Zen buy me or go home

Long ago I lived in the country,
Knew only sheep and cows. . .
So we headed up the hils, leaping sags and gullies
(Climbing up and down made my muscles stronger),
Through one woods where mist wet my straw coat and hat . . .

But those days are gone—I see them only in a painting.
No one believes me when I say I regret
Not being a herdsman all my life.

Su Tung Po   11th Century    Burton Watson translator

I do not think you have to know what the Chinese characters mean to enjoy this painting  by Janney. Feel the conversation between the green stems reaching out to  the words,  and then the disinterest of the flower. Maybe its jealous, narcissistic or perhaps just looking at something more interesting.

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We watch TV,  see movies, talk about the the “Art” of popular visual media using such terms as ratings, box office sales, Oscars, Emmys,  non-commercial, what is the greatest film ever?? Tokyo Monogatori, Bicycle Thief, Pather Panchali, Citizen Kane, Spring in a Small Town, many would have a different list and argue through the night.

Movies and TV shows are written, edited, directed, rehearsed, performed  with actors all working to enable the scene to unfold as directed and then the film or video may again be edited.

People and dogs like to be together.

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Then we experience—films we experience vicariously as a changing emotional  experience, but photograph are are a single experience separated from what went before or will come next,

And as well, people like to be with people, doing something together gives them a chance to do be together.

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Movies like to think they are stories of real life, and often people talk about how their experience of the film is more or less like real life, critics often make judgements about how similar it is to or different from reality, and people are often unhappy when  the choice of actor does not fit with real life. Still what is being an actor outside of being someone you are not— “All the world’s a stage. . . ”

After school at  the bus stop.

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On TV or in a movie everything unfolds so “logically,” always in the right order, at the right moment, on  cue, so to speak, feeling an essence of the human drama.

We stopped for a moment, the lines of the tree jumped out to the foreground, thick lines with thin lines, could they be the know-leaves, something fore the future to tell?

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Compare to real people who at best stumble along with in compete sentences or uncommonmeanings   . . . while  when movie people interact  they speak  and act articulately with the appropriate camera angles and lighting  for gestures and facial expressions.

Farmhouse in Minnesota, about 1970

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One philosopher suggested people have a “real self” and an “ideal self.”  The “real self” is what we do and the “ideal self” is what we think we should have done—and mental stability is the ability to find a balance between them.

He thought, centuries ago,  the standard for the “ideal self” came from the ideas of the Church. Later another said it was not just the ideas of the Church but it was people created  ideas that contributed to the concept of  “real self.

Old house in Maine, circa 1970. When I see  a deserted house I wonder about the people who lived there, in this case I met a  man  whose mother grew up in this house.

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And as ideas change, even when we “improve our behaviour closer to the standard” the standard also moves, maintaining the spread by reverting to the mean. We are stuck in our “real self” but want to behave like our  “ideal self,”  generally never can and when we  do   its a  fleeting moment as the accomplishment just leads to a higher benchmark.

Generally the utopian belief is we can make the two into One or at least diffuse the differences while increasing toleration enough to live in peace.

The government paints the word “STOP” on the street, there are a small finite number of businesses which provide the stencil to meet specific standards, so these images share a common visual origin. Here is the “top of the “O” in STOP.“  Time is its own artist.

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But what happens when you are in a real life similar situation as you identity with in a movie, does it come off so smoothly? No,  It often does not unfold the same as the movie.  While the scene you are watching feels real, often the screens preceding and following  seem like chance.

Guinomi are “One-Gulp” containers for drinking sake. Perhaps that is Hotel and Daruma on the top corners . . . These are all Japanese made except for the blue translucent by Gary Holt of Berkeley 5th row, 4th column. bizen, ekaratsu, hagi, ki-seto, kuro oribe mashiko, oribe, setokuro,  shigaraki shino,  and one  ceder  with a couple of kyo-yaki.

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The whole thing is contrived, we all know that and we like the entertainment.

But still we are constantly exposed to TV and film— how does this experience contribute to our expectations of behaviors?

The Mies Davis album “Kind of Blue” is a classic, I never learned the titles of the songs, probably because there are no lyrics, but after decades,  upon hearing I immediately recognize any song from the album.

Indigo is found around the world and from ancient times has been used in textiles, row 4, column 3, is an old piece of kasuri (Japanese ikat) and row 6, column 3, is shibori  and  some blue porcelain and Levi.s

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Do we expect ourself or others to behave like people in films? Do we judge ourselves or others when we or they do, or do not?

Following are some images from an essay, circa 1970

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The photograph is different from film. In a film when we see a frame  we “know” what went on before and what happens after, but a photograph is just a moment in time, we do not even know what is going on outside of the image at the same moment as the photograph.

Two  young people  moved to a rural  setting, 

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I wonder if I like my photographs of people better than I like the people in them ?—That is a rhetorical question. Photographs do not require anything from me to get along with them, they do not say things that hurt me, but when I like the image . . .

I liked the wood background . . .

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they  make me feel good.

That seems very selfish of me or even creepy—making a photograph of people so so I can control the relationship to get the good part without having the bad parts— a photograph does not make relationship requirements on me to feel good . . .it does not feel anything all, its a one way relationship.

on the side of the house, 

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Or maybe its a sign of something very lacking in my character or in my life.And yet more and more pole around the world are making photographs.

encasing the window, 

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McLuhan wrote about two women who meet on a street, one pushing a carriage with her baby. They stop, one woman remarks “Your baby is beautiful !”and the mother responds “Oh but you should see the photograph!”

and reaching a resolution. visual art creates a tension and resolves it.

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When there was no popular electronic media people read printed novels and short stories most of which had no comprehensive visual image, the reader created it—any one can be the hero,  lover or the loved one, just for the price of being able to read.

During my life with my mother her name was Lynn, but to her school age friends she was  Rosie, short for there  more formal Rosamonde.  I never met her school age friends until I was an adult and it was an interesting feeling to experience these strangers being so intimate with my mother.

This is the side of a train track, Union Square, behind city hall in Somerville, circa 1970,  and Lynn could be a stop on the line or an attempt to communicate with someone.

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But with TV and film, in order for the story to be “convincing” the images are not the personal hopes and dreams of “any” reader as they are when words are read in the comfort of your home, but common idealized  visually expressed stereotypes.

The dog sits, a man plays and a woman walks by, an every day story 

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When we read the book we experience ourselves being the hero, but when we see the film  having the same feeling requires many people to deny who they are unreal life. Where the book experience  was an escape into, the movie experience is an escape out of.

Does the answer or the questions come first? Does it matter?  What if the monk asked “Mu!” and Joshu answered “A whole in the head.”

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What is the influence of electronic media in the socialization process? Do we hold ourselves to an artificial standard set by how we see  people behave  on TV and in movies?

I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die
“Celluloid Hero”    Kinks song     lyrics by Ray Davies

For years there was a shop on Grant Street, Market side of California, selling quality Chinese antiques and I used to take visitors there because the experience was more personal. This painting hung on the wall for many visits, They feel so cold.

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