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

Discontent and its civilizations

Rice dumplings are given as gifts during The Dragon Boat Festival, in memory of the suicide of man who was a respected poet and government minister.
Gifts for The Dragon Boat Festival (端午节) by Janney

Its pretty amazing that human beings take time away from killing each other, from stealing from each other, from fighting each other, and etc., to spend enough time in some “social order” to produce the basic things necessary for survival, not just for themselves but for a civilization to exist — procreation, food, shelter—the basic things necessary for survival of a civilization.

Or you could say while most people are good, people “naturally live in order,” but it’s too bad that some people are bad and we need to protect ourselves from those few bad people.

And then others say people are naturally bad and to achieve order an authoritarian structure of enforcement is necessary.

How to protect the good people from the bad people so everything runs smoothly, so the basic stuff gets done. i.e what is “social order.” How to together it and how to maintain it?

Laws are the legitimate rules which are enforced, “if or when necessary” by any means necessary. What happens when the laws are bad, or maybe just not good, and enforcing the law becomes worse than the crimes of which the subjects are accused.

Imagine how different it was for a “traditional society” with few family members, all clearly and definitely stratified by their age and family differences, a place where everyone knew how to be, as compared to a modern society where individuals are in multiple overlapping groups, taking different roles in different groups and sometimes called upon to personally invent new roles.

After 400,000 years humans have have created and destroyed gazillions of different groups, all increasingly more diverse and more complicated. The thing that is “social order” is culture —where there are human beings behaving together there develops, like a field—like a gravitional field from which emerges a constantly changing structure of astronomical behaviour — a constantly changing structure of human behaviour.

Most people “know how to behave,” much of that “knowledge”we never even think about, or sometimes we think about it too much (worry), but mostly we do it naturally as if its human nature . . .?? but what is “human nature” . . .

Does human nature need to be consistent over 400,000 years? Even over my 75 years I have witnessed radical social behavior changes, changes which occurred fast enough that most people do not know there has been a change, it just ay things are , mostly we think our feelings, and responses are the same as people before us. In our everyday life we sort out the “natural” from the “changeable” but sometimes in different ways.

There are different levels to see it, no one 1500 years ago felt excited “riding a motorcycle” but use a more comprehensive abstract term and say “a thrill, ” and categorize it as a “basic human nature” even though it is expressed differently empirically right in front of our eyes—and you are fitting a higher level categorical abstraction to express a basic human nature.

One part of a person adapts to society, another part does not, its not the exact same part from person to person, but there is enough commonality to establish a set of standards to enable a social order —where each individual, in varying degrees and in a varying balance, is a divided self.
It was 18th century German philosophers/social scientists who saw modern society and suggested that culture, the force that enabled human survival by generating commonness in behaviour, also separated and repressed the individual from his/her real self—alienation.

Ki-seto shuki (guinomi and tokkuri) by father and son Kagami Shukai and Kagami Masakane. In Japan there is Kyoto style pottery and “folk” pottery, both have their respected space. Seto is an old city known for its history of pottery, sometimes pottery will be referred to as seto-yaki—Seto fired thing. Seto is known for many styles of pottery, such as Oribe, Shino, Ki-seto, seto-guro, and sometimes just referred to as Seto style. Mino, an area next to Seto developed the same styles of pottery about the same time, people will also use the term Mino-yaki, I find myself often using the term Seto/Mino.

A Dragon Boat for the Dragon Festival, which is on the gift day of the fifth month (Chinese calendar), Dragon boat painting by Janney.

With one tiny stick
To arrange the air over the eating shed
And the evil part of the earth around it
So that at last
Not even the stick is left.

poem by Kenneth Patchen

A layman asked: “Does killing have Buddha-Nature?”

Wu Song, (武松;) one of the main “heros” of Water Margin is a handsome literary errant “hero” who while drunk kills a man-eating tiger with his barehands, avenges his brother’s murder by cutting off the heads of his brother’s wife and her lover and setting up the go-between in their affair to be executed. Sent into exile Wu Song helps a roadhouse owner/neighborhood exortionist recover his stolen property by beating his rival for the extortion business into submission an! d Wu Song’s martial capabilities are inversely related to his sobriety.—the more wine the better he fights. Link to podcast in english

Wu Song by Janney

Water Margin, like many popular stories of ancient literature and today’s popular tv and film, romanticizes violence. Victims of corrupt authoritarian political systems. corrupt individuals using political power for their personal agenda, bribery, honor, police doing questionable tactics because the law prevents justice and personal bonds—a “brotherhood of heros” overcoming establishment evils.

Along Alameda Creek you can see people doing all kinds of everyday things. People like to be outside

The difference between books and movies, between print and visual story telling, is that while reading we are able to imagine these characters and the visual is within our own control, unconscious though may be and many people may read the same book but each with their own eyes.

But in tv and movies the role of the actor is to create a vicarious bond between the viewer and the player and to this end film and TV uses visual “stereotypes” with the heroes, no matter what kind of despicable scum they are, will generally be attractive, usually sexually, which is an LCD that works to consistently create the vicarious experience— i.e. the audience viewer feels in their heart that they are living this experience.

Films/TV use actors who have professionally prepared scripts with which they rehearse while receiving direction and when it is not right they do it over again until it gets right— right being that magic of a popular film to have the viewer identify vicariously..

Not everyone is affected the same way at a particular film, nor are individuals personally affected the same at different viewings. A variety of films offers a variety of experiences, but the most popular experiences will generally have more of “that which works stuff” to communicate the vicarious experience.

Its not always the exact same “stuff, ”elements such as fashion, style and technology may change without the “basic stuff” changing — controlling for change can give you some meaningful method to measure it.

And sow what? For most of us this visual violent behaviour is not part of our “real” everyday life but is part of our TV and film life.

One popular idea is that when people watch violence on TV, in a film, or at a sports event it enables them to sublimate their personal violent urges—Ah! Like watching people kill people on TV keeps me from becoming a serial killer, or maybe I would just be better off shopping.

But if I make photographs of people doing normal everyday things it enables me to sublimate those urges inside myself to be normal and encourages me to be abnormal.

Yuki daruma, a snow darama. In Japan Daruma is a visual representation of the man who brought Dyhana (Zen) Buddhism from India to China, (Chan) and has become associated with human spirit –“Nana korobi, ya oki”—“seven times down, eight times up!

At a Chinese temple Daruma taught the monks meditation (Dyhana) by mediating for nine years, its called Wall Gazing, and during that time he lost the use of his legs???. In Japan the daruma figure has a rounded and weighted bottom, when tilted it will roll back to an upright position—–seven times down, eight times up. Yuki daruma are a favorite and children make them out of snow and tree branches

Maybe I was just born with that skill or perhaps its not really a gift from God but just some bad karma punishment from a previous life in my fantasy as an outlaw from Water Margin.

Are we having fun yet at the University of Toledo or just getting through the day? It could depend which side of the camera lens you are on. about 1968. Some of these people really want to be in the photograph.

On the other hand, Nietzsche, Freud and Marx arguing the social structure of modern society is the cause of self imposed internalized repression and except for the history, Buddha is also in this group— existence is illusion.

Acadia National Park about 1970

Nietzsche—only the individual can awaken him/herself to take control of their life; Freud—understanding your repression resulting from the process of civilization will enable you to awaken yourself and change your life;

Toledo Ohio, about 1969, this image reminds me of how easy is for me to be a jerk and how much I lose by doing so, one of the few time I saw him look so serious.

Marxthe agent of change is in the oppressed class awakening to their material conditions;

Buddha—Awaken the Buddha inside of you—the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.many awakenings.

So much awakening , it makes me so tired I just want to go to sleep.

Seal Script (篆書/Zhuan Shu) is a very old technique to draw Chinese characters before brush and the strokes, originally drawn with a hard tool such as a stick are a consistent width. It is time consuming to execute well, and used for seals and for the visual feel of antiguity. Adapting the brush significantly changed the visual feel of the characters but this Seal Script has a feel of its own that is worth waiting fore.

The last lines of The Heart Sutra written in Seal Script by Janney.

Perjur, reefer zen

In US popular culture, especially in book titles, and Zen often refers to the idea of a “basic, bare-bones, simply stated essentials, an understanding of the basics without all of the useless other stuff. The zen of cooking, the zen of motherhood, the “zen of this” and “the zen of that“ — with the suggested implication that the reader will be exposed to some simple secret understanding of some thing.

In the popular mind, zen as a metaphor implies insight into the basic fundamentals of “some “thing”—bare bones zen—without all the “red tape”—Is other stuff I do the “red tape” of my life? Am I doing unnecessary things everyday which I need not be doing so I could be doing some thing basically more important?

Perhaps in the zen mind enlightenment is doing the zen things all the time, and/or never doing the “red tape,” Would the opposite be any diferent— doing the “red tape” things all the time and never doing the zen.?

Emptiness is form, form is emptiness. (public domain image of The Heart Sutra)

I walk on the Alameda Creek levee daily, and since the “stay at home” conditions, the kinds of people out on the creek trail has changed.

When you are walking as a person approaches you how do you feel? Its a rush, the more information you can experience the more you quickly you define the situation until you arrive at a conclusion— if its a dangerous situation you are under time-pressure and in normal situations it all just unfolds unconsciously.

‘Its the “normal situations” which interest me.

With my photographs you do not get specific information, you could not make that kind of specific judgement, . . .

perhaps people could not be safe in the world, but they are, generally. And when you do it may not be what you expect.

Walking along the creek everyday is the same thing, I never know what to expect . .

Before the virus I used to give a greeting to almost everyone, we share a common bond, exercise in the outdoors. Before the virus there was a “community“—people who were out there regularly who got to know each other on sight—did not feel uncomfortable when theperson cannot sight—greeting and passing, sometimes even stopping to talk and a social structure of common behaviour emerged,

This is ‘public property” and for the past three months there have been many new faces, a new strangeness, new definitions, new adjustments— while older regulars had established some “personal preferences” through a nonverbal negotiation— sometimes the short term process of change appears to resemble how society changes which would be a long term . . .

or maybe because as I experience it I try to make sense of it and end up with a “concept or theory.”

What brings social solidarity to a geo-political nation, an empire or civilization, or what if I used the word “tribe? What defines social solidarity?

As a global social order evolves—there is no choice, as the “world gets smaller and numbers of people increase” outside of disaster or massive war— an upstart USA seems to lack the ability to deal with empires and civilizations and as a break-off colony which became a geo-political legacy of an empire with a lot of negative world wide baggage it has shown little capability or interest in dealing diplomatically with others.

In Shibuya real people and printed people share the same space quite comfortably.

Somerville, Massachusetts about 1970, probably some where from Winter Hill, you can see the Mystic River Bridge, (aka Tobin Bridge) and some film mottling in the sky

Union City, California, 2020. I had an oil change and I walked around for 45 minutes. there was a large business with union workers which went out of business and there was pension and healthcare money up for grabs and the lawyers and a judge—in collusion, kept the case in the court for decades, slowly bleeding the capital while the workers went without health care or retirement funds.

Plagiarism or revolution, if these are choices I want see Art’s last name, and while the girl’s expression probably has nothing to do with the words on the back of the shirt . . . the viewer sees it little differently.

What is Art? is a simple question with a simple personal answer, we all know it when we see it? But in selling Art its different —more than personal taste, there needs to be a group demand. a place in the market which exercises a demand.

Seeing up-side down in hand cuffs, is that a workable concept? Is credit given where credit is due or is it just a band-aid to cover up the wound.

There was an article last week in the NYT referencing 1969— here are three images from Fall, 1969, Chicago. Often “political oriented” references to the 1960s are associated with the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, but these were made over a year later.

At Sensoj early one morning I met a young documentary film maker—I had his information written on a piece of paper, but lost it. He was excited about his life and it was about 6:30 am.

Gasshō or camera in hand, mind need not be the difference.

which, just for light fun, re-minds me of a ladder in the back yard, any steps can be an safe harbor in a empty storm.

Day begins, day ends the light on an angle, the shadows long and people.

Gate gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha.