This is a long reply to John Andrew??s question ??Why take photographs??? It includes a bit of writing that I did about 2 years ago, so it??s a bit of a long read. But this is the philosophy forum, so??I hope there??s not any complaint about reading. But it is philosophy of photography. You know those 4 noble truths that the Buddha set out?...1)life is suffering 2) suffering is caused by desire 3) end desire by ending suffering 4) end suffering by following the 8 fold path. Well, if you think much about this, it's a paradox. The minute you want to end suffering by ending desire, you've started to desire again??the desire to end the suffering. So a lot of people say Buddhism is a crock, just as there was some criticism for John Andrew's posting this "question with no answer". Now,however, religious philosophers such as the late Alan Watts tell us that the original Buddha intended to "wake us up" by getting us to reflect, and that his 4 normal truths were meant to ??start a dialogue??. So in such a way, it is very important and I think healthy to ask pointless questions if they end with a realization of some sort. And you don't know if they're going to lead to a realization unless you ask them. At the same time, I'm feeling a bit like a self-contradiction, because I thought the post seemed a bit like it was asking a question that was a bit pointless. It reminded me of a recording by Watts (who you'll all have to forgive me for quoting so often, but maybe it needs to be this way) who said, "If you hear your own ear, you have ringing of the ear. If you see your own eye, you have cataracts. If you think about thinking then..." But then Watts did nothing but think, so?? So. Anyway, I would suggest the "answerless questions" don't end. Uh-hum... As for me... Well??here is something I wrote about two years ago, and I think that it sums up my general anxiety in life which causes me to take photos. It says a lot about things that I do that I could just as well not do it seems, and yet I can??t ??not do them"?? including photography. Here it goes: Now, you can only look back and wonder what those days were like. They are so far in the past that it seems they are a part of some former life time. Not even a recent lifetime. One several cycles back. Since then things have changed. You can't even remember what you were like then. You can't remember what you knew and didn't know. The knowledge you have since gained, necessarily erased the ignorance of yesterday. And the ignorance of today, keeps you from knowing what the things you knew before. Yesterday??s naivety has been replaced with experience, but not necessarily wisdom. You think back wondering if you even need to know what you know today. Was that what you were searching for? Were you searching for knowledge or experience? Either of these? Or one but not the other? Or neither? It doesn't matter. You have them, and so you are changed. You try to look back, but you can't see anything clearly. Scenes are confusingly vague. Feelings for people you once knew are forgotten. Or you have since learned that they are not the people you thought they were. Who are they? Who are you? Sometimes you tell yourself that it doesn't matter who you were. You are evolving and that is what life is about. You are meant to shed yourself again and again, replacing yourself with a new one. Aren't most people quite pleased when they learn something new? But you're not. You don't want to learn anything new. You still can't figure out why your life had to evolve past age six when you were still small enough that your father held you in his arms and called you names that you don't dare let slip past your lips. You are reminded now of that taxi driver who suggested that Mao Zi Dong should have retired in 1950 after liberating the country. Now you feel you should have retired from life after learning to spell your last name. Isn't that all that matters? Finding out who you are? Isn't everything else just an excuse to go on living because you are afraid to die? You feel amused now. So it isn't that bad and you're glad you??re alive because you enjoyed the conversation with that taxi driver. You enjoyed it so much that you've been waiting for it to happen again. That is all you wait for. You wait for those little pleasures to happen again. But your still looking back as well, aren't you. Your life is like a notebook. You are constantly taking notes and when you don't have time to take down the little events of the day as they happen you write them down at night. It was the same when you were younger and wrote down the more significant dreams on waking in the morning. The ones that you can still remember today and you know it is only because you wrote them down that you can remember them. You are dead set on not forgetting these most precious moments. Yet they are fading, and it is less and less clear what they really meant. It is less clear what they really meant, and because of this it is less clear what your life means. If you pass from day to day and you can not recall the most important events--the events that shaped your life, then what does your life mean? Or are you just filling in the time since you learned to spell your last name? No. You??re not. You are determined not to do that. So you spend most of your days and nights remembering. You are nearing midlife and you know that the next half will be spent trying to figure out what the first half was all for. So you spend the good parts of your days remembering. And it's getting harder to remember?? I think that sums up why this weekend I'm going to go out with my camera.