Archive for August 31st, 2010
This is part of the scene I see when I look out of the window of the apartment in Changzhou. The rain has washed leaves and the bamboo and wood of the gazebo in a yard within the housing compound. Two and a half years ago I watched as the gazebo was repainted after a winter of pollution had caused the gazebo to look old and frayed. It doesn’t take much to be revitalised.
I ask myself how I can distinguish between being revitalized and being artificial. I can see how so many, at times myself included, work hard to present a face that glistens attractively to their neighbours and any passing strangers. Huge expenses go into landscaping and giving their home a new look. Yet, more often than not, the expense doesn’t yield rewards that satisfy. One is left feeling empty, cheated. And so a new cycle begins as furniture is rearranged into new patterns or again replaced; an new look is studied in the latest popular magazines; or perhaps a new house in built in the latest housing development – all in the hopes of somehow finding meaning in the shine of newness.
I wondered about this as I looked at this scene. The colours and the air of peace that I saw here, are they just another example of face that is so much a part of the Chinese psyche? Or, is this a place for the owner of this scene to escape the outer world and find himself within?
I took this photo at the Toronto airport. Normally, I don’t include photos of anyone in my family as this blog is about my journey. That said, the journey to China is a shared journey with my wife. We are both working at the same university. You can see that I have altered the colour and intensity of the light so as to highlight as well as hide. And as in the past, this immediately creates an aura around my wife. When this happens, she takes on the role of anima for me in the image, a less-than and more-than aspect of my inner self.
The flight was normal with nothing to separate it from the many other flights that have been taken over the years. As I write this, I am in my apartment in Changzhou after having returned from a walk to a relatively nearby shopping store. I didn’t carry the camera as I was carrying my grocery backpack. The walk back from the store was done in the rain. I will be going walking again later this afternoon taking the camera with me even if it is raining.
There is no doubt that being a stranger in a strange land lends itself to looking at the world with different eyes. Probably more important that the actual outer world, is the opportunity to allow that outer world to present images that connect in ways that often get blocked in one’s home environment. I wonder if you will see different aspects of my journey as it takes place in this strange land?
Though this is a photo of my wife, the image substitutes objective reality with one that is more imaginal. And this is what being a stranger in a strange land is all about.