Saturday, December 08, 2018

Experience the Sublime


"Physical vision - one might say scientific vision - brings about a metaphysical shift in the observer's view of reality as a whole. The geography of the earth, or the structure of the solar system, are in an instant utterly changed, and forever. The explorer, the scientific observer, the literary reader, experience the Sublime: a moment of revelation into the idea of the unbounded, the infinite."

- Richard Holmes (1945 - )

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Contemplation of the Infinite


"When we lose ourselves in the contemplation of the infinite extent of the world in space and time … then we feel ourselves reduced to nothing, feel ourselves as individuals, as living bodies, a transient appearances of the will, like drops in the ocean, fading away, melting away into nothing. But at the same time … our immediate consciousness [is] that all these worlds really exist only in our representation … The magnitude of the world, which we used to find unsettling, is now settled securely within ourselves … it appears only as the felt consciousness that we are, in some sense (that only philosophy makes clear), one with the world, and thus not brought down, but rather elevated, by its immensity."

- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

Monday, December 03, 2018

Shadow World


"We have learnt that the exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating. Feeling that there must be more behind, we return to our starting point in human consciousness - the one centre where more might become known. There we find other stirrings, other revelations than those conditioned by the world of symbols... Physics most strongly insists that its methods do not penetrate behind the symbolism. Surely then that mental and spiritual nature of ourselves, known in our minds by an intimate contact transcending the methods of physics, supplies just that... which science is admittedly unable to give."

- Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Saturday, December 01, 2018

You are That


"Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript of a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. 
This universe is not outside of you. 
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want, 
you are already that.

Soul of all souls, life of all life - you are That.
Seen and unseen, moving and unmoving - you are That.
The road that leads to the City is endless;
Go without head and feet
and you'll already be there.
What else could you be? - you are That.

When the light returns to its source,
it takes nothing of what it has illuminated."

- Rumi (1207 - 1273)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ripples


"The surface of the quieted river, as I think now, is like a window looking into another world that is like this one except that it is quiet. Its quietness makes it seem perfect. The ripples are like the slates of a blind of a shutter through which we see imperfectly what is perfect. Though that other world can be seen only momentarily, it looks everlasting. As the ripples become more agitated, the window darkens and the other world is hidden.the surface of the river is like a living soul, which is easy to disturb, is often disturbed, but, growing calm, shows what it was, is, and will be."

- Wendell Berry (1934 - )

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Eternal Harmony


"There are moments, and it is only a matter of five or six seconds, when you feel the presence of the eternal harmony . . . a terrible thing is the frightful clearness with which it manifests itself and the rapture with which it fills you. If this state were to last more than five seconds, the soul could not endure it and would have to disappear. During these five seconds I live a whole human existence, and for that I would give my whole life and not think that I was paying too dearly . . ."

- Oliver Sacks (1933 - 2015)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Spiritual Vibration


"Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body. Colors produce a corresponding spiritual vibration, and it is only as a step towards this spiritual vibration that the elementary physical impression is of importance."

- Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Living Infinite


"The sea is only the embodiment of a
supernatural and wonderful existence.
It is nothing but love and emotion;
it is the ‘Living Infinite..."

- Jules Verne (1828 - 1905)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Fog Horn Blew


"One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless shore and said, "We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I'll make one. I'll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; I'll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I'll make a sound that's so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I'll make me a sound and an apparatus and they'll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.

The Fog Horn blew."

- Ray Bradbury (1920 - 2012)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Eventless Time


"Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy - that's the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all."

- John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Observing Mind


"We are not satisfied with what nature freely offers to the observing mind. We feel that, to produce the vast variety of her creations, nature uses driving forces that she initially conceals from the observer. Nature herself does not speak her final word.  Our experience reveals what nature can create but not how that creation takes place. The means for unveiling the driving forces of nature exist in the human mind itself.  It is here that ideas arise that throw light on the way nature brings forth her creations. What the phenomena of the external world conceal manifests within the human being. What we think through as natural laws is not invented as an addition to nature; it is nature’s own inner constitution. The mind is simply the theater in which nature allows the secrets of her creativity to manifest. What we observe is only one aspect of things. The other is what then wells up within our minds. The same things speak to us from outside and from within us. We realize the complete reality only when we join the language of the outer world with that of our inner being. True philosophers throughout time have desired nothing but to proclaim the essential nature of things—what those new things themselves express when the mind is offered as their organ of communication. "

- Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Laws of Form


"We may take it that the world
is undoubtedly itself
[i.e., is indistinct from itself],
but, in any attempt to
see itself, as an object,
it must, equally,
undoubtedly act so as
to make itself distinct from
and therefore false to itself.

In this sense,
in respect to its own information,
the universe must expand to
escape the telescopes through
which we, who are it,
are trying to capture it,
which is us."

- G. Spencer Brown (1923 - 2016)

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Complicated Little Curlicues


"It's like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it's dense, isn't it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that. If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlicue, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you're a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don't feel that we're still the big bang. But you are. Depends how you define yourself. You are actually--if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning-- you're not something that's a result of the big bang. You're not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as--Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so--I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I'm that, too. But we've learned to define ourselves as separate from it."

- Alan Watts (1915 - 1973)

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Sun and Stone


"I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness―in a landscape selected at random―is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern―to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal."

- Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Nature of Science


"When we talk about the big bang or the fabric of space, what we are doing is not a continuation of the free and fantastic stories that humans have told nightly around campfires for hundreds of thousands of years. It is the continuation of something else: of the gaze of those same men in the first light of day looking at tracks left by antelope in the dust of the savanna - scrutinizing and deducting from the details of reality in order to pursue something that we can't see directly but can follow the traces of. In the awareness that we can always be wrong, and therefore ready at any moment to change direction if a new track appears; but knowing also that if we are good enough we will get it right and will find what we are seeking. That is the nature of science."

- Carlo Rovelli (1956 - )

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Little Unreal


"Among all the occurrences possible in the universe the a priori probability of any particular one of them verges upon zero. Yet the universe exists; particular events must take place in it, the probability of which (before the event) was infinitesimal. At the present time we have no legitimate grounds for either asserting or denying that life got off to but a single start on earth, and that, as a consequence, before it appeared its chances of occurring were next to nil. ... Destiny is written concurrently with the event, not prior to it... The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game. Is it surprising that, like the person who has just made a million at the casino, we should feel strange and a little unreal?"

- Jacques Monod (1910 - 1976)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

No Mind


“All true artists,
whether they know it or not,
create from a place of no-mind,
from inner stillness.”

- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 - 1938)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Being-within-Itself


"We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image - as opposed to a symbol - is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyse the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it's a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it."

- Andrei Tarkovsky (1932 - 1986)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Live and Look


"In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram - impersonal and unattainable - the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive."

- Evelyn Underhill (1875 - 1941)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Order/Disorder


"A beam or pillar can be used to batter down a city wall, but it is no good for stopping up a little hole - this refers to a difference in function. Thoroughbreds like Qiji and Hualiu could gallop a thousand li in one day, but when it came to catching rats they were no match for the wildcat or the weasel - this refers to a difference in skill. The horned owl catches fleas at night and can spot the tip of a hair, but when daylight comes, no matter how wide it opens its eyes, it cannot see a mound or a hill - this refers to a difference in nature. Now do you say, that you are going to make Right your master and do away with Wrong, or make Order your master and do away with Disorder? If you do, then you have not understood the principle of heaven and earth or the nature of the ten thousand things. This is like saying that you are going to make Heaven your master and do away with Earth, or make Yin your master and do away with Yang. Obviously it is impossible."

- Chuang Tzu (c.369 BC - c.286 BC)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Precious Stillness


"Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards."

- Edward Abbey (1927 - 1989)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Patience and Time


"Everything comes in time
to him who knows how to wait...
there is nothing stronger
than these two:
patience and time,
they will do it all."

- Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Relation is Mutual


"I consider a tree.

I can look on it as a picture: stiff column in a shock of light, or splash of green shot with the delicate blue and silver of the background.

I can perceive it as movement: flowing veins on clinging, pressing pith, suck of the roots, breathing of the leaves, ceaseless commerce with earth and air—and the obscure growth itself.

I can classify it in a species and study it as a type in its structure and mode of life.

I can subdue its actual presence and form so sternly that I recognise it only as an expression of law — of the laws in accordance with which a constant opposition of forces is continually adjusted, or of those in accordance with which the component substances mingle and separate.

I can dissipate it and perpetuate it in number, in pure numerical relation.

In all this the tree remains my object, occupies space and time, and has its nature and constitution.

It can, however, also come about, if I have both will and grace, that in considering the tree I become bound up in relation to it. The tree is now no longer It. I have been seized by the power of exclusiveness.

To effect this it is not necessary for me to give up any of the ways in which I consider the tree. There is nothing from which I would have to turn my eyes away in order to see, and no knowledge that I would have to forget. Rather is everything, picture and movement, species and type, law and number, indivisibly united in this event.

Everything belonging to the tree is in this: its form and structure, its colours and chemical composition, its intercourse with the elements and with the stars, are all present in a single whole.

The tree is no impression, no play of my imagination, no value depending on my mood; but it is bodied over against me and has to do with me, as I with it — only in a different way.

Let no attempt be made to sap the strength from the meaning of the relation: relation is mutual."

- Martin Buber (1878 - 965) 

Monday, October 08, 2018

Light-Sensitive Cells


"At this moment, in this place, the shifting action potential in my neurons cascade into certain arrangements, patterns, thoughts; they flow down my spine, branch into my arms, my fingers, until muscles twitch and thought is translated into motion; mechanical levers are pressed; electrons are rearranged; marks are made on paper.

At another time, in another place, light strikes the marks, reflects into a pair of high-precision optical instruments sculpted by nature after billions of years of random mutations; upside-down images are formed against two screens made up of millions of light-sensitive cells, which translate light into electrical pulses that go up the optic nerves, cross the chiasm, down the optic tracts, and into the visual cortex, where the pulses are reassembled into letters, punctuation marks, words, sentences, vehicles, tenors, thoughts.

The entire system seems fragile, preposterous, science fictional."

- Ken Liu (1976 - )

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Exploring the Neighborhood


"I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold up his head has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to find out. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it: he’ll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighborhood, view the landscape, to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can’t learn why."

- Annie Dillard (1945 - )

Friday, October 05, 2018

Human Thought


"There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one's idea for thirty-five years; there's something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Unpossessed Places


"What he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveller's past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past. Arriving at each new city, the traveller finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places."

- Italo Calvino (1923 - 1985)

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Sense of the Ineffable


"The Search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding. Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh. We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore. Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another. Between the two we set up a system of references, but we can never fill the gap. They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody, as life and what lies beyond the last breath."

- Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907 - 1972)

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Limits of Comprehension


"Man is not born to
solve the problem
of the universe,
but to find out
what he has to do;
and to restrain himself
within the limits
of his comprehension."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mountains are not Stadiums


"Mountains are not Stadiums
where I satisfy my
ambition to achieve,
they are the cathedrals
where I practice my religion."

- Anatoli Boukreev (1958 - 1997)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ocean of Chaos


"The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas.

It is the night sea journey, the lone fisherman on a tropical sea with his nets, and you let these nets down - sometimes, something tears through them that leaves them in shreds and you just row for shore, and put your head under your bed and pray. 

At other times what slips through are the minutiae, the minnows of this ichthyological metaphor of idea chasing.

But, sometimes, you can actually bring home something that is food, food for the human community that we can sustain ourselves on and go forward."

- Terence McKenna (1946 - 2000)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Structure of Reality


"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day."

- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Unfathomable


"We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature."

- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Blessing of the Mountains


"The true blessing of the mountains is not that they provide a challenge or a contest, something to be overcome and dominated (although this is how many people have approached them). It is that they offer something gentler and infinitely more powerful: they make us ready to credit marvels - whether it is the dark swirl which water makes beneath a plate of ice, or the feel of the soft pelts of moss which form on the lee sides of boulders and trees. Being in the mountains reignites our astonishment at the simplest transactions of the physical world: a snowflake a millionth of an ounce in weight falling on to one's outstretched palm, water patiently carving a runnel in a face of granite, the apparently motiveless shift of a stone in a scree-filled gully. To put a hand down and feel the ridges and score in a rock where a glaciers has passed, to hear how a hillside comes alive with moving water after a rain shower, to see late summer light filling miles of landscape like an inexhaustible liquid - none of these is a trivial experience. Mountains returns to us priceless capacity for wonder which can so insensibly be leached away by modern existence, and they urge us to apply that wonder to our own everyday lives."


Robert Macfarlane (1976 - )

Monday, September 17, 2018

Relationship to Existence


"If a man begins to take life as work, then his whole relationship to existence begins to change, because the meaning of life changes for him. He sees life in another light, not as an end but as a means, and this enables him….to take what happens in life so that he learns from life and all that happens in life and in this way life becomes his teacher."

- Maurice Nicholl (1884 - 1953)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Field of the Finite, Quality of the Infinite


“The field of the finite is all that we can see, hear, touch, remember and describe. This field is basically that which is manifest, or tangible. The essential quality of the infinite, by contrast, is its subtlety, its intangibility. This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is “wind or breath.” This suggests an invisible but pervasive energy to which the manifest world of the finite responds. This energy, or spirit, infuses all living beings, and without it any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements. That which is truly alive in the living being is the energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies.”

- David Bohm (1917 - 1992)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Announcement: New Shanti-Arts Sponsored Online Photography Workshop Scheduled for Sep/Oct 2018

"Seeing is perception 
with the original, 
unconditioned eye. 
It is a state of consciousness 
in which separation of 
photographer/subject, 
audience/image dissolves; 
in which a reality beyond words 
and concepts opens up, 
whose "point" or "meaning" is 
the direct experience itself."

- JOHN DAIDO LOORI
Zen Buddhist Rōshi (1931 - 2009)

For those of you who follow my blog, you may recall that I led an online photography workshop last year, sponsored by Shanti Arts. Unfortunately, due to last year's enrollment limit (which was set at 8), not everyone who wanted to participate in last year's workshop could do so. Well, for those of you who may have wanted to join last year's creative dialectic but were unable to do so, and/or for those newly intrigued and interested, I'm happy to announce that the editor of Shanti Arts, Christine Cote, has asked me to lead another "Cultivating the Art of Simplicity in Photography" online workshop this coming fall, scheduled for Sep 10 through Oct 22. You can sign up here. (Note that participation in this year's workshop is again limited to 8 - though there is the possibility of increasing the total to 10 - so, please make sure to sign up sooner than later.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural workshop (held roughly during the same time frame last year), and am looking forward to engaging with another fun group, as we share our work and experiences,  develop skills - and ways of seeing - that help infuse simplicity into our photography, and simply muse on art and the creative process. If you are interested in participating and want to find out more about what the workshop consists of and what to expect, please feel free to email me directly (my contact info is on my main website).

As an overview, there will be six sessions in all (one per week), where by "session" I mean a main topic-of-discussion that will be further elaborated upon, mused-about, and generally used as a basis for follow-up interactive engagement with other workshop participants on the ("secret") Facebook I've set up. Here's the complete list of sessions:

Session 1 (Sep 10 - 16): Introduction and Preliminary Musings. An overview of what “cultivating simplicity in photography” really means, a discussion of various aspects of photography on which “simplicity” depends, and a few easy exercises to get us started. Introduces key themes of this workshop, before taking a deeper dive in later sessions.

Session 2 (Sep 17 - 23): The “Eye” – Seeking Simplicity in the Environment. This session will explore the idea that cultivating simplicity is synonymous with achieving an expanded awareness of place and time. We will explore how our state of mind determines what is visible to us and profoundly influences what we most strongly resonate with in our surroundings, and provide examples and exercises to heighten our powers of observation and perception. 

Session 3 (Sep 24 - Sep 30): The “I” – Seeking Simplicity Within Oneself. Session 3 expands on a theme introduced during the last session, namely that all of our outwardly directed efforts to find simplicity and beauty “out there” in the world will come to naught if we cannot find the calm center in our own deepest selves, and from which all creative works naturally spring forth. 

Session 4 (Oct 1 - 7): The Medium, Part I – Toward a Visual Grammar. Sessions 4 and 5 focus on the practical side of image making by introducing some of the key tools that a photographer can use to direct and sculpt a viewer’s interpretation of an image; i.e., the essential elements of a visual grammar. We will discuss the basic elements of composition (e.g., the frame, light, contrast, tone, form, texture, etc.) and how they can be combined for a specific purpose, inclusing “seeing” the world in color vs. black-and-white.

Session 5 (Oct 8 - 14): The Medium, Part II – Abstraction as simplification. Session 5 will expand will expand on the practical lessons introduced in Session 4, and focus on the art of abstraction as, somewhat paradoxically, a concrete method of "simplifying" photographs. 

Session 6 (Oct 15 - 21): Photography as a Path Toward Self-discovery. The workshop concludes by exploring how (in the purest spiritual sense) the “cultivation of simplicity” while doing our photography - indeed, how art and the creative process, in general - may all be be viewed as paths toward self-discovery.

While the workshop is ostensibly a photography workshop (after all, photography is the core theme, and both the stand-alone essays and embedded exercises all stress image "seeing" and image "creating"), my hope is that the interactive part includes an equal part philosophical dialectic about the meaning of photography. If there is anything my 45+ years of "seeing" the world with a camera has taught me it is that the most meaningful images appear only when the "I" behind the "eye" ceases making distinctions between what is felt and what is seen; when inner and outer landscapes become one. It is a theme I eagerly look forward to exploring - through images and discussion - with workshop participants. I hope to see you all online soon :-)

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Life Itself


"Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses. By thy might, there return into us treasures that we had abandoned. By thy grace, there are released in us all the dried-up runnels of our heart. Of the riches that exist in the world, thou art the rarest and also the most delicate - thou so pure within the bowels of the earth! A man may die of thirst lying beside a magnesian spring. He may die within reach of a salt lake. He may die though he hold in his hand a jug of dew, if it be inhabited by evil salts. For thou, water, art a proud divinity, allowing no alteration, no foreignness in thy being. And the joy that thou spreadest is an infinitely simple joy."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900 - 1944)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Silence


"The basic condition for us
to be able to hear the call of beauty
and respond to it is silence.
If we don’t have
silence in ourselves,
if our mind, our body,
are full of noise, 
then we can’t hear
beauty’s call."

Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 - )

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Illusion of Time


"We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas."

- Alan Watts (1915 - 1973)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Well-Watered Shore


"Say you could view a time-lapse film of our planet: what would you see? Transparent images moving through light, “an infinite storm of beauty.”

The beginning is swaddled in mists, blasted by random blinding flashes. Lava pours and cools; seas boil and flood. Clouds materialize and shift; now you can see the earth’s face through only random patches of clarity. The land shudders and splits, like pack ice rent by a widening lead. Mountains burst up, jutting and dull and soften before your eyes, clothed in forests like felt. The ice rolls up, grinding green land under water forever; the ice rolls back. Forests erupt and disappear like fairy rings. The ice rolls up-mountains are mowed into lakes, land rises wet from the sea like a surfacing whale- the ice rolls back.

A blue-green streaks the highest ridges, a yellow-green spreads from the south like a wave up a strand. A red dye seems to leak from the north down the ridges and into the valleys, seeping south; a white follows the red, then yellow-green washes north, then red spreads again, then white, over and over, making patterns of color too swift and intricate to follow. Slow the film. You see dust storms, locusts, floods, in dizzying flash frames. 

Zero in on a well-watered shore and see smoke from fires drifting. Stone cities rise, spread, and then crumble, like patches of alpine blossoms that flourish for a day an inch above the permafrost, that iced earth no root can suck, and wither in a hour. New cities appear, and rivers sift silt onto their rooftops; more cities emerge and spread in lobes like lichen on rock. The great human figures of history, those intricate, spirited tissues that roamed the earth’s surface, are a wavering blur whose split second in the light was too brief an exposure to yield any images. The great herds of caribou pour into the valleys and trickle back, and pour, a brown fluid. 

Slow it down more, come closer still. A dot appears, like a flesh-flake. It swells like a balloon; it moves, circles, slows, and vanishes. This is your life."

- Annie Dillard (1945 - )

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Beauty


"One may ask the question as to the extent to which the quest for beauty is an aim in the pursuit of science... It is, indeed, an incredible fact that what the human mind, at its deepest and most profound, perceives as beautiful finds its realization in external nature. What is intelligible is also beautiful…Beauty is that to what the human mind responds at its deepest and most profound."

(1910 - 1995)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Grey Commotion of Mind


"I do nothing, with as little shame as satisfaction. It is the state that suits me best. I write the odd poem when it is there, that is the only thing worth doing. There is an ecstasy of accidia — will-less in a grey tumult of idées obscures. There is an end to the temptation of light, its polite scorchings & consolations. It is good for children & insects. There is an end of making up one's mind, like a pound of tea, an end of patting the butter of consciousness into opinions. The real consciousness is the chaos, a grey commotion of mind, with no premises or conclusions or problems or solutions or cases or judgments."

-  Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Form


"No permanence is ours;
we are a wave
That flows to fit
whatever form it finds:
Through night or day,
cathedral or the cave
We pass forever,
craving form that binds."

-  Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Shadows


"Henceforth space by itself,
and time by itself,
are doomed to fade away
into mere shadows,
and only a kind of union
of the two will preserve
an independent reality."

- Hermann Minkowski (1864 - 1909)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sense of Unity


"I think nothing can be compared to the Hills for the elevation of spirit, and peace of mind...All aspects of nature lead to elevation and knowledge when you once have an idea. The commonplace growth of weeds beneath a pile of refuse appear to shine with the divine light when you know the meaning of the world and sense of unity of all things. In a great city the buildings, the machinery, the works of art, everything produced by man, are naught but the material expression of ideas. We look on lines and forms and masses of what we call matter, and we know these things existed in the mind of man in the form of ideas before they were expressed in the physical world in the form of matter. I look on the lines and forms of the mountains and all other aspects of nature as if they were but the vast expression of ideas within the Cosmic Mind, if such it can be called. Without that outlook, I am assured there is nothing in the Universe that is not the expression of mind or of life. The sense of unity is enormously increased."

- Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)
Letter to Virginia Best, Sep 22, 1925
Ansel Adams: Letters, 1916 - 1984

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Intimate Presence


"Beginning with these harmonies of the universe that could in some manner be expressed in mathematical equations, an intense scientific mediation on the structure and functioning of the universe was begun by western scientists some centuries ago. Among the insights attained by this meditation has been a sense of the curvature of the universe whereby all things are held together in their intimate presence to each other. This bonding is what makes the universe what it is, not a collection of disparate objects but an intimate presence of all things to each other, each thing sustained in its being by everything else...That the universe is a communion of subjects rather than a collection of objects is the central commitment of the Ecozoic. Existence itself is derived from and sustained by this intimacy of each being with every other being of the universe."

- Brian Swimme (1950 - ) and Thomas Berry (1914 - 2009)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Reinvigoration


"If we analyze the operations of scenes of beauty upon the mind, and consider the intimate relation of the mind upon the nervous system and the whole physical economy, the action and reaction which constantly occur between bodily and mental conditions, the reinvigoration which results from such scenes is readily comprehended. . . . The enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system."

- Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 - 1903)

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Earth's Eye


"A lake is a landscape's most
beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth's eye;
looking into which the
beholder measures the
depth of his own nature."

-  Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Monday, April 02, 2018

Embedded Patterns


"No pattern is an isolated entity.
Each pattern can exist in the world
only to the extent that is
supported by other patterns:
the larger patterns in
which it is embedded,
the patterns of the same
size that surround it,
and the smaller patterns
which are embedded in it. "