Engineering marvels - especially consumer products - have a long history of being so practical and convenient that they are completely useless. Add-on lenses to smart phones are fast approaching this category. It is common knowledge that the best camera is the one you have with you, and unless you go on a specific photo shoot, this will be more many the smart phone in their pocket
During my brief stint as a fashion photographer and assistant to a studio owner in Vienna, we had a drawer marked "ART" where the slides and prints ended up that were unusable for professional presentation. This included discolored slides when the film ruptured or at the end of the roll. And whenever we received an invitation to a competition or exhibition we went through the drawer and submitted with a success rate that was in no relation to the work put into the creation of these pieces of art. Today even a most boring photo can be "raised" to art inside of a smartphone (in this case Instagram) and distributed globally
Here's a novel concept for next-gen TV sets. My 4 year old daughter learned in school that flies have compound eyes and see the world in pixels, similar to the little dots you can see on a TV screen when you look really closely. So I took my 10x loupe to allow her to explore the TV screen in detail.
What really concerned her was if people kill flies to make TV sets. Based on the information she has available, this is a reasonable question. Why not use technology available in nature to build devices. She probably has not - yet - considered the potential for interactive TV, gesture control, and targeted advertising when every pixel on a TV screen can see what you do in front of the screen.
The creative potential when not limited by preconceived ideas is amazing..
Four year olds - sorry 4 1/2 - come up with all sorts of reasons why they cannot go to sleep - last resort are really important questions: "Where did the first parents come from?". Everyone has parents but what about the first ones? Did they come from eggs? So I try to balance bed-time urgency with a complete review of the Origin of Species - briefly covering Tadpoles and Frogs, and the difference between Apes and Men, trying not to scare her sleep by talking about cave men.
Go to bed now. Papa - why are we not furry? We have clothes. I'm trying to watch Doris Dorrie's film "How to cook your life" with Edward Espe Brown, a Zen priest and cook. The movie was underwhelming. I look forward to and hear Ed Bown speak next month.
Papa - why do you wear glasses? It is getting late and the questions become less philosophical . Or maybe not. We sit on the stairs and I explain that as you get older the muscles in the eye are not as strong anymore.
With the promise that we will sit together in the morning and a big hug, she disappears.
Where did the first parents come from?
How to cook your life - the book, some 700 years older than the film - finished by Eihei DogenÂ in 1237 - is much more inspiring. More about that later.
The man with his big eyes and the beret on his head could have easily passed for the long lost Indian brother of Pablo Picasso, waiting in line at the India Supermarket with a lonesome salad in one hand and a dollar bill in the other. While I was unloading the Basmati rice and the chutneys from my cart I asked him to pay first. He made an unsure move to the lady behind the cash register, she took his money, I smiled at him and said "please go ahead". He smiled back and responded: "you took my patience away" and walked out into the sunshine.
Keep your hands open, and all the sands of the desert can pass through them. Close them, and all you can feel is a bit of grit.
Christmas Day, 2008
It's the time to be thankful. The ultimate US American holiday that allows everyone to get together and eat too much while bypassing the whole Christmas / Hanukkah issue. Miriam is 4 and learns in school about being thankful, makes collages what she is thankful for and overall extensively discusses the topic with everyone. I asked her what she is thankful for and she tells me: "Chicken, dead chicken". She has a point. As Greek philosophers always emphasized name the object for what it is and you can recognize its qualities.
As everything in America is has to be big - and so we get "really big", "humongous" chicken for really low prices and if you not careful then the supermarket gives you a second one free. The biggest chicken in the whole wide world. Miriam just passed the Thanksgiving Chicken in weight.
We will have a Brazilian-style Thanksgiving and I will provide an Austrian-style cake - albeit after a US recipe. Details to follow.
Et bientôt, machinalement, accablé par la morne journée et la perspective d’un triste lendemain, je portai à mes lèvres une cuillerée du thé où j’avais laissé s’amollir un morceau de madeleine. Mais à l’instant même où la gorgée mêlée des miettes du gâteau toucha mon palais, je tressaillis, attentif à ce qui se passait d’extraordinaire en moi. Un plaisir délicieux m’avait envahi, isolé, sans la notion de sa cause. Il m’avait aussitôt rendu les vicissitudes de la vie indifférentes, ses désastres inoffensifs, sa brièveté illusoire, de la même façon qu’opère l’amour, en me remplissant d’une essence précieuse: ou plutôt cette essence n’était pas en moi, elle était moi. J’avais cessé de me sentire médiocre, contingent, mortel. D’où avait pu me venir cette puissante joie? Je sentais q’elle était liée au goût du thé et du gâteau, mais qu’elle le dépassait infiniment, ne devait pas être de même nature. [source] [Marcel Proust: Combray. p.44].
The smell, the taste because we have such a hard time to reproduce a memory before our inner nose, our inner tongue, much in the same way we recall an image that in turn allows us to memorize an element of a story, create much stronger memories when recalled.
There is no ars memorativa of smell, only the sudden flash when you open a drawer and find yourself back home.
Baking a cake or creating perfumes are possible ways to recreate the memory of smell.
After multiple requests to extend my blog int the daddy-blog space: "you will be sooo successful, everyone will ready you", I'll give it a try. Today at the pool. Watching Miriam. A little girl, still a bit wobbly on her feet, young enough and good looking enough to get away with running around topless even in puritan America runs to the pool edge, jumps-falls into the water, her little body sinks under the water surface, her face down, she doesn't move, wiggles her arms around, sinks deeper, her head under the water, bubbles, wiggling arms, no movement....comes up gasping for air...face down in the water again, sinking to the bottom of the pool...coming up with the toy she has been diving for, swimming to the steps to climb out on her wobbly feet, runs to the edge and jumps in again.
What do I do? She's probably the better swimmer.
The evening ritual had settled in to first read Dr. Seuss: There's a Zamp in My Lamp while sitting on the bed so she could pull, rotate and wiggle all the different tabs in the book and then I would move to the leather chair to sit under the reading lamp and continue with my reading of Combray while she searches for the bist place and the best position to sleep, rolling around to feel the energy of the ever square inch, much in the way Castaneda describes it in the Teachings of Don Juan.
The German paperback edition I am reading is uttely disappointing in its print quality, yet she likes the three heavy volumes that give her a feeling of the 4194 pages (I am confident that we're through before she leaves for college, we have at least another 15 years to go) ahead of us.
While reading to her, I'm asking myself what the Proust's Narrateur would have thought of Dr. Seuss and if reading Cat in thew Hat or hat in the Cat would have releaved him from the terrible pain of going to bed. Did Seuss read Proust? The strange mixture of these orthogonal approaches to the ghosts that surround us, that are part of our house, our life creates an experience, a memory that may well be independent from the actual text by telling a story of movable paper tabs and a stream of vaguely comprehensible words in excessively long sentences. At 3 1/2 it is hard for her to explain why she likes Proust or Seuss but they are both important to us as a way to tell a new story.