Saturday, February 3, 2018

Chinese New Year - 2018

Lo, the rains perish which Ether-father throws
Down to the bosom of Earth-mother; but then
Upsprings the shining grain, and boughs are green 
           --  Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things"

(Photo taken in Dallas, September 2016)

Many things happened in my life in the past year. I just realized that I didn't record any footprint until another (Chinese) New Year coming at the corner. In 2017, I have made significant progress in work, though I also occasionally question the meaning of life. The process of identifying a problem then solving it brings me intellectual inspiration and a pleasant sense of achievement. Meanwhile, the stylized discipline day by day hinders the utter freedom and wears out my sensitivity and keenness to the beauty of everyday life. 

When I am trapped in the goal-oriented circle: set up a goal - meet the goal - check - set up the next goal, I find my life corrupted into the mundane noise. Life becomes a rush. Too many new things to learn, too many materials to shop, too many places to go, too many gourmet meals to taste, whereas too little time to sleep... It sounds extremely busy, but they only add to the emptiness since little is essential goodness to life.

(Photo taken in Stedelijk Museum, Den Bosch, Holland, October 2016)

What uplift me from the goal-oriented circle is traveling, museums, and unexpected shocks in life.

In the past May, I photographed the funeral of a friend. The work was heart wrenching and overwhelming, and . . . ultimately . . . it was tender, intimate, and astonishingly and inexplicably, beautiful. I left that day completely changed, as a photographer and as a human being. We’re used to taking millions of selfies and group shots when we’re happy, but when we’re having a bad or sad time, we just want to be left alone, right?

I took a different perspective of life and death. All emotion is beautiful. Life is full of a range of experiences and emotions and if we focus only on the sugary glossy ones, we miss the important part of being a human. I tried to capture the 'beauty' of grief: the moments how the people show their respect, support, and love to the departed and his family. One day, when the children grow up and review those photos, I wish they could understand that they have a great father deeply loved and respected by many many people. The funeral is thus an outpouring of love. It’s beautiful to be able to see the impact that your loved one had on people around them. It’s also a great reminder that we are all human, and suffering is what unites us.

Like what Heidegger explains in Being and Time: being is time and time is finite. For human beings, time comes to an end with our death. Therefore, if we want to understand what it means to be an authentic human being, then it is essential that we constantly project our lives onto the horizon of our death. This is what Heidegger famously calls "being-towards-death" (向死而生).

Life is time bestowed to us which allows the possibility to pursue what we truly love.

Life is short, thus we need to focus on one or a few things.

Living towards death, I sow myself into the earth of life, growing myself into the light which can enlighten myself and nourish other beings. This is my happiness, and the one thing I determine to pursue throughout my life.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”                                                                                            - Albert Camus


(Photo taken in Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, Oct2016)

我的新年愿望(Jennie's Chinese New Year resolution):


Photographed by Jennie Bai.
Copyright ©Jennie Bai. All Rights Reserved.

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