Everyone’s out, and Im the only one in on the top floor, so why is it that I caught myself dancing like a lunatic whilst brushing my teeth?! Anyone who’s seen my funky moves on the “D-floor” will know that they leave much to be desired, yet what is it about having no one watching you that leads to a complete disinhibition? We walk around in our dressing gowns (or less!) like we own the place, we sing to the shower at the top of of our lungs, and we dance, like nobody’s watching. I may get a lot of stick for this, but it was genuinely a really fun five minutes! …until I realised I had toothpaste all over my scarf, and I looked ridiculous; that isn’t even my room!
I encourage you all, in light of my total loserdom, spend some time on your own today, do something ridiculous just for you, take some time and live a little, it definitely beats revising about the sub thalamic nucleus.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
This morning, we had one of very few lie ins this year, and I chose to spend it baking! No whisk, no baking flour, no problem! It was actually really fun, and the end result was pretty good, all things considered!
And you know how I love getting mail? What’s better than an international party in an envelope?! Incredible card and birthday prolonging tekkers courtesy of Abi Thomas; merci beaucoup from across the stream!
Today was a good day.
Not only was it sunny (although, in classic English fashion, the sun was tempered with blisteringly cold winds), but we had a really good ‘cookie for a question’ event in the quad. I popped over for lunch, and it was great to see that, although the media may say that as a nation we’re getting less theistic and starting to look to other things, science, ‘spirituality’, humanity, the constant bombardment, people are still questioning. I think it’s the bombardment with religious, or areligious information, which brings it to the forefront of peoples minds. So behind the ‘oh but obviously there isn’t a God’ facade, there are genuine questions, struggles, some of which we saw today, more of which we’ll see in stuff to come. Really encouraging! I think it’s also really useful for ourselves, as Christians, as it makes us confront difficult issues that we ourselves may push to the backs of our minds, and learn from each others experiences.
I did have to leave after an hour, to get to my global health class, which is always a bit of a drag on a Friday afternoon, not to mention the sheer amount of reading we had to do beforehand. However, this week, we had a guest speaker talk to us about death and dying. It was genuinely one of the best lectures I’ve ever sat through. One of the focuses of the readings and the talk was on this picture by Kevin Carter.
This picture won him the Pulitzer prize when it was published. Inarguably, this is one of the most powerful photographs ever taken. The chilling combination of the sheer emaciation of the child in the foreground; ribs, twig like limbs, hunched over, almost foetal position, and the vulture in the background – dominant, watching, ravenous. It instantly evokes emotion, we almost suffer with her vicariously and something inside us wants to jump out and stop this creature from predating on this poor infant.
One of the key points Kleinmann wanted to get across was how images like this may change our views on suffering. How people may profit from experiences such as this, how people like Kevin Carter can make a living from pictures of suffering – dictators falling, people dying, children starving. How images like these and, I’m sure you’re familiar with the frequent television appeals for aid, almost desensitise us to the suffering; the exhaustion of empathy, we feel so much, yet at the same time, know that ultimately, at a personal level, we can’t do much, so we grow apathetic. As an aspiring photographer, I can’t help but appreciate this for its photographic merit, but I always assume(d) that following the shot, he’d rush to help, offering whatever water, food, services he had on him and, at the least, shoo the bird away. The article quotes this:
he wandered into the open bush. He heard a soft, high-pitched whimpering and saw a tiny girl trying to make her way to the feeding centre. As he crouched to photograph her, a vulture landed in view. Careful not to disturb the bird, he positioned himself for the best possible image. He would later say he waited about 20 minutes, hoping the vulture would spread its wings. It did not, and after he took his photographs, he chased the bird away and watched as the little girl resumed her struggle. Afterwards he sat under a tree, lit a cigarette, talked to God and cried. He was depressed afterward… .He kept saying he wanted to hug his daughter.
This really got me to question everything, how could he just sit there and do nothing? How could any human, for that matter? The article then follows on to the story of Clarke after the award, telling that he decided to take his own life due to the burden of horror.
Another interview, with some Spanish photographers, the lecturer brought up, says something entirely different to this interview. That him and his colleague went to the country along with a UN food aid ship, which, one landed, had 30 minutes before it took off again as that’s how long they took to deliver the supplies. This was at a feeding centre, so mothers brought their families to gather supplies. As the children were weak, the mothers went ahead to get the supplies and left the children some 20ft behind as it was more efficient that way, addressing our implicit assumption that this child is abandoned and needs outside intervention, assumedly because of her extreme frailty, that the parent’s can take care of the more viable children. They noted that the child was amongst a group of others, and the vulture was from the waste facilities of the feeding centre, they went there to feed, so that the vulture landed there had nothing to do with her near death appearance. He had never seen a situation of such abject famine, so was keen to snap up as many pictures as he could:
“So if you grab a telephoto crush the child’s perspective in the foreground and background and it seems that the vultures will eat it, but that’s an absolute hoax, perhaps the animal is 20 meters.”
As it stands, I’m not sure which to believe. I know which I want to believe, I want to believe in the good nature of people. However, the main message on our unusual relationship with images of suffering comes across either way, and affects us all as we consume what we’re fed. It was definitely food for thought.
Interesting lecture behind, I came home to one of the best bits of mail ever!
If you haven’t heard of the charity To Write Love On Her Arms, I’m not surprised. They’re still quite small, but they have big impacts on those they come into contact with. They work a lot with young people and self harm/suicide, trying to get across the message that help is real, hope is real, your story is important and rescue is possible. I really love what they do, and have always wanted to buy some stuff from their website and promised myself, that one day, I’d get one, but they’re over the pond mainly, and delivery is an ever present barrier to the student wallet. However, today I can finally tick this off the bucket list as a late birthday present from Pippa!
Slightly essay-ish as far as posts go but happy friday and thanks for reading!
My friend asked me a while back about my photographs. Now I hadn’t spoken to her for years, turns out she’s in London, studying fashion.
She wanted to use them as part of a print project and Here is the final piece
I love how little, totally unexpected moments like this can completely make your day!
I finished my first event! And it’s safe to say I’m pretty happy with the results! There were good times, bad times, completely rookie errors (note to self, remember to turn auto focus back on after video…), but the people were lovely, and the food divine; I had the nicest Vanilla crème brûlée! Feel free to take a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/93232789@N06/.
However, that paved the way for what seems to be the worst calendar week ever. Work is crashing around like a tonne of bricks and time to build them up into anything resembling a robust anatomical knowledge is such a sweet luxury, it’s like everything else is going on at the worst possible time; how do people do this!? To top it all off, TWLOHA, a really cool young peoples charity, was meant to be paying us a visit from across the pond, and were a total no show! Which was slightly more disappointing, especially in light of everything else! But moaning about it will achieve nothing I guess. There’s not much more that can be done besides super gluing my nose to Gray’s anatomy. I just have to really assess my work life situation, one tree hill season 8 will just have to take a back seat for now *sigh*
On a slightly more positive note, we had so many new people at CU today, it was outstanding, we’re almost at room capacity! Great things are going to happen through these guys on campus this year!
Just keep swimming
These last couple of days have been pretty insane. We has a few days off, and last weekend we went to Oxfordshire with our CU, which was awesome! It was great seeing all the new guys come down to the middle of no where for some great times, awesome food and plenty of Mafia (the best game, ever.). But now, back to the real world of neuroscience and global health! Until then, a long weekend of revision, and my first job as a photographer!
So ‘reading week’ this year falls nicely on bonfire night, which meant I could (slightly) guiltlessly go out and enjoy some local fireworks in Waltham Forest. They were great (and free!) so if you’re in London next year, I would definitely recommend them.
Life is finally catching up with me, uni work is getting to an unsustainable level and my eagerness to complete it, waning. As such, I’ve got a delightfully incomplete collection of half-baked posts that are yet to see the light of day as a lot has been happening. Another really sad thing is that, as a result, my camera has been gathering dust in the drawer, hurry up Christmas 😦 (Just to make it clear, I’m GENUINELY joking, it upsets me how early people have started preparing, mince pies are being consumed in such a scandalously premature fashion, shops are stringing their baubles out and, I kid you not, one of my friends has already bought all her presents. Barking.)
The bulk of the weekend was spent on our church weekend away-but-not-away, which was an interesting concept, but I guess, in London, there’s not many places you can do a cheap weekend trip, so it was totally worth it! It was fantastic, there was some great, really challenging teaching. The main things that really moved me were that the Bible isn’t like any other book, where you read it as, well, you would read a book and the author is sitting comfortably in his Primrose Hill penthouse overlooking London. No, the author of this particular book is there, living, and the words you read are coming straight out of His mouth [2 Tim. 3:16] and are living [Heb. 4:12], and it’s really important how we treat them. There was this great illustration with my friend’s wife where she wrote him a love letter whilst he stood and waited, then she gave it to him, and whilst she was there, he opened it, blew his nose with it, scrunched it up and threw it away. Now this isn’t how I’m suggesting we treat God’s word, but I know I definitely don’t approach it like what it is, God’s love letter to each and every one of us.
I’ve been to a few different churches growing up. Most of them have been pretty white middle class, filled with really lovely people; nice. Others have been pretty ‘lively’ churches, where there’s always a lot going on, people talk during the services without getting stern glares from the surrounding congregation, there’s no invisible social roof preventing you putting hands up during singing or clapping, everyone else joins in! These churches are different, but none of them have ‘the right way’ of doing church, although, some would be more popular to different people for various reasons.
A few years ago now, I went through this phase with a couple of my friends, where it seemed everyone was getting on this ‘church hype’. For a bit of background, my family were christian and I’d been a christian for a while myself. But these friends of mine, who were also christian, started going to more worship sessions, started praying a lot, and quite a lot of them started doing things like speaking in tongues. For a long time, I felt really frustrated with myself, inside I’d be like “why, God, aren’t I experiencing things like that huh? Please fill me with Your spirit…”, and I’d pray and I’d pray, and still, nothing really changed. During singing, the words would come out but a quick look around and people were raising their hands and on the ground and stuff, and I’d just have mine in my pockets or trying to prop myself up on the chair in front of me so my legs wouldn’t buckle under from the sheer length of time we’d been standing. Why God!?
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with any of that stuff. They are spiritual gifts and are from the Spirit and are good! [1 Cor. 12:1-11]. The danger is when people start using that as standards to test your level of christianity. Some churches suggest you haven’t become a christian until you start speaking in tongues, or have this huge spirit filled experience, and I don’t think that’s true, there aren’t two stages to being a christian.
- [Acts 2:17] – I will pour out my spirit on all people
- [Acts 2:38] – repent and be baptised … and you will receive the Holy Spirit
- [Gal 3:1-14] – we can’t be saved by what we do, because what we do will never live up to the standards of God, we are simply not able to keep all the laws, but we get His Spirit by believing in what we’ve heard
So we get the spirit from the day we accept God into our lives. Think about the last time you had someone over to stay. How much, say, as a percentage, of them came to stay? 30% 50%, maybe even 75%? Of course, it’s odd to think that only half of them came around, because when someone comes to stay with you, they come with their whole selves, why should God be any different?
All in all, a really challenging set of talks!