Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happiness, impatience and suffering

I heard on the radio a little bit of a discussion where it was claimed that happiness is 80% genetics - you are predisposed to happiness, or then you are not. Is there any recent scientific backing to this claim at all? Googling I found some hits from 2008 claiming 50% is genetically determined, but also that claim seemed to be on shaky grounds.

A colleague said that there had been a program about happiness on Finnish tv recently, so this radio discussion may have been continuation of this theme. As I don't watch tv much, and don't subscribe to any newspapers, I'm occasionally quite unaware of topical discussion topics. In fact, I think that not watching tv and not subscribing to newspapers may be a happiness-increasing tactic. But that is just a personal experience.

I also found a nice quote related to this:

The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.

~Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, 1954

In any case, here are four photographs taken today. I went skiing and used by mistake one of the old batteries for the LX3. The battery ran out of power soon, and even the warming trick didn't work. And in any case it was so cold out there that fingers started to freeze.

I got a long comment by Odykal to the posting from yesterday, and I feel a response is needed, although I'm a bit hesitant what to say.

First of all, I'm grateful for such a detailed and honest feedback, it is not often one gets anything like this. And I'm humbled by it also.

I brought up the happiness theme partly because of this comment, as I don't think there is any reason to pursue the perfect photograph, as there is no point in pursuing happiness. All that matters is the doing.

In Finnish the word for impatience ("kärsimättömyys") is derived from the verb suffer ("kärsiä"). In a book by Tuomas Kyrö there is a sentence along the lines that people are nowadays much too impatient, and this is because they don't suffer enough. Experience some suffering, and you will be less impatient. (I wrote a book review of this book, in Finnish here.)

So, please prepared to suffer boring, badly framed, uninteresting and otherwise mauled photographs. Maybe the occasional successes will feel all the better - but it may be that all that matters is just those failures, the successes don't matter so much.

Also, thanks for the advice on printing photographs. As I suspected, this is an area that needs a lot of experimentation. Somewhat related to this, Ctein posted today a detailed article on how to display inkjet prints, recommending that you "always frame your photographs under glass or acrylic". That is valuable knowledge.


Markus Spring said...

Juha, just a short note on your last sentence on framing: In terms of longevity of the print Ctein for sure is correct, but that is not the only important aspect to consider. For another point of view just have a look at one of the landscapist's recent posts:

I personally do prefer to see my images without glass - I've never found any glass that would not take away from vibrance or sharpness or distract by reflecting. And for my usage it will be sufficitient if the prints last 40 years.
The only exception I would make for originals that can't be replaced. My Carl Weese platinum print is under glass, in spite of all the disadvantages. But I enjoyed it most when holding the bare paper in my hands.

Cedric said...

Interestingly I wrote something along these lines in a notebook on the way home today.

In the United States' Declaration of Independence it mentions "the pursuit of happiness" as one of men's inherent rights. That has always struck me as an odd thing.

As someone once said to me, pursue happiness long enough and you end up a sad, unhappy old man on his death bed wondering where all the time went.

Especially like your photos today, Ice flowers and Blur in particular.

Juha Haataja said...

I think Eric Hoffer wrote something related to this in his book "True Believer" - haven't read the book so I'm not sure.

Markus Spring said...

Juha, just a short note on Ctein's advice to frame: Longevity of a work of art is one important aspect, yet in private life (opposed to a collection or a museum) the experience of the immediate view on a photograph should not be underestimated.

Since last year I started to get 10 prints every month of my images, 21x30 cm, and I do love to hold them in my hand - it's a completely different experience to the screen or a framed and glazed image on the wall. And whilst I have a series of my photographs on a wall in my flat under glass, I would select a different mounting for the next such project (which is purely theoretical due to the lack of wallspace). Up to now I haven't seen any glass that would not severely impede the view on the photograph.

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus: Thanks for the insight. Anyway, longlevity is not a top priority for me - things are more natural in a transient state.