The ripples of words

Some people have been wondering why I stopped posting to Plop—except for one individual who wondered why I had ever started. So perhaps an explanation is in order.

I should have written this long ago I guess but then again nothing ever arrives late so here it is.

I stopped posting for a couple of reasons. The most clear reason, if I can call it that, is that I didn’t, and still don’t, have the time to write. Not that I was a prolific writer to start with but I knew that time—as much as I believe it to be a fabrication of the mind—was going to be a rare commodity. And on that count I have been correct. For a number of reasons I have found myself with few breaks where I can muster the energy or will (whatever that may be) to sit and write. But here I am, late on a Saturday night, sitting in front of my computer, listening to the rain fall and watching words appear on the screen, wondering where they are coming from, wondering what they will reveal. I think I know but with writing—much like photographing—I can never be totally certain how it will turn out. It is doubtful that I will finish writing this piece tonight as I am already past the point of tired and I wonder if I will finish it at all.

But back to my excuse of time or lack of it. I’ve been told that such an excuse is a poor excuse and it is true that I feel like a fraud for using it. Not because I am lying about how little time I have but because others, who have equally busy lives, still manage to post on their own blogs with amazing regularity and enthusiasm. And I am grateful for that because I do enjoy their blogs and I derive much inspiration, learning and entertainment from them. And so to add to the feeling of being a fraud I add the feeling of being a leech. For not giving anything back (the odd comment left here and there notwithstanding).

This brings me to my second reason for abandoning Plop. But this reason is not as clear-cut as one of time.

I am, on occasions, surprised by the variety of perceptions people have of this blog. Some see it as a being about photography, others see it as being about art and still others see it as being about philosophy. Or a combination of these topics. Some have no idea what I’m on about and at least one person thinks Plop should have remained an idea in my head. I freely accept all of these ideas and I am even humbled that people have bothered to form an opinion on Plop. This blog started off as a kind of self-exploration but interestingly that idea quickly showed itself to be somewhat of an absurd concept. After all, as humans we are ill-equipped to objectively look at ourselves. From my own questionable perspective however, Plop evolved into being about seeing. Not just looking at things in some random manner but actually seeing the world exactly as it is. Whatever that may in fact be. The trouble with this view is that it became apparent to me that seeing, as I have come to understand it, is not enhanced or made clearer with words. If seeing is the clear reflection offered by the still waters of a lake then words are the ripples created when a stone (a metaphorical thought) is thrown in.

But some of the comments and emails I have received since my last post have led me to consider that I may be wrong. Perhaps the ripples are what brings our attention to what eventually becomes a still surface. With enough patience the ripples eventually cease and the universe is reflected back to us in all its simplicity. Because the question may well be: would the reflection go unnoticed without the “plop” of the thought and the ripples of the words? In my experience we are more readily attracted to movement than to stillness. We are more likely to notice silence after noise has first made an appearance.

Many days have gone past since that late Saturday night when I started writing this post. It is now weeks later, early on a Sunday morning. The birds are already awake and the sun is not far behind. The traffic in the distance almost sounds like waves breaking onto a beach. There’s already a faint hint of a breeze blowing, hopefully it won’t be too hot today.

So where was I? Ah yes, the idea that words might be a problem while at the same time be a pointer to that which they hide so well. I venture a guess that the irony and the paradox is not lost on readers of this blog. But what to do when faced with such a dilemma? Continue throwing stones in the water creating ripples or let the surface settle and run the risk that it goes unnoticed? Or is it possible that the ripples caused in one lake allows us to notice the reflection in the still waters of another lake? I wouldn’t feel so unsure of what action to follow if I was truly confident in my understanding of the topics I explore but the reality is that the older I get the more I learn, the more I learn the more knowledge I acquire and the more knowledge I have the less certain I am of anything. As such I am reluctant to worsen the already questionable signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet by adding my vague musings about things I am not even sure about. There is a Taoist saying that the empty vessel makes the loudest noise. I suspect I am a good example of this—just look at how many words I need to explain why I stopped blogging. But regardless of the opinion I hold of myself I would be most ungrateful if I was to ignore the many insightful comments and emails provided by the readers of Plop. I cannot overstress how important these shared thoughts have been to me and I am ashamed to say that I only fully realised their positive influence while in the process of writing this post. Every such comment is like a wave suppressant on the lake’s edge quelling the turbulence from the ripples allowing the reflection to become a little clearer.

Seriously, I cannot emphasise enough how much this has meant to me.

Hmm… I started writing this post to explain my reasons for ending Plop and I end up with a reason to continue.



this is awkward.

12 thoughts on “The ripples of words

    • Thanks Ken though to be fair I am still not sure that I am “back”. I still feel that anything I can say on the topic of art and photography is next to useless and totally so when it comes to things like seeing. I’ve thought of other ways I could express these thoughts including just with photographs but my skills do not stretch that far. I like what you do along with others like Ove, Juha, Andreas, and others you also know, and I’ve thought about following in your footsteps but it has never felt quite right for me. Perhaps I’m just over-thinking this.

  1. This made me stop. And then stop: “Plop evolved into being about seeing. Not just looking at things in some random manner but actually seeing the world exactly as it is. Whatever that may in fact be. The trouble with this view is that it became apparent to me that seeing, as I have come to understand it, is not enhanced or made clearer with words.”

  2. Well, not all hope is lost. As we know, Mark Hobson is an excellent example for how seeing can be enhanced by an abundance of words :)

    Hmm … ignoring your answer to Ken, let me just add another “Welcome back” :D

  3. Having thought about words for a while (this topic stuck to my mind), I’m tentatively positive about using words; the problem is that we use them routinely all too much. It is the stopping to the moment that we don’t or can’t do.

    Of course, the wordy theater we have in our heads (speculating about the future, about what other people think of us, etc., etc.) is mostly the culprit to not living in the moment, but I don’t think that words as such should be blamed too much.

    However, another thing is that it is becoming harder and harder to live “straight” without being online. Even just 60 minutes without online presence in a day seems sometimes a hard thing to do, with smartphones etc. always available and tempting. (And here I am a nice example of this behaviour.)

    And earlier I did forget to say: Welcome back!

  4. Thanks Andreas, Juha. The “wordy theatre in our heads”, I like that. I do not blame words so much as I find them inadequate (though their deficiency may rest entirely with my inability to overcome their limitations). My dilemma lies with my perception that I have no means of expression other than by the use of words which, at least from my point of view, seem to only cloud the vision, so to speak. Having said that I do see their value and I am starting to conceive the high likelihood that the “cloudiness” is not so much created by the words but my own limited ideas. And I suspect the cure for that is to continue writing until perhaps some day chance will allow me to see past the words.
    As to being online I can usually take it or leave it but I do admit that I would be at a loss if I didn’t have access to the internet and I wanted to know when my next train was coming or the movie times at my local cinema. Basically if the online world is available I use it and if it’s not I don’t miss it too much. If on the other hand I was faced with a situation where I would never have access to the internet again then that would be unsettling for sure.

  5. I can relate to your struggles with words; I’m a better than average wordsmith and have resigned myself to the fact that nothing meaningful can be written in the first draft. You have to review and refine (and perhaps review and rewrite ;).

    This notion has been around for a long time…

    “What is written without effort is read without pleasure.”
    — Samuel Johnson

    “I am sorry to write such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.”
    — variously attributed to Mark Twain, Blaise Pascal, Pliny the Younger…

    • Hi Sven, thanks for dropping by. It’s nice to know I’m not alone but then again I do not see myself in such company as the names you mention. It’s not hard linking words together but it is a struggle getting them to say what I feel.
      You didn’t leave a link to a site, if you have one let me know what it is. Thanks again.

  6. Had to browse back and see what happened. :) Words…that’s why I like to read your write-ups. Not as much for what you’re trying to say, as for the intense quietness in which you dress your voice. I’m not always sure I follow in your paths, yet I’m helplessly drawn into your mesh of words; I just love it, without knowing why. Just wanted to say that, that I like it that way. Answers are so boring.

  7. Welcome back, Cedric. I know that I’m more than a month late in saying it, but I figured, thankfully incorrectly, that if you stopped blogging, it was a done deal, so I unsubscribed. I stand corrected – thankfully. I enjoy your musings and your writings, so am glad to see your return. I’ve got lots of catching up to do around here. I don’t expect to be able to do it in one day as your writing is usually rather profound and, though some of the writing may contain few words, there always seems to be sufficient content to ‘chew on’. :)

    • Thanks Paul. I am sorry I didn’t let you know, yo ha’ve always been a great supporter and as I mentioned in the post, it is because of such support from you and others that I decided to write again.

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