What doesn’t kill you


This is not a “normal” tree branch. If indeed there is such a thing as normal – but as humans, we do thrive on categorization, so let’s assume normality is a thing. Or at least prototypicality. There are prototypical specimens of things – a chair is a prototypical piece of furniture, a divan less so; a hammer is a prototypical tool, whereas a jointer plane may not be found in the average household.

And the above branch is not a prototypical pine tree branch.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (See exhibit A…) It also doesn’t mean this kind of snaky, unusual branch is BAD. It doesn’t mean it should be sawed off, or that the whole tree should be felled to rid the woods of its excentricity.

It just is. It grew in one direction, and when that didn’t work out, it changed into another. Was it the wind that made it grow so strangely? Was it something else? Does it matter?

Well, alright, it sort of does matter to me because I want to know how things work, but I wouldn’t cut the tree down if the branch wasn’t formed by the wind. I wouldn’t say, “The tree chose to grow like that, so it had it coming.”

Yes, there is the so called normal. Yes, there are prototypical specimens of things. But there are also grey areas and pangolins and vagueness, and that’s totally fine. Research by Mary Douglas once showed that cultures where anomalies were revered as divine were more peaceful than others.

I have no trouble believing that.

Look at that branch. It’s charming. So just let the strange ones be.

The Ne knockout

I don’t know what it’s like for other INTPs, but my extraverted intuition really doesn’t need much prompting to go off on a creative spree. Today I decided to just lie down and read since I have a bad case of lumbago (too much photography in cold weather?). Well, I managed three pages before I was hit by the Ne lightning and scampered off to the computer to cram a whole truckload of ideas into my article – ideas that were mostly unrelated to the book I was reading.

I mean… this is Ne, right? Like the erratic spangles on a river, glinting here and there, almost too fast to catch. And if you don’t snap that shot, they’re gone forever.


The trouble with focus

It seems like some kind of cosmic joke that I have trouble focusing with my new camera. I mean, it’s metaphorical enough to be a theme in a book of mine! (Actually, maybe I’ll use it. Maybe for the Midsummer story.)

I’ve been googling and also reading the old-fashioned way, so I know sharpness in images comes down to shutter speed, aperture, ISO, movement and, well, focus, and I’ve identified a few areas that need work. But ridiculously enough, the hardest one to master is the goddamn focus.

I adjust it to where I’m planning to stand (if it’s a self portrait) and then switch to manual, and then I position myself where I focused… and yet I turn out as fuzzy as I feel.

Because that’s just it: I have trouble focusing. In my life, in my writing, in my PhD. I jump from idea to idea, and the grass not only always greener, it pops out at me before I’ve even had a taste this side of the fence, which means I never get any grass at all. It doesn’t matter if my glass is full or not, because I’m already looking at something else and will never drink it.

This is the curse of extraverted intuition. But it’s also an absolute joy. I wouldn’t trade my Ne for anything. It’s what keeps me interested in life, writing – and yes, occasionally, the PhD. It’s how I can take two wildly different ideas and merge them to create a connection that wasn’t there before. It’s the basis for my sense of humour. It’s my childish excitement about everything that’s bright and shiny.

But what it lacks is focus. To harness all that wide-eyed wonder, I have to use other functions. I have to force Ne into submission for the half minute or so it takes to snap that self portrait. Because without focus, everything that Ne loves just peters out and disappears.

Trying to get some focus.