Years ago I put together a couple of e-books, consisting of images I had taken and liked, accompanied by micro-stories. The images were captured with my first ever DSLR- a consumer Pentax, and with only rudimentary knowledge of technical stuff such as depth of field, operation beyond automatic, and something called post-processing. Some of these couplets were reflections on colours, with the image of course reflecting the colour. I thought it would be amusing (at least for me) to blog these from time to time. Here is the first.
It’s a shame that YELLOW is not more often associated with less craven images than the brashness of gold; images such as the delicate champagne underwing of a canary, the translucent petals of a citron daisy in a sad morning light, or the glower of an elm leaf pausing on its late autumn journey to become one with the fallow earth. It’s the happiest most heartsick hue in nature’s entire palette, and the world would wilt without its sallow sacrifice to the sombre night at the end of an over-bright day.
And in a different vein, (and paraphrasing badly) if a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there to observe it, did it really fall? The answer of course is the sound of one hand clapping and the methodical grinding of lions teeth on wildebeest bone. Similarly, if we dared to declare ourselves an information-free zone and tuned out of the news for a few months (and it needs to be the right months), was there indeed ever a global financial disaster, did the moon landing ever happen, was Trump actually elected to the presidency of the United States? (we would have to tune out for a lot of months for that one). When we walked back in, would our bank balances still be the same, the garbage still be collected, and did life go on? I suspect so. Mind you, we would probably vow and declare the moon landing footage was faked.
Honestly, why do we yearn to remain so connected to the world? Even the most superficial risk/benefit assessment suggests we are better off devoting those misspent waking hours to Good Deeds, or at least reading a moderately interesting work of fiction under a shady tree. The reasons are of course that our addiction to information is more to do with tuning out than in. We like to entertain ourselves with the misdeeds of others, feed our sense of self-righteousness or simply make sure we can hold our own at the next men’s hut or mother’s club lunch (and please excuse these as metaphors for whatever social event you may regularly attend).
Also there are people who genuinely like collecting facts, like others collect stamps or newspaper cuttings about serial murderers. They like to categorise, plagiarise, pasteurise and exasperise. Yes, the eyes have it. And there are people who make money out of all this. Like journalists, people who employ journalists and those who invest in the whole news thing, like Time Warner and Fox. Hold on, I think they’re almost one and the same. Incidentally, do you realise over 2 million viewers watch Fox news in the U.S.A. in prime time. Which is less than 2% of the American viewing public. What on earth is everyone else doing?
My central proposition, proclaimed with minimal argument, is that information is vastly overrated. These days it’s often opinion built around a kernel of manipulable truth. We live in a world of illusion, where our senses repeatedly lie, disguise, befuddle, mystify and frustrate our path to the truth. And what is truth? Thomas Aquinas decided that truth corresponded to actual reality, and then, so it is written, levitated in ecstasy when the blessed Virgin appeared before him and told him he couldn’t be a bishop. Yeah, right.
Spinoza, an 18th century philosopher who gets my gong because he laid the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, thought truth to be primarily a property of propositions, which can be ascribed to individual propositions only according to their coherence with the whole. This caused his mother to throw him off a cliff.
Vico, another 18th century Italian philosopher and the first expositor on the fundamentals of social science and a thing called semiotics, which is basically a whole bunch of signs leading to a more perfect confabulation, decided that truth itself was a construct, but refused to elaborate of what and by whom until someone bought him a beer, and Rescher, who is amazingly a living American philosopher, didn’t think there were any, did you; wisely decided truth was whatever anyone agreed it was, and then bought Vico a beer.
Personally I think the truth is whatever I say it is, unless of course I’m making it up or it’s Tuesday morning. And if you buy me a beer it can be whatever you say it is.
Finally, what contemporary blog would be complete without a discussion on food. Today it’s a recipe for a meal I recently prepared.
Note that cooking is closely akin to photography. To produce a masterpiece, you need great ingredients (good light), a great recipe (profound composition), good equipment (ditto), and adequate knowledge of cooking techniques (camera technique, exposure, depth of field, post-production).
Sexy soused seared kangaroo fillet with a juniper, red wine and brandy sauce; ras al hanout vegetables and couscous a’ la straight out of the packet.
Take moderately sized kanga fillets for 4, coax them into a vessel with depth and character and marinate for 3 hours in a mixture of good red wine (a shiraz is exemplary), a generous splashing of balsamic vinegar, a bit less of wostershire sauce and a bunch of the strongest freshly chopped Mediterranean herbs you can find in your garden; (excluding rosemary of course, otherwise that’s all you’ll taste). I found Italian parsley, sage and oregano did the trick. Clearly the herbs won’t come out of the garden freshly chopped so you’ll have to do this yourself.
Julienne up none too fine, some vegies – I favoured carrot, beans, broccoli and red peppers. Steam all al dente except leave the peppers. Heat oil in a wok (and for god’s sake use a good high temperature oil like bran oil or I will find you and you don’t want to know what will happen next), add a smidgen or more of ras el hanout (do not tell me you don’t know what this is – go search out your nearest middle eastern grocery like I had to) and temper, temper; add some finely chopped ginger, vegies, chopped garlic, and sauté or stir fry or whatever, and just before these are done add some teriyaki sauce, not the stuff with thickeners in it, or again I will find you ….).
Meanwhile, or preferably at the same time, but definitely not beforehand, heat some oil in another pan and fry the kangaroo fillet, turning profusely until almost charry on the outside and rare as hell on the inside (do not mix this up and char the inside; kangaroo dries out if overexposed to a surfeit of cooking). Take the fillets out and rest in a preheated oven.
Make the sauce as follows. Open the Maggi packet… just kidding ….. add a goodly splodge of butter to the pan (a splodge is about half a skiffle with the middle finger closed over and one eye blurry), melt and heat to bubbling, making sure with a wooden spoon all those goozly bits on the bottom of the pan are incorporated into the melt. Deglaze with brandy, of course sampling the brandy to ensure it still tastes bloody marvellous. Add the marinade (ensuring the herbs are filtered off), and reduce this dark sweaty blousy butter sauce until it thickens a tad and looks as glossy as….as…as….I’d better leave it there.
Open the packet of couscous and follow the instructions. Next time get the brand without the bloody currants.
Slice the fillet into medallions, plate up, put the sauce in a boat to China, open a very good bottle of shiraz, say a Redhead McLaren vale Lot 7 (even the 2016 is marvellous) and thank your deity, me and your guests for good food and wine. Oh, and if you take a photo of the meal with your iPhone I will find you and….etc.
 Please don’t panic. Practice mindfulness. An explanation of this will be given in the next blog.