Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 23: What a Character

What a CharacterJan Palach Square ("We" sculpture, by Jaume Plensa), Prague, Czech Republic, April 2009,
Nikon D40, 35mm focal length equiv. 93mm, Exposure 1/640 sec @ f6.3, ISO 200, no flash, exposure bias -0.7
© Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]
This was an awesome sculpture (see below for details*).

To me, it triggers the thought that humans are "labelers."  We label everything, as the way we process information.  It allows us to categorize various objects into archetypes, which of course is an efficient method for generalizing about specific instances or types of information.  

As useful as this process is to our survival in the sensory- and information-rich world, it also can easily lead us to "judge a book by its cover" -- without getting to know what is really inside (the book, the person, the incident, etc.)

So watch out for this "character" -- the labeler.  He may lead you astray.  As an experiment, spend some time noticing things around you and consciously *not* labeling them.  Try to examine their unique characteristics, their rich textures, the hidden stories.

I think you will find it very useful, and it should help you avoid our natural tendency for prejudice -- that is -- judging things prematurely.

  • Donation:  Extra large tip my taxi driver.  Hey, I never said I had to be "pure" about this.  Just trying to keep "giving" near the forefront of my thinking.
  • Exercise:  Run beyond Jaffa and on the beach (10 miles, 100 mins)
Update on the exercise:  I am officially a basket case.  100 meters from the hotel, I tripped on some road detritus and went down hard.  Fortunately my nose and chin broke the fall, rather than my teeth.  And my hand and knee a bit.  It is not a pretty sight.

Couple that with what appears to be a severe case of bronchitis I somehow contracted in Israel, and let's just say the plane ride home was not so much fun.  Passengers were drawing straws to see who had to sit near me and get either phlegmed or bled on.  

I'm heading to the doctor tomorrow and see what's what.
*Here's some more information on this cool sculpture:
Jaume Plensa presented his sculpture "We" in Jan Palach Square, opposite the Rudolfinum, from 7 January-30 June 2009.  We (2008) is a 5 meter tall, white coated, sculpture weighing 2,700 kilograms and was cut out from stainless steel using laser beam technology. 
Plensa celebrates the linguistic diversity of the human family by putting multiple alphabets together on a single human form.  The form is "everyman & woman" who all share the experience of language.  Characters make up the outline of the androgynous body -- neither a female nor a male is clearly discernible.  The letters that form the shape of the human body with an open front side come from various languages:  Roman, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Hindu, Greek, Chinese and Japanese.
The original idea was to create a visual statement of belief in the possibility of peace and understanding between all nations of the world.  His artworks pay tribute to the human body as the perfect architectural form that provides a shelter to the soul, dreams and desires.

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