Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Jess changes her mind. Again.

Some day, I hope I will look back at all that I've written and note some PROGRESS.

My god, my belief in things are so amenable and temporary that it scares me. Even though it only includes the items that lie on the periphery of my belief system, and not my core values, its so utterly frustrating to have absolutely no faith in what you think is right, because you know you will prove yourself wrong sooner or later.

Anyway, the latest in Jess's ever shifting landscape of life, is that she's starting to think her head has perhaps been too high up in the clouds and obscured by all the pretty fluffy things.

Believing that I do journalism because I want to help?

The effectiveness of a photo or story is so utterly limited that I really don't know why I've been deceiving myself. Yes, of course there's always that slight chance of making an impact somewhere, but is that really enough to satisfy me?

I always used to reassure myself with the lasting words of Peter Fryer "You'll never change the world, let's not have any illusions. But for me, if somewhere out there someone's mind is changed, its enough for me."

Er, maybe just one mind is aiming a bit too low, doncha think? And so what a bloke in Europe now thinks that oh dear he'd better send off some money to Pakistan because the poor kids are in tents. Is that really all you hope to achieve? Or slog off my whole life to get that one earth-shattering-photo-of-the-year. Just one? Or maybe two?

Looking back at all the great photojournalists, yes they've done their part to raise awareness. But how much of what they did actually made a difference to the people they photographed? How much tangible help did the people receive?

If I'm poor and hungry, I don't give a damn if someone in Europe knows of my existence. That would really mean nothing to me. SEND ME FOOD. GIVE ME A JOB. ANYTHING but to become a discussion point over the dinner table.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you want to get things done, maybe its best you do it yourself.

And not through a pen/camera, not through your editor/website/newspaper/magazine. Through your own hands and sweat and everything.

My camera suddenly makes me feel selfish. Photography suddenly seems so selfish to me.

Will Update as my Mind shifts.

No, he really doesn't care what you think.


Lars said...


....and so what Jess? You could climb the ladder of power and politics, starting at the bottom. The nobility of your efforts will quickly be lost there as well. I want to say that feeling good about your own efforts is about as selfish as anything else. Then someone actually benefiting from your selfishness, in some chance peripheral way, doesn't look that bad in comparison.

So why volunteraly isit all the poverty, abuse and misery? (if that is your thing)

Because I am curious. Because I want to care and looking at other peoples versions of the shit, doesn't do it for me. I need to see it. I need to ask. I recognize it's for myself first, then for everyone else after. And most of the time I work on stuff that doesn't matter.

Lars said...

Proving yourself wrong is by far the most groundbraking thing you can do for your own experience. In my opinion.

panaphobic said...

But it isn't about feeling good about what I do. It's about feeling bad when I realise that what I've done hadn't really made an improvement to anyone's lives. Except my own, maybe.

And even so, if feeling good about my own efforts is a selfish thing, then to quote you, "someone actually benefiting from your selfishness, in some chance peripheral way, doesn't look that bad in comparison."

Same response to the other side of the coin.

And I guess that part about climbing the ladder of power and politics.. that's another issue for another day, because I'm aware that I place a lot of emphasis on tangible results, and I'm not sure if that's the only thing that one should look for.

And Lars, what good does your curiousity do?

Perhaps I'm being much too naively noble to expect good to come out of every action that we take.

Lars said...

My point is: your discovery is not negative but positive.

Your curiosity does you good first, then others later - maybe. I think it should be that way. Keeps you from saving someones world in your own image of how things should be. Keeps you humble to know that you are doing it for your own sake. And then the kid in the image is sitting there for you, and you owe him gratitude.

Before you (or I) make it a life lesson. Some of the photographers that went to Vietnam and other places with conflicts, concluded that their work did not stop any human suffering.

Even so, keep you ideal. It's an ideal. You're not supposed to ask for the reward. If you want to be that holy about it. It's the noble naivity that's the real selfishnes, not the acknowledged one. And your leader is George Bush.

Lars said...

The acknowledged selfishnes has limits, asks questions, restrains itself and looks for opposing views to check if things are all right with the other. Whomever or whatever that may be.

(fa la la)

Ghim Lay said...

This might be a bit out of point, but I read something recently that stayed with me. A journalist went to Uganda, a country which has been torn apart by two decades of civil war. 20,000 children have been abducted by the rebels to serve as soldiers and sex slaves. This journalist went there and interviewed an aid worker, 33-year-old Milen Kidane, who works in a centre that helps these abducted children who were released or escaped. Other relief workers had told this journalist that they wonder if they are making any difference at all because it has been 19 years and things haven't changed. When he told Kidane this, she said, "You know, sometimes all you can do is help to change one life at a time."

When I read that, the first thing I thought to myself was that journalists really don't have the right to complain when those at the frontline are still so positive. True, one person might not be much in the larger scheme of things, but we all start somewhere. And I believe that there is strength in numbers, and who knows what more people can do? And like what someone used to say, cynicism and negativity will always be the easier ways out. So I think I will choose to be optimistic and try the best I can to change the things I can.

Lars said...

Hear hear! :-)