Monday, December 25, 2023

A Borgesian Wink and a small Gift to readers of my Blog

As a small thank you to all the kind visitors of my blog - think of it as a holiday gift - please feel free to download an extended version of my "Icelandic Abstracts" portfolio that was just published in the Dec issue of Lenswork magazine (and whom I thank for allowing me to offer it as a freebie here); clicking on the triptych above will take you to a 22MB Adobe pdf file. While it is always a thrill to be published in Lenswork (that belongs at the top of any list of the best "pure photography" magazines in the world; camera gear is only occasionally mentioned, and when it is, only to support the "story" behind the visual narrative; there are also no ads -ever- except those for Lenswork itself), it is a double pleasure for me this go around since my "Icelandic Abstracts" appears in the same issue as a portfolio by Sean Kernan

Although I do not know Kernan, I have long admired his talents as a photographer. And, devotees of my blog all know of my fascination with Jorge Luis Borges. The fact that Kernan's and my portfolio appear side-by-side in this month's Lenswork is therefore (from my perspective, at least) a quintessentially Borgesian twist of fate: Kernan's book of photographs accompanying Borges' tales - The Secret Books (published in 1999 and long out of print, it is unfortunately prohibitively expensive if/when found) - is among my most cherished literary/photography possessions! I'd like to think that (again, purely from my perspective, certainly not Kernan's) some otherworldly incorporeal incarnation of Borges just gave me a Borgesian wink 😉

Saturday, December 23, 2023


"Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole. "

- Murray Gell-Mann (1929 - 2019)

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Full of Fire

"When primitive man gained control over fire, it was a great step. However, the Universe is full of fire; consider the stars. Because we can think, and nothing else on our planet seems to be able to do so, it is natural for us to hold our intellectual prowess in great esteem. However, it may be that information processing, instead of being the sole province of us humans and our machines, may be a part of almost everything else in physics. Life itself, is clearly mediated by digital information; the genetic code. Digital Mechanics assumes that physics is also a process based on informational processes. We may need to rid ourselves of the prejudice that purposeful, thought related action is exclusively the domain of humans or perhaps aliens similar to humans. There are kinds of thinking that are qualitatively unimaginable to us though we can think about it quantitatively. We should not be afraid to consider intellectual activity as the driving force behind the creation of the Universe. By a close and quantitative examination of the possible parameters of Digital Mechanics, we can arrive at reasonable guesses as to what might be the purpose behind the creation of a universe like ours. That, in turn, can lead us towards intelligent speculations about Other, the space that contains the engine of our world."

Edward Fredkin (1934 - 2023)
A New Cosmogony

Monday, December 18, 2023

Be Still With Yourself

"When you approach something to photograph it,
first be still with yourself until the object
of your attention affirms your presence.
Then don't leave until you have
captured its essence."

Minor White (1908 - 1976)

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Lily Math

"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

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Orderly Action Within the Whole

"One must then go on to
a consideration of time as a
projection of multidimensional
reality into a sequence of moments.
Thought divides itself from feeling and from the body. Thought is said to be the mind; we have the notion that it is something abstract or spiritual or immaterial. Then there is the body, which is very physical. And we have emotions, which are perhaps somewhere in between. The idea is that they are all different. That is, we think of them as different. And we experience them as different because we think of them as different.
Man’s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken, and without a border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole."

 - David Bohm (1917 - 1992)

Monday, December 11, 2023

Illimitable Spirit

"My religion consists of a humble
admiration of the illimitable superior
spirit who reveals himself in the
slight details we are able to perceive
with our frail and feeble mind."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

"Blessed be you, mighty matter,
irresistible march of evolution,
reality ever newborn; you who,
by constantly shattering our
mental categories, force us to go
ever further and further
in our pursuit of the truth."

Teilhard De Chardin (1881- 1955)

"What matters most:
What he had yearned to embrace
was not the flesh but a downy spirit, a spark,
the impalpable angel that inhabits the flesh.
Wind, Sand and Stars."

Richard Bach (1936 - )

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Walls of the Worlds

"At least nine-tenths of all the original reality ever created lies outside the multiverse, and since the multiverse by definition includes absolutely everything that is anything, this puts a bit of a strain on things. Outside the boundaries of the universe lie the raw realities, the could-have-beens, the might-bes, the never-weres, the wild ideas, all being created and uncreated chaotically like elements in fermenting supernovas. Just occasionally where the walls of the worlds have worn a bit thin, they can leak in."

Friday, December 08, 2023

Disorder to Order

"And here the fundamental dilemma appeared. The grim picture of cosmic evolution painted by the physicists—an engine that is slowly running down and grinding to a halt—was in sharp contrast to the evolutionary thinking of the biologists, who observed that the living universe evolves from disorder to order, toward states of ever increasing complexity. At the end of the 19th century, then, Newtonian mechanics, the science of eternal, reversible trajectories, had been supplemented by two diametrically opposed views of evolutionary change—that of a living world unfolding toward increasing order and complexity, and that of an engine running down, a world of ever increasing disorder. Who was right, the physicists or the biologists?"

Fritjof Capra (1939 - )
Patterns of Connection

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

It’s a Visual World

Leonora Carrington (asked if there had been other artists in the family): My mother used to paint biscuit tins for jumble sales. That’s the only art that went on in my household.

Interviewer: I wonder where it came from?

Leonora Carrington: I have no idea.

Interviewer: No other artists in our family? None at all?

Leonora Carrington: Why are you fixed on the idea of heredity? It’s not hereditary … comes from somewhere else, not from genes. You’re trying to intellectualize something desperately, and you’re wasting your time. That’s not a way of understanding, to make a kind of intellectual mini-logic. You never understand by that road.

Interviewer: What do you think you do understand by then?

Leonora Carrington: By your own feelings about things …if you see a painting that you like… canvas is an empty space.

Interviewer: If I got one of your pictures down from upstairs and said to you what were you thinking when you painted this…?

Leonora Carrington: No. It’s a visual world, you want to turn things into a kind of intellectual game, it’s not… the visual world, it’s totally different. Remember what I’ve just said now, don’t try and turn it into a …kind of intellectual game. It’s not… It’s a visual world, which is different. The visual world is to do with what we see as space, which changes all the time. How do I know to walk –that’s one concept– to this bed and around it without running into it. I’m moving in space. Or I can have a concept of it and then I can see it as an object in space…”

 - Leonora Carrington (1917 - 2011)
Don't try to intellectualize art

Note. The text above is transcribed by Hugh Blackmer, whose blog is a "must visit" for anyone even remotely interested in photography, art, philosophy, whimsical musings on life and reality, and other thoughts on subjects that language alone is inadequate to describe (Hugh covers a lot of creative ground 😊. The post from which I pilfered Hugh's interview fragment contains links to far more material on Leonora Carrington than just this one interview. Thank you, Hugh! 

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Fungal States of Minds

"Fungal organisms can perceive the outer world in a way similar to what animals sense. Does that mean that they have full awareness of their environment and themselves? Is a fungus a conscious entity? In laboratory experiments we found that fungi produce patterns of electrical activity, similar to neurons. The new field of fungal consciousness is opening in front of us. Let us discuss directions of future studies. Do fungi have holistic states of mind? Do they combine/modify such states? How many fungal states of mind could be described? Do fungi create specific relational contexts? Or are they, on the contrary, not capable of having holistic states of mind, and are just following completely prefixed patterns? At which extent can we include fungi affects into such cognitive processing? Fungal chemotaxis could be part of such proto-emotional states. A deeper consciousness state allows us to understand and accept sacrificing our 'self' for higher purposes (martyrs, heroes).
Given the peculiarity of fungi morphology and degree of connection, we may imagine how radically different computational schemes are embedded into a fungal consciousness. For example, rather than 3-dimensional visual perception, holographic perception might be possible, considering the quasi-flat distribution of mycelia and its mechanoceptive reconstruction of moving objects (animals) at the upper boundary layer. Non-causal consciousness might arise from this specific perception framework, eventually hindering the time perception. All of these remain open questions for further investigations."

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Morning Fog

"Space and silence are two
aspects of the same thing.
The same no-thing. They
are externalization of inner
space and inner silence,
which is stillness: the
the infinitely creative womb
 of all existence.

Eckhart Tolle (1948 - )

Yesterday was one of those special mornings that makes photography ... heck, life! 😊 ... so wondrously special.  Anticipating a long weekend "work" day (a long technical paper I need to start writing but that I've been putting off for days), I had wanted to get a bit of extra sleep before I got started. My wife, who is well attuned to my photographer's soul - and predilections - all-too-well, woke me up early saying, "Hon, there is "heavy fog" outside, maybe you'd...?" .... I was out the door before she finished her sentence. I was so entranced by what I found at the nearby lake I raced to - a dense fog that was gently caressing the water and surrounding woods, a preternatural stillness in the air, and not another person in sight - that, initially at least, all I could do was just stand by the lakeshore, not doing - or thinking about - anything, cradling my camera with a smile on my face, soaking in the precious Zen moment. The photographs I captured in the hour or so that followed (some are shown here) are perhaps nothing special. But, "My, Oh My!" what perfect Alfred-Stieglitzian "equivalents" they all are of what I felt during my early morning sojourn around the lake that morning!