My thinking has been deeply affected by the belief that
everything is some form of radiant energy."
- Wynn Bullock (1905 - 1975)
Postscript. In February of this year, I wrote about how the morning walks my wife and I took together during the pandemic (which we could do since I did not have to commute to my regular office; something which, sadly, I've had to resume doing recently) gave me an opportunity to see and appreciate how much beauty our local neighborhood offers. Back then, I was mesmerized with the "hosta-leaf corpses" that littered the sidewalks near our house, and which appeared to glow with a preternatural inner light. To communicate a sense of what first drew me to them (i.e., their radiance), I rendered them using reversed black and white tones (a small portfolio is here). Almost a year later, as we approach late autumn, I find my eye/I drawn to the radiance - or, better, to the colorful afterglow - of decaying maple leaves. Just as the all-but-decayed hosta leaves stubbornly clung to life with a mysterious and inexhaustible energy, the just-starting-to-decay maple leaves are now doing the same, but are suffused in an ineffably iridescent brilliance! There is a palpable fire burning inside that refuses to let go! I've tried to capture this ethereal energy by placing the leaves on a light table (using one that is sufficiently bright to illuminate the veins of the leaves), and rendering the final image on a dark backdrop in Photoshop. Although, as with the hostas, my maple macros only partly convey the excitement I felt as I encountered individual leaves, much of my raw emotion remains (albeit only in "Stieglitzian Equivalent" form). The image above is an amalgam of the photographs in a new "maple autumn macros" portfolio. Enjoy 😊
- Milan Kundera (1929 - )
"My mind is an attic full of crazy dreams that never quit or disappoint me, and I have been blessed with these eyes to see things differently and have people see me in a different way.
"The tides of time should be able to imprint the passing of the years on an object. The physical decay or natural wear and tear of the materials used does not in the least detract from the visual appeal, rather it adds to it. It is the changes of texture and color that provide the space for the imagination to enter and become more involved with the devolution of the piece. Whereas modern design often uses inorganic materials to defy the natural ageing effects of time, wabi sabi embraces them and seeks to use this transformation as an integral part of the whole. This is not limited to the process of decay, but can also be found at the moment of inception, when life is taking its first fragile steps toward becoming."
- Ramana Maharshi (1879 - 1950)
The next day Ryutan mounted the rostrum and declared, 'Among the monks here there is a fellow whose fangs are like swords, and whose mouth is like a bowl of blood. You may strike him with a stick but he will not turn his head. Some day in the future, he will establish his way on a steep and lofty peak.'
Tokusan then took out his notes and commentaries on the Diamond Sutra and in front of the monastery hall he held up a burning torch and said, 'Even though one masters various profound philosophies, it is like placing a single strand of hair in the great sky; even if one gains all the essential knowledge in the world, it is like throwing a drop of water into a deep ravine.' Taking up his notes and commentaries, he burned them all. Then he left with gratitude."
- Zen Koan (Gateless Barrier, #28/page 201)
- J. Guven, J. Hanna and M. Müller,
"Whirling skirts and rotating cones,"
New Journal Of Physics (Nov, 2013)
Postscript. The images in the diptych that I took with my iPhone recently (of light reflecting off of cars parked onto the walls of a local garage) reminded me of Rumi's "Whirling Dervishes," about which you can read here and here (in considerably less technical detail than the one you'll find if you follow the link to the physics journal!)
“You are water, whirling water,
Yet still water trapped within,
Come, submerge yourself within us,
We who are the flowing stream.
We came whirling out of nothingness,
scattering stars like dust...
The stars made a circle,
and in the middle,
- Rumi (1207 - 1273
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
"The artist is a collector of things imaginary or real. He accumulates things with the same enthusiasm that a little boy stuffs his pockets. The scrap heap and the museum are embraced with equal curiosity. He takes snapshots, makes notes and records impressions on tablecloths or newspapers, on backs of envelopes or matchbooks. Why one thing and not another is part of the mystery, but he is omnivorous."
Postscript. It has been said that the lifeblood of photography is serendipity. While none of the images that make up the triptych above are particularly praiseworthy (beyond, I hope, simply being "interesting" to look at for a a few seconds), the fact that they exist at all is serendipitous. As seems to happen so often, what I planned to photograph and what I found myself photographing this past Sunday are unrelated except that the latter followed naturally - if unpredictably - from the former. Waking up to see a completely overcast sky I rushed to the kitchen to pour a bit of coffee into my commuter cup and took off in my car to go to one of my favorite "cloudy day" parks (Great Falls park in northern VA), about an hour from home. The closer I got to the park, the more "blue sky" was elbowing the clouds away, until, finally, literally as I arrived, the sky had become crystal clear and a strong sun was beating down overhead; far from the quiet diffused light I expected and was rushing over to compose in. Nothing to do but turn around and head back home. Which is what I did, but not before listening to my muse and stopping by the parking lot my wife and I leave our car at when we go to the farmer's market held nearby on Saturdays. Since it was Sunday, the parking lot was deserted, and I had plenty of time to commiserate over a failed trip to Great Falls, rekindle the quiet joy of just being "mindfully in the moment," and rediscover the simple pleasure of looking for "geometric designs" with my camera. As I said, nothing spectacular or noteworthy, and a far cry from what I originally planned to do, but a thoroughly delightful outing nonetheless 😊
- Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 - 2022)
- Jon Kabat-Zinn (1944 - )
"As long as I live,
I'll hear waterfalls and
birds and winds sing.
I'll interpret the rocks,
learn the language of flood,
storm, and the avalanche.
I'll acquaint myself with the
glaciers and wild gardens,
and get as near the heart
of the world as I can"
- John Muir (1838 - 1914)
- Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)
"We are agents who alter the unfolding of the universe."
"Did I live? The human world is like a vast musical instrument on which we play our individual part while simultaneously listening to the compositions of others in an effort to contribute to the whole. We don't chose whether to engage, only how to; we either harmonize or create dissonance. Our words, our deeds, our very presence create and leave impressions in the minds of others just as a writer makes impressions with their words. Who you are is an unfolding narrative. You came from nothing and will return there eventually. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously all the time, we can discover the playful irony of a story that has never been told in quite this way before."
- Giordano Bruno (1548 - 1600)
- Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947)
"There are two worlds. The world you understand and the world you don’t. These worlds exist side by side, sometimes only centimeters apart, and the great majority of people spend their entire lives in one without being aware of the other. It’s like living in one side of a mirror: you think there is nothing on the other side until one day a switch is thrown and suddenly the mirror is transparent. You see the other side."
- W. Ross Ashby (1903 - 1972)
- Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948 - )
- George Lakoff (1941 - )
- Minor White (1908 - 1976)
Postscript. The "Minor White: The Eye That Shapes" exhibit was hosted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1989, with an accompanying book and catalog, edited by Peter C. Bunnell (used copies of which are sometimes still available, though they are not cheap: e.g., $80 from Amazon). Amazingly, MoMA has made a pdf of Bunnell's 322 page book available for free (it is a 62Mb download)! Kudos, MoMA 😊