I like to believe I’m sane. Though I’ll admit, with no one around to offer a contrary opinion, my self-diagnosis does lack calibration. Perhaps no one’s around for a reason?
Then again, those who calibrate their sanity based on the opinion of others might be the least sane of all. I think social media has pretty much confirmed the accuracy of this theory.
Popularity has never been my end game — which is why I’ve seen more clowns pile into a Volkswagen Beetle than ULTRAsomething has readers. My ego doesn’t rely on acceptance, but on the answer to one single question: “Am I proud of what I’ve accomplished?”
At least that’s how I used to define it — until I actually bothered to look up the word “pride.” It turns out ‘pride’ is a very loaded word. People can be proud for all sorts of reasons — including really stupid ones. Which, I suppose, explains why ‘pride’ makes the Top-7 list of deadliest sins.
So what is pride? According to Miriam-Webster, pride is 1) Reasonable self-esteem: confidence and satisfaction in oneself; 2) Pleasure that comes from some relationship, association, achievement, or possession that is seen as a source of honour or respect; 3) Exaggerated self-esteem, or conceit.
Let’s unpack that, shall we? In the first definition, pride results from within oneself. In the second definition, pride comes from external validation. And in the third definition, pride is a delusional personality disorder.
What about Oxford’s? According to them, pride is the “feeling of being pleased or satisfied that you get when you or people who are connected with you have done something well or own something that other people admire.”
I gotta hand it to Oxford — they manage to condense Miriam-Webster’s wishy-washiness into a single sentence, implying that pride can be either deep or shallow.
I’m not sure pride reflects a “deadly sin,” so much as “mankind’s inability to define a word so inadequately.”
Egor’s ULTRAdictionary of egorisms defines ‘pride’ as: “Knowing you have made a positive contribution to the world, no matter its size or the acknowledgment.” In direct conflict with the guardians of language, my dictionary contains no alternative definitions, such as “You have a million followers on Instagram, all the latest gadgets, and everyone invites you to the best parties.” In the ULTRAdictionary, you’ll instead find that definition attached to words like “insecure” and “narcissist.”
Which brings us back to the topic of my sanity. In a world where uploaded photos would be seen by more people; where more external validation would come via online engagement; and where I could spend my money to “own something that other people admire,” I instead chose to begin publishing a low-volume print magazine at a guaranteed loss. On the surface it appears to lack sagacity, but when viewed through the lens of ‘pride,’ the rationality appears. Instead of moaning about photography’s descent into smart phone fodder, with its infinite evanescent stream of selfies, “me too” location shots, and computer-enhanced illustrations, I chose to produce an alternative. Is my effort but a drop in the bucket? No. It’s but a drop in the ocean — but it’s a drop that wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t deposited it.
Ultimately, whether one defines pride as ‘sinful’ or ‘saintly’ doesn’t much matter — it’s still gonna kill you. Either it’s the insatiable hunger for excessive external validation that will do you in, or it’s the social isolation of fanatical toil. Which suggests that pride isn’t so much a deadly sin as it is just plain deadly. And since we’re all going to die of something, my demise might as well come in the form of murky, grainy, black & white, metaphor-laden; bound collections of the mundane. Though I must confess: while this does sound like a rather satisfying way to shuffle off this mortal coil, I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t give lust, gluttony and wrath at least a tiny bit of due diligence before I go…
© 2023 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THESE PHOTOS:
When I first established the publication guidelines for ULTRAsomething Magazine, I decided that it, and the website, would represent two entirely different repositories for new photos. In other words, what’s published in one would not be published in the other, with the obvious exception of any posts that announce the arrival of a new issue. Initially, I thought I might have trouble deciding whether a particular image should be published on the web or the magazine, but this isn’t the case.
The magazine is, in essence, more restrictive than the web. As designed, it supports only two aspect ratios: single page photos are 4×3, while two-page spreads are 3×2. Any image that doesn’t fit these crop lines isn’t going to be in the magazine. Additionally, all pages are full-bleed — so if a photo contains crucial information near the frame’s edge (which may be chopped off in production), then it’ll find its way to the web instead. Similarly, any two-page spread with critical information placed dead-centre in the frame will also be web-bound — otherwise the magazine’s spine might obscure the centre-most content. The limits of CMYK printing mean blacks aren’t really black — so if my photos contain negative space with the gravity of a black hole, they may be better suited for the web. And then there’s the fact that some photos simply compliment a particular essay too perfectly.
So with that out of the way, here are the technical details for the nerds and the generally curious: ‘Phantasm‘ was shot on Fomapan 200, using a Leica M6TTL with a Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens, and developed in HC-110 Dilution H. The dead centre placement of the main subject (me) eliminates it from magazine consideration. ‘Amore‘ was shot on Fomapan 100, using a Pentax MZ-S with a Pentax-M 120mm f/2.8 lens, and developed in HC-110 Dilution H. Once again, the dead centre placement of the lucky hug recipient would end up in the magazine’s spine, so it’s being web-published instead. And if you think the motion blur has anything to do with my choice to exclude it from any future magazines, you obviously haven’t bought a magazine (or read this website for very long). ‘Mixed Messages‘ was shot on Fomapan 100, using a Pentax MZ-S with a 43mm f/1.9 Limited lens, and developed in HC-110 Dilution H. It ended up here because of its obvious relation to the article’s subject matter. ‘Philosopher‘ was shot on Ortho Plus 80, using a Hasselblad Xpan with a 45mm f/4 lens, and developed in HC-110 Dilution H. As a panoramic photo, its aspect ratio immediately eliminates it from magazine consideration. ‘Bottleneck’, like ‘Philosopher’ is simply the wrong aspect ratio for magazine publication, but like ‘Phantasm’ was shot on Fomapan 200, using a Leica M6TTL with a Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens, and developed in HC-110 Dilution H.
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The words must tell things as they really are! (and here is the full poem).
That’s why we have two words: duma and pycha. Make(s) life easier.
I often think I could communicate so much better if I were multilingual. But then I remember — me being me — that I’d probably just obsess over the ambiguities of every language.