Ancient Greeks and Climate

But not in antiquity because of race. Ancient Greeks did not think in terms of race (later translators would put that word in their mouths); instead, Greeks thought of place. Africa meant Egypt and Libya. Asia meant Persia as far to the east as India. Europe meant Greece and neighboring lands as far west as Sicily. Western Turkey belonged to Europe because Greeks lived there. Indeed, most of the Greek known world lay to the east and south of what would become recognizable later as Europe. Mostly, Greek scholars focused on climate to explain human difference. Humors arising from each climate’s relative humidity or aridness explained a people’s temperament. Where the seasons do not change, people were labeled placid. Where seasons shift dramatically, their dispositions were said to display “wildness, unsociability and spirit. For frequent shocks to the mind impart wildness, destroying tameness and gentleness.” Those words come from Hippocrates’ Airs, Waters, and Places.

Nell Painter, The History of White People

When To Push The Shutter

Henri Cartier-Bresson was asked, “Have you ever really been able to define for yourself when it is that you press the shutter?”

And he answered

It’s a question of concentration. Concentrate, think, watch, look and, ah, like this, you are ready. But you never know the culminative point of something. So you’re shooting. You say, “Yes. Yes. Maybe. Yes.” But you shouldn’t overshoot. It’s like overeating, overdrinking. You have to eat, you have to drink. But over is too much. Because by the time you press, you arm the shutter once more, and maybe the picture was in between.

Very often, you don’t have to see a photographer’s work. Just by watching him in the street, you can see what kind of photographer he is. Discreet, tiptoes, fast or machine gun. Well, you don’t shoot partridges with a machine gun. You choose one partridge, then the other partridge. Maybe the others are gone by then. But I see people wrrrr, like this with a motor. It’s incredible, because they always shoot in the wrong moment.

From a 1971 interview with the photographer by Sheila Turner-Seed. Published in the New York Times, June 21, 2013

The background of the interview is interesting and included in the article.

They Are Different


Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Rich Boy” (1925-26)

With thanks to Aardvark