Sunday, May 7

Are Cultures the Sum of What Their Fish Won't See?

Freud taught, “Cultures are defined by what they ban.”

Fresh eyes see the invisible. 

Guy passing fish tank sez to its denizens, "How's the water today?" 
Fish think, "What water?"

On a morning stroll you veer around a trash dumpster and continue but that big green metal thing goes unlogged in your memory. Later you pass a fire hydrant, a couple of poles sporting graffiti, a woman carrying groceries, and you step over a puddle: none of them get  logged in either. The ordinary's as invisible to us as water to the thinking fish. 

Fresh eyes see the invisible. 

Here's  a busy Istanbul July mid-day... Could it be anywhere? Vienna? Boston? Kampala? Hong Kong? Maybe it's Ushuaia, Calarney, or Nome? Nope, the details in this one image rule all of them away. Perhaps  Havana? Well, this summer woman, sandaled, scarfed, and coated won't fit there. And the corn vendor's probably not a common fixture in any of those places. Yet... the details that we see are invisible to Turks. An Istanbul photographer'd ignore this moment... her brain'd dump it into a "commonplace" bin. 

Fresh eyes see extra-ordinary details: Stuff that's so Turkish that Turks don't.... perhaps can't ... see it. Their eyes are blind to the green bricks, a licensed cobbed-corn vendor, and the boys gyrating about their bundled-up caretaker (mother? nanny? guardian? herder?). Cultures are revealed by their unexceptional. moments.

Show this image to a guy from Central Pennsylvania and he'll wonder why that woman's scarfed then snuggly  buttoned into a winter coat while the many men are summer clothed. And the answer might take centuries to unravel.

To me Lancaster, my home in Pennsylvania, is like that - what it doesn't see my mind can't ponder. Just wondering... Are cultures the sum of what their fish can't see? 


Lois Bryan said...

Brilliant! Here it is 11:15 pm, and I'm about to take the dog out and shut the house up for the night, and you've got my brains working!! I agree. Fresh eyes DO see the invisible!!

I'm not on RB much anymore, but I do get by occasionally. I saw a note from you … believe it or not … from 3 years ago!! Ted, where does the time go? And here I finally am, visiting your wonderful blog!! And very happy to see you're still working it. You are a great inspiration … maybe one of these days I'll resurrect my own blog … again!!!

Take care and come on over to Fine Art America!!!

Ted said...

LOIS!!!? Whoa... miss you and the RB community. Your note's like a nostalgia bomb. Thanks. Started a FAA presence, but I don't think I have another effort like that. Don't look at RB unless the notify me of another sale. Hate to see my work on underpants and toilet matts even if that's where it belongs. OK... I still cash the checks and lack the energy to pull it all off. To me the place is a ghost ship rattling about the virtual ocean. As for this blog site, I took off too long when I got distracted by RB and lost the audience. As you can see, posts are far between. But your work remains an inspiration. FAA dropped my account since it was so tiny and rarely maintained. Perhaps a rush of energy might happen long enough to open a new one just to see where my old acquaintances and your challenging talents are going?

Thanks for visiting.