Zen mined out, left for dead

When I was  in graduate school studying Sociology, late 1960s, I did some photography for the Model Cities project.  I made this photograph, for some reason reticulated the film in development, made a few prints, and lost the negative, so this image  awas made from a scan of a reticulated print, digitized, the image bought into a page layout program, printed  to a PDF which was opened  in photoshop,  saved as a digital image optimized for 800 pixels at 72ppi.

It was middle afternoon, they had just arrived, no money, close to no gas  hungry, 800 miles from a rural home in an old worn-out car  full of possessions— so young to be so poor and looking for  hope.


San Francisco— Faces, jackets, hands, legs and shoes, all  in two step.


Feet feat, fate fete, what weights  fore me. . .


I meet people for a few minutes, talk, I remember my parents, my father worked for the same company all his life, had a comfortable retirement, passed away,  left my mom provided for. She was never lonely, never hungry, always had place to sleep and never walked the streets alone hoping for a conversation. Actually I do not know what this man’s life was really like. We talked for about 15 minutes.


Feels like Eastern Europe or something in a fairy tale  but its San Francisco, North Beach area late  one Sunday afternoon.


Part of the history of Zen are the stories of the transmission  of the Buddha-Mind, beginning in India with Shaka Buddha holding the flower and  Kasyapa smiling, through 28 Indian patriarchs to Bodhitara who took the  name Bodhidharma when he  took Dhyana to China becoming the First Patriarch of Chan, on through to the Sixth Patriarch, and for a few centuries chan became diversified.

About 1200 Dogen, from Japan, visited China and stole Zen to , establish Eiheiji and Soto Zen in  Japan.


When you farm and someone dies, may be their children went to college and sought careers  else where leaving no-one to pass the farm on to,  an auction where the audience is other local farmers, perhaps friends perhaps not, but all bidders on the last possessions of their fellow farmer. What are they thinking as they stand there for hours, waiting for the piece of equipment they need and cannot get a loan to buy new.

After they buy a piece or two of equipment and later when using it in the field or in the barn  do they remember the auction, do they think  of their fellow farmer no longer here, or is there always  just work to be done,


Wine glasses in a San Francisco window .. . . one thing about a photograph  is that when a person sees it, they do not expect it to be perfect. Exposure? No, that should be perfect; Printing,  No that should be perfect; —. these are skills of  hand,  the measure of the artist.

But somehow in a photograph, regarding inclusion or non-inclusion of “things,” there is always something that will be out of human control, something  preventing the design from being perfect. Perhaps the difference between a snapshot and photograph is that while both may include something  “not seen”  before composing the image, in the photograph it some how naturally belongs.

 If you look at the wine glasses there is symmetry; if you look at the reflections in the wine glasses there is uniqueness, not all questions need to be answered.


Kuro-Oribe guinomi and bizen tokkuri. Oribe has a long history, centuries, when you  see an Oribe bowl from 400 years ago, or yesterday you know by  feel it is Oribe and still you will feel the individuality of the potter.

Bizen is spoken in tone, texture, and form. You feel Bizen with the touch of your  hand.


Ikea—I am emotionally  moved with anticipation  whenever I think about  “going to Ikea,”  I only give in about once every four or five years,  Get there, searching around in the multi floored parking garage—Did I say we usually end up going on a weekend”always crowded, ” find the first floor, go up the escalator, and start the walk through the store from top to bottom. I used to like the mac &cheese but usually the cafeteria is so full by the time I arrive at my turn to order I have talked myself out of the calories.

There is a lot of fun stuff to visually experience, but  I find myself ready  to leave before I have reached the end but  still I do not know where is  my wife.

I made this image, its a piece of someone else’s design, but only some of it and I have taken  these elements from the design  of another to make an other design,

Is it fair to say a design of my own? Did I steal from this designer?

Perhaps its just me making an image of an experience I had and the judgement is whether it communicates the visual experience I intended, which was at best just a moment of fun.


Japantown, San Jose, a Saturday afternoon on a corner in sight of San Jose Tofu when San Jose Tofu was still making the best tofu in the Bay Area— Daruma maintained by tax payer money.psd2260X_650.jpg

Ed and Angie, A good enough reason to keep your love going for ever. Ed suffered from old age memory loss, maybe Alzheimer’s,  I got to know him because my mother was in the same memory care facility.

Ed would spend the day looking for Angie and  she came every day, this was a halloween event, but other wise every day she looking  beautiful for Ed.


This year it seems there will be no persimmons on our tree, We had peaches, there are always too many to eat in too short a time, we give some away . .


but this year its a second year to wait until September persimmons.


You may think its a little weird,  taking a photograph of myself in  my underwear, but I take many photographs of myself,  very few are me in my underwear, at  74 years old, for me they are all the same, its just me but others have  a different feeling about them.


Below I am about 22 years old, maybe a 52 years difference—“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” NikonF, Tri-X  film, developed in DiaFine to be  fixed, washed and hung in my bathroom.


Or I might make images of my shado, I  can never let myself get too serious about the image, its just a fleeting moment , maybe 1/125 of a second  in a life of 74 years.

1 year = 365.2425 days = (365.2425 days) × (24 hours/day) × (3600 seconds/hour) = 31556952 seconds, or (31556952 seconds  x74 year),  and so 1÷125 of a sec   = 0.008

0.008 ÷ 2335114448 seconds—

I would have to do it by hand  but as you can this photograph  which I have had for at least 52 years is just a tiny  tiny  piece of my life  Any photograph  is just a tiny piece of anyone’s life and yet it may be that that photograph touches a memory for all ones life— a wedding photograph for example.


or maybe there is no more meaning,  nor will there ever  be anymore meaning than to  just make a design on the paper—maybe we bring  our own meaning to the image anyway.


One movie  I have on DVD  and enjoy watching  is The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice by Ozu— here is cha-dō one afternoon in a  small  corner of a shopping center, another moment of my life.

Sometimes at the end of a meal in Japan someone will pour their tea into what is left  in their rice bowl to eat/drink at the same time.


Vladimir with koi


Sometimes for me simple, quick  moments have meaning— my feet reflected in a car door with complementary colors.


And sometimes 1/125 sec was a million years in life.




When zen is knot

I generally wash the dishes, my wife cooks, as generally we prefer her cooking to mine.

We do not use a dishwasher— we have never used it, it just takes up space and probably if (or when) we sell the house we will have replace it just to sell it.

I think  the dishwasher was installed about 2004 when we did remodeling in the kitchen. We enjoy using hand made pottery for eating and I enjoy washing the pottery, by hand of course, that is one of the  benefits of using it.

Our dish drainer from last night, I personally enjoy Nihon Rokkoyo (日本六古窯), my own reference to the “Japanese folk kilns“ although  technically means the six  famous old kilns. Below you can see bizen, ki-seto,  shino,  mashiko, kyoyaki,  a couple small mass production cups, and a coffee mug by Gary Holt of Berkeley.  

I like to drink sake with my meal,  lower right is a  Bizen tokkuri, a container  used  between the larger original sake bottle and the individual guinomi to  serve sake at a table.


This is a bizen hidasuki  guinomi, a “one gulp” cup used for sake, its generally larger than an ochoko (also used for sake) —perhaps better put,  the ochoko is smaller than the guinomi which come in  a variety of different sizes where ochoko are generally about the  same size.

Bizen is thrown, dried, placed in the kiln with burning wood  which results in an  ash glaze. It holds liquid. To fire hidasuki  the pieces are wrapped in a twine like cord which burns  off and the darker color is left,  perhaps at one time different pieces were tied together for some functional reason when positioned in the kiln.


A bizen tokkuri, the darker area is gomma.  This one is just the right size for me with enough sake to last for meal. I found it one afternoon in a second hand store along Telegraph in Temescal— $2! It makes a sound of a running  brook —tok-tok-tok—when it pours.


My wife is from a small town near Seto and Mini, an area  known for a variety of pottery referred to as Seto-yaki or Mino-yaki, and in a larger context, seto-mono may be use to mean pottery in general or non kyo-yaki (kyoto style pottery).

Oribe is a  well known Seto-Mino style, named after famous tea master and samurai Oribe Furuta (1544-1615).  There are different styles of Oribe, but perhaps the most common will  be using  this light tan background, flowing green and brown brush  drawing. You can tell oribe whether done yesterday or 400 years ago, and yet most potters finds some way to express themselves.


A Seto-guro guinomi, for me its just the right size when I drink with my evening meal. Guro means black.  While firing ki-seto (yellow seto) they made some small pots  to be placed near the entrance and take-out at various times to measure the work of the firing,  I guess they thrust the pot in a container of water and seto-guro resulted.

Like when seeing a photo one thinks “What is is?” when drinking sake from a guinomi the mouth seeks to find the special place to drink.  Did the potter have in mind  a certain place to put the lips when sipping , or the fingers when picking it up?

Sometimes there is only one place to place the mouth,  other times there may be two or three,  some say to create  a great guinomi the potter needs to enjoy drinking sake.


Another Berkeley potter, Bill Creitz, ( 1938-2015),  when I get up in the morning this cup is for first coffee — or I have another one, same shape but different colors. Its tall,  thin and keeps the coffee warm for a longer time.


In the afternoon I use this cup by Gary Holt, its in the dish drainer image, lower right. At a sale at his pottery this was the one  I liked, only thing  he was using it for his coffee,  but OK,  he finished off the coffee, washed it out,  wrapped it up and I have enjoyed it  for many years.


Gary Holt and wife ( I believe her name is Jun) in his Berkeley pottery on a  bi-annual sale weekend.


When I bought the bizen tokkuri  at the Temescal  second hand store, I also bought this cup  for $1. At bed time   I mix about an ounce of “white two-buck chuck” ($2.99 now)  with about 3-4 ounces of clear diet soda to be placed  on the small chest near my bed, sometimes I wake at night and drink a little.


I googled myself/images, the  image  of the elderly woman walking and man sitting was made early one morning  in Albuquerque, down the street from a place which offered free breakfast for people.

Too early to be open,  people were lined up along the building  down the sidewalk  to the corner,  while others arriving later, were in random places overflowing along the corner streets, many unable to stand in one place were just walking around, trying to run out the minutes until breakfast.

She is (was, its 25 years ago) elderly, I  saw her, picked up the camera and shot as I wondered about my own mother who was fortunate she and my father in their last years did not have to figure out how to waste 30 minutes of their lives waiting for a free meal.


After my father’s passing, she had a stroke, suffered extensive memory damage and developed expressive aphasia. For over 3 years we never had a real verbal communication again.


She had a hip operation and needed 8 weeks of  physical therapy to relearn to walk.


Often after lunch we would sit in her room, in the sunlight, she might talk, while usually the individual  words made sense, the sentences did not.

She was very bright, had a extensive vocabulary  and did not suffer fools. Pre stroke she had a healthy ego, she understood that there were times to express her views and times not to, but the stroke took away  that self-control and in the living facility she had  no hesitation expressing  herself when others did not meet her standards.

Her extensive command of the english language generally meant that most people did not immediately get the insult. To ease matters a little many of the CNAs were immigrants for whom english was not a first language so generally they just behaved professionally,  but she could make some unkind, subtle and piercing  comments, even with a stroke and memory loss.

For a period she was angry because she decided that other residents of the memory care facility were actually employees, and would approach them, face to face  and unkindly accuse them of shirking their employment responsibilities, sometime “firing them,” all in sentences a bit confusing but still requiring  an extensive vocabulary.

One day I put the sign ,

IMPORTANT, Do not say unkind things to other people. You will hurt their feelings.


I found this image almost 40 years ago in a second handstore, Over the years it interested me so much that  I kept in a folder so it would not get damaged. You can date it by the style of  the ties.

Is a magnificent image, I do not have any idea who they are, where they are, but they are people together  with interesting faces and body gestures celebrating what seems to be a birthday party. So many interesting things to wonder when seeing this image,  The faces are all easily see, except for one person only showing a bit of the hair and shirt or blouse. Is that person hiding,or the photographer missed it?

Especially I like the face of the woman directly in the middle—she has an expression of  mother watching her child in a race focused on concern for the child’s feelings if the child were to to fail to  make it to the end.


But what is it? why bother?,  Is it  more important  to experience the feeling of the the shapes and colors, or figure out its a photograph of my crotch .


Almost everyday I walk  four miles along Alameda Creek,  I try to do it in an hour— it used to take 50 minutes ten years  ago or should it be 12 years ago—   but at 74 it seems to take longer every day. My only excuse is that over the past 12 years  I have met so many people that  on the levee that I often stop and chat.


Pho tow bow no

“Pattern is born when one produces  the intuitively perceived essence.”
Yanagi Soetsu    The Unknown Crafstman 


“Pictures are often distinguished from patterns, pictures being considered a depiction of nature and patterns as human compositions.  Yet the two have only parted company in comparatively modern times”
Yanagi Soetsu    The Unknown Crafstman 


Sometimes patterns block us from closer personal relationships or enable us to remain ignorant


Sometime we try to fit into the pattern of no pattern, or in your case know pattern


Knot looking for something that is there  instead of understanding something,  people often just knead to fit in too a category . .


Fore me its has to be two dimensional , a shadow is two dimensional, a place in Flatland where I can hide from time and at least one dimension of space . . . sure beats string theory with 10 or even more dimensions where I could never hide


You may not understand  a shado me, why bother,  Who cares? Horton?

But perhaps  in a pattern I can make some sense of it . . .

ShadowBlankets_700Its clear now , this guy is lonely,  he has no friends, probably a problem with body odor and will not lie, and you think its a  good thing you did not meet me in your travels . . .


But  the challenge is often two frustrating fore me, I could be washed out


my future always comes before the my past . . .


where I seek understanding in the free expressions  of the street


Or along Alameda Creek where everyday I am forced to see something knew


As a last resort to escaping the binds of the linear logic of print  , I recommend okinomiyake . . .  with a random page—read out loud so you can feel the words  — or two from  Finnegans Wake.


No matter who you are, you’re going to knead some body.










Sovereign geopoliticalboro four sum, more or less

Sometimes I  let the question naturally  arise,  other times I take out my rubber hammer and pound it back into the whole  from which it crawled  . . .


Then was a time  I was missing, not AWOL but  missing in inaction  and needed someone to help me but was unable to make that kind of a relationship. Either I  could not figure it out or they could not . . .


I could say I am sorry to everyone, but then again no one, no two, no  three   ever apologized to me—walk on by, someone told me before I moved here , that is the California way.


Four  here, four there, four knowhere, it wears me down to  remember and makes me crazy to forget.


I did not have the presence of mind  to be a brilliant conversationalist while waiting for something to happen. the uncertainty  of waiting, even when there was a schedule  used to fill my heart with answers to unasked questions. If t here was no question why was I forced to have an answer.


Four winds to the sheets, till death due us part . . .  always some party pooper standing on a corner sumway.


And the whispering of the people,  watching every move that I go through (apologies to Utah Phillips for stealing a line or two) but It  just gets too enlightening to resist.


Fort Hill, Roxbury, Boston, Massacheusetts . . . I used to enjoy a few moments between the Lyman family, and the gentrification  sitting in quiet of the early morning—hilltop  Took my mother up here one nice summer afternoon, you could see Back Bay, I’ve been told  in the old days it was a days ride  from Beacon Hill for those with summer homes.


I make images of my feet because I am glad I do not walk on my head, or wear handcuffs on my legs , the binding would be more than unnatural and it keeps my feet on the ground.


There were so many distractions, easily it fooled me, over and over, again and again,


I would not listen when people told me the truth, just as I would listen when they lied   to me, but I believed them anyway


They were always there with advice, good will and forgotten memories.


When I put my shade images on to a page there seemed to be no simple path, it touched me through and through  like Queequeg’s bones and Ahab’s beckoning,


A little color makes it clearer, more confusing and out of time.


A monk once asked, “Does a dog have Buddha-Nature?”

Joshu replied, “Mu!” or maybe “Mu?” or maybe “Mu . . .   ”   but for sure  it was not “Mu.”

True, I was not there, you can say that,  still you were not there either,  you can take my word and put it out with the dog in the morning.


But you can bee leave me even if  I do knot  . . .Concerning this Ummon said,  “If for a moment you fall into relativity you are a dead man!”

I  guess that means he was not talking to  women,  or perhaps he had an ephiphany  that if a woman falls into relativity she becomes a dead man.  Maybe the dog does too.


The  thing I do well is too confuse myself and while you may or may knot  get any understanding from my confusion,  you have  to admit it does makes you feel good  to know you are more deserving of  enlightenment than I.


You could say you do not understand  me, but that is my excuse, you can knot no more than I, and despite what Joshu  said, here is photographic proof that Nansen’s cat still lives long after he killed it.

Thank Buddha for the power of the internet of all things enlightening.














Quest, shuns, and sir

Graphic means a printing process where the same  image can be consistently  reproduced multiple times.

Since computers “a graphic”  has become a common term referring to a visual image often which  appears on an electronic device screen or some kind of a “designed” image unprinted materials, such as a logo.


What about content? Professionally I was a graphic designer, pre and post computer, and for  the  offset printer “the art” were the materials I supplied (into the work flow) called “camera ready art”  which  the printer  used  in another photographic process to make film  used  to expose on the printing plates which were photographically processed, mounted the press, inked and used to print (transfer the ink)  the same image over and over called the press run. It different than the “Art”  in History of  Art class.

/*This was made as a large poster so you cannot see the green sign in the bottom row, second column, which says “No Dogs Allowed.”*/


When people think of a photograph they do not think of a “ printing process” but as an image of something “real.”When most people experience a “photograph” their response is to think “What is it?” Or more precisely, What is it that is REALLY happening in this “REAL MOMENT” of time?

In that sense also the photograph is not something that will happen, but something that has happened, different  from an image printed  on a Tarot card  or naturally appearing  in your tea cup which may be  interpreted to predict the future.


Am I measuring a moment in my life,  doubling it  or just so busy making it  that I miss the experience of life?

Does it matter whether it is 1/125 second or 1/500 second? Or which lens I used?  it might  if the light is different. But what if  I was using words to lie to you? Would you still know the truth just by looking at the image and ignoring the words? Would you consider  using an image in a photograph to lie to you worse than using words?


I could show you photographic images of  a “Real San Francisco,”  then again maybe you would not believe me, you would shout “Fake News, Fake News, Bias, Bias ” and I would say “Don’t look!”


Or close more lookly . . .a real event in a real place once afternoon


When you see a photograph you want to know what it is, you want to have words to describe the experience, but  I want you, when you see it, to just experience just the visual experience, that is for you alone but once you put it into words something outside of you is modifying your experience by giving you answers to questions usually before you have developed the questions—it is defining the experience for you before you can experience your experience.


In a sense this is OK, its the process of culture which arises from human behaviour  an homogenizing process which enables  people to behave similar enough that society can develop and maintain.

If I tell you yo , Chicago, Fall, 1969, SDS Days of Rage, does it make you feel any different about the image?


or  this one , a little earlier, just  around the corner . . .


Using a photographic image to make a pattern can create a different experience, it is a pattern made using an image of my shadow of me holding a camera . . .


Or using a photographic image of a screen capture  to make a pattern . . .


Is a screen capture a photograph?  Using  light it creates a digital piece of information which can be used  to “print” the same image consistently, not on paper but an image using light on an  electronic  “monitor.” And, as an added benefit you can send it to the printer and get a different image.


While electronic monitors may be basically the same, the appearance of the image printed them may be different from monitor to monitor because of many factors.

It boggles my eyes to think all this, maybe, just looking know thinking,  is less confusing.


And a “printed on paper” image while similar when printed from the same printer at the same time, will vary from printer to printer. Is the truth in an image just  in the unique personal experience or the culturally defined experience?  Or a unique combination of both . . .


Where then is there any truth in a photograph?


Which is the more important experience,  the experience of making the print—which the artist gets to do— or the experience of seeing the print? which both the artis and others share.


Is it any different,  for me, to experience my pottery by using it or experiencing  a photograph of it, or a  poster design of photographs of it?


There is the McLuhan story of two women who meet, one pushing a baby in a carriage. The first woman remarks,  “What a beautiful child,” to which the mother replies, “Oh but you should see photograph!”


Can you tell something about me when you see these photographs? Would I murder, steal or rob? Would I lie to you? Would I do a good job  if you hired me? Would you let in your cab? Would yolk me in your bed?

I too used to contemplate these questions . . .


Then again, and again, and again, I forget to remind myself to forget, I am just a passerby, a  mapless soul wondering from this moment to that, I to judge am whom?

There is so much more to appreciate in human beings.