"The Importance of Being Important"

Bloemendaal aan zee, today. Dream [ reality ]

Min/max temperature: 7°C/7°C; humidity: 97%; precipitation: 1 mm; sea level pressure: 1012 hPa; wind WNW 43.0 km/h; visibility: 10.0 kilometres; Clouds: Few 548 m., Mostly Cloudy 731 m., Overcast 1066 m

"Foreword. The Importance of Being Important […] During the classic time of Greece a terrible thing happened in one of the temples. One night the statue of Zeus was mysteriously smashed and desecrated. A tremendous uproar arose among the inhabitants. They feared vengeance of the gods. The town criers walked the city streets commanding the criminal to appear without delay before the Elders to receive his just punishment. The perpetrator naturally had no desire to give himself up. In fact, a week later another statue of a god was destroyed. Now the people suspected that a madman was loose. Guards were posted and at last their vigilance was rewarded; the culprit was caught. He was asked, "Do you know what awaits you?" "Yes," he answered, almost cheerfully. "Death." "Aren't you afraid to die?" "yes, I am." "Then why did you commit a crime which you knew was punishable by death?" The man swallowed hare and then answered, "I am a nobody. All my life I've been a nobody. I've never done anything to distinguish myself and I knew I never would. I wanted to do something to make people notice me… and remember me." After a moment of silence he added, "Only those people die who are forgotten. I feel death is a small price to pay for immortality!" Immortality! Yes, we all crave attention. We want to be important, immortal. We want to do things that will make people exclaim, "Isn't he wonderful?" If we can't create something useful or beautiful… we shall certainly create something else: trouble, for instance. Just think of your aunt Helen, the family gossip. (We all have one.) She causes hard feelings, suspicion, and subsequent arguments. Why does she do it? She wants to be important, of course, and if she can achieve this only by means of gossip or lying, she will not, for one moment, hesitate to gossip or lie. The urge to be outstanding is a fundamental necessity in our lives. All of us, at all times crave attention. Self-consciousness, even reclusiveness, springs from the desire to be important. If failure arouses compassion or pity, then failure might become an end in itself. […] Without exception everyone was born with creative ability. It is essential that people be given opportunity to express themselves. If Balzac, De Maupassant, O. Henry, hadn't learned to write, they might have become inveterate liars, instead of great writers. Every human being needs an outlet for his inborn creative talent. If you feel you would like to write, then write. Perhaps you are afraid that lack of a higher education might retard you from real accomplishment. Forget it. Many great writers, Shakespeare, Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, to mention a few, never saw the inside of a college. Even if you will never be a genius, your enjoyment of life can still be great. If writing holds no lure for you, you might learn to sing, dance, or play an instrument well enough to entertain your guests. This belongs in the realm of "art" too. Yes, we want to be noticed. We want to be remembered. We want to be important! We can achieve a degree of importance by expressing ourselves in the medium which best suits our particular talents. You never know where your avocation will lead you. Even if you fail commercially, you might very well emerge from your experience an authority on the subject you learned so much about. You'll be richer in experience -- and if you have been kept out of mischief, that alone will be a great accomplishment. So the gnawing hunger to be important will be satisfied at last without harm to anyone."

Lajos Egri in 'The Art of Dramatic Writing', foreword, page x, xii, xii, first published in 1946 by Simon & Schuster, INC, USA

"The [director] concerned [ was ] rather surprised that I even asked for the [ script ] -- […] asking 'Since when do cameramen read scripts?' -- but only once have I accepted a film without seeing a script (or at least a treatment) first, and on that occasion I sorely regretted it."

Walter Lassally in 'Itinerant Cameraman', page 101, first published in 1987 by John Murray (Publishers) Ltd, London

"Images, music and voice-over move independently.[…] The visual flow is […] varied. [ The ] film interweaves crucial New Wave principles: the pictorial space is moral space; that morality is an unstable equilibrium between audacity and prudence; that morality can be non-judgemental; that morales are not rules, but serious games with calculated risks; and that personal structures only intersect with the political."

Raymond Durgnat in the introduction to Francois Truffaut's 'Jules et Jim', first published in English in 1968 by Lorrimer Publishing Inc., reissued in 1989 by Faber and Faber Limited, London

"With tea, just like wine, you are dealing with terroir. The composition of the terrain and climate are crucial for the development of certain characteristics. Handpicked, traditionally produced tea from a reliable region are at the base, always. Quality tea is affordable luxury. You can drink great tea for the same price as bad wine."

Robert Schinkel in 'Exclusief, informatie magazine Sligro, Nr 15', page 29, published by Sligro B.V.

Ignorance

Kennemer Dunes, today. Learn [ or burn ].

Min/max temperature: 3°C/9°C; humidity: 100%; precipitation: 12 mm, sea level pressure: 988 hPa; wind WNW 52.0 km/h; visibility: 10.0 kilometres; Clouds Few 243 m., Scattered Clouds 304 m., Mostly Cloudy 548 m

"[People] interested in creating high performance teams are unafraid of incertitude and unresolved issues and are able to remain open-minded. [Prepared] to accept a condition what the poet John Keats termed "negative capability": "when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason" […] It is important to maintain a state of deliberate open-mindedness -- the ability to keep imagination alive without having the urge for closure. […] Paranoid and depressive anxieties are major emotional drivers within a group-as-a-whole. At the core of these primitive regressive processes is a basic feeling of helplessness, a state of mind that produces the deepest source of anxiety in human beings […] If these regressive forces are not dealt with, the group-as-a-whole falls victim to a paranoid mindset, expressed as mistrust, untruthfulness, suspicion, hostility, immoral behaviour, rivalry, jealousy, envy, spite, and fear. […] Within this paranoid framework, scapegoats will be targeted within a group or team. Scapegoating is a way of deflecting our aggression onto safer targets, instead of directing it towards the target we are really frustrated with. People who become scapegoats act as receptacles for the projections of the unacceptable impulses experienced by the group-as-a-whole. […] As an additional "benefit" this act of projection may bind "good" group members closer together, by creating a common enemy. In many instances, scapegoats are chosen because of some special or unique characteristic that makes them different from the other members of the group […] some low-status individuals frequently become associated (forced by the group) with the unacceptable, unseemly, or foolish aspects of the group."

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries in 'The Hedgehog Effect', page 145, 146, 147, 151. First published in 2011 by John Wiley and Sons, USA

Knowing ignorance is strength.
Ignoring knowledge is sickness.

If one is sick of sickness, then one is not sick.
The wise are not sick, because they are sick of sickness.
Therefore they are not sick.

Lao Tsu in 'Tao Te Ching', translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English. Originally published by Knopf, New York, 1972

Land your brand™

Kennemer Dunes, today (1/3). Break it [ make it ] 

Min/max temperature: 4°C/7°C; humidity: 99%; precipitation: 0 mm, sea level pressure: 1026 hPa; wind from SSE 8.0 km/h; Clouds: Few 152 m, Scattered Clouds 213 m, Mostly Cloudy 274 m; visibility: 5.0  kilometres

"The point in which content leaves off and technique begins is blurred, and yet they are so interdependent that one is impossible without the other. Above all, then, the filmmaker must not only be fully aware of both art and technique, but of technology as well. Film-making is a twentieth-centrury art born of science. [...] Consider ultra sensitive high-speed [ film ] that allows picture-taking under seemingly impossible light conditions, or transistors that make feasible vest-pocket synchronous units that record actual sound and speech anywhere. Such developments, which make possible so much more, may at times be an obstacle, because the temptation is so great, and so subtle, to concentrate on mastery of the technique. In the heady excitement of achieving effect or of bringing off a difficult tour de force, it is easy to find a pseudo artistic satisfaction that blinds one to the demands of a fully artistic piece of work. [...] Discipline is what is sorely needed. Often, the so-called depth and insight are in reality lots of smoke and little fire, emotionalism without substance. The […] filmmaker must clarify his substance by analysis and structure development, with close scrutiny of the causal relationships. […] In the making of a film, aside from creative effort, much is required of the film-maker in the way of technical knowledge and organisational know-how. Unfortunately, his mastery of these areas can lead to such sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that he may be trapped into forgetting why he initially set out to make a film. It is not unusual, for example, for him to become so absorbed in the technical aspects [ of lip synchronisation ] he overlooks what is being said. […] The film-maker needs, therefore, in addition to a solid technical foundation, an insight into those things involving ideas and values. He needs to know where his talents shape up best, whith what kind of material he functions most effectively, in what way he can set up a frame of reference within which to explore his material, and how to clarify his point of view. How he wants to say anything, let alone decide the most effective way to say it? To seek conscious and direct answers to these problems is next to impossible because they cannot be arrived at in the manner of mathematical equation. Rather, the answers will emerge to one degree or another, trough the actual making of the films. [...] The filmmaker has to constantly make films. The questions should be left to the critics, the scholars, and the analysts."

Haig P. Manoogian in 'The Film-makers Art', page 1, 2, 159, 247, first published in 1966 by Basic Books, Inc. New York, London

"Art comes out of craft. That's where the art comes from. Movies are craft, they're not art. Art comes out of craft. [You] may have a great idea for a painting. But can you paint? If you say "No," than your idea isn't worth a shit. […] Pretty photography is easy; it really is the easiest thing in the world. But photography that rounds a picture off, top to bottom, and holds the content together, is really the most beautiful. […] You try not to put the photography in front of the story; you try to make it part of the story."

Gordon Willis in 'Masters of Light', page 294, 302, by Dennis Scheafer and Larry Salvato, first published in 1984 by University of California Press, USA

"I want to always be free to not have to do something. I want to not have to take a picture for any other reason than because I want to […] I don't want to take a picture because I have to. That's how despair begins; when you don't have the freedom to say no to something that you don't want to do. Suddenly you get locked into not being free."

Conrad Hall in 'Masters of Light' , page 173 by Dennis Scheafer and Larry Salvato, first published in 1984 by University of California Press, USA

"Despair is the only unforgivable sin, and it's always reaching for us."

Sam Peckinpah in 'Peckinpah, the Western Films, A Reconsideration', introduction, by Paul Seydor, first published in 1980 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, USA

"Aesthetic and ethical decisions are seldom made from a position of cool intellectual neutrality; more often they are forged in discomfort and anxiety over conflicting moral obligations -- to actual people who know and trust you, on the one hand, or to truths whose importance may transcend any individual's passing discomfort, on the other. [...] Only with maturity can you identify the surrogates to your own values and temperament, and allow them to achieve a life of their own in a film. The discipline of such a process has its own rewards. Your work alters the way you see the fundamentals of your own life -- the very source from which your documentary process sprang. In this way, each film lays the foundations for the next."

Michael Rabiger in 'Directing the documentary (third edition)', page 364, published in 1998 by Butterworth-Heinemann, USA

"The best people know more."

David Ogilvy in 'Ogilvy on Advertising', page 21, first published in 1983 by Multimedia Publications (UK) Ltd.

Intuition + knowledge = direction

Kennemer Dunes, today. Walk it [ talk it ]

Min/max temperature: 6°C/12°C; humidity: 83%; precipitation: 0 mm, sea level pressure: 1015 hPa; wind WNW 15.9 km/h; visibility: 10.0 kilometres; Clouds few 670 m.

"I believe that the processes of autoregulation are as stable and as capable of providing the same importance in any formation as heredity itself. [ As ] a rule, autoregulation in the organism limits itself to preserving a certain state of equilibrium and, in the case of deviation or of new formation, to bringing it back to its initial state; whereas, on the contrary, autoregulation in the realm of behaviours constantly pushes the organism -- or the subject, if a cognitive behaviour is involved -- towards new extensions. The physiological organism has no reason to change; […] there is no "necessity" in evolutionary changes. Conservation is the supreme rule for physiological equilibrium. Whereas [ in ] the field of behaviour [ …] two goals are pursued: [ 1 ] the extension of the environment, […] the surpassing of that environment which now encompasses the organism, trough explorations and research in new environments; [ 2 ] the reinforcement of the organism's power over that environment. An autoregulation that is capable of preserving the past as well as constantly surpassing itself trough the double end of extending the environment and reinforcing the organism's power […] when we are dealing with behaviours and cognitive processes, [ are ] a much more fundamental mechanism than heredity itself."

Jean Piaget in 'Language and Learning; The Debate between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky', page 61, edited by Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, first published in 1979 in France. English translation by Harvard University Press, USA

"[…] Hawthorne […] once remarked, "We certainly do need a new revelation -- a new system -- for there seems to be no life in the old one." […] Whatever the complaint sound or the vision proffered, [ the artist is ] revolting against the prevailing official culture, and the revolt usually consists in an escape from a place they don't like to someplace elsewhere. […] In most instances […] the artist's journey at least crosses trough some kind of wilderness, and that also takes many forms. […] Emerson gives us the first clue when he says in Nature that to know nature is to know yourself, […] what is found in nature [ corresponds with ] what is found in the mind, the point of transcendence being to liberate yourself from the constrictions imposed by habit, routine, dogma, education […] by society, so […] the true self […] can emerge. […] In Death in the afternoon [ Ernest ] Hemmingway moves himself as self to centre stage, he enunciates his famous credo: moral is what makes you feel good afterward and immoral is what makes you feel bad afterwards. In the same section Hemmingway identifies the three most difficult problems of writing as "knowing truly what you really felt, rather than what you where supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel"; putting "down what really happened in action," "what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced"; and then finding "the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion." [ When ] people "have learned to appreciate values trough experience what they seek is honesty and true, not tricked, emotion and always classicism and the purity of execution." Near the beginning of The Wild Bunch there is a seemingly innocuous line, spoken by an anonymous character, which goes, "it's not what you meant to do, it's what you did I don't like" -- a line that is, in many ways, a paraphrase of Hemmingway's credo."

Paul Seydor in 'Peckinpah, the Western Films, A Reconsideration', page 314, 315, 316, first published in 1980 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, USA

"To count in advance on success, […] to calculate or foresee communication with the spectator, seems to me infinitely more risky than fidelity to oneself."

Andrei Tarkovski, 'Andrei Rublev', page xii, introduction to the original Kino roman by Philip Strick, first published in 1991 by Faber Faber Limited, London

Contingencies

Foredune, today. Path [ "Just passing through" ]

Min/max temperature: 5°C/7°C; humidity: 91%; precipitation: 0 mm, sea level pressure: 1026 hPa; wind from W 20.9 km/h; Clouds: overcast 60 m.; visibility: < 2.0  kilometres

"It is not so much the subjects one depict that create beauty; rather it is the need one has felt to represent them, and it is this need itself that gives one the strength to carry them off…. One might say that anything is beautiful, provided it is at the right place at the right time, and, conversely, that nothing is beautiful if it comes at the wrong time… Beauty is what is apt. […] What we call "composition" is the art of communicating our thoughts to others. […] A work should be all of a piece […] and people and things should be there for an end. I wish to say what is necessary plainly and strongly… and I confess to the greatest horror of superfluities (however brilliant) and of filling up. […] In my pictures of fields I see only two things: the sky and the ground, the two separated by the horizon, and imaginary lines, rising and falling, I built on that and the rest is either accidental or incidental. [ I intend ] to give man the principal role and landscape the status of a creation, showing it all in its significance, grandeur and truth as it is actually created. […] In the cultivated places, although at times in regions hardly at all tillable, you see figures spading or hoeing; you see one, from time to time, straighten up his back… and wipe his forehead with the back of his hands. You will eat your bread by the sweat of your brows. […] 'Cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return of the earth.' […] Nature yields herself to those who trouble to explore her."

Jean-François Millet in 'Drawn into the Light', edited by Alexandra I. Murphy, page 5, 22, 28, first published in 1999 by Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

"Money, food, grades, and honours must be husbanded carefully, but the automatic reinforcements of being right and moving forward are inexhaustible."

B.F. Skinner in 'The Technology of Teaching', page 158, first published in 1968 by Prentice-Hall, Inc., USA