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Philosophy & Psychology

The Weekly Stoic: Hope is not a winning strategy.


I’ve been somewhat distracted recently, well, quite a lot actually. Photographs, that’s what did it, and folks saying how good they were and that I should market and sell them. It seemed like a good idea at the time …… those famous last words.

So, I decided to explore that well known commercial repository for internet images, you know the one, first syllable rhymes with “splutter” second one rhymes with “clock”!

I trawled through loads of my images and chose three to submit for assessment to become a contributor; two were macro photos of fungus and raindrops on moss, one of a barge on the River Thames. Each one met the size and resolution standards, but two were failed because of the very high focus standards they set. No problem, I was happy because one passed and that was all that was needed to demonstrate reasonable skill and understanding.

Now I turned my efforts to choosing three categories I have photographed loads of times; English Medieval Churches, Architecture across Europe, Kathmandu street photography. However day after day images were rejected, churches and architecture because I didn’t submit written permissions from the building owners to take the photos, and my Kathmandu street photos because the merchants, beggars, monks etc hadn’t supplied written permission to photograph them either. My final exasperation came a few days later when two more images were rejected, one of a plate of tapas in Madrid because a label on a bottle of water was in the shot (it could only be read at extreme magnification) and another because Wastwater ( a lake in the U.K. Lake District national park) was not recognised as an English word in the image title!!!! Aaarrrgghhh!

Epictetus

I have tried to be philosophical about all this, literally but it taken two weeks to recognise how Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher would have viewed all this:

“If you are defeated once and tell yourself you will overcome, but carry on as before, know in the end you’ll be so ill and weakened that eventually you won’t even notice your mistake and will begin to rationalise your behaviour.” EPICTETUS , DISCOURSES , 2.18.31

This has to be the truest definition of insanity you will find, doing the same thing over and over despite telling ourselves we will change. “I won’t get angry, I won’t keep sending the same images, I will respond to their feedback ….. but we never do, we just carry on and hope things will change. But they don’t, because hope is not a winning strategy! So next time you hear that word used in a political sense, recognise it for what it is. Tosh!

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