Saturday, 16 August 2014

it's easy, or not so hard anyway

I just wrote an entry here about the photos of Japan and other places of Michael Alvis – see below.

I'm prompted by that also to write about how it can be easy and not too expensive to spend time in Japan. But having asserted that I'll leave you to measure ways and means within your own budget and interests. With hope that it can be done, because it's worth doing, because it will grow new dimensions in your mind, give new understanding of the world.

We read all the time about the importance of tourism in different places, as well as all the touting by the 'tourist industry'. But the internet makes it possible to bypass the tourist industry: we can find simple or complex flight itineraries, we can find accommodation away from big hotels, we can access train or bus timetables. Maps on smart phones make walking so easy.

I look in wonder at tour buses passing me by as I walk streets: I am feeling the air and the local life, they chat inwardly about Mrs Smedley up there near the driver, in air-conditioning, en route from one fancy rock lump to another.  And they are paying 10 or 20 times more than my local bus or train ticket, infinitely more than my shoe leather, as I move through local life, maintaining my fitness and startling my brain. Their pathway controlled and clocked, mine free and open to following new turns, looking around unexpected corners.

Over a decade ago, I became a widower, in my 50s. Thereafter meeting people in ways not explored for decades. Shocked to find how many people, of all genders, were deliberately shutting down variables and pathways to the new as they got older. Perhaps in defence against the world. But it seems to me that openness to the new is a better way of enjoying the world and surviving, and more than surviving, in a difficult age.

how we see things

I was delighted today to find this comment on one of my blog entries:

Michael Alvis16 August 2014 01:21
Thank you for sharing your wonderful travel blog about your visit to Japan. I lived in Saitama for 6 years (1988-1993, 1995-1996) and was back for 5 short weeks in 2009. After reading your blog, I feel the need to start planning another trip to Japan.

I'm pleased to find that copying and pasting that comment. the link to Michael's own books is preserved. Where you may find some common ground, do go and look at some of his Blurb books. I had not seen his photos of people on trains when i began taking mine. Here is something from one of his books, I acknowledge his humorous human perspective came first!

pages 34-35 of this book
Here is a breathtakingly beautiful book on Japan, one of a number he has produced, such inspiring hard work as well as vision.

Perhaps this photo, from Michael's Tennessee, sums up something important. Or some things. Maybe the text describes the brains of some of us photographers. But also the humour in it arises from the way we see. Or what I think Michael and I, hugely separated on the planet, have learned through photography, or applied in photography, the inability to walk past things that for the most part people may not see, the wonders of incongruity and the delight in ordinary human foible.

from this book, page 28

oh this probably fits the same mould, in these he's playing with metonym or rather synecdoche,

from this book, page 16
I bow (and grin) before this wondrous book, Oligomania