Slowfoe, toe?—sew watt! Just charge me up again.

Photography of James Keller

One of my favorite photographers, James has a way that moves people to feel good about expressing themselves in front of his camera.
B&W photos by James Keller.

He has a strong respect for and interest in the individuality of others. Around this time every year we get a postcard, such as this, from James. Its a photographic print.

This one from NYC.

I don’t know any thing about this one . . .

Two generations of cowboy hats.

When I was in art school I was suddenly, with-no-warning, evicted from my apartment, fortunately James allowed me to stay at his house until I could relocate. I say fortunately for me, because James is neater than I am, not that I am a slob, but I have a degree of ADD and can have many in-progress projects in various states of progress going on at once with things piled up in different available-space places.

I shared apartments some different times, but did not slob-up common areas, well maybe once when I took over a room for personal projects, mostly photography and 4′ x 8′ colleges built on a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood layed waist high on two saw horses.

Photograph by James of me in Jamaica Plain almost 45 years ago

.Photograph James at Hay Market area Boston, , for 1-2 years we had a moving business together in Boston. It worked well, there are hundreds of colleges and trade schools in Boston, many of the students and some who hang on for a couple of years after graduation, share apartments, have a bed, chest of drawers, clothes, pots, pans, dishes, books, maybe a desk and some lamps, a TV set, sometimes a couch and once a piano and are living in an apartment in Boston. We had a van which held all of the stuff and it was a quick and easy job to move someone. Although technically it was illegal, moving businesses are regulated by both state and federal laws , large legitimate movers were too expensive for our customers and it was not worth their time to do the job. As a bonus it got the big trucks off the city streets.
These images of James were made by me.

Powell Street Station, Market Street, James comes out of the Powell Street Station and immediately finds someone to photograph. I like the clothes on the subject.

Alameda Creek

My weekly images of walking along Alameda Creek this week and words which express some the things about which I think..

It is commonly accepted what is visually experienced in a photograph is a “real visual representation of “things” in the photograph. Often they are conclusive “documentary evidence ” in a court of law. People will use manipulated images to take advantage of people’s tendency to accept a photographic image as an acceptable representation of reality.

Photographs have been around for a “little over” two centuries, or “only” two centuries, both perspectives are interesting. Humans have been on Earth for 300,000 years—that is photographs —images from reflected light— are 0.00000666 % of their history, In a court of law a photograph is usually accepted over a person’s testimony. Yet for much of the 300,000 years a person’s word was likely very important.

When a “non-normal” lens is used, a “fish-eye” for example, we know that what we see is not what it “really looks like,” Imagine if the first time you saw a photograph and it was a fish-eye image of a building ? If you had never seen a photograph before you would probably not know what is a building—hypothetically if you did not know what a building was you would not know the photograph was a visual representation of something or anything.

A camera using a “normal lens (about 50mm focal length for a 35 mm camera) sees like the human eye and by “normal,” one that looks normal to the human eye.  We know other animals may have qualitatively different sensory capabilities such as sonar or a similar sensory experience which varies on a continuum of a quality—more or less.

We probably share many of our senses with other living firms on Earth. And where there are different sensual experiences, still they are used to differentiate the small particles into a common “set of things”  People “see” the mountain; a bat sonars the mountain; different senses but a common conclusion from differentiating and defining.  Or smell, both people and dogs can smell but the dog has a great capability doing this then do people.

Would it be the same for aliens from other galaxy ? Is there a finite number of “things” in the universe? Are they evenly distributed in the universe? Are “things” relative?

The first question—obviously life forms in the universe are made up of particles—call them“things”, if there are a finite number of things then the probably increases the chance for similarity of life forms by a limited poolof particles.

Second, how are particles distributed around the universe gives a feeling for their availability to be used which cold differ from regionally.

Third, relativity —any “thing” in the Universe means particles are “sensed” or “known to be a thing.” Does the thing actually exist “in nature” or is it a thing relative to the capabilities of some other thing observing it —subject versus object, thought we did that hundreds of years ago.

Waiting in the car outside Marina grocery store Union City CA


The sky is densely clouded, the forest is dark with Tamala trees; Krishna is afraid of the night .
O Radha, you alone must take him home. This is Nanda’s command.
But Radha and Krishna linger near a tree in the grove on their homeward path
To the bank of river Yamuna and their secret love prevails
Illustration of the first verse of the first canto of the Gita Govinda from The Blue God Lalit Kala Akademi
(Krishna and Radha are on the left.)

I Ching

I Ching is a a very old book. Fu Xi studied the interactions of Yin and Yang in th erelationship of Heaven, Earth and People and delivered the eight trigrams —八卦; bāguà—graphically representing the possible relationships between Heaven, Earth and People. They were arranged into the 64 hexagrams by King Wen —before he became King because he was a hostage. The Duke of Zhou wrote some commentary, the book was known as Zhōu Yì or Changes of Zhou—this all happened BCE. In the later Han dynasty many of the writings of and about Zhōu yì were consolidated, standardized, probably edited and re-assembled to be called the I Ching.

Previous posts presented examples of the hexagram Hsiao Kuo showing the possible changes of one line, two lines and three lines moving. Here are the possibilities of one hexagram Hsiao Kuo and four moving lines.

About 1970 I bought the Wilhelm/Baynes version I Ching with the forward by Carl Jung. I was an instructor of Sociology then and more focused on academic matters. Later I became a graphic designer (for over 35 years) and in my recent renewed interest I am first focusing on visual experiences of I Ching. This is a long term project on which I do a little every week as my eyes gradually learns to see.

The same thirteen pairs of hexagrams without the “descriptive words” enable easier visual experience of the relations between Yin and Yang from the possible movement of four lines in the hexagram Hsiao Kuo. Every understanding or interpretation of the original hexagram, here it Hsiao Kuo, may be affected by the moving line(s).

Photo of me by James Keller, about 1972-73

The Heart Sutra is a teaching by the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion, to the monk Shariputra:

. . . all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed;
Not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain;
So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness; No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena;
No realm of sight . . . no realm of consciousness;
No ignorance and no end to ignorance . . .
No old age and death, and no end to old age and death;
No suffering, no cause of suffering, no extinguishing, no path;
No wisdom and no gain. No gain and thus
The bodhisattva lives prajna paramita
With no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear,
Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is nirvana.

excerpt from Heart Sutra

winzen is lostcost

At a Japanese temple or shrine people can purchase an ema—write on it and hang it, or take it home and, I guess, hang it.

In Tokyo and perhaps through much of Japan, temples and shrines are ubiquitous, some small, some large, and in Tokyo they are distributed everywhere. Many of them are older than the surrounding buildings, they were there first and new construction was built around them. They fit in the neighborhood.

Neighbors interact with temples and shrines as they go about their daily lives, and there is an integrated exposure and most of the experiences of neighbors is with the physical temple. This is different than how Americans interact with their churches, in the US the church is a focus, the interactive behavior among the people is around the church with things outside the church being excluded, not a part of it or the lives of the people. In Japan the temples and shrines are just other part of the daily lives of Japanese.

Some of the older and simpler ema are interesting.

Experiences with the temple priest are generally specific and personal, or on holidays such has New Years and Obon, temple priests may may be chanting and people can listen and join. Public events are held at temples and shrines and people visit them as individuals, representing themselves.

Anyone can make their own images, a flying eyeball or aliens from outer space, plenty to imagine here.

For most Japanese the temple and Shrine, Buddhism and Shinto are an integrated part of their lives, its what it means to be Japanese. For most Americans “the church” and their christianity is separate from their outside lives, when they are are “being Christian” they are generally in conflict with society, different from others, and too often self righteous about the whole thing. It functions to give them an identity which tells them they are separate and better than others.

One of my emas with Dancing Darumas,

These were at the Great Kanto Earthquake (September 1,1923) Memorial Museum, Yokoamicho Park.

In Tokyo and perhaps through much of Japan, temples and shrines are ubiquitous, some small, some large, here in a narrow space between a produce field and a residential area is a shrine where neighbors walk by and through everyday, the shrine was there before the housing.

The idea of “human alienation”, the notion that individual human problems are because each of us is separated from our “Real Self,” i.e. we are separated from something that is part of our nature and we need to become “whole again.”

The logo of the temple on its lanterns.

Buddhism says we are alienated from our natural state of enlightenment and each of us needs to awaken the Buddha inside each of us to realize it.

The Judeo-Christian tradition has “Paradise”and the expulsion of Adam and Eve. Painters such as Gauguin and Rousseau expressed a feeling that we are separated from something more natural.

A few centuries ago western philosophers wondered was it the “nature” or “structure” of “modern society” which alienated individuals from their “natural state of being.” For those who believed that the natural state of being was harmony this separation was seen as negative for the individual

For those who believed that society is conflict&competition, and “winning&losing,” this is the “natural state” of being and its as good as it ever gets. The “good” and “bad” of society is measured by the best and the worst of the individuals in the society and society is never more than the sum of its parts. The “winners” see themselves as more deserving than others.

I like the gestures , I do not need to know too much about the person, I am sure they do not want that either.

From this perspective living in a society is never better than living by oneself but it can be worse because human nature means there are bad and good people and when you live in society, the bad people are always around you somewhere.

For others it is the alienation which prevents us from finding our real self.

Certainly faith as an act of the whole personality has strong emotional elements with in it., Emotion always expresses the involvement of the whole personality in an act of life or spirit. Faith is definite in its direction and concrete in its content.
Paul Tillich Dynamics of Faith

tokyo street

Photographs are different than drawings, even when we are busy trying to figure out what the drawing is a drawing of, the eye brain connection is softened up a little so we can relax and enjoy the process of “figuring it out, ” i.e. enjoy the lines and colors and shapes while are bus figuring it out—all happening instantly or perhaps like Finnegans wake and Mona Lisa which happen perpetually.

Wonder if the square hole was part of the original design, maybe it’s also just another photograph pasted in place,? it does seem kind of odd, a place where you insert money and out comes the hand and face of a woman. Maybe some people come by every day looking for some human interaction. It might hard to imagine being that lonely for you.

For Nietzsche it was enough, or maybe beyond his ability, to understand the cause, perhaps the existential human quest was to find your own answer, but Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, Freud and many others were to propose alienation from one’s true self was a property, changeable or unchangeable, fixable or not fixable, of modern society. Marx said to Feuerbach “Its not enough to know it!!!”
 “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

There was “something” about the changes individuals made from being a natural baby to a grownup adult so society could function which was the source of this alienation— sociologically the term “socialization” describes this. People are social and living in a society is necessary for the survival of the species but it has negative result on individuals as it makes them repress their self interest behavour.

Minnesota is both flat and cold.

Many perceived these behavior changes during the process of socialization which made society possible as self imposed repression of basic human urges preventing individuals from becoming who they could be, their real self.

Minnesota is both cold and flat.

It begins to all sound the same, we are not the person we could be because we have been separated from our true natural self.

You can get lost in the forest of words where words themselves are just abstractions of reality,

Others might say its like yin and yang, there is some good and bad mixed in together and that is the human dilemma, you need to learn to live with it and make the best of it. Y

Closed down in 1992 the town name, Amiret, the name adopted in 1879 for Amiretta Sykes, the wife of local a railroad official. Wonder how this post office would handle millions of mail-in votes.

Even today christians believe they will go to heaven—their return to the place from which they were separated —by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior. That will take away all of their sins. And if you are Catholic you can have choice of attrition, or perfect or imperfect contrition.

I am reminded of Brideshead Revisited;

“I believe that everyone in his (or her) life has the moment when he is open to Divine Grace. It’s there, of course, for the asking all the time, but human lives are so planned that usually there’s a particular time – sometimes, like Hubert, on his deathbed – when all resistance is down and grace can come flooding in.
Evelyin Waugh from a personal letter.

The end was not for me. As you can imagine my heart was in my mouth all through the deathbed scene, hoping against hope that the old man would not give way, that is, take the course he eventually did.
novelist Henry Green in a personal letter to Waugh.

I remember when I read the book I felt the same way.

For Socrates Man has become separated from the “real”light of truth, the transcendent realm of the Gods. Platonic philosophy promises that after a series of reincarnations such a state of unity might be attained.
Christopher Want and Andrzej Klimowski Introducing Kant

But I like walking in the rain, most of the time when I am walking in the rain, I am walking alone, even when someone is walking next to me.

Sometimes I feel like Basho who used to travel around Japan and write haiku about famous places he visited. Sora wrote if a temple was famous for the sunrise and it was raining, Basho would write a haiku as if he saw the sunrise.

Often the images I make using the photographic process is not REALLY the visual experience of being there when I was there but what I wanted the experience to be or maybe I just imagined it for fun and did not really care about i and when I finished I forgot all about it.

But this is pretty much what walking along Alameda Creek looked like late morning during the past two weeks, with the smoke from the fires over 100 miles away. I wore two masks while “speed walking” the four miles.

A couple of photographs by James Keller. James has wonderful rapport with people, he can meet them, interact with them , get them to show something about themselves and manage to get the camera in focus, the exposure correct and click the shutter all at the same time.

This one would be about 1975 or ’76, I started art school and soon lost my apartment on Putnam Ave in Cambridge —the landlord, retired from a life of military service wanted to “renovate” the building and had big dreams to get rich. It was seven rooms, three guys lived there, cost me $35 a month and I was right up the street from Central Square and the subway to art school.
One Saturday I woke up to a banging and while I was still in bed there appeared in my room the landlord with a handgun pointed at me telling me to get out now. Fortunately James extended the hospitality of his apartment in Jamaica Plain to my dog and my me until we could find a new place back in Central Square just a couple of blocks away from the old one. This was in the kitchen in Jamica Plain.

Maybe I would rather just be fishing on this side of the shore.

Gate Gate,
Bohdhi Svaha