December 19, 2016

Ancient Egyptian Eye see I


Tutankamun's dad, Akhenaton was a funny old soul. He gave up on all the ancient Egyptian deities and worshipped one, the disk of the Sun, instead. He depicted the sun as a disk with rays ending in hands, and himself and the royal family with strangely elongated thin hands and legs, enlarged bellies and enlarged chests. While some archeologists claim that these distortions conform to the actual shape of the pharohs body, it seems to me that they are those of someone who see themself from their own eyes from a frist person perspective, in the Eye of the sun disk that he worshipped. Akhenaton was also depicted as the Sphinx, another possible first person self view. After Akhenaton's death the Egyptians went back to worshipping their traditional Gods, and the name of Akhenaton, his father and son, were redacted from the historical list of pharos. Akhenaton was instead referred to as "that criminal," and the temples built to honour Aten, the disk of the sun, were destroyed.

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December 18, 2016

Who is Satoshi?


Satoshi whose name means "clear thinking," or enlightening* is a boy with the voice of a woman, who loves and cuddles his pocket monster friend: the character Pika Chuu. Pika when he speaks, only speaks his name.

As in the above image, and rather disturbingly, Satoshi is often displayed decapitated from the neck up cuddling his friend. Only his female voice can be heard. It seems likely that the Pocket Monster Trainer, Pocket Monster combination is another representation of the structure of the self, in which we (or at least the Japanese) are the little monsters.

Bearing in mind the size of consciousness, while we all generally do it, there is little more bizarre than believing oneself to be a character in a mirror, a name or the hero of a narrative, but Satoshi is so big, so hermaphrodite, and cuddles us so tightly and lovingly that we can't bear to look in the direction of the Enlightening.

Being hugged, reminds me of, as mentioned earlier, in a slightly different version, a Pure Land Buddhist monk description of his brush with enlightenment.

The Reverend Shinkuu Beppu would go to bed early, get up at midnight, and chant for 5 hours from about one in the morning.

On the advice of a friend that he should continue his chanting in the belief that the Buddha has come to within 9 feet in front of him, Beppu writes "So today, I thought I would chant Amida, the name of the Buddha of Light, as if he were 9 feet in front of me but, if nine feet then why not eight feet, seven feet, five feet, four feet, three feet, two feet, one foot. I can still remember thinking six inches when suddenly, Amida hugged me so tightly. I could Amida's tight embrace in both my arms.
And then, I heard Amida's voice "You say help me, and that you want to meet me but way before you realised it, wasn't I hugging you all along? Can't you feel my* heart?" (Beppu, 1986, p. 60, rough translation by me)

Notes
* Satoshi is the noun form of the intransitive verb Satosu "make wise," a cognate of "Satori," the noun form of Satoru to become enlightened.
**the Buddha's heart

Chanting as one imagines an approach may be a good idea.

Here it is in the original Japanese
「九尺前に生き身の如来様がおいでる
と思うて念仏せぬば百日やっても行は成就しない、とおっしゃっている事を思い出して、
ならば今日は、九尺前に如来様がいらっしゃる事にしようと思いつつ念仏としていましたが、九尺ならば、八尺でもいいじゃないか、八尺なら七尺でも、六尺でも、五尺でもいい、四尺でも、三尺でも、二尺でも、一尺でも5寸でもいいわけです。
この五寸でもよいと言うところ迄は記憶があるのです。6寸を過ぎた後、私はガバッと如来様に抱き締められました。ぐいぐい抱き締めてくる感覚が両の腕に伝わってくるのです。
そして、お前は助けてくれとか、お逢い下さいとか言っているが、お前が気づく、遥かはるか昔から私はこうしてお前を抱き締めているではないか、この私(仏)の心が分からないのかという如来様のお声をしっかり聞きました。」 (別府, 1986, p. 60)

The above image copyright the copyright holders of Pokémon, my rendition of a frame from a Pokémon animation that my daughter was watching on YouTube.

Bibliography
Beppu, S. 別府信空.(1986).『慈悲ー別府上人法話集ー』(Compassion: Collection of the preaching of the Reverend Beppu).東京:正受院.

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December 17, 2016

Dali's Sacrement and Bush's Body


Bush's bath painting is a self-person body view of the painters feet.

Philippe Rochat seems to claim that the intra-psychic Other argued by psychologists to be required for self-cognition (Freud's super-ego, Mead's generalised other etc) hangs out in our first person body view (Rochat, 1997, p.105, Rochat, 2009) . Under Rochat's interpretation, I believe, infants first get to know their first person self and then spectate their mirror reflected and pronounal selves ("I" "me") from the perspective of the first person self. In other words, our first person self sticks around to watch us. No wonder that for the longest time humans made models of it in the form of Venus figurines (McDermott, 1996), or that first person body may appear in various myths as headless or animal-headed giant such as the Buraq, Ganesh and Sphinx, and perhaps the eyes and nose of Izanami from Japan, and the brow of Puntan from Guam.

Salvadore Dali, in the only painting of his that I have hung on my wall (in postcard form) represented the Sacrament of the Last Supper, where presumably Jesus is saying, "do this in memory of me (breaks bread) this is my body". In Dali's rendition the disciples hunched over their own bodies, whereas Christ is pointing to his own and a giant headless one, corresponding to the self views of his disciples, floating over the room. It seems to me that Pure Land Buddhist monks sometimes find themselves likewise in lap of this vast self person that loves us so fiercely we tend to forget.

Bush is reported to have said that he intended his bath picture to shock. I think that when we really see our 'I see I' self-person-body view again it may be quite a shock. In his picture of himself in the shower Bush shows two third person reflections one of his face the other of his back. The person that sees us in the mirror is in fact, like the legs's in Bush's bath, someone else, and upside down. Dali knows that when he breaks bread, his self-person view body of his torso will always be that of someone else, his saviour. George W. Bush in his shower may be trying to persuade himself that all his bodies are his own. Or perhaps former President Bush knows all this. Similar to my picture of myself in front of a mirror, you can't see Bush's right hand.

The above image is the Google search results for George W Bush paintings, superimposed with the wikipedia image for Salvadore Dali's "Sacrement of the Last Supper" both reduced in size.
Should anyone wish that I cease and desist I will immediately. Please leave a message in the comments below or please send a missive to the mail link at nihonbunka.com.

McDermott, L. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227-275. Retireved 17th December 2016 from goo.gl/oPuXiV
Rochat, P. (1997). Early development of the ecological self. Evolving explanations of development, 91-122.
http://ift.tt/2hI9Uod...
Rochat, P. (2009). Others in mind: Social origins of self-consciousness. Cambridge University Press.


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December 14, 2016

Two Cars


Daniel Dennet (1968) writes about two cars, and their foolish owners

"It is possible, perhaps, that the brain has ... 'language' or 'code' or what Zeman calls 'the brain writing ...', [if so] there would also have to be mechanisms for 'reading' and 'understanding' this language. Without such mechanisms, the storage and transmission of sentence-like things in the brain would be as futile as saying "giddyap' to an automobile.' These reading mechanisms, in turn, would have to be information processing systems, and what are we to say of *their* internal states and events? Do *they* have syntactically analysable parts? The regress must end eventually..." p 87

He goes on to say that there is language in the brain is merely positing a little man in the brain, or car.

Dennet (1968) also writes

"Imagine a fool putting a television camera on his car and connecting it to a small receiver under the bonnet so the engine could 'see where it is going.' The madness in this is that although an image has been provided, no provision has been made for anyone or anything analogous to a perceiver to watch the image. This makes it clear that if an image is to function as an element in *perception*, it will have to function as the raw material and not the end product, for if we suppose that the product of the perceptual process is an image, we shall have to design a perceiver-analogue to sit in front of the image and yet another to sit in front of the image which is the end product of perception in the perceiver-analogue and so forth ad-infinitum." p134

He goes on to say that this too is merely positing a little man in the brain, or car.

This is ridiculous, Dennet, argues. And yet there seems to be both language and images in the brain. Or is there? The images and language are in mind, and the car or "brain" is an image or word, that Dennet believes in. The since both language and images seem imply eyes and ears, the presence of language and images mixed with perception in mind encourages us to believe that mind must have an eye or ear and is thus [in] one or other of these cars. The belief in these objective entities, cars, and brains that we think we drive and inhabit encourages us to "split ourselves" and "spectate," (Smith, 1770/2002) for all sorts of economic benefits (Smith, 1778).

We do not internalise these spectators or generalised others to understand or evaluate ourselves. The causal link is reversed. We understand or evaluate ourselves to split ourselves. The personal benefits are narcissistic: we get to love ourselves. The societal benefits (?) are ceaseless economic activity.

This what I want to write about the function of words in Western, and images in Japanese, minds.

C.f. The Navaho legend about the old women that the hero finds that encourage the Navaho to be industrious (so the hero does not kill them).

Dennett, D. C. (1986). Content and Consciousness. Routledge.
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1770)
Smith, A. (1778). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: W. Strahan.


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