Be bored and see what’s inside

Something I have been thinking about during my travels is about photography and art. I have been pondering whether or not technology has dimmed some of our creative talents. I believe that we are all born artists but that it is drummed out of us throughout our childhood as we grow up. This has been exacerbated by the relatively cheap entry models into the world of digital cameras and the standard of modern camera phones, phablets etc, it has never been easier to be distracted. This boom in technology has stolen from us one of our greatest requirements for creativity – boredom.

All out of ideas

Comedian, Aaron Barschak, once said that all you need for creativity is a certain level of boredom, and some alcohol. The latter we have plenty of but with the technological advancements at our disposal, I wonder if we are no longer able to feel bored?

Even now I am sat on the train, on my phone, writing this blog, along with a hundred other souls all plugged into their multi-functional devices. Okay I might be creating something right now by writing this blog, or surfing the news for something of interest but, like many others, I am not ‘bored’ but distracted. If it were not for our phones, kindles and phablets, would we be instead gazing out of the train window and imagining a song or poem, inspired by the sweeping landscapes that turn to urban industrial sprawl? I don’t know, maybe not, but the opportunity is taken from us by our reliance on technology to distract us.

I’ve been thinking about this distraction culture a lot, more so since I started my Peasant Life UK project back in September 2014. I went around the UK for several weeks, taking photographs of people living on the streets, people often ignored or forgotten by the public. On my journey I found myself talking to more people than I took pictures of and it was that human connection I found they valued more than a pound in their cup. To look beyond the lens and draw closer to the people who made up my compositions, made for a much more enriching experience than merely freezing a moment in time.

This makes me wonder what role our cameras and camera phones have played in eliminating our boredom and thus taking away our creativity.

Go to any landmark or monument in the world and you will see hordes of people with their phones or latest Gucci DSLR, snapping that ‘selfie’ moment, or recreating that silhouette or perspective photo they saw on Instagram. We are capable of so much more. Instead of pointing our devices at the sails of the Opera house, or gazing up at the towers and monuments, erected to inspire us and freezing them in a moment, we should take a moment and be inspired – to allow ourselves the time to get bored. Travel is about inspiration and with it has come great art but without boredom, what chance for it to arrive?

Is boredom a catalyst for creativity, I don’t know but I guess I should practice what I preach and for the time being, put down my tech, and allow boredom to set in – listen to the sounds of the streets I walk, the trains I ride and see what happens. I might have a sonnet or drawing inside me waiting to be released and so might you.

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Chris Kyle fanatics chilling Abby Martin threats

Former Russia Today journalist, Abby Martin, who’s show Breaking the Set asked the questions most journalist would dream of, has faced a recent tirade of online abuse of the highest order for challenging the hero worship of American idol, Chris Kyle, the main protagonist in the recent movie American Sniper, by wearing a t-shirt that said ‘fuck Chris Kyle’.

Abby Martin

Fans, or rather fanatics, of Chris Kyle, have been posting messages on Facebook and Twitter calling for Abby Martin’s rape and murder, for daring to question the American war porn account of deceased soldier, Chris Kyle, in the movie American Sniper. The movie, starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood, made the case that Kyle was a hero that saved countless American soldiers lives at the barrel of the rifle he used during his four tours of Iraq. He is renowned for allegedly having the most confirmed kills of a US sniper. In tense scenes throughout the film, it justifies the killing of women and children for ‘the greater good’ in protecting the lives of US soldiers.

Chris Kyle

The response is chilling.

  

It’s amazing to think you call out a war porn movie like American Sniper for what it is, sick propaganda, and people respond like this. Where is the media and Hollywood outrage and denouncement of this? Justifying the murder of children ‘for the greater good’ is never right, we should have been asking ourselves the question of why we were there and why these children were radicalised in the first place? Perhaps they watched their mothers or brothers and sisters get blown up by drones or cluster bombs? Instead people want to rape and kill a journalist for asking the questions or challenging the narrative that 99% of the mainstream media wouldn’t dare to ask.

Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood

These online trolls accuse Martin of disgracing the memory of their idol, citing the fact that he died for her right to freedom of speech and to wear skirts, which is ironic but not because Abby Martin was exercising her freedom of speech, but because Chris Kyle was killed by a veteran with mental health issues on a shooting range in America, a year or so after he left the military. That’s not an issue of freedom of speech, but a serious issue surrounding mental health and the post traumatic stress of our armed forces peronnel subjected to endless tours of a horrific war zone that our political leaders created purely for business interests. Nothing to do with freedom. Anyone that wants to challenge that should listen to the impassioned words of Patrick Stewart.

Abby Martin Twitter

The threats are ironic as these right wing rantings would be from the same people that think it is appropriate for Pamela Geller to hold a cartoon exhibit of the Prophet Mohammad but not for Abby Martin to wear a t-shirt that besmirches their false god. The same people would, I am sure, also agree that the illustrators at Charlie Hebdo had the freedom to offend with their depictions of Mohammad, yet they do not see that this right extends to Abby Martin or others stands out as rank hypocrisy.

The freedom of speech extends to us all, including the freedom to disagree. No one has the right to threaten another for disagreeing with that speech. The challenge is to have a better a better answer to the thing you disagree with.

In the mean time, people like Abby Martin will have to face down these trolls, a problem becoming ever more prominent in the Internet age, particularly for women and young people, which says much about how far we have come, our misogynistic underbelly and how civilised we are in the year 2015. Social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have much to do in combatting online abuse, though the former has a much better report feature than the latter, too much time goes between a report and action being taken.

With nationalism on the rise across the globe as media outlets continue to bombard us with patriotic babble and meaningless slogans such as ‘support the troops’, delusional behaviour like this will only increase. So much for the freedom of speech and the freedom to disagree.

David Cameron, a firefighter he is not.

It’s finally happened, after five years in office, David Cameron has finally gone mad.

David Cameron has twice compared himself to a firefighter in the final days of the General Election campaign. Most recently he calls Ed Miliband an arsonist and compares himself to a firefighter… Words escaped me, for a while.  

 Cameron might be many things, but a firefighter he is not. 

For a start, he would have seen his offices shut at Downing Street and Westminster with the DCLG building being downgraded to a post office. He would have had a reduction in his staff of 20% and his state of the art, chauffeur driven cars would be procured at a much lower spec and spend most of their time in workshops for repair. His suits would now be procured from Primark and he would have had a pay freeze for 6 years. At 48, he would have 12 years left to access his pension, or be just over 7 years away from losing it for failing a fitness test that he has less than 50/50 chance of passing.

Yes Cameron might be many things, cowardly, scheming and duplicitous, but a firefighter he is not. Remember that when you head to the polls.

 

@UtopianFireman

If you want to know what firefighters really think of Cameron, read this.