, REPORT BACK!

    ¡PRONTO!

    Do you see how offensive your peremptory tone is? You don't put words in my mouth, mister.
    FIND. IT. YOURSELF.
    Okay?
    --Lannie
     
  140. If you were talking to a fellow teacher and he was talking about a philosopher whose work he found mystical but whose work you found anything but mystical, might you not ask him what about the philosopher or his philosophy he found mystical? Would that be asking him for a formula or not seeing the bigger picture or would it be natural intellectual curiosity on your part to ask him to tie mysticism to the philosophy.
    That's very different from his perhaps not being able to explain to you why he likes a certain philosopher. You've gone way beyond "like" here. You've used words like "eternal" and "mystical" and you're hiding behind the intangibility of taste. Words matter. And you're tossing them around like garbage.
     
  141. You've used words like "eternal" and "mystical" and you're hiding behind the intangibility of taste.​
    Taste is intangible, Fred! I cannot tell you how oranges taste if you have never seen or eaten one.
    Beauty? Well, now, you either see "it" or you do not.
    Reasonable people disagree about such things, but you are making demands: "ANSWER ME!"
    I do not respond well to that kind of "conversation."
    If you cannot see the beauty or the spiritual or the mystical, I cannot show them to you. I simply cannot.
    I am not even going to try.
    --Lannie
     
  142. a philosopher whose work he found mystical​
    What kind of "philosophy" have you been smoking, Fred? I might say that Kierkegaard is a mystic, but I cannot show you "the mystical" in his work, rather in his rationales.
    You have seen Peri's and Phelps' work. You don't see it? I can't help you. I have already acknowledged that "that special something" is there in a small percentage of their works, but that is actually typical, I think.
    Or, as I expressed it earlier, one doesn't have to "hit one out of the park" every time. One in a thousand will do where photos are concerned, which is to say that .001 is a pretty good "batting average" for "special" photos.
    You don't like "special"? You don't like "mystical"? You don't like "spiritual" or "eternal" or "transcendent"?
    That is not a limitation which I have imposed upon you, rather one that I presume derives from your own naturalism, materialist monism, atheism, whatever.
    Whatever it is, and by whatever name it goes, it is not serving you well--no offense intended. You work yourself into the same lather over and over, thread after thread. I cannot, truly cannot, help you.
    --Lannie
     
  143. Words matter. And you're tossing them around like garbage.​
    Physician, heal thyself.
    --Lannie
     
  144. You mentioned John Peri and have linked to other similar nudes. I see a mystical aspect to very few of those.​
    Well, then, I have tried long ago to answer your question, have I not? I tried, even though I knew that we would come to an impasse--and we have.
    What else is new?
    Now, why don't you do something constructive and offer a photo or a link and explain what makes it ___________ to you? (Fill in the blank any way you choose, since you don't like my adjectives.)
    --Lannie
     
  145. Lannie "...although the idea of "feelings" does admit of a variety of interpretations."

    Let's try it then. A duplicate link to the Gubin photo of the woman. I feel slightly aroused when I look at the photo. I like that unequivocally. It's sweet. Pretty easy to understand. Daumal also is quoted: “I'm very much aware I can't think. I'm a poet.” Sounds like me, the can't think part anyway.
    Here's some honesty in a song from a persona Chrissie Hynde adopted when penning it:
    When I change my life
    There'll be no more disgrace
    The deeds of my past
    Will be erased

    And you'll forgive me
    Then you will come back
    Hold my hand and say "I still love you"
    When I change my life

    When I change my life
    And all the scars have faded
    I'll be someone you look up to
    Not excused when your friends come around

    And you'll want me always to be there
    You'll be proud to say "I'm with her"
    When I change my life

    I want a place in the sun - I do
    I want to be in love with someone
    I want to forget every regret
    And all those rotten things that I put you through

    When I change my life
    And the idiot me
    Leaves this town forever
    Leaves us to be
    Together - for the rest of our lives
    Happily forever and ever
    When I change my life
    Is it a prayer? That would be an interpretation, to ask to whom is she speaking? Is she referring to the mysterious union of human and divine? Is heaven a world where we can be what we should have been in this life?
    Why is it that to be honest with one's self is almost an impossibility? And since that is so, why should faith, hope, and charity reside there in a forsaken place? I don't know, but that forsaken place is of our own making. We know that. We can change that place by not turning a blind eye to it.
    "In my case Pilgrim's Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am." Carl Jung​
    Right. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, Jung the rich man who made it through the eye of the needle. You couldn't have found a bigger sob in Switzerland than the sob Jung was. And he had to become reconciled to that. The human condition.
     
  146. That's very interesting, Charles. I shall have to think on it some more.
    The photo was Marc Todd's, not Steve Gubin's, by the way.
    I think that at least some of the force of the picture lies in the fact that it almost invites one to step into it, to imagine (without trying to) that one is a participant in the scene, not merely a viewer. I would say that it is a very special picture but I would not call it "mystical."
    --Lannie
     
  147. Here's a good one about high and low. Rene Daumal analogizes to something on high, but he actually had to be intimately familiar with the very low. Had to be to know what he knew. If we take the little girls advice, we'll be on our way there. Get down. Get down.
     
  148. You don't like "special"? You don't like "mystical"? You don't like "spiritual" or "eternal" or "transcendent"?​
    You're dead wrong. I like all these things. I just don't see them in the photos you do. The fact that I embrace materialism and don't believe in "God" doesn't rule out spirituality for me and certainly doesn't mean I don't like things I find spiritual or religious. Life is not as simplistic as you seem to think. And, again, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask you what's mystical or eternal or spiritual about a photo. If you can't answer those questions, it is not because those questions are unanswerable. It's because you either can't be bothered or you don't know what you're talking about.
    Now, why don't you do something constructive and offer a photo or a link and explain what makes it ___________ to you?​
    No, I will not be deflected onto by you. I have done more than enough describing of photos and what they mean to me. You simply don't want to do any work. Don't try to toss me that ball, which I've already played with.
    See, Charles did it. He said he was slightly aroused by the photo. He didn't try to gloss over that by vaguely and ambiguously calling it eternal or spiritual. He was honest.
     
  149. Please don't think about poetry. Here's some poetry:
    Lannie, I still remember a photo you posted to a PoP forum a few years ago. Remember it? It was of a woman who posed for you and had fear and misgivings about posing. You mentioned I believe that you had a photo of her sans jacket. Can you, after all this time, post it in this thread though you were not willing to years ago? Can you update us on the subsequent life history of hers? What happened? Don't think about it. Just do it. In my story of her and you, you loved her didn't you? I would have loved her too.
     
  150. "One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak."
    - G. K. Chesterton​
    Charles, I came across this quote recently and it seems to fit with some of what you're saying.
     
  151. LOVE IT!!!
    Here's an idea. I posted a link and lyrics to a love song. Shall we post links to photos that to us are love songs? I can't find one quickly. Anyone?
    I love her. Because she saw what I was doing and thought it was funny, or so I surmise.
     
  152. oops, no post photo on edit. so here:
    00e1tK-564038384.jpg
     
  153. Lannie, I still remember a photo you posted to a PoP forum a few years ago. Remember it? It was of a woman who posed for you and had fear and misgivings about posing. You mentioned I believe that you had a photo of her sans jacket.​
    You must be remembering someone else, Charles. I have never posted other than those which are now in the "Families" and "Tess" folders, none of which are or have ever been nudes.
    Those folders are still there if you wish to peruse them, but there are no nude or semi-nude photos there.
    --Lannie
     
  154. See, Charles did it. He said he was slightly aroused by the photo. He didn't try to gloss over that by vaguely and ambiguously calling it eternal or spiritual. He was honest.​
    Fred, I was not aroused by the photo. I was honest. What I said is above. I made it clear that it was special but that I would not call it mystical.
    --Lannie
     
  155. And, again, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask you what's mystical or eternal or spiritual about a photo. If you can't answer those questions, it is not because those questions are unanswerable. It's because you either can't be bothered or you don't know what you're talking about.​
    Fred, your style of "argumentation" is to insult. I don't play that game. That is not philosophy. That is rhetoric.
    Actually, "those questions" to which you refer are precisely what you say that they are not: they are unanswerable. You are looking for the mystical quality IN THE PHOTO. It is not in the photo, Fred. It is IN YOU--or it is not.
    Nor is there any particular reason that your response or reaction should be the same as mine--to any type of photo. The fact that you do not see it in the photos that I see is not a judgment against you--or against me. That is just the way it is. There is no reason that any special meaning that you find in a photo should be the same as mine, or vice versa.
    I have given my answer to this entire complex of questions. You simply seem to want to badger me into seeing it your way. Sometimes the best that we can do is to agree to disagree, but, oh no, not you.
    As for God and spirituality, why invokes words like "spirituality" if you cannot even honestly face up to the choice of God or not-God? That choice is stark, and it is simple--it is hardly over-simplification. It really is that simple. You are wasting your powers fighting it.
    . . . or you don't know what you're talking about.​
    There you go again. When cornered, insult people. Fred, that has been your modus operandi for so long that you do not know any other way to argue. You argue "to the man," ad hominem, and that is and has been your way of avoiding philosophy. Fallacious arguments will not get you anywhere at all in terms of bringing people over to your point of view, but I think that you fundamentally misunderstand philosophy: it is not about winning a debate. It is about seeking a higher truth that both parties can agree to. If you are not looking for that higher truth, then you will never find it or see it.
    Your first fallacy in this latest exchange? You want to invest meaning in the artifact. It is not there, Fred.
    Meaning does not inhere in objects or images of objects. IT IS NOT IN THE PHOTO.

    As long as you start from your false premise that it is in the photo, then you will never make any progress, and you will fight these interminable petty wars until either you drop or. . . until you have triggered the closing of the thread by the moderators.
    That is your legacy here: contend for the sake of contending. Insult rather than argue, and tell everyone that what you are doing is philosophy.
    I am sorry to say that it is not. It is rationalization--and nothing more. You didn't leave philosophy, Fred. You were quite likely never doing philosophy. Learning a litany of rhetorical devices and ploys is not "doing philosophy."
    I cannot prove to you that I see or feel something mystical when I view a photo. You insist that I point out the photo and point out what is mystical about it. You are looking in the wrong place. If you want to see it, you must look inside yourself. If you do not see it there, then perhaps that photo has no meaning or mystical significance for you. Is there any particular reason why it should?
    I have said what I have to say on this issue, and as far as I am concerned, this particular discussion on this particular point--about the meaning or mystical sense inhering in the photographic artifact--is over, unless you come up with something new. If, on the other hand, you keep pounding the same old turf with the same tired old arguments and the same insults, I will simply have to ignore you--and anyone else who joins you in your game.
    There is real work to be done. This is madness. It is so far from philosophy that it is sickening and laughable at once.
    --Lannie
     
  156. Lannie, you continue to evade the question. It's not at all important to me whether your mysticism is "in the photo" or in yourself. You referred to the photos as mystical. "The mystical nude," you said. I don't care where you locate it. I just want to know what in the hell you're talking about.
    I don't want us to agree. I am happy to disagree with you. I just want you to do some work. Philosophy is not just tossing out hyperbolic and deep-sounding words like mysticism and spirituality when you have no idea what they mean and no idea how they relate to the photos you're applying them to. That's not Philosophy. It's pretense.
     
  157. Now, why don't you do something constructive and offer a photo or a link and explain what makes it ___________ to you? --Lannie
    No, I will not be deflected onto by you. --Fred​
    Fred, a corollary of my view is that that is the best that you can do: tell what it means to YOU, and why. Better yet, offer it up and let other people see it--on their own terms, Fred. There is no need to club them over the head with it.
    Perhaps it will resonate with them and their experiences. Perhaps not. If not, they can move on with what interests them. They do not answer to you. Neither do I.
    You want persons to agree with you not on the truth value of propositions, but on the meaning of a photo. Arguing over the truth value of propositions is what philosophy is about. Arguing over the meaning of a photo? That is your game, Fred. It will remain your game. It is not philosophy. It will never be my game because MEANING DOES NOT INHERE IN OBJECTS AND ARTIFACTS. (That is my basic premise, at least, and it is diametrically opposed to yours.)
    You may FEEL a sense of meaning when you look at your photo of Andy, and there is nothing wrong with that from my perspective. I may FEEL meaning or even something transcendent in photos that do nothing for you. It is quite possible that the same objects or artifacts or activities will never evoke a transcendent response in both of us. I would not expect that, but I see no particular theoretical reason why it could not be that way.
    --Lannie
     
  158. Charles, I don't know. Love song? Maybe this, though I hate to label it. Best I could come up with is Ken and Mark.
    [​IMG]
     
  159. Lannie, you continue to evade the question.​
    No, I am simply ignoring you. I have made it clear that our point of divergence is whether meaning (or whatever) inheres in the photo. You insist that I look at the photos and show you what is mystical about them--but "IT" IS NOT THERE IN THE PHOTO.
    You can flagellate yourself over that issue until the end of time, but I am moving on. Your premise is so obviously false to me that I will not waste any more time arguing over it.
    --Lannie
     
  160. It's not at all important to me whether your mysticism is "in the photo" or in yourself.​
    Well, I can tell you that it should be important to you: mystical qualities cannot inhere in the objects or artifacts themselves.
    I am sorry for my sloppy language, speaking as if it was the photos themselves which are mystical. I find a mystical quality in them. You may not. I do feel that other photographers through their photos have communicated something to me--from time to time. And, from time to time, I do think that I see and perhaps even feel what they see and feel.
    Fred, you need to seriously consider the possibility that your basic premise could be wrong. It really does matter. Your obsession with "the photo" indicates to me that you are stuck. You are spinning your wheels.
    --Lannie
     
  161. Lannie, as is often the case, you're wrong in what you just said. I do not at all want anyone to agree with me on the meaning of photos. I have never asked you to agree with me on the meaning of photos. I have asked you what about a photo makes you think of mysticism. I can't believe you can't understand that? That seems to you that I'm asking for agreement on meaning? No, I'm just asking what my third-grade teacher asked of us when we wrote "I find this book interesting." She wanted us to learn how to think and write, so she insisted we tell her not just that it was interesting, but what about it was interesting. If I said I thought a character was bad, she let me know she expected me to describe some behaviors or actions that character took that would lead to my thinking the character was bad. She may have liked the book or not liked the book. She was not asking us to agree with her on liking or disliking it. And she was not asking us to find the same meanings in it as she did. She was not asking to make the connection from my use of the word "bad" to the characters actions because she wanted us to agree about the badness. She was teaching me how to think and articulate. If we found a particular meaning in a book, she didn't care whether or not we agreed with her. She encouraged us to explain how we got that meaning from the book. If it was simple enough for a third-grade class, it ought to be simple enough for you to understand. You can rant all you want about my personality and, believe me, I agree with you to a certain extent. I know what I'm being like. But I think you deserve it, just like Mrs. Fishbein would have failed me if I had acted like you even back in third grade.
     
  162. I am leaving this thread and this forum--forever. There is real philosophy to be done out there. I don't know what your game is, Fred, but from what I can gather it is not and has never been philosophy.

    Fred, the next time you want to masturbate in public, don't call it "philosophy."
    --Lannie
     
  163. Your obsession with "the photo" indicates to me that you are stuck. You are spinning your wheels.​
    This is too funny. We're talking about photos here, Lannie. You are saying that you feel a mystical quality when you look at certain photos, these mystical nudes you refer to. Again, I assure you I understand the mysticism is in you and not in the photo. But the mysticism came into your head when looking at the photo. We weren't talking about you swimming or playing volleyball. We were talking about you looking at John Peri's and Jim Phelps's photos. So, why did mysticism pop into your head when you thought about or looked at those photos vs. when you thought about or looked at other photos when mysticism did not pop into your head?
     
  164. Lannie, I only wish I could send this thread to the chairman of your Philosophy department to see what he or she thinks of it. What you got out of this thread was that it was an argument between us as to whether mysticism inheres in a photo or is a feeling one has or a construct one uses? That would mean you missed this thread entirely. How is it possible for you not to understand what was being asked of you. I was not asking you to think of mysticism as inhering in a photo. I was asking you why mysticism occurred to you when looking at the photos you looked at. That would require your talking about the photo. It would not require you to believe the photo itself contained the mysticism as opposed to it being a feeling you had or a construct you chose to use in describing your feelings upon looking at the photo.
    You, in fact, turned this into an esoteric philosophical issue about whether qualities inhere in photos or not. I was not doing that at all. I was asking a question of you about why you thought of or felt mysticism when looking at a particular photo or body of work. That would require your talking about the photo but not thinking the mysticism was IN the photo.
     

Share This Page