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The Hidden World of the Nearby


I wish to teach the world.

What is the big deal? I have three degrees from MIT, a good 23 years career at Bose Corporation and fourty plus years and a good reputation as a photographer.

But it’s not enough. I want to save the world.

Crazy? Utterly. I don’t have it in me. But all my careers my job have been to solve problems and I was pretty successful at all of them. Amar Bose gave me the job of introducing an important product with the requirement of getting the best reviews of any audio product ever.

I Thought for maybe 10 seconds said O.K. and, with great staff and some good luck, I did it. But, of course, it was trivial in comparison.

I taught myself to photograph and to print.

So what’s my gripe? Some people are great and generous and others are stupid, cruel and don’t give a damn. I want to know why so I can tell the world how to be better. Fat chance. I study cosmology, philosophy, psychology. I did a website on global warming. I chewed out the President of MIT for being 20 years behind with supposedly ambitious efforts.

I turn 80 (hopefully) on 9/11. My first job is to do what I can for my wife, my son amd my friends.

But something screems in my: WHY? Why do people not do what they should. What is should? We all should be teaching each other to be a family and treat others accordingly. Love they neighbor. Reciprocity. Put yourself in the other peresons shoes.

Then I think of all the incredibly generous loving people I know. And those that have given their all in caring for Covid patients.

I want to know why the universe was created and by what force and I come to this odd maybe crazy conclusion that we created each other for if there were no sentient beings there existence of the universe would be moot. It’s like Schrdinger’s cat. We turn on sentience when we open the box.

Some time ago when I was working my way through the time-line of the universe it struck me I was getting nowhere. So why not leap to the end and ask the obvious question: What is the best that we have? And the first words to come to my mind were beauty and joy and I felt a kind of elation for beauty and joy encompassed so much and could be quiet, grand, subtle, loving, sacrificial and on and on.

And what comes to my mind at such a time is always a paricular piano performance. A pianist I discovered in search for an interpretation of something by Chopin that I play. Krystian Zimerman playing Chopin’s Ballade No. 1, Op 23, are perfections here.

Why do some descendents of hunter-gatherers end up playing Chopin and others declaring meaningless religious wars or just being Cheny and Rumsfeld.

Perhaps we have not progressed enough, but between Trump and the energy companies we may not have a chance.

As I sat in my otolaringologist’s exam chair and studing the illustration of the ear and marveled again at its engineering I thought of how the hell does the flapping on a small membrane create the experiencce of this performance and all the other sounds I have heard. It almost makes me want to forgive everyone. But no. Their crimes are beyond forgiveness and I remember an almost trivial comment by the chairman of my tiny art company: “The only thing that matters is shareholder value.” It took a while for the motto of American’s religion to sink in.

Just think of trickle-down economics and licking the master’s boots.

Could I end here? You can’t make me. So here a photograph I made of my piano, a Mason & Hamlin BB made in Boston in 1917. This is the same building in which I saw for the first time a dye transfer print being made.

An hour or so ago I recived an e-mail from a friend about the movie The Pianist the story of how a Polish pianist was saved from concentration camp death (he lost all his family) by playing at a German soldier’s request the Chopin ballade for which I provide a link. The soldier sheltered, fed and helped the Jewish pianist escape.

What We Know. What We Don’t Know.

What we should know.

I believe that the universe is defined by two things: the big bang and the human mind. Neither is understood by science, nor does there seem to be a path to understanding either. The first is to answer the question “Why is their something rather than nothing?” The second is to answer how the brain translates two little images on your retinas into the visual experience of life and perhaps even more remarkably how the flapping of a piece of tissue at the end of your ear canal can play any sound for you.

These are the end points: how it began and what it has come to. Yet how many people do you know who listen to classical music for its beauty and let it energize their souls.

Abraham Lincoln said a little prayer at the end of his Gettesberg Address that this government of, by and for the people not perish. It has perished. We live in a nation of the rich by the rich and for the rich and we need a rewriting of the Constitution and a recognition that the first job of humans is to teach humanity to each other.

The Double Bee, 1917
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