Do not use for construction

Ever thought about writing a self help book? Sure you have, you’re clever and pretty and have nice shoes… yeah, me too. So here’s the thing, I read a lot. A lot. And I’m almost completely convinced that all that fix-up advice in the mountain of self help publications is such a bunch of meaningless drivel. (Who knows though, I haven’t read it all, maybe there’s some magic bullet out there which isn’t the same as the rest.) If you know of any, please let me know, but only if you’ve read the whole book because, according to what’s on offer at the local charity shops for $1/book, it seems that people get thru the first 25 pages and realise that they already ARE clever and pretty and wearing nice shoes and give the book away. I’m fed up with sage advice like: Feel the love inside before you can give it, it’s too soon to quit, believe and it shall be, imagine experiences…your mind can’t tell the difference, every resource you need is already in your head, expand/limit your vocabulary for success, set goals, whatever you are afraid of…feel it…forget it, be happy, keep working at it…never give up, think positively, eliminate your bad habits, awaken the sleeping giant, get off your butt, work it out and eat a well balanced diet.

Did I miss anything?

As to the writers of these books, I usually catagorise them in five groups:
There’s the “you’re just fine” approach, there are also the “you’re dumb, I’m smart”, “you’re dumb, I’m smart because I’m a Dr.”, “you’re dumb I’m smart because I’m successful” and the very popular, “you’re dumb, I’m smart and you’re also a mess” approach.

Fix-up advice doesn’t fix, it masks, but people believe it anyway because that’s what we are told to do. We get it from advertising slogans, mass media, slanderous political campaigners (this is a very limited list feel free to notice and add your own, remember, you’re clever and pretty…)

For the record I’d like to make this my personal manifesto:

“Veronica, thy name is dysfunction*. It’s also stress, guilt and the occasional road rage.”

So I’ve made a form letter to send to every self-help guru who’s book I read. It’ll look like this:

Dear Dr. insert name

I read your book, insert title. It was very entertaining, however, I’m still a mess.

Kind regards,

*If you don’t know what dysfunction means go ask your grandparents who will tell you to go wash your face because they grew up in a world where the focus on what was right was stronger than today’s fixation on what’s wrong.

Well, fancy that!

I’ve got all this old stuff at home. Great stuff! Like old letters, small writing boxes and old photos, not so much found as rescued from charity shops, garage sales and, sometimes, rubbish bins and the back seat of scrap yard cars. Not only does it make me wonder who could have thrown these things away, but more importantly, who were those people in the photographs? Who wrote those letters? Where are they now? I’ve been composing Vanitas for a few years now. Vanitas…emptiness, meaninglessness of earthly life? Maybe that’s the literal translation, but for me they represent memories. And after, memories are all we have left. I agree with Art History Professor Geoffrey Batchen,  from The University of Victoria, photographs are a reminder of our mortality and I would be tempted to run back inside my burning house to rescue the shoe box full of them. I’m happy to have had my image chosen to represent this article in Photography News.