The Guardians of Twitter

Recently, James Gunn was fired from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise over offensive tweets.  This would be shocking, but the climate in Tinseltown has turned even more self-righteous than usual following the 2017 Hollywood Reformation.

I like James Gunn a lot. I don’t think he is a child predator, and frankly, those jokes weren’t as bad as they have been made out to be. However, it is difficult to feel entirely sympathetic to his plight.

James Gunn has enthusiastically supported the “#MeToo Movement” which hasn’t been very diligent about the innocence of its targets, like Aziz Ansari.

Sexual assault is never acceptable, but words are not assault. An insensitive joke or a crude phrase is not the same thing as rape. To construe the two actions makes a mockery of the real traumatic experience that people face. While harassment is awful and shouldn’t happen to anyone, it is not the same as assault and shouldn’t be treated as such.

I don’t believe he should have been fired, but I don’t think he should be rehired either. Both Marvel (by extension Disney) and Gunn should ideally come out of this learning that this type of behavior isn’t sustainable and stop participating in it.

If you are going to warp society to suit your fancies, there will be consequences. Don’t blame people like the “Alt-Right,” for haphazard mistakes made in the heat of the moment. Perhaps we can move past kneejerk reactions and focus on actually helping people.

Do Drugs Make You More Creative?

Approached by something truly creative, someone will inevitably say, “What kind of drugs was he taking?” I’ve heard this ever since I could remember, but I have always found it strange.

Do drugs really cause creativity?

drugs

“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”

-Salvador Dali

There seems to be a clear connection between drugs and art style and creative people are more likely to use drugs , but the connection between narcotics and producing masterworks is hazy at best. Another study showed that artists used drugs to help regulate the emotions that crop up during the creative process.

In my own experience, drugs have only served as a dampener to creativity. I may feel euphoric, but I don’t do anything. When I do find the energy to create something, usually it is subpar at best.

I will confess that I haven’t tried any drugs that were not prescribed to me. The drug with the most euphoric effect I have taken is Xanax, but I don’t think that invalidates my argument.

drugs

I don’t think screenwriting is therapeutic. It’s actually really, really hard for me. It’s not an enjoyable process.

-Charlie Kaufman

I don’t begrudge anyone that takes drugs for recreational purposes. Life is difficult. Creative people tend to be more emotional and have a harder time regulating that emotion, but the whole idea of taking drugs to “be more creative” sounds disingenuous.

Being creative consistently is difficult. The entire process is filled with doubt and fear. Most drugs dampen those feelings, but those feelings are necessary to create good work.

Without a healthy amount of fear, your work will be filled with embarrassing mistakes. The overall quality will drop and the pieces won’t be an accurate expression of yourself, but an expression of your current mind state.

How sustainable can this process be? Countless brilliant artists’ lives were cut short by this harmful creative process. You can take too many on drugs, but you can’t overdose on creativity.

drugs

“We are all in search of feeling more connected to reality…We indulge in drugs or alcohol, or engage in dangerous sports or risky behavior, just to wake ourselves up from the sleep of our daily existence and feel a heightened sense of connection to reality. In the end, however, the most satisfying and powerful way to feel this connection is through creative activity. Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive than ever, because we are making something and not merely consuming, masters of the small reality we create.”

-Robert Greene

I want to feel something genuine. My whole attraction to art stems from that idea. Drugs aren’t a valid gateway to get the experiences that I crave. I want to be as present as possible and learn from my experiences.

That is Art to me. It is not novelty for novelty’s sake, but an expression of a human experience unique to the artist and simultaneously common to the species.

What do you think about the relationship between drugs and creativity?

Fireworks in My Head

I don’t like to write about this topic. Everyone has their own issues and they don’t need the added burden of mine. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) isn’t super rare, but we aren’t the type of people to stand out in the middle of the street and tell everyone about it.

My hope is that by writing honestly about it, that fewer people feel alone. The feeling of isolation is the worst part of the disease.

I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 18, but in hindsight there were signs of it very early in my life. I remember seeing a commercial on the Cartoon Network of Small Soldiers that deeply disturbed me. It is not unusual for a young child to be frightened by a movie, but it doesn’t go on for years.

That was my first brush with Intrusive Thoughts.

An “Intrusive Thought,” is an unwanted thought surrounding an action or image that the thinker finds horrifying. These thoughts can include suicide, murdering a family member, or something else that causes distress. The thinker doesn’t want to commit these acts, he is repulsed by them.

I would go through periods where the thoughts would be an issue, but not long enough for it to stop me from progressing through my life. When high school came around I also started to develop migraines, but we sorted it out through medication and chiropractic adjustments.

Things were looking up for me. I was dating a girl, I went to film school, and I worked freelance on a couple different films. However, the thoughts slowly crept in, taking more and more of time.

I’m aware that Intrusive Thoughts are irrational, unfounded, and outright ridiculous, but there is something enchanting about them. They seem more valid than your other, more measured thoughts.

I would liken them to fireworks. They shoot up in my mind’s eye and steal the show. Then it bursts with all the light, color, and spectacle, leaving me in the dark with the ash.

I finished film school without the girlfriend or the jobs. I feel like I’ve driven everyone way. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I know that I injure people either intentionally or unintentionally.

At some point, I just stopped trying. For two years I just stewed in my own little abyss.

Now, I’m trying again.

On Creativity

“The human mind is naturally creative, constantly looking to make associations and connections between things and ideas. It wants to explore, to discover new aspects of the world, and to invent. To express this creative force is our greatest desire, and the stifling of it the source of our misery. What kills the creative force is not age or a lack of talent, but our own spirit, our own attitude. We become too comfortable with the knowledge we have gained in our apprenticeships. We grow afraid of entertaining new ideas and the effort that this requires. to think more flexibly entails a risk-we could fail and be ridiculed. We prefer to live with familiar ideas and habits of thinking, but we pay a steep price for this: our minds go dead from the lack of challenge and novelty; we reach a limit in our field and lose control over our fate because we become replaceable.”

-Robert Greene,

Mastery

I have done a lot thinking lately on what I want to do in my life and the nature of myself as a person. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t view myself as a wholly negative enity and I could see things more clearly. I believe my greatest strengths as a person is my creativity.

I don’t think that creativity is some sort of superpower, I think it is more of a mindset. We tend to stifle our own creative ideas due to our own worries and thoughts. I find that I am most creative when I am in a more inituive, rather than intellectual headspace.

I set out today to take a macro photo of an Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly. It wasn’t going to be anything fancy, I simply wanted to capture the beauty of the subject.

creativity
Eastern Tailed Blue

When I was reviewing my shots in Lightroom I came across this photo:

creativity

It wasn’t what I would call good, but there was something about it that caught my eye. I fiddled with it for a few minutes and I got one my favorite photos that I have ever taken.

creativity
Eatern Tailed Blue

Normally, I would have ignored that photo and moved on, but something in my gut told me to mess with it. Everyone has moments like this, but not everyone acts on their intuition.

Next time try taking a risk on yourself and you might get something awesome!

If you like Wildlife Photography and Videos check out The Nerdy Naturalist! 

Adventures in Macro Photography

A few years ago, I became very interested in macro photography after watching the insect documentary, Microcosmos.  I couldn’t afford a fancy lens dedicated to macro photography, so I purchased the cheapest extension tubes I could for my Nikon.

I have played around with it sporadically, but more recently I have been practicing with in earnest.

macro photography

Macro photography is definitely one of the hardest disciplines to master. When you extension tubes, more light is needed to achieve the proper exposure. There are two major solutions that I have found to this problem, each with their own drawbacks.

macro photography

You can shoot with a long exposure and closed aperture to solve this problem. However, you will need a very stable tripod and an agreeable subject. Caterpillars, frogs, and other calm, mostly stationary subjects are ideal for this method.

macro photography You can also shoot hand held with a faster exposure and more open aperture, but that makes focusing it’s own problem because of the shallow depth. The freedom this affords is well worth the annoyance of the shallow depth.

macro photogrpahy

Although macro photography may be the most difficult discipline in photography, it is certainly the most rewarding.

What did you think of this post? Do have any tips for macro photography? Let me know in the comments.

If you liked these photos, follow me on Instagram for more!

Sustaining Creativity

I have learned not to wait for inspiration to come to me, but to get up and chase after it! Here are some tips on sustaining your spark of creativity.

Explore Other Mediums of Art

Exploring different mediums of art  help me stay fresh with ideas. I believe that it helps with the creative process to look at something that is unrelated from the work I am doing, but is still artsy. I often get hyper focused on whatever project I am working and it is nice to take a break in an inspiring way.

Rest from Work by Vincent van Gogh

I often look at paintings for inspiration when I am stuck on Film problems. Paintings have some of the most exquisite compositions and use of color in any medium of art.

The best way to keep other mediums in my world has been through social media. If we are constantly going to be checking our phones, we might as well make it useful.

The History of Painting‘s Twitter account is my personal favorite for inspirational art, but there are many others like it for poetry, music, and film.

Express Excess Emotions and Thoughts

I have started journaling before writing anything that is seen by the public. I have found that clears my mind of excess chatter and helps me focus on writing concisely and on topic.

When I don’t express the extraneous thoughts and emotions from my day they show up in all sorts of weird ways in my project and take up editing time.

This principle can be applicable for all manner artists without the use of a journal, such as banging on a drum, doodling, or screaming at your cat.

Make Something Silly

Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. When you spend your time looking through a camera, sometimes you end up with head in your rear end.

chicken man
Unrelated photo of man-child.

When I make something silly, I am able to cast off the shackles of perfectionism and pretension to actually make something. I often feel trapped by my own perception of my work and when I make something unapologetic-ally ridiculous, I feel as though I truly regain objectivity.

Take Care of Yourself

The most important  lesson I have learned is that to be creative you have to be functional as well. My personal vice is staying up late and sleeping in. I’m not as sharp when I haven’t slept and especially when I haven’t slept the correct hours.

Don’t stay up all night being angry at your clock.

To focus on your creative task, it is best to be free from distractions such as hunger, indigestion, or exhaustion. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but avoid it when you can.

Those are the tips I have for sustaining creativity, please let me know what you think!

Cultivating a Relationship with the Natural World

The biggest mistake in the plight for the preservation of the natural world was to create an ideology around it. The well-being of our planet is not a political issue; it is a human one.

I have long theorized that people don’t care about the natural world because they don’t have a relationship with it.  Planting native species at your home is a great step that you can take to develop one. By simply planting species native to your area, you invite all sorts of wildlife to visit.

Green Anole
Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
eastern tent caterpillar
Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)

Baby birds

Volunteering with citizen science projects is a great way to help in a meaningful way and learn from seasoned professionals. A lot of conservation work is done entirely by volunteers so they need your help!

Indigo Bunting
Bird Banding

On Spring and the Seasons

Although Spring officially occurred for us on March 20th, the effects of Spring are just now being felt here in Georgia. Spring and Summer are kind of melded into one season here and that “season” is my favorite time of year.

It is as if the whole world took a hot bath, so that everything would arise fresh and new. Birds are migrating, butterflies are drinking, and lizards are basking in sunlight everywhere. We do not have a particularly harsh Winter, but I do miss having some of the wildlife that leaves each fall. When I see the first Eastern Tiger Swallowtail hover over the front yard, it is like an old friend coming to visit for awhile.

Even Natasha likes to watch the insects fly by.

I like using the Four Seasons as a metaphor for life. Traditionally it used to as a metaphor for aging, but I believe it can be used in a different way. Life is rather cyclical like the Seasons and we all have different internal “weather” from day to day.

Spring could be starting a new a job or going to a new school, Summer could be the period where you try to obtain your goal, Autumn is a change in plans, and Winter could be a rut of some sort.

I think this metaphor works because successes and setbacks are temporary in life, much like the weather. If it is a sunny Spring day, appreciate it; it will not last forever. If it is a cold winter night and you can’t sleep, endure it; it will not last forever.

Monkey Massacre

Another vlog! I’m working on an ambitious short, but I didn’t want to leave you all without a video this week so I made a northern pligramage to see the Monkey Massacre Memorial statues. I did plan to do a video where I went to a lot of bizarre areas around Atlanta, but traffic worked against me. Perhaps I will return to finish the job.

Joint Security Area

Joint Security Area is the third feature film from acclaimed, Korean director Chanwook Park.

When a group of North Korean soldiers are murdered on their side of the border, presumably by a single South Korean soldier, an investigation is led by a team from the neutral countries overseeing the border. During the investigation, the team discovers a web of lies, terror, and brotherly love.

The film is simply heartbreaking. I watched it on a whim and was utterly shocked by how tragic and profound it was. This film needs to be seen.

I said that Tower was the most important film of the 21st century, but Joint Security Area may be just as important. This film showcases the tragedy of war in a more personal way than I have seen it portrayed before.