Needomaniac

Reading Time: < 1 minute

needomaniac: a person or thing that requires excessive attention but can never be truly fixed or satisfied.

Every item,
is an ocean of need.
A nymphomaniac,
of infinite greed.
A ravenous hog,
you constantly feed.
Always demanding,
your time it bleeds.
Doing nothing,
still has a fee.
Filling your mind,
like a strangling weed.
Let me leave you,
with this little creed.
The item to tend,
is your sanity.

A Concrete discussion of Abstraction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

S1 <=> S2
^ ^
v v
~S2 <=> ~S1

This Greimas square explores the opposites of concrete and abstract, using photography as a context. In the Greimas square, these are the S1 and S2 concepts. The ~S1 concept is “not concrete”. The ~S2 concept is “not abstract”. The Greimas square for deriving new concepts or relations comes from relabeling the ~S1 and ~S2 with a more descriptive and less logical label. So here is an analysis to suggest some better words for ~S1 and ~S2.

A concrete photo is of something you would see more or less as-is.

The abstract is the pattern or idea independent of any concrete elements within it.

What is an example of something not abstract yet not quite concrete either? For a photo, a blur comes to mind. A blur photo focuses on one element of the photo and blurs out the rest. The rest is the suggestion of something concrete.

What is an example of something not concrete yet not quite abstract either? I think when the pattern of the elements is more important than the elements themselves. Concrete elements are still visible, but you are drawn to the pattern they create rather than the real elements that compose them. Emergence suggests a new pattern from concrete elements. When does the pattern become abstract? The pattern implies regularity but some of the best abstractions have irregular patterns if you can even call them that. Irregular patterns? Abstract nature? Sorry, this whole topic exudes oxymoron. A pure abstract photo would have no concrete elements in it.

Concrete <=> Abstract
^ ^
v v
Blur <=> Emergence

Concrete and abstract are the foundation concepts. Blur and emergence complete the square. Blur focuses your attention on something concrete while the background gives implied context. Emergence focuses your attention on the pattern but is created by concrete elements.

The concrete is a picture of you standing next to a lit Christmas tree. The blur is you with the Christmas tree blurred in the background, or possibly you blurred out and the tree in focus if the photographer doesn’t much care for you. The emergent is the Christmas tree blurred to bokeh with the lights as or more important than the contents, namely you. And the abstract is a bokeh Christmas tree with only the form of the tree suggested by the pixelated lights.

Of course, categorization is never definitive when it comes to concepts. Probably the most important concept is that you enjoy the picture.

Terratrashing

Reading Time: < 1 minute

terratrashing: to transform a planet so that it is unable to support human life.

Terraforming is the process of making another planet habitable for humans. Elon Musk wants to terraform Mars. Science fiction writers like to write about terraforming other worlds, usually to escape all the terratrashing we’ve done to this one. Terratrashing is the word I propose, to describe the process of making a planet uninhabitable for humans, specifically, the one we live on.

Terratrashing leaves no ambiguity about the scale or the cause of what is happening. Trashing is not a natural phenomenon. Trashing a planet renders it uninhabitable for humans.

We need a phrase that describes more accurately what is happening to our planet and more importantly why it is happening to the planet. The phrases “global warming” and “climate change” have no teeth. Worse than that, they make it sound like the processes are natural phenomena. The climate changes all the time. A little global warming sounds kind of nice, especially to people in cold weather climates digging themselves out from three feet of snow. If the worst-case scenario of five degree C temperature rise comes to pass, this planet will be unrecognizable to those of us that live here now. If the carrying capacity of the planet drops to one billion from the projected ten billion peak, nine billion people will die, and everyone will suffer.

Worse, global warming climate change is only one symptom of planetary-wide, human-induced change mostly for the worse and not the better. Plastic pollution. Biomass reduction. Mass extinction. Now what phase will spark more action and accountability to stop that from happening, terratrashing, global warming, or climate change?

Besuty or Not Besuty? That is the question.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I meant to type beauty but I fat-fingered besuty, instead. I was going for the thought of subtle beauty but the sound of the malformed word seemed to capture the idea I was trying to express better than the original. Why not have an explicit word for subtle beauty? Serendipity is the bastard father of many an idea.

Well, any decent word should have an antonym and the opposite of besuty is the opposite of subtle not beauty. The phrase “raging beauty” comes to mind. So the antonym of besuty, in the interest of symmetry, must be beruty. So there you have it, besuty and beruty, my two attempts at new contributions to the English language. And as a kicker I’ve extended the grammar with the idea of an infix, meaning a change of root directly and systematically as an alternative to using a prefix or a postfix, as fitting to modify the root beaut-, a new twist on the expression of inner beauty.

But I digress and enough neology and cleverness for the moment. Let’s get to the hypothesis I originally intended. In this time when so many leaf-peepers are posting the beruty of fall foliage in four-season climates, those of us living through the hot and dry season of our two-season Mediterranean climate still have much in the way to offer with besuty, but we will have to work harder for it. It’s there. It may be small. It may be hard to see. It rarely reaches out and grabs us like the radiant colors of pre-dormant trees or the mega-blooms of spring or the majesticness of a mountain. As besuty suggests, it’s subtle and easy to miss.

Given the alternate hypothesis, I now state the null hypothesis as, “Hot and dry is not beauty. It is common and dull.” Let me see if I can change your mind. What do you say?

The first capture is a dried-out fern I found under a bush. The sunlight lit up the fern like a revelation. I post-processed it to black and white. I think black and white shows off the interplay of light and shadow better than color.

Fern Tree

How about this star-shaped flower carcass? It inspires images of weathering windmills that have lost their willpower to wait any longer for the winds.

The Windmill

The curtain hangs in Hellhole Canyon, consumed in Paradise and Witch fires in 2003 and 2007. The black char has faded to grey and new foliage grows slowly out of the base of the post-fire stumps. The wavy arms of the gray limbs could very well be the skeleton of the flames themselves.

Curtain

The dark centered circle gives this the appearance of a bush of eyes, the all-seeing tree in the chaparral. It’s quite common along the trails in the area, but does common preclude besuty? Or is it exactly the reason we fail to see it so often?

The Tree of Eyes

I love the abstract pattern of the whorl, the contrast of purple and green in the blades, and the threat of sharp-tipped barbs.

Whorl

How about the forest of fronds? The brown and gray make one last stand before crumbling back into the ground. Does it remind you of an above-water coral reef?

Frond Forest

Besuty or not besuty, that is the question? My brother would ask, art or not art? I enjoy the thrilling beruty of grand images and intoxicating colors as much as the next photographer but don’t forget to look for the besuty in the common as well.

High Rises (in a Dr. Suess book)

A Caw-cus of Corvids

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A murder of crows and a rabble of ravens are nothing to mess around with, but I think an aggregation of corvids should be called a caw-cus. I know the spot where the crows congregate at night by thousands, if not tens of thousands. And I’ve seen the tree with a raven on every branch many years ago. I hear them chat amongst themselves. I don’t know what they talk about or what they are plotting. I know it can’t be good. I just hope their caw-cus is no more effective than a human one.

Forest Floor Scribography

Reading Time: < 1 minuteA convoy of turtles plowing their shells through the surface visible only as moving water humps.

An agitated blue heron screeching its way though a pass in the treeline over the horizon.

A white-tailed deer eyeing us warily hides its white rump under its flapping tail.

Bruce and Bryce walk the outside fence on the narrow running board of a cement bridge over a creek while Peshankus tracks them on the inside.

A fleeting glimpse of two cormorants that hastily skim the muddy water in retreat.

A white heron flickers through the picket fence of tree trunks and dancing leaves.

The racing stripe of a garter snake disappears into the underbrush with Pashankus in pursuit.

** Scribography – I just invented this word as a juxtaposition to photography: the capture of an image with words instead of photos. Somethings I just couldn’t capture on camera.