Corsica – France

I just came back from Corsica in France where I spent the last week. After complaining about the missing summer I finally got a dose unfiltered, harsh UV light. I also got a dose of unsolicited peer pressure that got me thinking a lot about competition, the value of achievement, and how to find your place. So this time I will feed you a mix of pictures and metaphysical indulgence.

Let us start with a map of Corsica so that you get an idea of the island. I stayed on the west side of the island, somewhat close to Ajaccio.

The views on the island are simply amazing. The island is rather rocky providing a very nice contrast with the ocean; yes brown – blue is much nicer than green – blue. The water is colored in the deepest possible blue, perfectly clean. You can actually see the rock formations under the water surface.

I was extremely fascinated by the haziness that added a dream-like atmosphere together with the strong falloff of the blue towards the bottom. A bit like a fantasy movie.

The next one was taken on top of one of the mountains where an old tower is reminiscent of different times.

On the way back down the sun was very low and almost setting, coloring the trees in a very intense yellowish-green. The clouds only intensified the green.

So while hiking in these mountains I had some time to think about my past week’s experiences. Lately, I gained some great supporters and, at the same time, made equally many enemies. Jealously is a very strong emotion and in particular if resources are limited and competition is fierce the whole world feels like a zero-sum game. The gain of one is somebody else’s loss.

Over the last years I learned three very valuable “principles”.

  1. Don’t run with the pack if you are a slow runner.
    I think I got this one, if I remember correctly, from Jim Simons, a physicist turned hedge fund manager. Among the various meanings, two interpretations particularly stuck with me. First of all, there is no value in just being a fast follower (to use one of these overrated business buzzwords). You will be always second. But then, also, you cannot expect to outperform and excel in a discipline you just entered. You need to practice and hone your skills first to become a fast runner. Very often we forget about this and just because we excel in one specific area we believe that this skill is portable which it is not – most of the times.
  2. Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.

    The second principle I heard on different occasions but the most prominent one I remember was in Mad Men; Don Draper admonished one of his clients for being too risk averse. It is closely related to the first one. However, while the first one is mostly an advice to keep your psyche in good shape, this one is more about success itself. In particular in arts, it is about adding something new. There is no need for replication. In fact, a real piece of art cannot be replicated, not even by the original creator as the same conditions will never arise again (in contrast to science where you seek independent repetitions). Also, it is impossible to replicate another artist. Replication inevitably leads to failure or a boring, weaker version. Simply be yourself – you will stand out automatically because the other 99.9% are struggling hard to fit in anyway.

  3. Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

    Attributed to Bruce Lee, this saying summarizes pretty much a very viable approach to creative endeavors. It allows for you being who you are which is important as to not feel guilty. It allows for drawing from others, i.e., integrating yourself with others – a symbiosis. Not just competition. And, most importantly, it allows for rejecting commonly accepted rules, just because you find them useless.

In Corsica you can, of course, also go to the beach. And the beaches are simply amazing. One has to be a bit careful when going into the water due to rocks under the surface but apart from that the water is perfect.

Open the door and you will see the light 😉 Found this one by accident and was intrigued by the strong light beam entering the house.

I recently read an amazing book “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland that discusses the fears and challenges associated with art making in the real world. A realistic view devoid of unnecessary glorifications that fights the common belief that art is reserved for the privileged. This book is a must-read when you are involved in any creative endeavor.

On the same token, I wondered quite a bit if all of creative endeavors are a “hen-egg” problem. It is never clear whether there was first the artist or the art. But maybe the solution is simple, as in many other instances of this problem: just postulate one and the other half will pop into existence. Call it art and you become an artist. Call yourself an artist and you do art. I think the major complications here is simply that one needs to postulate extremely hard because it is not just against the outside world whose equilibrium you want to change but also against your own doubts and fears.

Enough philosophy for today and back to Corsica which is typical mediterranean in its style. The next couple of shots depict some of the houses, shops, colors, and the life. Restaurants…

… cafés…

… houses and family life…

… internet cafés and nosy neighbors. Run-down houses…

… freshly painted ones…

and very old brick houses.

… amazing sunsets – the small tower on the right of the sun is the tower that we saw earlier.

… and also the moon went well together with this rocky island.

As usual, the gallery with more shots.

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