Every creation requires influence

Every creation requires influence

Formation of one’s identity is a lifelong process which, in my opinion, mostly depends on the type of people and places that surround the person. Identities are socially constructed, never neutral. From the moment we are born, we will be instantly exposed to  the influence of others. At first it is our family and teachers that help us learn basic skills such as talking and walking and later it gets more complicated as we are getting exposed to even bigger amount of external influences such as media and peers.

 

From the moment we are born, we will be instantly exposed to  the influence of others

 

People you choose to be close friends with are always a reflection of your true self, that is why family is not included in this project. They are more of a habit than a choice and for me identity is more about decisions, either conscious or unconscious. I decide to mostly include unstaged portraits of my friends (and also one picture of Paris and one of Barbican) to show their character and visual link between them, me and places we love. Another reason for choosing exactly these pictures of my friends and not any other of them is that I took them on the day we realized that we are becoming friends, not random acquaintances. I see particular beauty in little but crucial moments like that. The same happened with pictures of places that I use for this project. When I took a picture of that moment in Paris, I realized that I am absolutely in love with the city and its’ details and that there is no way back. Barbican is another charming place of great importance to me. Brutalist architecture is a connotation of strength, solitude and beauty at once, just like the traits of character that I would admire in someone.

 

“…a connotation of strength, solitude and beauty”

It may sound cynical, but looks are very important for me, both in people and cities where I live (that is probably why I am so found of London and Paris, places of incredible architecture and energy, combining both old and modern buildings). I think it is wrong to deny the fact that looks matter as seeing something is usually your first experience and impression of a person or place. Being born an observer, I’m really grateful to have spent my younger years in Russia and France and even to have been forcefully moved here, London. Those beautiful places influenced my taste in terms of aesthetics and allowed me to meet great amounts of people out which only few became my close friends who helped me to become what I am right now. Friends don’t just change our preferences or help us learn more about the world, they also change the way we feel about ourselves and make an impact on decisions that we have to make.

But back to the main point, one way or another we inhabit traits of people we constantly talk to and so do they from us. For example, I have to admit that with time, unconsciously I started dressing more like Eugenia whilst she started reading similar books to me. In case with Ed and Masha it was wine and taste in music that we exchanged that night. Influence of other people on our identities is hard to deny and absolutely impossible to get rid of. By taking all pictures in black and white I wanted them to share the same ‘mood’ and therefore show how similar our characters can appear on pictures without us all actually having similar physique. That one picture of me included in this project was taken by another friend of mine who had such a massive influence on me. We no longer talk to each other, but every time a look at it, I realize how much that person has changed my life although we are no longer friends.

To me relationship between the picture and the image is rather unimportant because the image is more important to me as it is self-explanatory. However, it would also be fair to say that text is usually needed to support the picture, to explain why it was taken and how. In this case the pictures are leading the project and text is there to explain the images. And lastly,the technical aspect of this project- the pictures were taken on the same old film camera using black and white film.

 

 

 

Inexpensive entertainment in expensive London

If you are anything like me,all your savings are in prayers and you are struggling to keep up to your own expectations of London lifestyle, this post is for you. Or just for anyone who does not want to spend a lot of money on entertainment and food.

Tinder

 For me it’s like a free comedy show and free drinks. always works. Well, 99% works. Like that time when Victor turned out to be Victoria and asked me to pay for his/her drinks as well as for mine.
Regent’s Canal

 Beautiful walks and amazing sceneries guaranteed, and all for free. Beautiful European-like experience. One further advantage is that such walls will help you keep fit.

 Free galleries

 London boasts with free entry galleries such as Tate, Tate modern and Serpentine and many others. One other option for families or nature lovers is to spend a day in Horniman museum and gardens. Massive park, gardens, a few cafes on the site and of course, the museum itself. Found the place really fascinating, having all those toxidermic animals in there.

Chinese buffets 

 One of the best things in life for me. 10 pounds, one plate and absolutely endless amounts of food. I think that this is something everyone should try at least once in their London life.

Fresh interview with an anti-feminist

We live in the 21-st century, magnificent 2016, 4-th or maybe even 5-th wave (I’m just joking, but who knows!) of feminism is ruling over our daily lives. Seems that we have all been indoctrinated into being feminists, even the most misogynistic men. However, recently there has been a serious increase in number of people who believe that feminism is not necessary at all in this very day and age. Does anyone really honestly have a choice not to be a feminist and not be shamed by our ‘righteous’ society?

In order to find some other answer to that sacramental and provocative question rather than ‘no’, I interviewed my friend Tosya who is an artist, raver and most importantly, a female.

Me: Thank you again for this interview! Now, tell me please, why exactly did you say that you are proud not to be a feminist?

T: I believe that in my country feminism is just no longer necessary. Well, at least in the way in which it is being promoted. Overall, term ‘feminism’ now has transformed completely.

M: I do agree, but in the way, the process of linguistic and semiotic transformation is inevitable, although, it rarely happens in a positive way.

T: Yes, sadly, nowadays feminism is being reduced to rough misandrism and real problems that feminists should solve are simply left unattended. This is just not right.

M: Tell me more about your opinion on modern feminists, this sounds rather intriguing.

T: Nowadays any girl that does not shave and colors her armpits and etc. calls herself a feminist and that’s not fair to real feminists who worked hard to fulfill their original goals such as emancipation and rights to vote. These radical actions are, in fact, rather repelling for adequate people and only work against feminists stopping people from taking them seriously.

M: That is a very interesting point of view. Would you then say that this is the problem of feminism all around the world?

T: Only to a certain extent, actually. Usefulness of it really does depend on the geolocation because4 it usually defines mentality.

M: Points you made a very smart, thank you. It was very nice to finally get to talk to you!

 

Reflection on Christian approaches to consience

Conscience is never fully described or fully explored, even nowadays it still remains a rather mysterious object/feeling/brain activity(call it whatever you want, there is no right or wrong answer). This subject is both notorious within both secular and non secular societies and in this very case most arguments prove that secular world is the winning side.

Many christian thinkers tried to describe conscience, however they could never agree on one and only description of this aspect of human existence. St Jerome preferred the idea that conscience is intuitive and that syneidesis (most commonly described nowadays as the capacity to apply general principles of moral judgment to particular cases ) is actually ‘gleams of conscience by which we discern that we sin’.  From his point of view conscience serves both the individual and the teachings of the Church. Since it is intuitive, it means that conscience is available for everyone, even atheists. Such point appears to be the main strength of his rather undeveloped argument as never bothered to write much about it or support it by any other arguments.

St Augustine of Hippo was another Christian thinker who developed religious understanding of conscience. He understood it as a voice form God, outflow of divine love, which telling us what to do. This consequently creates many problems. One of them is a self-contradictory God. This problem arises when, for example, two consciences of two people contradict each other, in other words, when God tells two people to do two contradictory things. Sadly, St Augustine never did resolve this important issue which undermines his description of conscience. He is also telling us to have God as our witness when using conscience and making decisions, but what is there left to do for people who do not believe in God? They still do good actions and most of them would agree that they do have a conscience, but not from God. Another serious weakness of Augustine’s approach to conscience id that it makes God responsible for all our actions and mistakes. This statement contradicts both the idea of free will and the nature of God who is supposedly omnibenevolent(all-good) and omnipotent(all-powerful). If God is perfect, then our actions should always be morally right and lead to a good outcome. If one takes on Augustine’s point of view, but goes off to kill and rape, would it be fair to say that God has ‘whispered’ them to kill or to rape?

Another idea of conscience comes from St Thomas Aquinas who was also a Christian but preferred to apply reason to conscience and morality, unlike some other religious thinkers. ‘Reason seeking understanding’.  This is how Aquinas thought of conscience. He also put forward the idea that conscience consists of two parts- Synderisis and Contientia. Synderisis is the innate knowledge of the primary precepts (Natural Law) and contientia is the practical part, application of that knowledge(quite similar to the idea of syneidesis discussed above). His theory about conscience gives us a clear guidance on how to act. Primary precepts are easy to remember and by using correct reasoning, secondary precepts are also easy to understand. Aquinas avoids having a contradictory God by saying that conscience is only faulty because of us. Human ignorance does not allow us to follow conscience correctly and therefore, God should not be blamed when we listen to our conscience but in the end it turns out that we should not have. Misinterpretation, all it is. He also claimed that factual errors are fine, which of course is also a benefit as it gives us more chances to stay moral. On the other hand, criticisms of Aquinas’ ideas of conscience definitely overweight the few strengths that it has. Many of them are connected to the natural law. Aquinas assumes that good is the same for everyone, but cultural relativism exists and we have to admit that most of he times people have different values and ideas of good. Good is not actually objective. Also, some acts can never be justified. Murder is still a murder, no matter whether it was a factual error or an act of basic human ignorance. Another serious flaw is emotions. All human beings tend to have emotions and feelings towards things, animals and even other people and St Thomas Aquinas does not seem to acknowledge that simple fact. As much as we wish, conscience is not just our reason making right (or sometimes wrong) decisions. There are also feelings and emotions that always have an effect on our final moral and ethical decisions.

As an example of someone who goes against these ideas I take Sigmund Freud. He would generally criticize any religious idea on anything, especially, conscience. For him, religion is an illness and therefore, religious views on conscience cannot be correct. Conscience equals guilt. And even more guilt when we go against it. Freud did not believe in any moral codes, but did believe in importance of previous experience in decision making.

One of the more modern religious thinkers that has influenced our understanding of conscience is Joseph Butler. In Butler’s view conscience is a natural guide assigned to us by the author of nature. He also proposed that conscience magisterially exerts itself without being consulted. His approach is quite positive and provides us with a clear guidance if we follow our hierarchy of needs according to Butler. At the top of his pyramid (not to be confused with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is conscience then principle of reflection, below them there are self love and benevolence and at the bottom are our basic human needs and drives such as desire for food. Butler said that in order to be happy we have to leave behind all our low impulses and only follow conscience, but there is a serious problem that arises from this statement. How is conscience distinguishable from other impulses or maybe conscience is an impulse itself? The fact that conscience in his opinion just somehow always magically exerts itself leads to conclude that there is no free will or human freedom at all. This, in turn, leads on to deduce that we should not be held morally responsible for our actions since we do not chose to do them. In many cases religious ideas of conscience lead to a contradictory God and it seems to be their biggest problem. My little research proves that religious approaches to conscience and morality are rather weak and not based on any reasonable ideas or arguments. 

Thought of the day

Today got shouted at by a homeless person because there was not enough foam in his FREE latte. Wonderful and totally amazing.

Sometimes you just have to accept what other people do for you and be grateful for it.

One of the strongest pieces of feminist poetry

“Ishtar Awakens in Chicago” by Mohja Kahf, an Arab-American poet. In her poems she discusses tensions between societies, religions and genders. This poem comes from her extraordinary award-winning book called ‘E-mails From Scheherazad’ (2003).

My arrogance knows no bounds
And I will make no peace today
And you shall be so lucky
To find a woman like me

Today neither will the East claim me
nor the West admit me
Today my belly is a well
wherein serpents are coiled
ready to poison the world,
and you should be so lucky.

All I have is my arrogance
I will teach it to lean back
and smoke a cigarette in your faces,
and you should be so lucky

No I will make no peace
even though my hands are empty
I will talk as big as I please
I will be all or nothing
And I will jump before the heavy trucks
And I will saw off my leg at the thigh
before I bend one womanly knee

I am poison
And you will drink me
And you should be so lucky.

Looking at consumerism from a different angle

We are surrounded by various ads, literally everywhere. Hailed by tempting offers. On the tube, on the Internet, on the streets. Chuck Palahniuk once famously wrote that we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Just like him many claim that it’s all so very bad and wrong that we are constantly being forced to buy things that we apparently don’t need, but let me disagree with it. We are all autonomous human beings, we have a power of free will. One has to admit that as consumers or audience we are not passive. Hypodermic needle theory is just no longer relevant for our generation. I also truly believe that as long as we are happy with the purchase, it’s good and it’s not useless since we satisfy our desire to buy it. Furthermore, Consumerism is good and ethically correct. It gives people jobs, makes other people happy, keeps the life going. It took me a while to come to such conclusions and even longer to admit that I am a commodity fetishist.

So here I am, sitting at this so-called ‘date’, being utterly bored and still utterly afraid to say that He is nothing like the guy from Tinder. He is trying his best to be all nice and romantic. My brain was not even functioning properly at this occasion, but then suddenly I heard: ‘I love your soft skin, I love how you smell, I love your beautiful lips’ and then it hit me. Great, so you actually love my Keihl’s body cream, Tom Ford perfume and Chanel lipstick. That’s not me, those are products. He does not love me, he loves them. I guess it would be fair to say that the only suitable place for me in this rather complicated love equation is to be a maneqien for them. Is love being reduced to commodity fetishism or is it really just what it is? Is consumerism actually that bad? We buy and consume daily, no matter what. Products, services and even people. That must be obvious, so why did ‘consumerism’ become almost a swearing word at this very day in age? Products are what makes us ‘us’. They help to construct out fragile identities and they make us happy. Certainly make me. They make people love each other. Commodity fetishism is no longer a perversion but simply a tool to manipulate peoples’ feelings and identities. Surely, I would love someone to love me for who I really am, for my intellect, wit and ridiculous sense of humor, but the problem here is that without ‘products’ such as deodorant or foundation I probably wouldn’t even get a chance to show them off simply because not many would dare talk to me. Beauty attracts (probably because sometimes life itself is quite ugly) and it is a fact that very few will honestly deny and since various products help us to achieve it, it’s alright to want to buy something.

And now time for a massive ‘coming-out’. A consumerist, that’s what I am, just like many other urban citizens.