Yoshizen's Blog

Bach — Bernstein — Gould — Zen

Oh my Goodness.    I bumped this old film clip, on Youtube = Leonard Bernstein and Glenn Gould talked about J.S.Bach.
Film was shot on 57 years ago, 1960 then Glenn Gould was 28.   Naturally the film showed the two’s younger looks but what surprised me most was, on that time Bernstein was already “the Educator Bernstein” and Gould was “the Only one, Gould”.

(Other nearby Youtube posts, Gould or Bernstein posts are very educative and highly recommended to watch !)
In fact, me to encounter Bach first time was in the Fellini’s film, “La Dolce Vita” —– in the film, a gossip journalist, Marcello met a church organist and the organist played Bach’s music, Toccata and Fugue in D-miner (the most famous and popular organ music — famous still it was the first encounter to my 15-years-old ear)   (incidentally, that the same actor who played the organist later appeared in the other film “Emanuel” as a sex-gulu ! )

I think, it was the early 90s, I listened a BBC annual radio 3 event, the Christmas Lecture, Bernstein talked about the structure and the music language.  It opened my eyes. —– in fact, it taught me more about our emotion than of the music. —– If the music could expect the same effect, it is the proof of that our emotional pattern is much simpler = such as how we feel from major or minor key, even B-miner is associated with the feeling of death ! — how accurate his view was the other matter, but such a view-point to analyze the relation of us to the music was a shock to me. 

So that, that was the same stance, how and why I adapted my view toward the Zen = instead to see it as a holly spiritual mumbo-jumbo but the scientific / medical phenomenon of the neuro-physical function.

Amazingly looks ordinary young man, Gould was already a master of the finger of a Harpsichordist and already know what is the Bach = mean what he is going to do with him = the man aware of his own karma.  (People became aware of their own karma on their later life —– I wonder how he found it in such early life ?)

***** PS:   Related post (following links)  J.S.Bach,  Aaaaaa~~~~~!  are highly recommended post to go. (They clearly explain what I said here.)

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August Moon


August Moon   (In few days time it would be a new moon —– so, a solar eclipse is coming.)      In Japan 15th August is the Moon Festival though, in the Moon Calender, it is in the September.  But I’m not sure how many people still remember this.  —– They might be thinking more if north korean missile is coming, when they see the sky now. —— Lunatic isn’t it.

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PS : The photo above which was taken by the Tamuron SP 500 mm F8 Mirror lens shows the Red and Blue fringe = it is a chromatic aberration.     This is a reputed to be one of the best 500 mm mirror lens in the history, —– I couldn’t accept such flaw in this lens = I may need to check if any loose element in the lens occurred ?   (By the way, why this photo is not as sharp as the other photo “Red Moon” is, this one was taken through the double grazed window —– Red Moon was taken while window was fully opened.  😀  )

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Omg, Argus-C camera

Encountering something is always out of blue. (You may find what you expected when you’ve been chasing it, but otherwise it would be an unexpected sheer coincidence.)  So, the story here is having such unexpected coincidence. —– A female photographer developed a film left inside of a camera and found the photos of the Mt.St.Helens eruption in 1980. (The story and the discovered photos were amazing enough) 

But for me, what amazed was, the camera which she found in a thrift shop, an old Argus camera, was the same camera I used when I was a boy.  It was in the 1950s, the camera said to be bought from an American soldier.  On that time, American were everywhere in Japan —– not because of the occupying GHQ, but also the Korean war was going on. (Seeing the advancement of Communists, American regret to disarm Japan — so, try to re-arm Japan with so-called “Self-defence Force” which they said “Not contradicting Japanese Constitution which renounced the means of war = because they are only for self-defence not to attack others” then ! = Since then Japan is having this contradiction and the paradox. )

The camera was an American = Argus-C.  The adjustment of double image in the range-finder was linked to the focus of the Lens = it was rather cleverly designed and easy to use even for a 8,10-years-old boy — though both F-aperture scale, shutter speed scale was funny. —– Film used was a Fuji Neopan-S, B/W film and the  Exposure was a guess-work from a film instruction such as “Bright sunny day, use F8 and 1/125th second” kind.  The camera worked well until a shutter blade break off and ruined whole film one day,  still I remember quite a few images such as I did attempt to take close-up of an insect etc without using proper close-up accessory but with an improvised magnifying glass etc.  (Many years later, I got Pentax SP with close-up ring.)   So, to see an old friend was a good surprise ! 

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Mystery of the Pigeon Egg

After pigeon chick was taken from the nest in my veranda, the egg was left there and stayed for another 10 days or so.   Then it was moved out of the nest and apparently eaten by somebody. —– but, who did it ? ? ? 

Mother hen-pigeon herself ?  Or Craw kind ?  Or rodent kind ?  But something strange was, why the egg was moved from the nest ?  To clack open and eat it could be done on the spot and didn’t need to move from the nest.  Or an attempt to take the egg to somewhere els was made ? — but the plan was abandoned then the egg was eaten there instead.

I could have put a kind of infra-red sensor activated video camera sort = yes “could” but I wasn’t such keen — and the egg has been left to its fate any way. = out of my hand.  Don’t worry, Nature and their life is just goes on. = One egg was lost though, the other did fill a stomach and that might be fed to her own chicks.  Everything was related and connected.  

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Daikon Flowers — ?

Like most of the root vegetables, this Daikon (Japanese white Radish / Mouli) started to shoot before I eat. (I bought 4 Daikons  for £1 ! = Even if I eat it every day, it would take at least 4 days.)  Like Ginger, Onion, Garrick etc if they shoot too big (more than 2″) before I noticed, I dare to cut it off, instead I plant it to a pot and let it  grow, for me to play good hypocrite.  Ready butchered meat, chicken or fish kind by somebody else is easy to eat (somebody else got blood on the hand = not me), still I can kill and boiled alive the vegetables, bean etc without any hesitation and eat them.  Though, when I see their vigorous activity on front of my eyes, I get a bit shy.  So, I put it to a pot.  Generally, they start rooting and grow up. 

But this Daikon took different direction.  Without showing any interest to start even single root, she just started to shoot up. —– I realized that she is growing flowering stem.  Was that because I left enough Daikon flesh as an energy reserves, so that she doesn’t need to seek any more nutrition from the roots but went to grow flowering stem straight.  Or was it the season to go flowering anyway ?

So the serious question arose, “Has she made a choice = instead to grow roots but go to flowering ?”  And was that because she noticed that she got enough reserve to do ?  Or hard-wired program / internal clock directed her to grow flowering stem as a season’s imperative.  But how she did know the season ?  Did she assess the amount of sunshine, or the length of daytime ?  —– What so ever the decision made === Where was it processed ?  Has she got any CPU or a kind of brain ? —– OR was it just a hard-wired (Genetically programmed = When time comes, one gene activated, and started the Flowering Process like a chain reaction.)  —– You may say it IS just a cut off tip of a garbage === still having so much so high level decision-making of which the mechanism IS beyond our comprehension. 

= I wrote those above almost two weeks ago, thinking when I saw her flowers, I would put its photo into my post. —–  Though, it turned out to be not so. = It seems, subdued light in the kitchen window wasn’t good enough.  But in the same time, the dry air seems killed off the flower buds. === Nature or Daikon’s condition didn’t go as what I expected. = They got their own rules and rationals.  And the environment was not meet the plan of the Daikon itself.  ( I did give a mist of water splay time to time though, apparently it didn’t help.)  What we believe we know something and thinking / expecting something might be just a fraud. 

A09A7336Days passed.  This is what they are now.   It is the end stage of the cut off top of a Daikon which was hoped to have the flowers.  I’m not sure the point, any good of what I did. —– was that just a useless interference, mess-up to the Daikon’s fate ?   Or my greedy expectation to see the flowers ?    Whether it was the more natural scenario for the Daikon tip to rotten and die in the rubbish bin or was it kind to give a yet another opportunity ? —– while considering the main body of the Daikon was died in horrifying agony while boiled alive. 

Life and death is a complicated issue.   Still, it is questionable if I were entitle to mess-up with other’s life in the first place.  (Let alone, killing and eating them while pretending to be friendly with them.)

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Japanese Pickles 漬物

pickles1-a09a7167Again here, there is a fundamental difference of the idea between east and west.  Western people think the pickles is in the vinegar though Japanese think pickles is the name only for western food pickled in the vinegar.  Because Japanese makes the vegetable preserve in totally different way and the taste completely different.  Japanese calls them Tsukemono /漬物  (Funny thing is there are certain food pickled in the vinegar exists in Japan though they were called Suzuke / 醋漬, not in the western name pickles.   😀 )  As in the winter, we can see the vegetable called “Hakusai”/ 白菜(Chinese calls Bak-choi / 白菜) Chinese Cabbage.  And it is the time for me to make a Hakusai-zuke (pickled (?) Chinese Cabbage) —– This must be the second simplest cooking after a grilled fish. (simply give a bite to a fruits may not be a cooking = just a way to eat.  = it is not in a count.   🙂 )  So, how to make Hakusai-zuke ? 

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(Put the leaves into a bucket in layers and cover them with a suitable size of a dish.)

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(And put a soup bawl kind to have a space = because the leaves will sink under the pressure, while the water is coming out and rise.  I cover whole bucket with a plastic bag and put a heavy weight from outside.  I used an electric transformer as a weight.)

Put it in a bucket with the sprinkle of salt and keep it under a pressure of a heavy weight 5~7 days.  (With a pressure, the air was pushed out, so the anaerobic fermentation takes place.)   That’s all. 

pickles4-a09a7180With the vegetable’s own enzyme and the common bacteria, it would be naturally fermented and change the taste.  How much the amount of salt is not very critical.  In Japan the salt content of the vegetable Tsuke-mono said to be dropped from 15% to less than 5% in the past 50 years or so = So, it can be one shake of salt for every few layers of leaves. (If you want a stronger taste, you can put a drop or two soy-source or chili kind when you eat.) And how heavy the weight should be = somewhat 2~3 Kg = fill the water to an empty milk bottle or a kind and use it. (I’ve been using an electric transformer.  🙂  ) 

(I’ve put the pickling bucket into the other room where no central heating and leave the bucket for 5~6 days.)  (Photo left) — It seems, the Tsukemono made in the Winter is the best.  (Low temperature might keep the bad bacteria out.)  When I was a keeper of a mountain shelter, we made 5 binful Blacken  (Warabi) Tsukemono in the early summer and the same amount of local vegetable (Nozawa-na / 野沢菜) in November to accompany the meal for the guests.  It was a mountain of tsukemono !

Of course, there could be many variation which you can have a fun such as to put a hot chili sauce or the other vegetables etc.  Chinese people makes it with a lots of salt and they can be kept many years as really a preserved vegetable, called Tou-chai / 冬菜 and it must be the origin which came to Japan with Zen Buddhist.  (Yet, on the historical record,  Japanese has been making pickled vegetables 1000 years ago and there are hundreds of different style of Tskemono there.  Still, the basic idea is the same = use the effect of the natural bacteria’s fermentation to create distinctive flavor to the vegetable. (Though, may not necessary to make a good preserve because, it got only few days for the best eat and after it, it became to “Over pickled” taste became too sour, the color too brownish etc. — Yet, my guess is, when people found that the old natural fermentation become sour = why not use the vinegar from the beginning for the sake of consistency and the longer shelf life of the product. — this might be the start of the Pickles in vineger. )

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(After 5~7 days, when the Hakusai-zuke was ready to eat, I shredded it and put into a jar while mixing with additional Chinese hot chilli sauce.  Since the pickled Hakusai is conveniently in a jar, it is easy to serve onto the rice.)  M m m,  Yummy !

For Japanese, the Tsuke-mono is a way of cooking —– to make it for long preserve, there are many different way such as pickled in a salty miso or use Sake etc.  The amazing difference in the western pickles is, that their taste was designed = what type of vinegar, what is the additional ingredient such as Junipers, dill seeds etc. and it almost symbolizes the fundamental difference between Judea Christianity and the Buddhism.  The one try to make the taste by their own idea, and the other see what the nature can make and follows it.  (It must be a very interesting point there, why the west didn’t start anaerobic fermentation of the vegetable, while having such as the wine making alongside.)    I haven’t tasted it though, there said to be the Zen Tsuke-mono made in the temple which is in the original Chinese style (much salty) — but to make it more acceptable mild taste, a Zen master, Takuan / 沢庵 said to have invented the use of rice bran with salt = it became the “Takuan Zuke” = which made his name as big as Ikkyu / 一休 on the history !  Since then, in most of the case, the tsukemono mean pickled in the salty rice bran — but it is so awkward to keep and smelly = it is the house wives’ nightmare.

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(Yet the matter of fermentation is a combination of the bacteria = So, with a help of modern chemistry, the convenient short-cut was invented !

—–> Now people can make Tsuke-mono conveniently in a glass jar.  —  magic bullet was given to me from the friends though I haven’t tested it yet = if you like to try, it called “Nuka-yorokobi” from a Japanese food shop.)   Good luck and enjoy a taste.   😀

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Wabi – Sabi

wabi-sabi1-a09a7150Time to time, you might have heard the Japanese words, Wabi and Sabi, especially in relation to the Haiku Poet Basho or about Tea making and its pottery work. (such as tea bowl)  The word Sabi is related to Sabi-shii or Sabi-reta etc all of those meaning may be clearer in the visual metaphor than a lexical explanation (since those notions has to be grasped by the naked perception not by the thinking brain = hence direct transmission) — imagine you came across the place looks like abandoned or inhabited houses. = you may use a word ghost town.  No single soul on the street neither any sign of daily activity. Though, it is the very matter I’ve talked about in the previous post = if you were a westerner, your psych imagine a ghost town in a western film which is a dry, dusty, sun stricken street of wooden hoses — but here, in Japanese case, it has to be darker, under the shade of the tree, and rather wet, moss-covered half rotten houses. = you may feel even spooky.  This is rather exaggerated case of Sabi-shii scene.  And if you were here alone, you must feel quite Sabi-shii / lonely or desolated.  Then stretch your imagination further to the inside or the back of the house, what sort of the things you may find — wooden utensil ?  or a kind of bowl for eating, drinking ?  — a kind of the people used to live here, might be a poor farmer or casual worker helping those farmers = anyway, having had hand to mouth kind of the life = everything was a bare minimum.  So, if the bowl was not wooden but a pottery, how it looks like.  A bowl made to exchange for few vegetables or a caught bird, the pottery wouldn’t have a nice glaze or any decoration = just enough function for daily use

wabi-sabi2In the case of pottery, those images are the completely opposite of the Wabi, Sabi. Or I should say the typical decoration in the western standard, which the people think “gorgeous”. (but may be rather poor taste though) 

wabi-sabi3-001And in comparison, this is a Japanese dish in its decorative formal style. (This is Nabeshima. — If this one had no clack, it could fetch £10,000 even though this one was made by a trainee (= the lines were rather messy), hence second grade) —– Still, you may noticed that the stark contrast in the visual design = The western approach try to fill all the space with decorative images but Japanese leave the blank space.  Why ? It’s because of the Zen philosophy.   Western philosophy says, Nature avoid the vacuum but Zen is the matter to live with the Void.   So, to the westerner, gorgeous mean filled with nice decoration but Zen sees the peace in the blanc space.  If the nature was not in the free space, it is not natural but a fraud.  And Zen reject any intentional act as an unnatural fraud.  Especially in terms of Tea making, it got to be absolutely humble and everything has to be a bare minimum. —– This principle was in strict force, almost to an austere level.  So, when this principle was applied, a tea bowl has to be as a bare minimum = away from any intentional, artificial decoration or even an attempt to make it looks good.  In this philosophy, Tea-master Rikyu found the cheapest and the most humble pottery made for and used by the poorest people was the most suited for Tea making, which showed the Wabi and Sabi.    (Photo above right)   And this is the typical sample of the Wabi.  (In fact, this was the back or bottom of the dish the photo before.) = There was no intention to make it looks any better — it was naturally shaped and finished.  Its unassuming naturalness was not created by any intention but rather say, it just happened because it did nothing particularly. This absence of human intention = nothing is the core of Wabi. = poor humbleness, be natural in its material is the matter.  —– So, to a potter, this is the most difficult paradox in the pottery and the ZEN. = Tea bowl have to be made but made without having any intention to make it.   The answer is,  Make it with the mind of NO-Mind = Mushin in Zen. 

(In practice, just to be a potter, not a business man but just potting and let the pot to have its own fate = a pot made out of soil should have the face of soil and show the face burnt by the fire.)

wabi-sabi4-003wabi-sabi5-a09a7149(To an untrained eyes, “rustic” or lack of skill may looked like or confused with Wabi, though, the important point is, Wabi’s roughness or unevenness  was created by the unexpected accident, such as a fallen ash or unevenness of the fire not by the hand.)  = Think, Karma created Wabi not the hand let alone the brain deliberately thinking.  And the participant for tea ceremony has to appreciate such imperfect feature as an encounter on the moment.  (Which called Keshiki.) — The photo above, the vase showed a kind of Wabi on its glaze though, its pretty shape was too commercial.  Yet still, the right one seemed to have certain character to join Wabi = it’s a poor mans non-assuming daily mug, rather cheap product still it IS nothing else of Just a mag ! — but the photo left is a typical sample of a sham pretense.  On the surface of the mass-produced cup, a fake pattern of the dripped glaze was painted.

—– Now you might start to understand why Japanese garden or even an arranged flowers never had pattern or even a symmetry.

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Lost in Translation

There are quite few Japanese words notoriously difficult to translate into western language. 

Such as  Itadaki-masu (いただきます), Okage-sama (おかげさま), Mottai-nai(もったいない)、and abave all  Wabi, Sabi. (わび) (さび)

Why those words were difficult to translate, was because of that the one’s fundamental conscious to exists were completely different in the west.   Some said that because of the difference between the Christianity and the Buddhism.  But, to my eyes, the cause was much deeper = because of the fundamental difference, the westerner invented God, but the people in the east IS living under the Heaven since the beginning of the time. (so that, even Buddhism adapted the Dharma / Rule of the Universe)  And in the Shinto, (of which Japanese unconsciously follows) naturally follow the Rule of Nature which is almost the same to Dharma though sublimated much deeper down to the almost chemical level.  (That’s why Japanese doesn’t touch other’s possession and wash or clean the hand almost obsessively = so that, they were reluctant to shake hand, let alone kissing others, because they were prohibited to touch filth by the Shinto. —– hence, wearing surgical mask to avoid to breath other’s germ. = some of them even don’t eat a rice ball made by others hand.) 

In the same time, since the Japanese has the deep awareness that they “were Made to exists” by the Heaven, Rules, Dharma what so ever called, when they start to eat, they have to say Itadaki-masu = I gratefully receive this given food and thanks to the food (material itself) who gave their lives to me as well = Japanese are well aware that they are killing the Potato, Beans etc boiled alive.  Likewise, the word Okage-sama meant the thanks not only to the person who gave a kindness to him but also grateful to the Heaven who arrange the meeting. = This is the word to express absolute humbleness. = conscious toward the “Given Life” and thanks to its fate.  And the word Mottai-nai meant “Feel shame to waste the precious resources which has been given to us“.

=== It’s easy to see the point, that the fate of the rice glowing society was governed by the sun and rain = nature, not by a strong hunting, fighting individual. (The western God was conceived as an ancient Hero ascended to the heaven (A legend became myth, then to a religion) = therefore speak same language, and negotiable with a bribe = how humanistic !    😀 )

In contrast to the east, the western’s Ego justify his existence “As a rightful owner of my life”  and have a right to kill and eat, because they were made to be eaten. = thus feel no sorry to a butchered chicken.  Such fundamental difference between arrogant Ego and passive Humbleness couldn’t have the same kind of sentiment, the psych which is the base of each word. = therefore no compatible word could exist.   No wonder a trouble in translation.

I’ll explain the words Wabi and Sabi on the next post with sample photos. 

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Very Funny !

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Very very funny indeed.  I’m living in England long enough to know the English expressions, the meaning and its hidden venom. (learned with a pain and a disgust)  And I actuary told or faced with this words  “Very funny” = in fact, when people said this, the real meaning was “What a hell of this = I wish, I spit you if I could”   (When the man in charge with the matter faced to a strong inquiry or complaint, in order to sway the trouble, he use this word. = didn’t respond straight therefore the trouble was not exists still at least responded therefore in its appearance, didn’t ignore the matter — still no answer or admission was given. = World is still peaceful as before (to him or his company) !

   Though, in this case, the situation was much funnier than any cynical meanings.   Please refer to the original story. = when I try to contact a Tripod manufacturer Manfrotto, about their crumbling disintegrating aluminium parts,  I needed to fill their complaint form with my full personal data.  And to the space, I put the photos which showed cracked, crumbling aluminium die-cast. —– It seemed the photos were just gone before I pressed a button to transmit the complaint text.   And today I received a thanks from Google Map for me to up-load the photo(S). = How funny ! ? ? ?

—– the photo was intended to prove what was the real situation to the man in Manfrotto who gave me a rather empty response which indicates that they haven’t seen the photo hence doesn’t aware how it was serious.  = So, instead, I put the photos of crumbling die-cast into my blog post (otherwise there was no way else to show the photo to them)  —– The funniest part of this story was, that why a part of the Manfrotto complaint form was addressed to the Google Map.   And one of the most inteligent organization, who got the most sophisticated image recognition program yet able to distinguish the block of aluminium to town-scape / landscape even to a block of building.  

So, the Google Map IS proudly showing the aluminium die-cast with Manfrotto address to the  world.  Very very funny. = (to Mr Google and Mt Manfrotto)

—– I wonder, on their Map, what is this photo going to do ?     Ha ha ha  😀

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Delusion — Zen ?

Soon after I posted the previous post, someone asked me if I’m promoting to indulge a delusion ?   Or is it nothing to do with the Zen Buddhism ? —– I answered, that the Zen is not judging or promote anything.  Because the Zen is not a direction but the way to go there, where-ever it is.   The sword master Musashi refined the way to kill, through the Zen.   Zen wouldn’t direct a person not to kill.  The person can learn the best way to kill in the highest efficiency through the way of the Zen.   So that the Shaorin Martial art came from the same temple where the Zen was started as they ARE the same teachings.  Likewise an Otaku may achieve his own best delusion.   Right or wrong is in the different teachings.   Buddhism will not pretend to be right but it would be naturally prevailed while the one living in Dharma.   Still, as Dharma is everywhere and the Karma is dealing with all sorts of fate, it is no doubt, a professional killer must have his (her ?) own Dharma.   What’s wrong ?  —– I don’t think you can direct Dharma, let alone editing it in your preference.   😀

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