At the risk of adding yet another "mini exercise" (to you, Hugh), I'd be greatly interested in what you discovered about yourself through doing this first exercise. Looking over your work, my suspicion is that you are naturally predisposed to self-reflection, but I'm guessing that in the process of putting together your "Session 1" contribution, you've already achieved some insight?
Yeah, well, insight happens. It happens all the time, sometimes gets written down in screeds and maunderings, sometimes is "catch and release" and doesn't get recorded, often provokes projects, purchases, hareings-off in new directions... The last month or so of thinking about and preparing for the workshop has occasioned an especially intense immersion in my photography library and in photographic expeditions, and thus a lot of reflection on my own issues around being a Photographer. And those lead naturally and directly into meta-ish insights that overflow the boundaries of 'art' and 'photography', which is a Good thing. Here's this morning's caffeine-fueled summary of that mare's nest of thoughts:
Much/most of Insight is Realization and articulation of what one already knows, so it's internal at least as much as external "bolts from the blue". It's talking to oneself and listening to what one says, or as the writing across the curriculum folks used to say: ?how can I know what I think until I see what I say? which is a pretty good recipe for the [never-ending] construction of understanding.
And so much is connecting up stuff, enjoying the explorations of the Indra's Net of all-connected-to-all, adding more connections, attending to more allusions, weaving/knotting in more patterns. The metaphor of evolving knowledge as macramé seems really apposite.
BUT the question of what it's all FOR is still out there. I used to have the answer of generating material for teaching (I learn stuff so that I can teach better, and being seen to be a perpetual learner is a lesson in itself), where the audience was classrooms of [supposedly] eager ears. That was an illusion on several levels. But now there's no target audience beyond an amorphous Posterity.
I realized that I really don't need any external validation for my photography. I'm not engaged in any contest, not trying to appeal to any market or audience, not trying to create something saleable, or even to inform or persuade anybody of anything. Those are mostly the freedoms of age, retirement, even disengagement, where one chooses to do whatever it's pleasing to do, and damn the torpedoes.