“If You Are Not Confused You Are Not Thinking Clearly”


The quotation in the title is ascribed to one Irene Peter, but strangely I cannot find a thing about her on the web, only the tagline ‘famous American writer’ heading a short list of other pithy observations. A quick search on-line brings up no lists of books or articles. Nothing on amazon.com.  I am therefore puzzled; confused even. Does she not exist? Has whoever it is been blanked from the interweb for expressing common sense?

So: now I’m thinking who cares who said it. The message is what counts. In fact this could well be the aphorism for our times. Every day the mass media attempts to shape our thinking on important (in some cases life-threatening) matters. We have think tanks, government spokespersons, celebrities, politicians, bots telling us in unexamined sound bites and headlines what to think. We are forever being herded into one corral or another in a bid to secure our consent for either one position or another.

Keeping us divided in opposing camps is part of the strategy. Firstly, shouting at each other to defend our positions consumes a lot of energy, even if that shouting only takes place in our heads; there may even be some entertainment value, elements of atavistic tribalism satisfied. The shouting also cements our respective positions, making a change of mind less likely.

And once a large enough body of consensus has amassed around a particular issue, then anyone brave enough to question it needs to be ready for reputation-smearing and all round media pillorying. And so by these means we are distracted from scrutinizing the actual issues, rational discourse is effectively outlawed and we thus fail to discover who precisely benefits from the lines being sold to us in the world-wide hypermarket that we now inhabit.

Time to be sceptical then. Time to unpick the assumptions that we’ve taken for facts, and the opinions we’ve accepted as evidence. Time to face the confusion – even though, first and foremost, it means standing our own views and convictions on their heads. You never know, if we all did this some actual world-wide wisdom might surface.


copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

Sticking To Earth Patterns


Humans love to see the patterns in things. This habit can nurture an aesthetic sensibility and inspire much creativity on the one hand, and it can lead to all manner of misunderstandings and fallacies on the other. Which of us hasn’t at least pondered on the ‘meaning’ of a series of pure coincidences, or passingly ‘seen’ a pattern of events that ‘proves’ a conspiracy theory is not a conspiracy theory.

Given the negative propensities of patterning, and the power these may exert on the human mind, it might be as well to take note that this is currently being practised upon us by much of what is reported by the mass media, and the manner in which important issues are presented to us.

There is, to my mind, a constant drip-feeding in relation to particular topics (to name a few: Middle East, Russia, nuclear weapons, climate change, Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit); a seemingly endless repeating pattern of half-truths, proclamations of absolute guilt without evidence, scape-goating, focusing continuously on the irrelevant, divisive reporting, unproven circumstances presented as fact, and, in the name of that weasel word ‘balance’, equal weight given to the opinions of people who know what they are talking about, and the notions of those who do not believe in evidence/have their own minority axe to grind/are (verging on the) delusional. And the whole lot mashed up into an ‘entertaining’ package of easily digested sound and picture bites, whose patterning then is constantly rehashed/given oxygen by mass spoutings on social media.

It is all very disturbing, and when I think about it, I feel like a pawn in someone else’s nasty game, and that makes me angry. And so I distract myself with things in my little world, though I must say I did have Mark Rothko’s Dark Brown, Grey and Orange  vaguely in mind when I took that second photo of the rape seed field beneath a stormy sky – his drive to express the human condition; to move beyond apparent abstraction – while I was visualizing an abstraction of the actual, but also brooding somewhat on the human condition.

But now for some lightish relief from gloomy ruminations: more earth patterns from around Much Wenlock, including some of the abnormally early, done-and-dusted grain harvest. Another kind of pattern?




Lens Artists This week Ann-Christine asks for patterns.