Is Work “Unnatural”?

Lazy Man

Man Calls Work “Unnatural” – Goes on Permanent “Vacation”

From the blog: Return To Now  www.returntonow.net

“I’m not ashamed that I don’t like to work,” a 35-year-old cyclist adventurer told Business Insider two years ago. “It’s just very unnatural.”

Not too unlike Alexander Supertramp, “Ultra Romance” has rejected the capitalist industrialist system he was born into and gone Into the Wild.
He “works” (or plays) as a fishing guide on his dad’s charter boat back home in Connecticut about six months a year and travels the world by bicycle for the rest, living on about $10 a day.

“Benedict” (another name he calls himself for “tax reasons”) is not sure how much money he makes (he refuses to count it), but says he can live comfortably on about $10,000 a year. He keeps most of his cash buried in plastic bags and keeps a bank account only so he can buy and sell bicycle parts on eBay.

“I went to college and got the degree and was trying to … do the hustle right out of college,” Benedict told Business Insider. “Then it was like, I gotta get a house, I’m 24, I got all these student loans … Before you know it, things work out and you meet the right girl and you settle down and buy the house and have the mortgage payment and the cars.”

“But ultimately that was not going to be me.”

 

“I don’t like to work. I like to ride my bike and I like to camp … I’m not going to spend the best years of my life doing something completely meaningless.”

Instead Ultra Romance decided to model his life – in part – after hunter-gatherers, who he says took an average of 9 hours a week to procure everything they needed to live. “The rest was all leisure time,” he said. “This is what’s natural to us.”

 

“Paperwork and bills don’t work for me,” he said in the interview. “They were a big stressor in my life.”

So he eliminated them. He pieced together a bike and hit the road.

It took Benedict about six years to figure out the right work/play balance to support his ideal lifestyle. He’s not into budgeting, but says as long as there’s money in his bag he knows he “must be doing something right.”

“I don’t think too far into the future,” he says. “I think day by day.”

Benedict likes to “maximize relaxation” when he’s on the road (or trail). “I have no real goal. I just ride. It’s riding, setting up a hammock, taking a siesta, and chilling out.”

 

He prefers sleeping outside, sleeping indoors for only about two weeks per year.

 

As a mostly vegetarian nutrition major, Benedict has no problem feeding himself. He loves foraging for berries and “nutrient-dense weeds” and gets whatever he can’t find – including loads of yogurt and dark chocolate – at Whole Foods.

 

“If I’m near the coast I can get seaweed and crabs,” he said.

Without a mortgage, car payment or other bills, Benedict has been able to bike-tour beautiful landscapes all over the world, from Norway to New Zealand. Sometimes he rides alone, sometimes he rides with friends – old and new.

 

What inspired the name Ultra Romance remains a mystery. It could be the woman he almost settled down with before he broke free from civilization, the woman he currently wanders with, or his adventurous life in general (including all the women in between).

 

What is not a mystery is how much fun he is having.

yin-yang-symbol-copy

Dharma Bum Diaries

How to Spot & Escape a Narcissist

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is probably one of the most undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses. I feel that we are in an age of rampant narcissism and depression and anxiety. I am related to a narcissist, and the traits outlined below describe her to a tee. If you are fortunate enough to be a happy well adjusted individual, be thankful, and have sympathy and compassion for the sea of troubled humanity that surrounds you. Unfortunately, those people haven’t yet discovered the secret. Keep calm and karma on!

Neurodivergent Rebel

Narcissists hide in plain sight. They can be cunning and charming. Most of the time you can’t spot a narcissist unless you get to know their motives. Narcissists are dangerous master manipulators.

How to Spot a Narcissist 

Narcissists are self focused. – Narcissists always think of themselves first and don’t care about the feeling and comfort of others. They tell stories about themselves. Often the stories will paint the narcissist as either a hero or a victim. The narcissist is never wrong and they always paint themselves in a positive light.

Gaslighting – Narcissists are master manipulators. Gaslighting is emotional abuse. A narcissistic partner may that causes  you to question your own instincts, judgement, and even sanity. A narcissist wants the power to control you. When you lose your ability to trust in your own perceptions, it becomes easy for the narcissist to get you to do the things they want.

Narcissists play the victim.

View original post 645 more words

On The Undeniable Beauty of Sunsets

yinyang-sunset

friday-sunset-2-copy

I’ve always loved taking photographs of sunsets. For this, I am constantly criticized and chastised. Those that do not understand photography have always complimented me on what I have felt was my worst work by saying “Oh..it looks ‘just like a postcard'”. I’d smile and nod, but inside, I’d be cringing. They like my shit, yet my “masterpieces” go unnoticed. Except for the sunsets. On these, we could agree. So, what does this say about sunset photographs? That the photographically untrained ignorant uncultured masses like them, so they must be crap? It’s disturbing to me, because I’m addicted to sunsets and taking sunset photographs. I love a good sunset photo (though not as much as I love experiencing a real sunset), and I think I have somewhat discriminating taste when it comes to photography. That the general attitude by artistic photographers toward sunset photos and those that take them is so dismissive and disdainful, just bums me out, man.

sandiego-sunset-003-copy

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

pacific-beach-009-copy

As photography blogger and instructor David Peterson has expressed: “It seems like every photography forum you join has this inherent bias against sunset photos”. It’s always the same charge too. Sunsets are overdone. They’re “cliché.”

So what is that supposed to mean? Now we can’t enjoy photographing this particular subject because a few people are tired of it? It doesn’t make any sense to me. After all, there’s a reason so many people take pictures of sunsets and sunrises. They’re one of the most colorful and beautiful things you can photograph. Can you honestly tell me what else has such elegant orange and purple hues? What else is as subtle and warm as the sun fading into the distance? Nothing. Literally nothing on this Earth compares, and yet there are those of us who want to condemn people for finding something beautiful and having fun capturing it and presenting it to others.

Sunset at Beach

Sunset G

Sunsets are everywhere. Nightly they appear, vast and humbling, orange, pink and purple. Like snowflakes, it is said that every single one is different. Natural, ephemeral and beautiful, they constitute exactly the kind of subject that causes people to reach for a camera: the fleeting spectacle that photography seems made to capture; the momentary vision that deserves immortalizing.

Balina 1

Susan Sontag, in her famous book, On Photography, complained: ‘Photographs create the beautiful and – over generations of picture-taking – use it up. Certain glories of nature… have been all but abandoned to the indefatigable attentions of amateur camera buffs. The image-surfeited are likely to find sunsets corny; they now look, alas, too much like photographs.’

Sontag here, in part, blames photographic mass-production for the loss of wonder, but she also positions sunset photographs as the products of the aesthetically naive.

Waning Sun copy

Infernal Sky copy

Sunset photographs are widely considered to symbolize the most predictable, culturally devalued and banal of image-making practices. Critics dismiss them as ‘chocolate box’ or ‘picture postcard’; they are seen as clichés. The beauty of a sunset can be transformed, in a photograph, into something cloying. Their very ubiquity is what seems to repel; photography has tainted what it sought to cherish through overuse. It miniaturizes natural grandeur and renders it kitsch. 

Robbie 1

Sunset photographs have somehow come to represent a low cultural status: they are characterized as sentimental visual confectionary indicative of limited aesthetic vision and an undeveloped practice.

Robbie and Ronnie 1

friday-sunset-1-copy

Robbie 2

“The less cultured you are, the more you require from nature before you can be roused for reciprocity. Uncultured people require blazing sunsets, awe-inspiring mountains, astonishing waterfalls, masses of gorgeous flowers, portentious signs in the heavens, exceptional weather on earth, before their sensibility is stirred to a response. Cultured people are thrilled through and through by the shadow of a few waving grass-blades upon a little flat stone.”

-John Cooper Powys – Meaning of Culture 1930

Pacific Coast Sunset

As sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has so persuasively argued, categories of taste are grounded in ingrained and stratified social and cultural experience and may be utilized to reinforce distinctions between different social groups. For Bourdieu, this is nowhere more clearly visible than in practices such as photography, which, because they are “accessible to everyone” and also “not fully consecrated” like other more legitimated cultural forms, lack a fixed and explicit coding system for judgement. This consequent flexibility of interpretation, he believes, means that the subjective meanings that different groups attribute to photography betrays their social dispositions.

In Bourdieu’s research in the 1960s, in which he examined taste as means of social distinction, he initiated discussions about aesthetic value with a range of people from different educational and occupational backgrounds, in relation to particular cultural objects including, tellingly, a photograph of a sunset. For, despite sunset photographs’ apparent mass-produced sameness, not all photographs of sunsets are equally received; they divide opinion.

Bourdieu found that the higher the level of education, the greater is the proportion who, when asked whether a series of objects would make beautiful photographs, refuse the ordinary objects of popular admiration, i.e., a first communion, a sunset or a landscape,  as ‘vulgar’ or ‘ugly’, or reject them as ‘trivial’.

3 Tasmania 3

Yet, his conclusion is not simply that sunsets appeal most to the uneducated. Bourdieu extends the stratification and explains that the proportion who declare that a sunset can make a beautiful photo is greatest at the lowest educational level, declines at intermediate levels, and grows strongly again among those who have completed several years of higher education and who tend to consider that anything is suitable for beautiful photography.

Neatly encapsulating photographic hierarchies, then, sunsets are the kind of subject that can be variously adored, despised or tolerated depending on aesthetic outlook and social background.

Sunset F

In photography’s earliest decades, photographs were expected to be idealized images. This is still the aim of most amateur photographers, for whom a beautiful photograph is a photograph of something beautiful, like a woman, a sunset. In commodified camera culture, everyone takes photos of similar things; in sunset photographs, then, it seems, every single one is the same.

Sunset K

Sunset photographs may all look the same, but the meaning changes with each one. As Richard Dyer has argued about stereotypes: they “are a very simple, striking, easily-grasped form of representation but are none the less capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a host of connotations”. Even stereotypes and clichés carry complexities and nuances. Just like sunsets, then, every sunset photograph is different.

Sunset HSunset L

I say photograph what you want, and never allow the critical opinions of others to interfere with the way of enjoying your passion. Life is too short to listen to art critics who can’t appreciate simple beauty. There is no such thing as too many sunset photographs.

Sunset J

“The setting sun burned the sky pink and orange in the same bright hues as surfers’ bathing suits. It was beautiful deception, Bosch thought, as he drove north on the Hollywood Freeway to home. Sunsets did that here. Made you forget it was the smog that made their colors so brilliant, that behind every pretty picture there could be an ugly story.”
―Michael Connely, The Black Echosandiego-night-2-005-copy-2

Much of the credit for the expressions of thought with respect to the idea of “sunsets as cliché”, is attributable to Dr. Annebella Pollen, Lecturer in Art History and Design (University of Brighton), from her essay:
When Is a Cliché Not a Cliché? Reconsidering Mass-Produced Sunsets

Dharma Bum Philosophy

el-camino

I am essentially a talentless average Joe. I have no special skills. I have tried my hand at different sports, music, and various other endeavours as outlets for a pent up urge of some semblance of creative expression that I feel exists within me. I have found it in photography, travel, hiking, skiing, yoga, motorcycle riding, and ultimately, a simultaneous blend of all of these pursuits through extended road trips, treks, and wanderings. Learning about Zen while consuming red wine also helps to put life in perspective.

I have spent the better part of my life following a predetermined linear path as it had been mapped out for me by society. Preschool. Elementary school. High school. University. Marriage. Job. Children. Mortgage. Endless work. Endless consumption. Endless responsibility. Endless obligation. The Rat Race.

As Oscar Wilde stated so simply: “I don’t want to earn a living. I want to live.”

For me, travel and photography provide a departure from the stressful repetitiveness of everyday existence. We travel not simply to escape life, but so that life does not escape us. Photography provides the means both by which to attempt to capture the essence of the beauty that we encounter in nature, and to express our vision and interpretation of that beauty to others.

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

– Ansel Adams – Photographer

Harley 1

Live to Ride. Ride to Live.