The Old Man's Return

Once there was an old man who wanted to return to the village where he was born one last time before his passing.  He had left his home long ago by following one type of work after another and in so doing lost track of how far he had traveled away from the home of his childhood.  

His life appeared to him as the strangest dream from which he had awoken.  He was so far away that he was unsure of how to find his way back home. So he retraced his steps and went form place to place where he had worked.  But after a few places he got lost. Because he was so old, some of the places where he had worked were abandoned or destroyed.  

He asked anyone he could if they had heard of his village and people told him that nobody called it that anymore, not in many years, but they told him the new name.  And when he came to the village by a different name, he was sure that it wasn’t his old home at all. There were no familiar or friendly faces and the village didn’t even look the same. So he moved on.

He did indeed come upon the village of his youth eventually.  And he spoke with his folk and they smiled and smirked at each other as they heard his stories. He swore that they hadn’t aged a bit. All the sweet faces he had longed for were before him now.  They thought him a peculiar old man who told them he came from there, when they knew he never did.  They took him in anyways and cared for him. His last days were spent in bliss.

miniature tree

We see miniature trees everyday off in the distance. Such a common site gets easily dismissed. But a photograph can cross back over that threshold and aside from any tilt-shifting emphasize this feeling of the miniature.

I think this taps into feelings I have for what is smaller than me. And the tendency to see small things as cute. Protective feelings arise over these baby trees. It’s the deep satisfaction that can come from caring for an aquarium or crafting a train diorama.

Whenever we peer into a microcosm, the observations run simultaneously with the realization that we just might be in a microcosm to a perspective beyond our awareness. Perhaps this is at the base of the religious belief in a higher power. I often wonder about beliefs as side effects or reactions to such phenomenological occurrences as an optical effect.

Would we take better care of things if we saw them as miniature? Maybe it’s time to walk around looking backwards through binoculars at things that are difficult to have compassion for, in order to help out.

Next time a conflict arises, should I just miniaturize the source and care for it instead of miniaturizing myself into an unnecessary struggle? Just like a Buddhist monk might miniaturize desire itself in order to miniaturize suffering?

Or maybe in the future, AI will read our emotional responses and adjust them to a calmer state for better decision-making by employing this feeling of the miniature, while controlling our evaluations so that the decisions made are best for its purposes. The same kind of therapeutic brainwashing seen in cults only turned into an algorithm, for our own benefit of course.

A Blind Duel

Once there was an old man who thought he was young and there was a young man who thought he was old.  The old young man challenged the young old man to prove who was the youngest and who was the oldest of all. 

They agreed to hold three competitions. One to see who could row the fastest across a lake. Another to see who could outwit the other at a game of  trivia. And the third to see who could woo a lady.

The first proved that the young man was much younger than he thought. The second that the older was a lot older than he had hoped.  But the third ended in a tie because the lady could not be lured by the strange display of decrepit youth or stupid maturity. Of course, the young man was offended that she had called him stupid and the old man was also very insulted when she uttered that foulest of words, decrepit.  After she told them that they had gotten her insults backwards, neither understood what she meant at all.

Furious at their unwillingness to admit the obvious, she lead them to her bedchamber and for a moment both men thought he was the winner. Instead, she stood them before a mirror.

The young man called her a witch when he saw a baby-faced reflection. And the old man called her a sorceress who commanded the dark arts to conjure up such an image of a frail and haggard old toad. 

Thus, the competition solved nothing because fools only try to prove what they believe at the cost of rejecting a simple plain truth.

Shadow Pareidolia

What do you see in these shadow figures? I see the Egyptian queen Nefertiti! It has this heavy mythical weight for me even though its just a silhouette of rock formations somewhere in Utah.

Pareidolia happens when I see something like a face in a cloud that actually doesn’t exist. In this sense, when pareidolia occurs, I am seeing my own mind displayed before me.

In this vein, I make other art I post on Instagram (@oneroundcorner) that employs a random process of multiple exposures and mirroring to produce pareidolia effects like the one below. Zoom in and look at the absurd figures that appear. I’m constantly surprised by how mythical and spiritual they feel while being randomly made.