One of the classes I remember from my days as a philosophy major was how difficult it was to define something as simple as a chair. In the beginning, students tried to define it by properties such as: has legs, has a back, has a seat, has this and that. None of these properties worked.
Then they decided to try to define a seat by functionality. If you sit on it, than it is a chair. Of course we all jumped on that since sitting on the hood of a car didn’t make it a chair.
Before the class was over, there were many puzzled people because chairs that were plastic and existed when filled with air were chairs. If you’d like to take a crack at a definition, feel free. But what was amazing was simply how difficult it was to define a chair. That was what I was thinking about when I took this shot of chairs outside a nearby laundry.
They have at least one thing that all chairs have – a seat. But just having a seat doesn’t make it a chair. Of course, I didn’t end up as a philosophy major since this sort of thing gets you nowhere.
One day, I was in an advanced seminar and truthfully I don’t remember who we were discussing – it may have been Descarte and his “I think therefore I am” but that was quickly dismissed. But I did have an epiphany at that moment – that you could spend your life trying to build a system and all it took was one little flaw in the system and it all toppled over. I switched to English Literature at that point, and in fact ended up with a double major in Philosophy and English Lit. Neither one helped at all when I went out to find my first post-college job.
When I was in college, I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do. I read lots of books, and studied many great thinkers, and the first job I had was taking orders at a publishing company. Taking orders at a publishing company meant that my job was to take a form, look up the title in the ISBN book, fill in a fields (this was pre-computers) and put it into a box for someone else to check.
In between filling out order forms, I began writing a screenplay. (The screenplay story is for another post, but it ended up helping me get into film school). My father has made a list of all the jobs I had before I began selling photography. It is a horror story that really shouldn’t be made public, but I suppose I will enumerate the tale of woe at some point.