moderation

D1948_49
a crow taking advantage of technological progress

It’s spring, and the land is filled with wildflowers, and all manner of living creatures, all intent on continuing the life cycle, trying to spread their seed… trying to succeed. I walk along the paths, and look out at the fields, and find myself thinking of human nature and behavior, in comparison with nature. And reading blogs, reading newspapers, and listening to the radio, I’m impressed by a desperation on the part of my fellow human, searching for recognition… begging or demanding to be heard. Too often, the use of superlatives… the sounds of extremity.

D1945_036
Janne’s cat, Charlie

Perhaps, I think, if I lived in a jungle, it would seem more natural. There the colors are more extreme, the competition is more deadly… Moreover, human society has been pictured as a jungle, since the beginning of the movement from rural lifestyle to urban, city life. Maybe it’s characteristic of human kind to start jumping up and down, and screaming when in concentrated masses. I don’t know much about it, because I usually avoid that type of situation. Don’t go to rock concerts… or football games.

D1945_058
one of my favorite wildflowers, the pink cistus

It might be interesting to an anthropology Phd candidate out there, to write a thesis on the comparative behavior patterns of fans, during soccer and golf games.

D1945_055
the white cistus

The big question is whether cyberspace, or more specifically, blogland, is going to resemble a library or a supermarket. Perhaps, there is a better example that I haven’t thought of yet. What is clear, is that reading and writing have come back, despite the pessimistic forecasts of some intellectuals after the invention of the television set. But there are some words and concepts that have lost all significance lately. I cry for the word awe. I cringe when I hear ‘awesome’. Is this part of the anti-religious backlash? Or is it just another link in the chain since CocaCola referred to themselves as ‘great’, more than half a century ago?

D1945_068
red buttercups in a patch of sun

Human communication is such a delicate thing. Between grunts and prepared sound bites, and the hype of commercial rantings meant to encourage us to buy such things as we don’t really need, there is a world of subtlety, deep thoughts and human emotions which have already been shared and contemplated in the past, by way of words.

D1945_077
two women and a dog

I am reminded of Norman Mailer’s weekly column in the Village Voice, some years back, in which he purposely wrote for the ‘slow reader’. He writes about it in his excellent book, ‘Advertisements for Myself’. The objective of the exercise, was not to make reading more easily accessible to low IQ readers, but to force intellectuals to stop skimming across conceptual texts.

D1946_117
Ethiopian sex toy

And to conclude, I would like to share with you a view of a marvelous sex toy that my dear friend Janne introduced me to, when visiting with her in the latter part of the last holiday. Seemingly, this object is used by Ethiopians Jews. It is a box which includes the images of a man and woman in embrace, and is kept by the bed. When one of the couple desires to have sex, the cover of the box is removed, thus indicating to the other member an invitation. I found it enchanting.

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54 responses to “moderation

  1. Wonderful lesson – words have been over used and we have become so quick in our living we are hardened to meaning. I am the most guilty. I will track down Mr. Mailer’s book to help further my path back to contemplation. And the box is enchanting.

    • Thank you very much, Sandy. I have received much mail in reply to this post. And it occurs to me that I might be mistaken. For words to change their meanings over the passage of time. And perhaps I, who am not really and English speaker, and do not live in an English speaking country, made too much of this issue. For me, awe means fear and reverence, and I thought that it had become trivialized by its common use today. But if the word has changed for the majority of people, I don’t want to play the part of another old man, hanging on to the past, and a nuisance to the younger generation, that has gone ahead. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Once I got to the part about the box, I the rest of your post sort of went into free fall. You know, there are times when I simply go through my whole day with my earplugs inserted. It seems the only remedy to being overwhelmed, and the only way I can feel grounded and able to paint. I appreciate the sentiments in this post very much.

    • I feel much the same way as you describe in your comment, Lance. I feel that there is too much noise… and that communication has become a little coarse. But I’ve gotten some mail in response to this post, that says I’m simply ‘out of date’. And this could be… and it makes me re-examine my position. Thank you very much for your comment.

  3. The words “awe” and “awesome” sound lovely to me, Shimon … I’m working on a busy psych ward, and I’m often in awe of my patient’s take on life … my patients teach me love, compassion, appreciation, thankfulness … in many respects I feel they help me to stay grounded and real. So does your blog, Shimon … I would not want to miss reading your thoughts … It’s like a much needed qiuet debriefing …So please let me put it this way: You are awe – some …Thank you, my friend. Love, cat.

    • Hi Cat. As I mentioned in answer to previous comments, I am reconsidering my position, because I am not really an English speaker, and have learned the language from the classics. All languages change over time… and it could be that the meaning of the word has changed, and I didn’t realize it. For me, awe is a word for reverence, bordering on fear (out of respect). I have felt that emotion towards some of my teachers. But more and more, I have been encountering a trivial use of the word. I thought it a loss, that it would become another word with a positive connotation, but lacking the power that it once had. But even so, I am willing to accept spoken English as it is. I do find it a beautiful language. Thank you very much for your comment, and for your sweet affection.

  4. Beautiful post, and photos too, of course. Charlie is most unusual. What breed of cat is he? Love the Ethiopian sex toy. Interesting!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t know Charlie’s breed, but I will ask. I have mentioned in my answers to other comments, that I am rethinking my position here. Always good to hear from you, Susan. Wishing you all the best.

  5. As always to read you, pardon to walk with you in the nature of your city was so nice… You made a nice points again and I almost agree with you dear Shimon. And this Ethiopian sex toy was so interesting and I haven’t heard before. How many things there are that we don’t know in this life… But but you can guess which one is my best, how beautiful this cat, how beautiful and you captured so nicely her/his face… the colours amazing. Do you know dear Shimon, actually I love all wild cats and big cats too… but normally it is not easy to find and to have then and even to touch them as cats… BUT God how great, He gifted us with CATS… and instead of tigers, leopars, lions I am going to touch and to caress my Princess now 🙂
    Thank you so much, have a nice weekend, and kisses your cat, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

    • It always makes me very happy to know that you have enjoyed one of my posts, Nia. Because I think we have a very similar outlook on the beauty of the environment, and I too, enjoy looking at your street scenes, and how you capture your city. And of course, we do share in our love for cats. I agree with you, the large cats are so beautiful, and there is a nobility about them. How fortunate we are, that there are also these small cats that are willing to make friends with us, and live together with us in our homes. Thank you very much for your comment.

  6. As ever Shimon, you have given me much to ponder, thoughts I know I will return to in the coming days. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment, Chillbrook. Basically, this post was about trying to communicate clearly and on a relatively high level. I used the word awe as an example, because it is a word I love, and for me, it speaks about a very strong human emotion. But in response, I heard from people who saw me as old fashioned, and not ‘with it’. My question now, is what do we have to replace awe, if the word becomes another way to say we like something… I guess we both have something to ponder about.

  7. The first photo drew me in. Recently, I’ve been observing ravens (although often confused with crows, they are a different species). I love how these common birds–crows, ravens, sparrows, etc. have adapted to the modern world.

    • Yes, Jordan. That is truly a thing well worth watching, in some living creatures… they are not frightened away, but learn to coexist. Thank you for your comment.

  8. What an interesting post–very thought-provoking. I think the need to be heard, the need for attention does lead to extremism, and I believe it is very Western, probably very American in particular. In Eastern cultures, it is “The nail that stands out that gets hit on the head.” In certain Amazonian cultures, individuality is considered to be caused by demonic possession. But in America the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This need to stand out leads to an escalation of extremes–in appearance, with piercings, neon hair, tatoos. In language, as in the overuse of superlatives and profanity. In TV and movies, with more and more violence and graphic sex. In politics, as evidenced by ridiculous extremes, such as the Republican tea party, which doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘compromise.’ We become desensitized and so it continues to escalate.

    By the way, I like the Ethiopian box. I knew a writer who would don a hat as a signal to her family that she was in the throes of creativity and could not be disturbed.

    • Yes, there are two aspects of human accomplishment. On the one hand, each of us has some very unique and special characteristics, which shouldn’t be overlooked. In the west, this is celebrated by an accent on individualism. But at the same time, we are able to move forward and accomplish some amazing things because of a sense of community. There have been those very few pioneers and inventors, like Edison, who, by their own work, changed the world we live in… but as time goes by, and our existence becomes more complex. More and more of the advances of human beings are designed by teams working together… I work with photoshop and am always thrilled by the long list of authors of that program, every time it starts up. Isaac Newton said, “I stand on the shoulders of those who stood before me.” And I believe that we all do. And language and knowledge is built continuously… those of us at the fore, building on what was discovered before. And an important part of that is clear communication, and an appreciation of others… of all times and places… Thank you very much for your comment, Naomi.

  9. Ah, that is the name of that one flower: the pink cistus. I am horrible with names, so thanks! I really love this one too, because it (to me) looks like the petals were painted on the stem, with the shading and crinkles. I love how light plays with this flower. Pretty photos and wonderful writing, as always. (Did you always have the “like” option? I thought I remembered not being able to like some of your older posts before?)

    Shabbat Shalom and have a lovely weekend.

    • Actually, this flower is very common here in Israel and knows as לוטם, and it is hard for me to remember the name in English. I always have to look it up. The white version is beautiful too, but I especially love the pink just because of those crinkles. As for the ‘likes’, I still haven’t made up my mind about them… sometimes I think they’re rather silly. Thank you for your good wishes, וחג עצמאות שמח to you and yours, Kaie.

  10. Shimon, your posts are pure illustrations of the conceptualist’s commentary on the human condition. You might as well have titled your blog after Arendt’s book on the theory of the “vita activa”. I am reminded of a reproduction canvas of Magritt’s painting, “The Son of Man” that hangs in my old office. Kenneth Goldsmith said something like, “If Robert Frost and Robert Lowell were poets, I don’t want to be one. If Socrates was a poet, I’d consider it”. His disdain for the romantic, debased, hackneyed, scripted creative writing of the past was definitive. Do we really need another poem describing how light falls on a writing table? He did not think so.

    As I read your posts, I wonder if we read well enough to understand the conceptual layer that is always covering everything you write. Our communication has changed with communication technology. Where do we go from here? From the primitive symbolic communication of the box to the romantic notion of the “human condition” and all of the written analyses of it to a an abrogation of the old “creativity” and an embrace of the notion of managing what we already have? The new tools are here. Nothing new can be written, can it? We can rearrange the words, borrow, cut and paste from the vast resource of the Internet and create the illusion of creativity or vision in art and literature. Goldsmith said that writers don’t need to write anything anymore since we are living in a new techno-economic/social paradigm in which we only need to appropriate and manage what is already there in art and literature.

    I suspect this vague recognition is the source of so much screaming in literature, blogging, writing, television, politics, etc. We are making noises, Shimon. Noises that are not effective. Noises that won’t be heard or remembered. This is an interesting time. You are a keen observer of it.

    Human nature and the human condition are not synonymous. You understand the difference.

    • I think it would be very hard to categorize me, George. I may appreciate some conceptual art, or thought… but I am very much the romantic. And I, unlike your quote from Goldsmith, believe that each new vision of light falling on the writing table can provide us with a revelation. I never get tired of art and poetry… and am excited each day by something new that I’ve learned. Didn’t care much for Hanna Arendt. And I don’t care much for noise… even when it’s given a name, as some sort of new music. This is an interesting time… very interesting… but thanks to the many clever inventions of human kind, we are able to enjoy some of the fruit and wisdom of other times too. It all comes together.

  11. I am also a lover of the flower, the pink cistus. I dried one from my trip to California and framed it, yesterday. I like the quote, “Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” Annie Proulx. (PS I cannot say I haven’t used the word awesome in my writing, though I am known to exclaim it many times 🙂 )

    • How nice to hear that the flower is found in other places. I spent some time in California but didn’t see that particular flower. Here it is everywhere at this season. As for ‘awesome’ I have discussed it extensively in answer to other comments, and you might find it interesting. I got to know it as a very powerful word. A word of reverence, but perhaps I haven’t kept up… Thanks for your comment, Marina.

    • The Rockrose in your post must be a cultured variety of the cistus. Very beautiful. Thank you for pointing it out to me.

  12. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Hi Shimonz,

    You most definitely bring depth and beauty to the ‘net. I enjoy reading your posts. You know, I remember when they said we’d not read & write as much, yet here we are 🙂

    I am GUILTY of saying ‘awesome’. Oh! Sorry! But I think it speaks well – I think that something causing awe is awesome – I don’t know, it just fitted to me. I do pick up some language from my son…

    The sex toy is very sweet. An invitation… how lovely.

    Cheers, Shimonz – I loved the pink flower & the cat 🙂

    • Forgive me, Noeleen, if it sounded like I was accusing anyone of abuse of the language. I was just hurting because it seems to me that the power of the language is slipping away. But perhaps that is just the typical complaining of an old man. Awe is close to fear… it is reverence… or at least it was until lately. I am so glad that you enjoy my posts. It is a great pleasure for me too, to see the world through others’ eyes as I read the many different points of view on the internet. Thank you for your comment.

  13. “And reading blogs, reading newspapers, and listening to the radio, I’m impressed by a desperation on the part of my fellow human, searching for recognition… begging or demanding to be heard.” Something I think about myself but maybe even more so now. Maybe people are feeling overwhelmed by the mass of info that is so readily available. Perhaps they feel as though they will never be heard or that their talent will never be appreciated.

    Lovely photos. They are so interesting as the landscape of your city is so unlike almost any other or maybe any other. I love the pink flower.

    • I understand what you’re saying, BoJo, and very pleased that you commented about this, because, as you know, I am very fond of your photography. I think it important that others get to know your work. But at the same time, when looking at this phenomenon that I’ve written about, I think that people are a little impatient these days, and that when we hear yelling in the market place, we have an urge to yell a little louder, and that in the end, it’s just so much noise. What’s more, in the blogging world, people put too much emphasis on competition, thinking that the more followers, the more people who appreciate their work. But in fact, many people send ‘likes’ and offer attention, just to get some attention themselves. Many are very self-centered. If I have a friend or two with whom I am able to share art… or discuss deep things intelligently, that is a great gratification for me. We don’t have to swallow all of the world… but this is just my opinion… and I consider the feedback I’m getting with the greatest respect.

      • Very true. A true friend, who can find? I have a few friends that I love to converse with myself. It seems there are a few people that you just relate to on another level.

        Maybe we just expect too much too soon without putting in the long and tedious hours that true success comes from.

        Perhaps as well people see the instant fame a few achieve and hope to find the same.

        Building a small core of followers that work together is the way to go for anyone wanting to grow their presence on the internet.

  14. When I saw the pink cistus I thought that each petal looked like a small collage of various shades of pink. So lovely.

    That clamor for attention seems to go hand-in-hand with our ever-increasing emphasis on the self. In many western cultures, we are taught from an early age that the individual is practically divine. And if everyone is the center of the universe and only talking about themselves, there is no one left to listen, so people must talk louder or more insistently. When we give attention to others, we most often get attention back; but we must be willing to look away from ourselves to other people. It’s a great paradox, and many of the ancients wrote about it: you must give before you can receive, and the more you give, the more you receive.

    • Yes, I agree with what you’ve said completely. And to my dismay, it seems as if bloggers are encouraged by the blogging platform, in this very direction. But since you’re my expert on English, yearstricken, what do you think of this word awesome? I have received mails saying that I am resisting the natural flow of the language… and of course, I have no desire to be ridiculous… but still I wonder if the language isn’t losing some of its power; it’s ability to chart the highs and lows of human emotions and experience. I know you would prefer to share your wisdom in the manner of jest, but I do wish to know what you think. Is there another word to replace what ‘awe’ was to me, when I learned English?

      • I understand your sense of loss. Words change over time and they can lose their original power and meaning. People used to reserve “awe” for the majestic – God, nature, beauty; now they are “awed” by a pair of shoes. The word has grown thin because people have forced it to express mundane appreciation. There is nothing to be done about it, other than for us to use and respect the word. Part of it, I believe, is the culture; we have little understanding or appreciation for the transcendent or the divine. We now worship things like designer shoes and find them “awesome.”

        Some related words are reverence, sublimity, and majesty. None of them carry all of the nuances of “awe,” but they have some of the same ideas in them.

        Like you, I want to respect language and words and use them wisely.

  15. that was unexpected. writing about the positive resurgence in reading and writing, and then ending with an ancient sex toy. all basic instincts. communication and sex.

    • Ah, what a pleasure to be able to surprise you, Rich… but you’ve certainly got it. It’s all about communication. If we can communicate with delicacy and in good taste even about something as basic and instinctual as sexual urges, then our communication serves us well. Thank you for your comment.

  16. fivereflections

    crow sits high watching
    metal trees sway in the wind
    cover off new life

    David in Maine USA

  17. the cistus flowers are beautiful, are they also wild flowers?

  18. Dear Shimon,
    You are so eloquent in English it startles me to remember that it is not your native tongue. You have touched on a subject I wrestle with~ as an artist, I must sell paintings to survive, which necessitates a certain amount of jumping up and down for attention. My soul, however, does not like this at all. I rejoice to see reading enjoying a resurgence, and am charmed by the idea of the sex toy next to the marital bed.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words Melissa. My impression is that you are not crude or insensitive in your attempts to attract a little attention. But personally, I do not believe that selling art can succeed using the methods of selling fish in the marketplace. I think that those artists who become ‘stars’ have something else they sell, aside from the art… and that art in itself is not a very good method of earning a livelihood. Because of that, many fine artists worked as teachers or illustrators, and supported themselves by many sorts of craft. I would suggest that you read my reply to BoJo above. Thank you for your comment.

  19. Beautiful writing filled with ideas stimulating thoughts. Interestingly, early in the post I was thinking this post was in the mind of the cat, but then that thought went away. Interesting how writing is back, but verbal communication is struggling. Thanks for sharing your thoughts through words and pictures.

  20. Love the sex toy! What a marvelous way to show interest without having to say something that might be rejected poorly. The other side is that it would be more of a surprise from the other though you had asked.
    Smart!
    Scott

  21. I do enjoy reading your blogs. You always give me something to think about, something to consider. I love to see your country… so different from mine (Canada) I too try to avoid the “noise” of our world gone crazy… We do all want to have a voice, to be heard. and I enjoy listening to your written voice.

    • Thank you very much, Maggie. I too, like getting to know other places and people. I visited Canada many years ago, and still remember the beauties of your country. I’m glad that you find my world interesting.

  22. Love the crow and the two women shots–really lovely shots!
    anne

  23. Great post. The sex toy was very respectful & including.

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