Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy 2014!

It's that time of the year again! In fact, it's the last day of the year again! HURRAY! Best news of all is that we've made it out alive again! Go us!

This won't be a blog post about whatever happened this year because nobody wants that and people only comment on those posts on facebook because they feel it is polite to do so. 

I could post a really long message about all the things I wish you for 2014 (positive or negative) but I felt like these images say it much better than I ever could:

Happy 2014 people! Let's make it a good one!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Creativity is not a talent

A few weeks ago at college we were shown this video to inspire us:

I'm pretty sure everybody knows who this man is (unless you either lived under a rock for the past few years or if you were only just born). John Cleese. A brilliant actor and comedian and pretty much a creative person, you'd say. However, in this lecture he points out that creativity is not really a talent. It is a way of operating. It was an eye-opener for me. I always considered myself to be quite creative, however, there always seemed to be people who were even more creative than I could ever be and I always considered it to be quite a talent to have. But in his lecture, Cleese explains that it is not a talent at all which means we can all be creative. YAY!

A quote:

MacKinnon showed that the most creative had simply acquired a facility for getting themselves into a particular mood -- "a way of operating" -- which allowed their natural creativity to function.
In fact, MacKinnon described this particular facility as an ability to play. (5:11)
Indeed he described the most creative (when in this mood) as being childlike. For they were able to play with ideas… to explore them… not for any immediate practical purpose but just for enjoyment. Play for its own sake.
 Awesome! Screw maturity! Which is a valid point indeed because if you think about it, adults are too limited by their need to be accepted and their desire to come off normal and well, mature, that they are often unable to cross those boundaries and seek inspiration beyond that. Children on the other hand are not limited by anything, simply because they have not yet learned they should be. Play is the most important thing for children. Exploring the world is an important thing for children. As adults we can learn a lot from that.

Cleese describes two modes. The closed mode and the open mode.

Basically the closed mode is our mature side. We have to get things done. We get stressed and feel like we need to get on with it. In this mode we are not very creative because, well, we're too stressed out for that. But in this mode we are purposeful.

The second mode he mentions is the open mode. It's the mode in which we are not pressured to do anything and in which 'curiosity for its own sake' can operate. We don't have to get anything done so we have the opportunity to explore.

However, we do need both modes in order for creativity to be effective.

But let me make one thing quite clear: we need to be in the open mode when we're pondering a problem but once we come up with a solution, we must then switch to the closed mode to implement it. Because once we've made a decision, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, undistracted by doubts about its correctness.
For example, if you decide to leap a ravine, the moment just before take-off is a bad time to start reviewing alternative strategies. When you're attacking a machine-gun post you should not make a particular effort to see the funny side of what you are doing.
Humor is a natural concomitant in the open mode, but it's a luxury in the closed {mode}.
I personally find that when I have a brilliant idea, I start dwelling on it for too long and do not get back to business to make the idea a reality. Which is wrong. Time to get into that stressed mode to make things happen. Work hard, play hard, as they say.

He mentions five conditions which are necessary to get into the open mode. Space, time, time, confidence and humour. Just listen to what he has to say. It is very interesting. It is maybe why the best ideas come when you are in the shower or on the toilet. You have time to think. You are relaxed (well usually. but I don't want to hear about your toilet issues, thank you very much). You can think and who knows, a genius idea might pop up?

But, do not always go with your first idea. This is something my teachers keep mentioning to me. "Oh what a great idea that is. Now come up with something else." Picking your first idea, however brilliant it may seem is always the easy way out because there are always better ideas out there, or at least better variations of an idea. So get that brain working kids!

I guess the most important thing I learned from this lecture (and this one too) is that it is important to be confident. It is important to not fear mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. You learn from them. And who says that teaching monkeys how to do karate is a bad idea? Take the opportunity and create the things you want to create.
At the moment I am working on two different projects which are both very weird and sinister in a way. I know that there will be responses of people who won't understand my reasoning behind them and will dismiss them as mistakes. If they do turn out horrible, well at least I learned from it. But I'm going to take a chance anyway because these are the things I want to create. These are the things I came up with in my open mode. These are things I would like to see/read.

Ah creativity. A mythical thing. I hope that watching this lecture will have given you motivation to go out there and play. Explore your boundaries and make a difference. After all, if we try, we're all artists.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Are we taking popmusic too seriously?

I consider myself to be a big fan of pop music. I enjoy listening to every kind of pop music by a variety of different artists. Some music I consider good, others are merely guilty pleasures. I am also very interested in pop culture and know quite a lot about it if I may say so myself. I also have an opinion about most things, which can differ from "Hmm this is reaaaally bad" to "This is fucking awesome!" and everything in between. Before social media was a big thing, my friends and I would sit together during lunch breaks and discuss all the latest events in pop music and of course have an opinion about it.

However, with the rise of social media, something has changed, Fanbases of a variety of artists are more out there now as they have a platform which they can use to express themselves without being tied to message boards for such activities. That is good on one hand, but on the other hand, it is a negative development.

It seems as though fans of a certain artist do not accept anyone being negative about their favourite artist. Even if something is not really negative but just an opinion on an aspect of what an artist does. A performance or a video for example. Yet when overly devoted fans find out about someone speaking their mind, it is not uncommon for them to be harassed, called names, stalked or even told to die. I have experienced this myself, and why? Because I did not agree with one choice my favourite artist made. That's all. Cue months of being bothered by overly 'loyal' fans who need to tell me how disloyal I am and how much said artist hates me.


Yesterday I logged in to twitter to find a similar discussion going. The argument started over this blog: http://jameelajamil.co.uk/post/70419008785/booty-and-the-beast. Nothing negative. Just an observation made. But apparently, you do not say anything about Beyonce that does not hail her existence. So this happened: http://jameelajamil.co.uk/post/70443846069/a-war-of-words

It angered me. It angered me because I had just come out of a discussion on a forum about a similar kind of thing. I wasn't told to die of cancer, but I didn't feel like I was allowed to give my opinion either because the feeling was that we should all support our favourite artist regardless of the choices they make and regardless of if you agree with it or not. When I literally stated I thought the artist was too talented to appear on a talent show as a judge, I was still told I should support him because he knew what he was doing and otherwise I could always leave. In her blog, Jameela stated Beyonce was too talented to get naked for a fully-clothed man, yet all these Beyonce fans took this as a reason to harass her and call her names. Why? Why is it necessary to insult someone for their opinion? Why can't you just say: "Well that is your opinion and it's cool if you think that but in my opinion..." Nobody is right or wrong. It are all matters of opinion. The thing with me is that when I feel like I'm being pushed and not taken seriously, I will defend myself. Just because I want people to listen to what I have to say, not to agree with me.

Has it come to the point where we take pop music too seriously? When did the feeling arise that you have to like EVERYTHING your favourite artist does in order for you to be a good fan? Nobody likes everything someone else does and if you say that you do, you're lying to yourself. And it's okay to admit that. It's okay to disagree with someone. As long as you keep respecting each other.

This should not be the norm:

You are not defending your favourite artist by wishing cancer upon those who disagree with you. On the contrary, you're not doing yourself, nor your favourite artist a favour.

I think different opinions are important. I will always support my favourite artists in as many ways as I can, in the things that I find interesting. I won't buy something just because my favourite artist is the spokesperson of that product or if they designed something I am not too fond of. That's ok, I will buy the things I do genuinely like, just as I will always support the music of my favourite artist and go see them live as many times as I can to show my support. Yet I do expect to be able to say I am not fond of everything my favourite artist does, without being made feel like I am a bad person. My opinion is not going to change a thing, but that doesn't mean that I am not allowed to state it. We live in a democracy here, not in George Orwell's 1984.

It is just pop music. It are pop artist who are just doing things for a living. Don't let your admiration dictate your life to such an extent that you feel you need to resort to negativity. Just enjoy the music you enjoy. Lighten up!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The magic of Mika's music.

I was very happy last week when I read that Mika was going on an Italian tv show and was actually going to sing. Yes, he had been on Italian X-factor for months but there was no focus on his music at all. I have the feeling a large majority of Italians who discovered him through X-factor only liked him as X-Factor judge but few of them actually realised that he is an amazing singer.

So when I saw this yesterday, I felt happy:

I didn't feel happy because it was Mika on tv because I honestly give zero fucks about tv shows in languages I do not understand even if my mother was on it. Well maybe then I would because she would make me watch it. You catch my drift. This time it was different. Pictures leaked of him sitting behind a piano. My initial thought when I saw that was "YES! FINALLY!"

When the video was put online, that was still my thought along with feeling all nostalgic and shit. Because it felt like he was finally back where he belonged. Just him, a piano and two bandmembers. No duets. Just him. Fuck, I missed those moments. Yes, I know he has done festivals last Summer, but it seemed like in the past few months the focus had been more on him as a celebrity and less on him as a singer. Which is fine, even though I am still not interested in these talent shows and the whole shebang it brings along. But no one, not one single person can tell me they prefer Mika being a judge on a talent show in a language they don't understand (most likely unless you speak Italian) over him being on stage, singing those amazing songs.

And yes, he should do whatever makes him happy but this performance showed that he can create magic by just sitting behind a piano and doing what he does best. Performing songs.

I sincerely hope that next year will bring us new music and a new longer tour in many countries which won't just include festivals. I personally hope that the talent shows will be a done thing and he will conquer the world again with his music. Good music. The kind of music that made him famous and kept us captivated for 3 albums already. Performances like the one he did at the Italian tv show. Performances like this one:

I hope in 2014 Mika will surprise us again by creating magic with his music. Santa, I've been good this year. Could you give me that one thing?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Goodbye is goodbye until we say hello again

Yesterday was a rather tough day for me. It didn't start out tough but when I went over to my dad's house to pick up my Rottweiler for a walk, he told me that he was taking one of the Chihuahuas to the vets. I knew that he wasn't doing well. His stomach had been bloated for a couple of days already and he refused to get up or even eat. He was a heart patient, but when he was last checked it didn't seem so bad.

We knew that realistically speaking, not much could be done for him anymore. But perhaps the vet would say differently so there was a tiny spark of hope. However, my stepmother didn't want to go along as it was too hard for her. I offered to go because I wanted him to know that he was not alone and that he was loved so much. My stepmother asked if I was strong enough. I said I had to be.

The moment I put him down on the table, the vet was shocked at how bad his condition was. She asked what we wanted to do and my dad said: "Let him go" and after a short pause, "or is there anything you can do?" She said she could TRY to stretch it another few months, but we refused to do that. He was never going to become old with this condition anyway and it would be selfish to keep him around just because we didn't want to let him go yet. He barely ate so we would have to force him to take the medication which would have been even more stressful for a dog that was already a bit nervous. Had we done nothing, he would have slowly suffocated and I didn't want that to happen. It was better this way.

And I thought I was strong. And I stayed strong because he needed me to stay strong. It was the most heartbreaking thing I had ever witnessed in my whole life. I held him as he first was given anesthetics. He saw it coming. He started to panic. I whispered to him that he had to calm down. That everything would be fine and soon all the pain would be over.
He was strong. He fought against the sleep because it made him feel like he was suffocating. I kept saying his name. I held him close and I kissed him but every time he was about to fall asleep he fought back again. He was given some extra anesthetics and the vet helped me keep his head up so he wouldn't feel as if he was suffocating. He then peacefully fell asleep into my arms.

The vet went to prepare the final shot and told me I could lay him down but I refused as I had promised my stepmother I would hold him until the end. His little heart was still beating. It wasn't the end yet.

She came back and I put him on the table. He didn't move anymore. She listened to his heart and said it was barely beating. He was almost dead just being asleep. She gave him the final shot and even though it would take 2 minutes for it to work, it worked after a few seconds. He was gone.

We wanted to take him home. Leaving him at the vets would mean he would just get thrown away and he didn't deserve that. I wrapped him in a blanket like a baby and cradled him until we were home. My stepmother took him from me and said her goodbyes and cradled him too. We then put him on the floor so the other dogs could say goodbye. It was fascinating to watch. They wagged their tails as they sniffed him and licked his face. Then they all went separate ways until the four of them crawled into his bench, all together. As if they knew.

We dug a hole in the garden and buried him there after which we had a drink in his honour.

Goodbye little Ralphi. Goodbye shy one. Thank you for the love you gave us for the past 10 years. You will always be loved.

Monday, 9 December 2013

True friends...

It is said that every 7 years you change your group of friends. Some people might move far away or develop different interests than your own. That's fine, we can only evolve if we meet new people who teach us new things and bring us new perspectives.

Yet sometimes, sometimes you find a friend that will survive that 7-year-itch. Someone who knows you so well that you can't keep any secrets. Someone who makes you laugh and smile even if you haven't seen each other in months. A true friend who accepts both the good and the bad in you.

I'm fortunate enough to have such a friend. We met 10 years ago when we just went to middle school. It was a scary time for everyone, especially when you're an awkward teenager. I can't think of anyone who enjoyed their teenage years...

Anyway, over the years, we got to know each other better and a friendship was born just because we were both weird and crazy. We only ever had one fight and I can't even remember what it was about, but as it was probably petty teenage drama, it was sorted within a few days.

We were each other's prom date because boys sucked at that time and even our graduation did not stop us from meeting up and having fun.

We don't live as close now anymore but that doesn't matter. You don't have to see each other every week to be true friends. On the contrary, if a friendship survives even when you don't see each other that often, you know it's a good one.

So to my partner in crime, my crazy bitch and the awesomest chick in the world, thank you for the past 10 years. I hope that when we're old and grey we'll still be having fun together. And as my girl Katy sang, I will love you unconditionally!


Friday, 6 December 2013

Rest in peace Nelson Mandela...

The world has become a little less brighter. We have lost a hero. An inspiration to us all. People from different races are united in their grief for this man who did not only change lives, he changed history. He fought against Apartheid, the worst word in the Dutch language, Those who called him a terrorist did not understand that change does not come by remaining silence. Change comes by fighting for what you believe in and never giving up hope.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

 Thank you Mr. Mandela for teaching generation after generation the importance of freedom and love. Thank you for being a fighter. You won't ever be forgotten.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Trying out my new best friend.

For months I had wanted a new camera because ever since studying at art school, I had become more interested in photography and filming. So, now I finally have my camera and today I decided to take my four-legged-friend and experiment with my camera. Here are the best results of the day:

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

What is art?

Hello my darlings!

Today I want to write a blog about something that has kept me thinking for a while, especially now that I'm doing an art course myself. Today in my philosophy class we've been discussing the following question: What is art?

I have to be honest. I don't see art in everything. If I go to a museum and I see a black painting with a white dot on it, I can't consider it art, even though there must have been an amazing concept behind it. A classmate of mine, who studies classical piano, said no true classical music was made after the 1950s. All matters of opinion really. What I consider art might not be art to you and vice versa. It's an interesting thing.

I have learned much more about art in the past few months. I've learned more about processes behind pieces of art and I've learned how to cooperate those in my own work. It made me appreciate art more, yet still I find myself wonder why something is so easily classified as art just because the artist said it is. I was relieved that even the art students questioned everything.

For example, the following piece by John Cage called 4'33". It's basically 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. The only sounds are produced by the audience. Do you consider this art?

I get the idea behind it. We never really sit in silence to listen to all that's around us, while really, we make music without realising it. But, as another classmate remarked, this is more of an experiment than a real composition. But when should it be considered art?

Music, especially, is an area full of artistic blurred lines. We can all agree that Beethoven's fifth symphony is a real work of art, yet music like that is barely made anymore. Is Justin Bieber's 'Baby' art? Is Lady Gaga really as artistic as she claims to be? Difficult. To the fans of certain singers, everything their favourite popstar does is like a holy grail to them. I have learned to be a little more critical. For me a modern popsong hardly ever is art. Not unless it matches a song like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in genius. For me personally, I am only interested in and consider a singer a true artist if I understand and appreciate not only the music but the whole concept and ideas behind what someone does. For that reason, I think, yes, Gaga is artistic but I can't consider Artpop the album to be an artistic masterpiece. It seems pretty mindless to me, with mostly empty lyrics and beats I can't get into. It's not art to me. It's just mindless pop music and it's okay if it is just that. I just don't really get why she wants to portray it as any more than that. It is hardly revolutionary.

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to Britney's new album. Whereas I can see Gaga's artistic side, I don't consider anything Britney does as art. I think she is a good entertainer. An ok singer. Not more than that. But to her fans, what she does might be seen as the most artsy thing ever.

It's strange, isn't it? It's weird how our own tastes influence how we perceive things around us. But as my philosophy teacher said: "The truth is created by humans in different circumstances in time." Is there really good or bad music or art or photography if there is someone out there who truly enjoys it? Does everything have to have a deeper meaning in order to be art? So much to think about. I guess we never stop learning.

Monday, 2 December 2013

To my unborn child,

I do not know your name yet and quite frankly I do not know if you'll ever be born. But just know that you are welcome wherever you are and whenever (if ever) you will come here. My darling, I have so much to tell you and I'm sure that there will be plenty of times when we'll argue, when I'll give you advice and you refuse to listen. I just hope that if I give you this advice now, you will listen now. If only this one time.

Wherever you may be, you probably see that the world is a fucked up place. Excuse my language there. The world is filled with darkness. With bad people who are filled with greed. Everyone is replaceable. We're just numbers in the system.
Yes, in this world it appears that you're not allowed to be who you really are. In some places you are not allowed to fall in love with whoever you fall in love with. If your love is of the same gender, you could get insulted, beaten up or even killed. We live in a world which allows those hungry for power take more and give less. We allow dictators to do what they want to do, because we're afraid of the consequences for our own prosperity when we defy them.

We live in a world in which we preach acceptance but mostly can't even bother with tolerance. We have developed tunnel vision and hold on to our own truth. But truth doesn't exist. There is no truth in spoken word, nor is there in written word.
There are bad people out there. People who will want to hurt you. Bring you down with the things they say. Don't pay attention to those people. They only have their insecurities and thus feel it is necessary to hurt you. Jealousy is a nasty companion.

It may seem like the world is an awful place. But it isn't. For every bit of darkness, there is a little bit of light. Be that light when you come here. Inspire others the way others inspire you. The only true advice I can give you is to look around you and cherish the little things. No matter what happens, stay strong and keep on fighting. Don't worry about things going wrong. That's part of life. We live and learn. Just try the hardest you can to be a good person and create the world you would like to live in. Shadows won't ever overtake the light of the sun.

Most of all, my dear, I hope that you know that you're loved already, unconditionally.

Until we meet...

Sunday, 1 December 2013

For the Love of Dog

I'm currently studying at the Academy of Arts and had to do a photography assignment. It had to be about the day in the life of a certain character. I chose an old man who had lost someone he loved, but no matter what happened, he was supported by his dog. My father was the old man and my dog of course, played the role of dog. I am actually really proud of those pictures so I felt like sharing them.