Cameras in search of a moment

Generally a photograph is accepted as a visual documentation of a real moment in time.

Three boys, a dog and a cola sign, it was a “real moment” between me and these boys. It could have been a “set up,” the boys might have been actors hired to pose and the cola sign just a prop. Three boys, a dog, a sign and myself came together and parted, never to see each other again and this is a record of that “1/125 of a second’ moment.

Because of digital technology how we experience photography and photographs has changed.

Before digital a photographer could afford an excellent camera and lens, expose film, develop and print— The technology got better at a slower pace. With film you were aware of the financial cost of each image. In the 1960’s I rolled my own tri-x , 30 exposures on a roll.

When you approach Yasukuni Jinja the torii feels massively dominating.

With digital the cameras rapidly improve technologically and just as fast, the cost of the everything except the cost per image, I never think about it.When you buy expensive professional digital equipment it is soon out of date. And there are plenty of low priced digital cameras on phones that are very good quality.

The priest goes one way, the people another.

And its easy, no film to develop and keep clean, no darkroom, no waiting time.

For these Japanese, the photo being taken is an affirmation of their faith in the survival of Japan or maybe its just what you do when you are old and visit Yasukuni Jinja .

The phone has developed into a personal portable multifunctional computer enabling people to communicate more information more effectively and the camera is an essential part of that machine.

Its been over the past five months that much of these images are from Alameda Creek .

Make a photograph (or a video) and send it almost anywhere from a computer you carry around in your pocket— instantly. You can communicate more information than the receiver can comprehend in real time, is that communication? If you send more information than the other person can grasp they may only get part of the message, and you may not know which part they missed.

Digital has turned the world into a global village. Good? A global market can give more competition, more value, higher quality goods, lower prices.

Like in a small-town electronic media enables global gossip, hypocrisy, judging, fear mongering, bullying conspiracy theories and ever more bad behaviours.
Are these bad behaviors the natural result of people living in a small town? Or the effects of modern society which for social solidarity, requires individuals to repress their natural urges?—alienation from our true selves.

Which moments are more important? The ones in your photo album?; The ones you send someone else?; The ones that never happened?; The ones that could have happened? The ones that should have happened?

The moment inside you when the feeling of seeing the photograph is better than was the reality of being in the moment. And no one else knows but you.

Which moments are our true natural selves? Could photographs really be a visual image of ourselves?

We think a photograph is an image of a reality independent of us, an object separated from the subject, take care not to be all in the abyss of positivism,

Last week I walked by a blue heron standing intensely still —often they are bothered just by walking by them on the trail—I walked up a mile and back and the heron was still standing intensely still as I approached and then, Whack!! its beak struck itoa hole and came up with a mole, flew across the creek, drowned it and then ate. I had only seen that one other time in 27 years . ..

And then the next day as I approached the same place, the same bird intensely standing still again and then Whack!! again another mole, another drowning, another meal . . .

still most see the tranquility moments of Alameda Creek.

A San Francisco moment of truth . . .

A San Francisco moment of power . . .

A Jamaica Plain moment of family.

When I livd in Jamaica Plain this family used to pass by our house regularly to and from shopping.the man looked to be about the same age as myself, I used to wonder what kind of relationship he had with his family. What were his friends like? Did he like school? What kind of job did he work?

You may no me before you know me, isn’t that the truth.

Cultural zentropy

Human beings have been on Earth for a long time, counting from the “split” about 6-7 million years.

I still daily fast walk four miles along Alameda Creek, although due to the virus my other outside activities remain minimal.

First human ancestors in genus Homo, 2.6 million years.

This means everyday walking along with my camera, seeing the same things.

First modern humans, Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago . . .

Is it better to know less about what I see or just see it differently?

Human beings have been writing for about 5000 years, writing represents about 0.025% of human history. Yet writing is the most important information we have for knowing history, and the worst.

Still everyday on the path I see different people .

Estimates of petroglyphs, Venuses, and other art forms date back 700,000 years old. These are forms of artistic information as well as information about culture.

Sometimes, for some the trail is a a motel room.

Human tools date back 3.3 million years. Writings, art, tools are all things which pass on history between generations.

I usually try to say hello to everyone I pass on the trail where we all share the same reason to be there.

Art, which has been around much longer than writing, is material objects with a personal statement and can only be created by the artist.

Some people I only see once, and for some reason we stop and talk.

You could say that Homo Sapiens are “more causally related” to the evolution of human society, while having been around for 200,000 years it took them 195,000 years to create writing, the writing period being about 0.025%.

This gentleman is proud of his career in the US Army.

Tools which have been around for 3.3 million years are material objects designed so anyone willing to learn the skills can use them, skills which are not the property of the the creator —anyone can use them.

Some people I see very regularly on the creek for a long period of time never go beyond saying hello.

Where art is a personal expression of human feeling, and dependent on the creation of an individual tools represent human technology which works the same way for most humans. Tools do not transmit the opinions of their creators.

If I do stop and talk AND if the person is wearing listening devices I will ask them to what are they listening. Only once has the person asked me (in return) “What are you listening to?

Tools are not personal, a tool to dig the ground will dig the ground no matter what person was using it as long as they developed some basic skilling using it.

Generally people know more about something than I do and I must remind myself to stop talking and start listening—stillI put two “I” s in the sentence and I could not resist a third.

All of these things, writing, tools, pottery may have a lifetime longer than individuals, and facilitate communication between generations,— tools simply by their use transmit culture transmit culture.

I have a brace (u-shaped drill) which was once owned by my grandfather and every time I use it is a special experience.

For most of the time human beings sensual experiences were in balance but with print written words and print (as opposed to manuscripts) resulted in an imbalanced use of our senses. Electronic media may bring rebalance to the use of our senses for knowing or perhaps minimize the part the visual experience plays.

And on the trail people still read books

Still writing, as short as its time has been, is the human creation which has had the greatest power to influence human behavior.

Writing can communicate important information while also being used to communicate disinformation. Assume all through its history writing has been like that. What is truth, what is not truth, what is knot truth? How do we know if the historical writing of Thucydides is not just some personal revengeful rantings by someone who was exiled for his failures as a military leader.

This gentleman worked reporting and editing at a local newspaper most of his life, was employed pre-digital and during the transition from print to digital and has many interesting stories about events of business investors, cutting expenses and compromising reporting.

Pottery, containers made with clay or ceramic materials used for various purposes, have been around for 25,000 years. Pottery combines art and tool. This suggests teaching — passing on skill and knowledge necessary for survivial is also one of the oldest skills. For most of history the success of teachers was directly related to survival.

Here are examples of bizen, oribe, kuro-oribe, shigaraki. shino, hagi, ki-seto, mashiko, Okinawa, Seto-yaki ekaratsu and one family treasure. Folk kilns in Japan have centuries of history, and in a pot, old or new, the potter expresses the artistic tradition as well as see their own individual artistic statement.

Time can change writing, Governments write on the streets, and here is an example of what happens naturally—entropy.

Even letters change their message, here are 25 examples of the top of the “O” in the word “STOP” probably all painted on the street within the past 40 years, a tiny time period relative to 5,000 or 200,000 years.

Now literally at our finger tips we have immediate access to the knowledge of all human kind and that will have its own effect on history.

Noh, know, no! free Wu Song

Wu Song, a character in Water Margin, liked to drink wine— bowls of wine, and sometimes the tavern keeper would bring an earthen ware jar of it to the table. The sign outside the roadhouse said “after three bowls do not cross the mountain” so Wu Song went in, drank 18 bowls, ate two catties of meat, and started up the mountain where he met the man-eating tiger and killed it with his bare hands.

Wu Song by Janney from Water Margin. Janney grew up with these Water Margin stories like we grew up with Le Morte D’Arthur.

What does it mean to know? to know some thing? to know something? I know what my shoes look like; I know how to start my car; I know what I like; I know how to dance the waltz; ; I know how to design; ; I know how to find my way home; I know to go to buy a used car; I know how to judge art skills—I may not like it but its well done or Its not well done but I like it and I know how to judge whether a person is honest or not. . .

Yasakune Jinja on a rainy fall morning

The list would be endless, often things we know can be broken down or combined into into multiple hierarchical parts with each one being counted as another thing we know—ad infinitum! Bothways!! Up or down!!
And without words, another complex multi-hierarchical set of things, each with its own set of rules, we could not communicate about it.

Things themselves can be hierarchically arranged from simple—a discrete thing— to complex, difficult to understand or even grasp. Into where is the universe expanding?? Think all the things and hierarchies of things, Gazillions of things all in their correct order that we need to know before we can even grasp that question. And yet people are so comfortable with that idea that its acceptable as the title of a popular on air tv show.

But to be Real for a society, any hierarchy needs to to start as single discreet commonly experienced thing, it needs a solid base to build on. Often when there is no solid base ofreal shared experience to stand on, Faith pops up to play a supporting role.

Some “things” we know while we do not know, we know the “meaning” of the word but its meaning—as they tell me about my old WordPress site code— “has been deprecated.” We all have a common understanding (however flaws) of what it means to live in a cave but very few people today have anything near that experience. Nothing associated with that “thing” is a part of The Common everyday experience.

We know things using our senses —see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, this is an empirical experience and as human beings, we share these same capabilities and have developed ways to measure that we use all the time.

Commonly we see the same colors, hear the same sounds, and so on. We can easily compare capabilities and variations of individuals.

If knowing is only sensing things then if we cannot experience them we do not know that they are there, even if they are there. Except we have reason . .

Another human method of knowing is Reason. The human body also includes a brain enabling people to think, to figure things out, to be creative, to behave with logic, call it Reason . .

which gives us ability to “figure things out”
The human body includes a brain, a mind, a connected central nervous system enabling people to organize—differentiate, define and make relatonships — sensory experiences, to think, to figure things out, to be creative, to behave with logic and reason, to have meaning.

Sweet rice dumpling with pork and peanut for a hiking taste treat in Coyote Hills.

But Reason needs sensory input, if people cannot experience they cannot Reason about the experience.

Science is based on sensory experience, if there are things we cannot experience they cannot be known to science. On the other hand science may “know” there is a thing without knowing what it is, such as “dark energy” or “dark matter” where science can measure some “thing” which when explained by accepted science results in a reason based conclusion that some other “thing” is there.

When scientists start looking for the thing, they find something new or a different explanation using accepted knowledge and scientific knowledge is expanded. Will science one know everything or will it always be finding new things only on closer inspection to find those things are made up of more things, a process which will go on for ever, not because of the nature things but because of the nature the process of human knowing, Or maybe AI will “fix that” by knowing things humans can never know.

In a sense science knows very little, but what it does know is good solid information that is practical for human beings while with faith you can know everything there is to know except one thing, the most important thing.

All day one decision after another . . .

and making some of those decisions are what you do for a living.

Individuals are so uniquely different and the threads which unite individuals into a society while being incredibly complex get most of us functioning on the same page. Still some people use those those minor differences to justify hate and killing others just for being human beings like themselves.

Or maybe it just is the nature of being human that there are some people who are so bad that it justifies killing, hate, war and scapegoating innocent people.

I will stand unbounded knowing outside at my door.

A lee, a nay shun

I ain’t got no home, I’m just a-roamin’ ’round,
Just a wandrin’ worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.
WW Guthrie

A few centuries ago in western philosophy there was discussion on the “natural human state of being, ” wondering if “original simpler societies” had social structures which reflected this natural human behaviour had more social solidarity than modern society and that the perhaps the problems in modern society resulted from changes in behaviour caused by individuals adapting their “natural behavior” to the requirements of maintaining social solidarity in modern society.

It was not new then, this idea has been around for longtime

Think of Genesis—God created man and woman, Eden was their natural state of being, and it was perfect. Later in anger God kicked them out of Eden and what we call “our life” is God’s punishment for disobeying “him”, but if we truly believe during our life then God will let us into heaven, i.e. back to the “human natural state of being,” a perfect life.

As Sociology emerged the concept of culture being an “unexplainable consistency” resulting in “common human behaviour,”—i.e a social stability— was causally connected to people doing the “common behavour”—socialization— and there developed the idea that individuals could change, or could be made to change, their behavior by controlling their behavior, whether through social authoritarianism, individual disciplined efforts, or some combination of the two.

The theme was that the process of culture —not the expressions of culture—resulted in individuals internally repressing their natural being for social solidarity which intern prevented them from having the ability to take control of their own life.

What is the “natural state” of human beings? We do not really know, still many people just believe it was better, even though they usually cannot agree on what it was. We get a little scientific information from archeology and anthropology which clearly suggests that it was not better—based on today’s materialistic common values, yet how could we tell if there was more happiness, more satisfaction, more meaning. painting by Janney

The theme is that “original people” lived in their natural state of being in which they had control over their own destinies and that the needs of modern society separated individuals from this natural state of being, it alienated individuals from their personal ability to determine their own life.

Contemporary alienation is based on the notion that culture is a unifying process to control human behaviour with the goal of “social solidarity which results in survival (as people). This process of culture while resulting in “social solidarity” functions using repression of natural individual behaviour in favor of behavior which increases social survival.

In traditional societies most people behaved very similarly, there was little “cultural adjustment pressure” but in modern societies there is an increased diversity of individual behaviors, especially in the division of labour, i.e. jobs. People have many different kinds of roles such as occupation, social groups, consumer and with a satisfied large middle class everything seems to run smoothly.

Culture works to maximize social solidarity and in modern society with its increasing diversity in behaviour conflicts with culture, when culture “dominates” the result is individuals repressing internally who they are naturally. The basic theme is “individuals are alienated from their natural being for social solidarity.”

man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains”
Rousseau 

Rousseau thought people were naturally good and society compromised this natural goodness for social solidarity;

Hegel thought there was an original universal “ human spirit” which united subject and object as one that was here before the material conditions but modern society separated them. Using human reason individuals could overcome and reunite them —sounds like the story of Genesis with Adam and Eve separated from Eden;

Freud saw sexuality as a “natural” part of being human, the process of socialization used sexual repression within individuals to create social unity which screwed people up, but individuals through therapy could realize themselves by overcoming the sexual repression;

I like Japanese design, below is a poster with a lot of very literal information yet on first look the viewer grasps everything and enjoys doing it.

Marx saw history as a natural class conflict expressed by the material contradictions of the mode of production, with resolving these contradictions in capitalism as the final obstacle in reaching a utopian society for everyone. The material contradictions alienated individuals who work from their ability to benefit from their work.
Poster in Cambridge MA,about 1970

In each of these theories people are alienated from their “natural being” for social solidarity. For some this alienation was a problem to be solved by the individual, for others it meant changing the structure of society. But consistent is that this “alienation” is a property of modern society and it would be a good idea to resolve it.

Life is a continuing bunch of problems but the question raised here is how much power do individuals have to define these problems and create solutions in their own interests. Is the lack of that personal power a measure of their alienation or their lack of personal capabilities.

Maybe that cannot be helped, it seems that the garbage of bad things just keeps growing bigger while the Earth gets smaller and it threatens to destroy the whole planet unless we find a way to bring a workable economic and social justice along with prosperity.

The big surprise? Buddhism fits too. Every sentient being has a sleeping buddha inside of them, but society prevents, i.e. alienates, them from realizing their Buddha. If you practice “correct” behavior you will awaken the Buddha within you.”

Question? “Is being a Buddha a “utopia”?, . . “perfect enlightenment?” . . . “at one with the universe?” “Will I no longer feel unhappy?”

Bodhidharma said “Buddhas don’t do good, Buddhas don’t do bad.”

Hagi is very porous and with use is always changing color, this chawan was made by the son of a potter who founded his kiln in the 1890’s. I also have one by his son.

I guess posting on my blog counts me as a poster.
Poster in Cambridge MA,about 1970