My first trip to big mountains was a visit to the Alps. It was a Masters degree project which I knew would not be well received. Everyone else was photographing news related issues and being so called engaged. You’re engaged photographers, one of the tutors said. Engaged with what? I wasn’t interested in documenting the stupidity of the news.

I remember one shot of a colleague. The brief was “passion” and he photographed a crazed religious believer angry about cartoons. I said his shot portrayed hysteria and psychopathology not “passion.” There’s a difference. It’s a strange and unpleasant idea, being “engaged” with such issues. They should be criticised and rejected.

When people tried to kill Salman Rushdie he said it was an extreme form of literary criticism. When I presented my Swiss Alps collection the tutor said you’re just taking me for a walk in the Alps. I wonder which is more important. A madman in the street or a mountain with, I explained, considerable philosophical content which you found in my writing.

In 2011 I left for the Pyrenees at the beginning of the UK riots. They started too because of irrationality and mob hysteria. This year I left when Israel and Palestine were at war again. It was on television in a hostel at Candanchu. It’s terrible, the owner said. He didn’t remember, but it was my third time at the hostel. Yes it’s terrible, I agreed.

Plato made a distinction between lovers of wisdom, the philosophers, and lovers of opinion, the philodoksous. It’s an acute but ineffective observation. You start with philosophy but find it can’t be applied in the stupidity of society; philosophy degrades into ideology and that’s all people care about. I got several shots here at Lac Arremoulit as the clouds drifted, thickened, then cleared in the morning. I was sitting in my tent at the same place I found in 2009. For several minutes there was zero visibility.

 

Pyrenees Photography: Lac Arremoulit

Saturday October 18, 2014