My Return...

It is late, and this post will be a little rough around the edges...

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
— William Blake

Europe was an amazing adventure, and I am apologize for the delay since my last post. Some time was needed to reflect, and decide what I am doing with my life. For the past couple of months I have been working on a project coding software, and doing literary research that will allow me to create a custom dictionary for William Blake’s Illuminated books in a kindle dictionary format. Similar to what the sight Fictionary.com is doing for fictional works. This project has required my full attention, and I set a milestone to reach before I could return to my photography.

While I was in Art School, I became infatuated with Blake’s work. The visual works were readily accessible to me, but much of his writing I found impenetrable. Working through some of the shorter more accessible works I began to understand pieces of his personal mythology. This is where I learned of his masterpiece Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion. At one point it was thought to be the writings of a madman, impossible to read comprehensively. The literary critic Northrop Frye in particular helped shed light on Blake's system behind his mythology. Now Jerusalem is often referred to as one of the most difficult literary texts in English language.

The difficulty of understanding Blake's mythology is characters have different forms. Sometimes they have physical forms, other times not. They merge and separate into masculine and feminine parts. They can also change back and forth between figures, and nations. There are multiple levels of existence. The images in the book often have little to do with the text, almost telling their own separate story instead of functioning as illustration. Time is non-linear, and characters appear without introduction as if intentionally demanding the reader's full attention. I have read it cover to cover and could not tell you what it is about. The feeling I have after reading Jerusalem is the feeling of waking after a dream with a sense of awe and wonder, but unable to remember anything about the dream. On some level I am determined to return from reading Jerusalem with pieces of Blake's dream.

I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.
— William Blake - Jerusalem

In addition to the difficulties of Blake's mythology he often used grammar that has changed much in the last 200 years. Reading I feel as if my mind is a skipping stone just occasionally  touching the surface. To illustrate the difficulties for me the word NOT can also be a contraction of the word NAUGHT, AWFUL was understood to be full of awe, and DEEP was another name for hell to name a few. Samuel Johnson published a dictionary in 1755, there is no clean digital version available, and the ones that exist are not in kindle dictionary format. So no highlighting a word with the definition popping up on the screen with a single touch. Part of the reason it doesn't exist is that software is not available to produce an e-book it the special dictionary format.

So I wrote a dictionary compiler program myself. It is ugly, and clunky, but it works. I made a list of every word Blake used in his Illuminated works, and began editing the buggy electronic version of the Johnson dictionary. I am absolutely not going to transcribe all 15,000 words in Johnson’s dictionary, so I decided to make a list of every word used in Blake’s Illuminated works, and write definitions for only the words of interest. My prototype dictionary is on my Kindle right now, all the way up to and including the letter A. My final goal is to self-publish on Amazon. There is a lot of work to do still, but it works. My only rule right now is no going down any other rabbit holes until this project is finished. Now I for my reward I get to return to my photographs... 

Abandoned farm house in England's Lake District 

Tramping Through Cockermouth

Welcome to Cockermouth...

After our sprint through Iceland we rested for two days in Manchester. The only sightseeing we did was a visit to the Jon Reynolds Library, a temple to books. Capitalism was conceived there, Marx and Engels penned The Communist Manifesto there, a laundry list of good and bad world changing ideas were spawned there. Inside there were books older than America...

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90 Days: Iceland The First Campaign

The whole trip I kept thinking of a quote I read in The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen, His Zen teacher after telling him how amazing a journey to Tibet would be, he instructed Matthiessen to "Expect nothing". This was our mantra on our trip, focusing on all the things we didn't get to see would have made the trip feel like a failure, repeating "Expect nothing" would remind us to stay in the moment, and let life happen...

Click on the link to read the rest of the blog post, and lots more pictures!

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Hard at Work...

90 Days: Week One

thumb_IMG_3905 2_1024.jpg

I have been hard at work hiking, driving, and taking pictures. I will not be able to post much until I get a day off, it takes me a bit of time to get my images looking up to standards. Do not worry though, we are seeing amazing places and I am capturing everything I can. Here is a little prove I am not slacking. In the meantime Lindsey has lots of fun snapshots you can see at 

https://instagram.com/p/BEWD_bOK5BkmjZBUTaABQ8rw6kvHypkhnJe1rs0/

Badass Connections

I dug up this post on one of my all-time favorite bands, The Dillinger Escape Plan (while not as badass as a tattoo, one of my dogs is named Dillinger), about connecting with a fan. After a chance encounter at a bar he noticed someone who felt connected enough with the work to get it tattooed on his body. What was meaningful was the chance encounter in the wild, away from where fans are normally found, and in the quiet of private life. My only hope for my work is to connect with one person, not a like, but to do something that mattered to someone.

...it blows my mind and makes me feel so grateful that any of you give even the slightest fuck about what we do, but to be able to actually talk to someone who got so much out of something we made, something that we each labor over so extensively, it made my weekend. It’s so infinitely rewarding to be able to connect with someone you’ve never met before in some way and then have that come full circle...
— Greg Puciato

Book Review -Seth Godin- The Icarus Deception

This book has gotten into my head, and although it may not provide answers, it does prompt me to ask better questions. Seth's mantra "To make art" is elegant and practical. This book is definitely worth a longer review, but in short the reader is prompted to do the things that there is no instruction manual for. One simple exercise outlined in the book that portrays the general philosophy of this work is as follows:

Take an index card with "Problem:" written on one side, and "Solution:" written on the other.

  • Take a moment to write down the thing you are missing, that is preventing you from completing your project, problem or work of art. Be it financing, someones help, the right circumstances, etc.
  • Now hand it to some one else, and give them 5 minutes to write down a solution.
  • White waiting you may have the following potentially uncomfortable thoughts:
  1. You have just written down a problem that may have never been verbalized before. How does that feel? Does it clarify the situation?
  2. What if at the end of five minutes a solution to the problem that has been preventing you from achieving your goal lands in your lap. There will be no excuse to not finish your work. How does that make you feel?
  3. Your project may have been impossible all along, and you have been holding yourself back from doing something you could actually accomplish. If you the obvious thing would be to quit this project as soon as possible. What would you pursue then?

This is just a vignette into the work, the book if full of insights, and new ways of thinking about our role in the world. This will definitely be a work that I will return to repeatedly. Seth's mantra keeps repeating in my head:

When your art fails, make better art.
— Godin, Seth. The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?


What No One Ever Told Me About Dreams (and the danger of the comfort zone)

“I am in the ER with chest pain, it hurts really bad…” read a text message sent by my wife. Lindsey continued on to assure me she was okay but had admitted herself to the emergency room. I work down the hall from the E.R. placing me just a two minute walk away, and for two minutes I was alone with my thoughts. All the likely suspects raced through my mind, heart defects, blood disorder, cancer, antibiotic resistant tuberculosis, arrhythmia, and in my mind the most likely suspect, a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs). I know I was overreacting, but that didn't stop my racing thoughts. Walking down the hall time slowed for a moment, and the natural conclusion was this might be fatal. For the first time in my life I let myself imagine that this might my wife's last day on earth. What overwhelmed me was not fear of losing her, but knowing that if I did lose her I would be guilty of preventing her living out one of her biggest dreams.

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American Antiquity

 

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Matrix Math : Trumping Trump : Zombie World

I am considering changing my goals for this blog. Writing daily has been a useful exercise for me, but perhaps it would be better writing daily and posting weekly. Now would probably be a good time to change my format especially since no one, not even my mother reads this blog yet. I am not changing up anything yet, just considering the best path forward. So either my daily experiences of learning about matrix math, practicing Spanish with Duolingo, and working out doing the 5x5 plan are not giving me enough material, or I need to find more interesting activities for my daily life.

Thought of the day: If Obama doesn't want to see Trump have a chance in this election, he should endorse him. Cold hard political Ju-Jitsu. 

Million dollar idea of the day: Turn the abandoned mall down the street from my house into a zombie apocalypse paintball arena. People would travel from all over the country to reenact their favorite zombie killing movie scene. It would be like Disney World for millennials.   

Fundamentals: Pathway to a Virtual View Camera

It feels like I am regressing, all this effort and all I can do now is rotate some images something any photo viewer can do. I am going to stay the course, it is a means to an end. I just can imagine things I want to do with my images that I currently can't. I keep imaging an interface program that works like a virtual view camera. Being able to adjust an image in severe ways that would be prohibitive with a film field camera. I just imagine being able to use a razor thin plane of focus, and being able to have complete control over it.  A way to simulate a process that is possible in analogue, but would be extremely error prone. Some of my early training droned into me for better or worse use a medium for it's strengths, do things with a given medium that can't be done in others. 

Just as digital has given night photography a huge boost in popularity, due to the fact it can easily accomplish things difficult with film by giving immediate feedback. I just assumed sooner or later someone capable would come along and write a program that would give us the capability to digitally tilt and shift the focus in a scene. There is no content aware way I have found without hand painting a depth map to do this in photoshop. Currently the image is blurred due to it's 2-D coordinates in the file, in no way does it reference the objects distance from the camera as in camera tilt-shift does. This means one of three things: 1- Someone capable of creating such a program thought of it, and decided it was a dumb idea. 2- It may be whether or not it is a good idea is irrelevant as it is not practical with todays computers and programming libraries and/or the interface technology is a poor substitute for the real thing. 3- I am the first person to come up with this idea that is actually trying to make it work, and thinks it might be worth pursuing. I may not be able to seen this to the end by myself, but there are enough resources out there that I should be able to create something. Just a photoshop plug-in when all is said and done would be great, anything as proof of concept is my goal here.

Great Success: The First Forward Stumble

After stumbling my way though the Bash shell, and combing forums for solutions to my computer troubles, I have gotten openCV to work! What have I done exactly? I typed four lines of code, opened a picture, converted it to B+W, and finally saved it. So in the better part of a week I did what I could do in seconds with adobe. It is a small slow step step that many have taken before, but it is a start. My idea of taking images from a digital camera, use them to create a simple 3D capture of the original scene, and then use the extra information in novel ways to manipulate and create images. This is not even the proof of concept stage, just proof the tools I need to get me there work. More to come...