Embrace the Extremes

A theory of living a more interesting and creative life: embrace extremes and avoid the (boring) middle.

For example, embrace super cray cray, Dionysian, drunk, insane ideas…then balancing it out with rational, Apollonian thinking.

For example, for our creativity, better to be part Zen-monk (disconnected from all internet, social media, email, superfluous material goods) and to be part Rock-star (loving extreme bombast, self-ego, and borderline-insane Ideas).

In photography, perhaps we can try this:

Either go all-out with your photography, or don’t take pictures at all.

That means, NOT taking periods for certain periods of time, to let our creative soil re-nourish might be good for us. For example, my friend Dimitris M (ngravity on Flickr) lives mostly in Stockholm (works as a doctor and doesn’t take any pictures), and when he travels for a few weeks in India, he shoots 12 hours a day, nonstop.

So an idea: “full ass” your photography or don’t do it at all. Don’t “half-ass” your art.

This idea is derived from Nassim Taleb on his “barbell” theory— embracing extremes. Similar to Nietzsche’s APOLLONIAN vs DIONYSIAN philosophy.

What I do

I know for myself, I’ve found the best health in eating food from either fasting during the day (not eating breakfast and lunch) then eating a MASSIVE dinner (meats and veggies) instead of eating “three square meals a day”.

I’ve found myself more creatively productive cutting out the internet, social media, email 100% … instead of trying to “moderate” my consumption. I also don’t own a phone.

In business, I give away all my information and pictures for free… or charge a LOT of money for it. I see more profitability in business by embracing the extremes. Free information and $3,000 workshops, instead of “medium priced” stuff.

In photography, another tip:

Either take photos VERY CLOSE or VERY FAR AWAY. Avoid the “middle distance”.

For example, shoot street pictures at 1 meter away or 5 meters away. Don’t shoot pictures at 2.5 meters away.. the “medium distance” lacks interest, intensity, and intentionality.

If you are going to drink or do drugs… apparently it’s better to either abstain 100% or go all-out 100%. For myself, I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. But if I will, I will have to go “all out” and get “fucked up” (like drinking unlimited shots of tequila and blunts on my bachelor party). Otherwise, totally sober.

Another idea:

Either shoot with your phone, or a very high-end digital camera.

To me it makes more sense on a daily basis either to take everyday pictures on your phone, or use a digital medium-format camera for your “serious” photography, rather than a “one size fits all” mirrorless camera.

For working out, either “one repetition maximum” style of powerlifting or relaxing walks. Avoiding “medium workouts” like (boring) jogging or stupid workout machines.

With finding artistic inspiration, either don’t look at anyone’s pictures… or just look at the work of the masters from the past.

With film, either watch trashy movies or mindless action films and then super artsy avant-grade classic film. Avoid films in the middle.

For reading, either trashy celebrity gossip magazines and then French literature. Avoid mainstream business books/New York Times nonfiction. Read Buzzfeed and Ancient Greek/Roman philosophy, avoid the New Yorker.