Friday, December 02, 2022

Helping Preserve the "Bullock Family Photography Archive"

"Light to me is perhaps the most profound truth in the universe.
My thinking has been deeply affected by the belief that
everything is some form of radiant energy."
- Wynn Bullock (1905 - 1975)

As I have written many times on my blog throughout the years, Wynn Bullock holds a special place in my heart. Although (sadly) I never had a chance to meet him, everything that I have learned about him - whether through his own writings and images, what others have written about him, and/or memories that one of his daughters, Barbara Bullock-Wilson, has kindly shared with me - makes me want to step into some alternate reality where he is still alive. I see myself pulling up a chair beside him near a cozy fireplace, settling in with a hot cup of coffee and just reveling in his presence, chatting away into the night about art, photography, science, the magic of light, and whatever else moves our spirits. 

My correspondence with Barbara began shortly after I received an email from her about a blog entry I published in Jan 2012 discussing my "discovery" of her dad's magnificent color light abstractions. Barbara has recently informed me of a crowdsourcing effort she's organized to help preserve this masterful work (that continues to inspire me, and, I suspect, all others that come across it and/or just see the works - or their reproductions - for themselves!). The goal of the "Bullock Family Photography Archive" project (recently launched at UC Santa Cruz) is to raise at least $30,000 to help UCSC acquire the rest of the Wynn Bullock Color Light Abstraction traveling exhibit as well as add a few black-and-white vintage photographs to their Bullock holdings. IMHO, this is an important effort that doesn't just enhance the Bullock collection at the University, but helps preserve Bullock's legacy for future generations! The crowdsourcing homepage includes a formal description and includes a short promotional video you can watch. I gently urge all of my humble followers to take a peek, and consider donating to Barbara's effort.

Postscript. The image at the top of this blog entry was captured in (what, for me, is typically) "serendipitously synchronistic" fashion, given the topic of this blog entry and Bullock's own close association with light and pattern: as I was walking past my eldest son's room while going to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee to jump-start my brain prior to writing this blog entry, I was struck by the "Bullockian light patterns" dancing across my son's bed. Of course, I had to rush back to my study and get my camera (heck, it was so mesmerizing, I even forgot to get my coffee)! It is as if Bullock himself reached out from that alternate reality in which he and I are schmoozing about life and art to gift me a bit of "light" to accompany my text 😊

Monday, November 28, 2022

Skeleton of Truth

"So there it is in words
And if you read between the lines
You will find nothing there
For that is the discipline I ask
Not more, not less
Not the world as it is
Not ought to be –
Only the precision
The skeleton of truth
I do not dabble in emotions
Hint at implications
Evoke the ghosts of old forgotten creeds.
All that is for the preacher
The hypnotist, therapist and missionary
They will come after me
And use the little that I said
To bait more traps
For those who cannot bear
The lonely
of Truth"

Gregory Bateson (1904 - 1980) and Mary Catherine Bateson (1939 - 2021)

Friday, November 25, 2022

Abstract ETCs

"Irrespective of the possibility that the Galileo Project may discover additional, or even extraordinary evidence for ETCs [Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations], at a minimum the Galileo Project will gather rich data sets that may foster the discovery of — or better scientific explanations for — novel interstellar objects with anomalous properties, and for potential new natural atmospheric phenomena, or in some instances terrestrial technology explanations for many of the presently inexplicable UAP."

- Galileo Project, Harvard University

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Simplest Thing

 "Even the simplest thing
is as important as the
things we consider important.
I consider a fallen leaf as
important as the Grand Canyon.
It's all important;
it's all connected.
One couldn't be
without the other."

- Ruth Bernhard (1905 - 2006)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Unclouded by Preconceived Ideas

"Watching as things arrange
themselves in the changing light,
the photographer with unobstructed
vision sees them as they are.
Appropriate images appear without
struggle, moving with the flow of light
like leaves in a stream,
to be immediately reflected in
a mind unclouded by
preconceived ideas."

- Benjamin Hoff (1946 - )

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Chain of Connection

"In considering the study of physical phenomena, not merely in its bearings on the material wants of life, but in its general influence on the intellectual advancement of mankind, we find its noblest and most important result to be a knowledge of the chain of connection, by which all natural forces are linked together, and made mutually dependent upon each other; and it is the perception of these relations that exalts our views and ennobles our enjoyments."

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Admiring Light's Beauty

"Look at light and admire its beauty.
Close your eyes, and then look again:
what you saw is no longer there;
and what you will see later is not yet. "

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

Friday, November 11, 2022

Improvisational Nature

"Perhaps the answers to these questions require fundamental advances at the interface of physics, the arts, and neuroscience. The deep links between musical form and physical form may be unveiled by understanding how both kinds of knowledge-music and physics-arise together in human brains and nowhere else. After all, brains, regardless of how mysterious they are, are the most complex structures in the universe.
It is amusing to speculate that the reason why music has the ability to move us so deeply is that it is an auditory allusion to our basic connection to the universe. If our cosmic origins are seated in sound patterns, is it too far-fetched to think that music viscerally enables us to tap into those origins?
What if there were a vibrational pattern
in the early universe capable of
generating the current complex
structure that we live in,
the complex structures that we are?
And what if these structures
had an improvisational nature."

- Stephon Alexander (1971 - )
The Jazz of Physics

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Vibration of Spirit

"The vibration of Spirit is at such an infinite rate of intensity and rapidity that it is practically at rest — just as a rapidly moving wheel seems to be motionless. And at the other end of the scale, there are gross forms of matter whose vibrations are so low as to seem at rest. Between these poles, there are millions upon millions of varying degrees of vibration. From corpuscle and electron, atom and molecule, to worlds and universes, everything is in vibratory motion. This is also true on the planes of energy and force (which are but varying degrees of vibration); and also on the mental planes (whose states depend upon vibrations); and even on to the spiritual planes. An understanding of this Principle, with the appropriate formulas, enables Hermetic students to control their own mental vibrations as well as those of others. The Masters also apply this Principle to the conquering of Natural phenomena, in various ways. 'He who understands the Principle of Vibration, has grasped the sceptre of Power,' says one of the old writers.
...the differences between different
manifestations of Matter, Energy,
Mind, and even Spirit, result
largely from varying rates of Vibrations...
...the higher the vibration,
the higher the position in the scale."

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 😊

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Signatura Regrum

"All perceiving is also thinking,
all reasoning is also intuition,
all observation is also invention.
Man’s striving for order, of which art is but one manifestation, derives from a similar universal tendency throughout the organic world; it is also paralleled by, and perhaps derived from, the striving towards the state of simplest structure in physical systems.
Both art and science are bent on the understanding of the forces that shape existence, and both call for a dedication to what is. Neither of them can tolerate capricious subjectivity because both are subject to their criteria of truth. Both require precision, order, and discipline because no comprehensible statement can be made without these. Both accept the sensory world as what the Middle Ages called signatura regrum, the signature of things, but in quite different ways."

Rudolf Arnheim (1904 - 2007)

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Theory of Emptiness

"The theory of emptiness… is the deep recognition that there is a fundamental disparity between the way we perceive the world, including our own existence in it, and the way things actually are.
According to the theory of emptiness, any belief in an objective reality grounded in the assumption of intrinsic, independent existence is untenable. All things and events, whether material, mental, or even abstract concepts like time, are devoid of objective independent existence. To possess such independent, intrinsic existence would imply that things and events are somehow complete unto themselves and are therefore entirely contained.
If on the quantum level, matter is revealed to be less solid and definable than it appears, then it seems to me that science is coming closer to the Buddhist contemplative insights of emptiness and interdependence.

Dalai Lama XIV, (1935 - )

Friday, November 04, 2022

A Tiny Piece of the Whole

"In our constant search for meaning in this baffling and temporary existence, trapped as we are within our three pounds of neurons, it is sometimes hard to tell what is real. We often invent what isn’t there. Or ignore what is. We try to impose order, both in our minds and in our conceptions of external reality. We try to connect. We try to find truth. We dream and we hope. And underneath all of these strivings, we are haunted by the suspicion that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the whole."

Alan Lightman (1948 - )

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Raw Essence

"Photography, used as a fine art, is what any artist makes of it. For the analytical artist, photography is a tool to record his visual curiosity, his visual understanding, and his visual contemplation of the world. For the objective artist, photography can reveal the meanings of things and render surfaces with love and beauty. The subjective artist can use photography as a means of self-expression – simply by dissociating the subject from its connotations. When photography is used in this manner, the unconscious mind can be reached through the reading of the photograph’s design. Discarding the connotations of subjects leaves them symbols that can be read like dreams. The world of the unconscious mind is turned into the raw material of art.
To reach essence, the photographer cannot work as the painter does. The photographer cannot pile up characteristics until an essence is synthesized. He must wait until a face, gesture, or place goes ‘transparent’ and thereby reveals the essence underneath. This exact instant, when the subject bares its inner core is a transitory and fleeting moment. It is never repeated exactly. The expressive function of the camera is to make photographs that reveal the essence of the subject along with the facts."

Minor White (1908 - 1976)
Quoted in The Aesthetic Theories Of Minor White,
by Stuart Oring

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Going with the Flow

"A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. 'I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.'"

- The Daily Zen Journal:
A Creative Companion for a Beginner's Mind 

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Passing Through the Present

"We pass through the present
with our eyes blindfolded.
We are permitted merely to
sense and guess at what we
 are actually experiencing.
Only later when the cloth is untied
can we glance at the past and find
out what we have experienced
and what meaning it has."

- Milan Kundera (1929 - ) 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Di-Eclectic Eyes

"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 function of my comedy is not to provide answers, but to postulate questions, impertinent questions and therefore finally, pertinent questions. Not to open doors, merely to unlock them. To not invade the boundaries of probability but stand a cool guard this side of the boundaries. Somewhere between there's a thesis. To pump up the muscle of dialectic (or in my case Di-Eclectic!) against the brawn of surrealistic solution.

I play not Hamlet,
but the second gravedigger,
not Lear but the fool."

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Aesthetic Devolution

"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."


Saturday, October 29, 2022


"I regard consciousness as fundamental.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk about,
everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness."

- Max Planck (1858 - 1947)

Friday, October 28, 2022

Mirror to Mirror

"From mirror to mirror — this is what I happen to dream of — the totality of things, the whole, the entire universe, divine wisdom could concentrate their luminous rays into a single mirror. Or perhaps the knowledge of everything is buried in the soul, and a system of mirrors that would multiply my image would then reveal to me the soul of the universe, which is hidden in mine."

Italo Calvino (1923 - 1985)
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Effulgent Forms

"That inner Self, as the primeval Spirit, Eternal, ever effulgent, full and infinite Bliss, Single, indivisible, whole and living, Shines in everyone as the witnessing awareness. That self in its splendor, shining in the cavity of the heart This self is neither born nor dies, Neither grows nor decays, Nor does it suffer any change. When a pot is broken, the space within it is not, And similarly, when the body dies the Self in it remains eternal."

- Ramana Maharshi (1879 - 1950)

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Ryutan's Candle

"Tokusan once called on Ryutan to ask for instruction and stayed until night fell. Ryutan said, 'It is getting late; you had better leave.' At last Tokusan said good-bye, lifted up the door curtain, and went out. Noticing that it was dark, he turned back and said, 'It is dark outside.' Ryutan thereupon lit a candle and handed it to him. Tokusan was about to take it when Ryutan blew it out. At this Tokusan was all of a sudden enlightened. He made a bow. Ryutan asked, 'What realization do you have?' Tokusan replied, 'From now on I will not doubt the sayings of any of the great Zen Masters in the world.'

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)

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Whirling Light

"Rotating systems often break axisymmetry; were it not so, there would be no hurricanes. There are steadier examples: the skirts of the 'whirling dervish' carry cusped wave patterns which seem to defy gravity and common sense.
We consider a rotating, conically symmetric surface made out of a sheet of material that is constrained not to stretch or compress in two dimensions, but is perfectly flexible with respect to bending in the third. The symmetry of the surface permits an additional material flow to be superimposed on the rotation of the surface, leading to Coriolis forces. The equations describing this system yield a three-parameter family of exact solutions, some of which bear a close resemblance to the patterns on a dervish's skirt. We find that the Coriolis terms that arise from the additional flow are crucial for these types of patterns to exist.
The results widen our understanding of the dynamics of flexible objects and of pattern formation in rotating systems. They may also shed some light on previously known instabilities of turbine disks and hard disks. Finally, they bring a bit of science into the otherwise nebulous world of the mystic, and address a phenomenon that has been observed with aesthetic pleasure for hundreds of years."

- 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,
we dance.”

Rumi (1207 - 1273

Monday, October 24, 2022

Leaves and Paths

"In a forest of a hundred thousand trees,
no two leaves are alike.
And no two journeys along
the same path are alike."

Paulo Coelho (1947 - )

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Between Grief and Geometry

"Geometry is a way to organize our models of the world, its shapes and dynamics. But isn’t this all contingent, balanced on a knife’s edge? Could our models have turned out very differently? If the fractal geometry of Mandelbrot had been discovered before the geometry of Euclid, would manufacture be the same? If you think the question is far-fetched, consider the iterated branching of our pulmonary, circulatory, and nervous systems, or the recursive folding of our DNA, or the large surface area and small volume of our lungs and our digestive tract. Evolution has discovered and uses fractal geometry. If people had looked more closely at the geometry of nature, rather than emulating the 'celestial perfection' imposed by the church’s interpretation of the works of Euclid and Aristotle, our constructions could be very different now.
Beauty is a bridge between grief and geometry.
Beauty and grief are next-door neighbors, or maybe grief is beauty in a dark mirror… To see beauty is to glimpse something deeper; to grieve is to glimpse a loss whose consequences we will not unpack for years, and maybe never. The beauty of geometry likewise involves great emotional weight, irreversibly alters our perceptions, and is transcendent. For we don’t see all of geometry, only a hint, a shadow of something much deeper."

- Michael Frame (1951 - )
Geometry of Grief

Friday, October 21, 2022

Harmony of Autumnal Colors

"When the eye sees a color it
is immediately excited,
and it is its nature,
spontaneously and of necessity,
at once to produce another,
which with the original colour
comprehends the whole chromatic scale.
A single color excites,
by a specific sensation,
the tendency to universality.
In this resides the fundamental
law of all harmony of colors.
Should your glance on mornings lovely
Lift to drink the heaven's blue
Or when sun, vieled by sirocco,
Royal red sinks out of view -
Give to Nature praise and honour.
Blithe of heart and sound of eye,
Knowing for the world of color
Where its broad foundations lie."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Autumnal Tints

"I am struck by the simplicity of
light in the atmosphere in the autumn,
as if the earth absorbed none,
and out of this profusion of
dazzling light came the
autumnal tints."

Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Monday, October 17, 2022

Serendipitous Geometry

"Philosophy is written in this all-encompassing book that is constantly open to our eyes, that is the universe; but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to understand the language and knows the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures; without these it is humanly impossible to understand a word of it, and one wanders in a dark labyrinth."

- Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)
Il Saggiatore

"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."

- Paul Rand (1914 - 1996)
Paul Rand: A Designer's Art

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 😊

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Unobstructed Flow

"The great Tao flows unobstructed in every direction.
All things rely on it to conceive and be born,
and it does not deny even the smallest of creation.
When it has accomplishes great wonders,
it does not claim them for itself.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn't seek to master the smallest creature.
Since it is without wants and desires,
it can be considered humble.
All of creation seeks it for refuge
yet it does not seek to master or control.
Because it does not seek greatness;
it is able to accomplish truly great things. "

Lao Tzu (6th century – 4th century BCE)
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 34

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Light, Shadow, and Geometry

"The phenomenon which I have now briefly mentioned appears to me to partake of the character of the marvelous, almost as much as any fact which physical investigation has yet brought to our knowledge. The most transitory of things, a shadow, the proverbial emblem of all that is fleeting and momentary, may be fettered by the spells of our "natural magic," and may be fixed for ever in the position which it seemed only destined for a single instant to occupy.

This remarkable phenomenon, of whatever value it may turn out in its application to the arts, will at least be accepted as a new proof of the value of the inductive methods of modern science, which by noticing the occurrence of unusual circumstances (which accident perhaps first manifests in some small degree), and by following them up with experiments, and varying the conditions of these until the true law of nature which they express is apprehended, conducts us at length to consequences altogether unexpected, remote from usual experience, and contrary to almost universal belief. Such is the fact, that we may receive on paper the fleeting shadow, arrest it there, and in the space of a single minute fix it there so firmly as to be no more capable of change, even if thrown back into the sunbeam from which it derived its origin."

- Henry Fox Talbot (1800 - 1877)
Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing 

Friday, October 14, 2022


"That which offers no resistance,
Overcomes the hardest substances.
That which offers no resistance
Can enter where there is no space.
Few in the world can comprehend
The teaching without words, or
Understand the value of non-action."

Lao Tzu (6th century – 4th century BCE)
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 43

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Dreams and Mirrors

"I, who have felt the horror of mirrors
Not only in front of the impenetrable crystal
Where there ends and begins, uninhabitable,
An impossible space of reflections,

But of gazing even on water that mimics
The other blue in its depth of sky,
That at times gleams back the illusory flight
Of the inverted bird, or that ripples,

And in front of the silent surface
Of subtle ebony whose polish shows
Like a repeating dream the white
Of something marble or something rose,

Today at the tip of so many and perplexing
Wandering ears under the varying moon,
I ask myself what whim of fate
Made me so fearful of a glancing mirror.


It is strange to dream, and to have mirrors
Where the commonplace, worn-out repertory
Of every day may include the illusory
Profound globe that reflections scheme.

God (I keep thinking) has taken pains
To design that ungraspable architecture
Reared by every dawn from the gleam
Of a mirror, by darkness from a dream.

God has created nighttime, which he arms
With dreams, and mirrors, to make clear
To man he is a reflection and a mere
Vanity. Therefore these alarms."

Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986)
“Mirrors,” in Dreamtigers

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Nature's Calligraphy

"In my calligraphy,
there is ink, tea, breathing,
mindfulness and concentration.
This is meditation.
This is not work.
Suppose I write ‘breathe’;
I am breathing at the same time.
To be alive is a miracle
and when you breathe in
mindfully, you touch the
miracle of being alive."

Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 - 2022)

Monday, October 10, 2022

No Such Thing as Time

"Another way to look at meditation is to view thinking itself as a waterfall, a cascading of thought. In cultivating mindfulness, we are going beyond or behind our thinking, much the way you might find a vantage point in a cave or depression in the rock behind a waterfall. We still see and hear the water, but we are out of the torrent."

- 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)

"Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?" That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future."

Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Idea Chasing

"Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control...
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)

Friday, October 07, 2022

Unfolding of the Universe

"We are agents who alter the unfolding of the universe."

Stuart A. Kauffman (1939 - )

"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."

- Stephen Batchelor (1953 - )

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Latent Divinity

"Divinity reveals herself in all things.
Everything has Divinity latent within itself.
For she enfolds and imparts herself
even unto the smallest beings,
and from the smallest beings,
according to their capacity.
Without her presence nothing
would have being, because she
is the essence of the existence of
the first unto the last being."

- Giordano Bruno (1548 - 1600)

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Sameness and Novelty

"A rhythm involves a pattern and to that extent is always self-identical. But no rhythm can be a mere pattern; for the rhythmic quality depends equally upon the differences involved in each exhibition of the pattern. The order of rhythm is therefore a structure of deviating repetitions... The essence of rhythm is the fusion of sameness and novelty; so that the whole never loses the essential unity of the pattern, while the parts exhibit the contrast arising from the novelty of their detail."

- Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947) 

Sunday, October 02, 2022

One Side of a Mirror

"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."

- Anthony Horowitz (1955 - )

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Perceptive Play

"The essential activity of science consists of thought, which arises in creative perception and is expressed through play. This gives rise to a process in which thought unfolds into provisional knowledge which then moves outward into action and returns as fresh perception and knowledge. This process leads to a continuous adaptation of knowledge which undergoes constant growth, transformation, and extension. Knowledge is therefore not something rigid and fixed that accumulates indefinitely in a steady way but is a continual process of change. Its growth is closer to that of an organism than a data bank."

 - David Bohm (1917 - 1992)
Science, Order and Creativity

Friday, September 30, 2022

Subjective Wholes

"As we analyze a thing into its parts or into its properties, we tend to magnify these, to exaggerate their apparent independence, and to hide from ourselves (at least for a time) the essential integrity and individuality of the composite whole. We divided the body into its organs, the skeleton into its bones, as in very much the same fashion we make a subjective analysis of the mind, according to the teaching of psychology, into component factors: but we know very well that judgement and knowledge, courage or gentleness, love or fear, have no separate existence, but are somehow mere manifestations, or imaginary coefficients, of a most complex integral."

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Relation Between Observer and Thing

"The real world gives the subset of what is; the product space represents the uncertainty of the observer. The product space may therefore change if the observer changes; and two observers may legitimately use different product spaces within which to record the same subset of actual events in some actual thing. The “constraint” is thus a relation between observer and thing; the properties of any particular constraint will depend on both the real thing and on the observer. It follows that a substantial part of the theory of organization will be concerned with properties that are not intrinsic to the thing but are relational between the observer and thing."

- W. Ross Ashby (1903 - 1972)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Peaceful Moments

"How peaceful it was, with the light evening breeze stirring the small leaves of the grapevine that clustered around the electric bulb, making the shadows move and change on the yellow mat below. For a moment he pushed aside the thought of money. From time to time the dark water beside them rippled audibly, as if a tiny fish had come to the surface for an instant and then darted beneath. It was in peaceful moments such as this, his father had said, that men were given to know just a little of what paradise was like, so that they might yearn for it with all their soul, and strive during their time on earth to be worthy of going there."

- Paul Bowles (1910 - 1999) 
The Spider's House

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Materializing the Invisible

"Art resides even in things
with no artistic intentions.
Photography is making a copy of reality,
but when it is photographed twice
it goes back to the reality again.
That is my theory.
Art is technique: a means by which
to materialize the invisible
realm of the mind.
Photography is like a found object.
A photographer never makes an actual subject;
they just steal the image from the world…
Photography is a system of saving memories.
It’s a time machine, in a way,
to preserve the memory,
to preserve time.
I’m inviting the spirits
into my photography.
It’s an act of God."

- Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948 - )

Monday, September 19, 2022

Little Ripples


"The waves of the sea, the little ripples on the shore, the sweeping curve of the sandy bay between the headlands, the outline of the hills, the shape of the clouds, all these are so many riddles of form, so many problems of morphology.
Our own study of organic form, which we call by Goethe's name of Morphology, is but a portion of that wider still Science of Form which deals with the forms assumed by matter under all aspects and conditions, and, in a still wider sense, with forms which are theoretically imaginable.
We rise from the conception of form to an understanding of the forces which gave rise to it... in the representation of form we see a diagram of forces in equilibrium, and in the comparison of kindred forms we discern the magnitude and the direction of the forces which have sufficed to convert the one form into the other.
We have come to the
edge of a world of which
we have no experience, and
where all our preconceptions
must be recast."

- D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860 - 1948)
On Growth and Form

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Metaphorical Thought

"In asking philosophical questions, we use a reason shaped by the body, a cognitive unconscious to which we have no direct access, and metaphorical thought of which we are largely unaware. The fact that abstract thought is mostly metaphorical means that answers to philosophical questions have always been, and always will be, mostly metaphorical. In itself, that is neither good nor bad. It is simply a fact about the capacities of the human mind. But it has major consequences for every aspect of philosophy. Metaphorical thought is the principal tool that makes philosophical insight possible and that constrains the forms that philosophy can take."

- George Lakoff (1941 - )

Friday, September 16, 2022

All Things End in the Tao

"The Tao is nameless and unchanging.
Although it appears insignificant,
nothing in the world can contain it.

If a ruler abides by its principles,
then her people will willingly follow.
Heaven would then reign on earth,
like sweet rain falling on paradise.
People would have no need for laws,
because the law would be written on their hearts.

Naming is a necessity for order,
but naming cannot order all things.
Naming often makes things impersonal,
so we should know when naming should end.
Knowing when to stop naming,
you can avoid the pitfall it brings.

All things end in the Tao
just as the small streams and the largest rivers
flow through valleys to the sea."

- Lao Tzu (6th century – 4th century BCE)
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 32

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Time and Space as Dreams

"The reason why we want to remember an image varies: because we simply ‘love it,’ or dislike it so intensely that it becomes compulsive, or because it has made us realize something about ourselves, or has brought about some slight change in us. Perhaps the reader can recall some image, after the seeing of which he has never been quite the same.
...insight, vision, moments of revelation. During those rare moments something overtakes the man and he becomes the tool of a greater Force; the servant of, willing or unwilling depending on his degree of awakeness. The photograph, then, is a message more than a mirror, and the mans a messenger who happens to be a photographer.
Camera and eye are together a time machine with which the mind and human being can do the same kind of violence to time and space as dreams."

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 😊

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Trust in Nature

"If you trust in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge."

- Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
Letters to a Young Poet 

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Incomprehensible Void

"We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. Many refuse to admit it: I feel a mystery exists. There are certain times, when, as on the whisper of the wind, there comes a clear and quiet realization that there is indeed a presence in the world, a nonhuman entity that is not necessarily inhuman.
My private glimpses of some ideal reality create a lasting mood that that has often been recalled in some of my photographs... the subtle change of light across a waterfall moved me as did a singular vista of a far-off mountain under a leaden sky. Others might well have not responded at all. Deep resonances of spirit exist, giving us glimpses of a reality far beyond our general appreciation, and knowledge... no matter how many stars we see in a clear mountain sky, we now know that they are but a minuscule fragment of the total population of suns and planets in the billions of galaxies out there in the incomprehensible void.
The only things in my life that compatibly exist with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit.
I have often had a retrospective vision where everything in my past life seems to fall with significance into logical sequence. Intuition, suspicion, or confidence in new ventures; there is a strange strain within me when advantage is not taken of some situation, the immediacy of recognition of the rightness or wrongness of a mood, a response, a decision - they are so often valid that I am increasingly convinced that we have yet to grasp the reality of existence."

Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)