Junker - Menan Idaho

Searching For Pattern

I take a lot of photos. 99% of them I delete. They are missing something.

The decision to keep or delete takes a split second. My intuition or subconscious mind knows what it is looking for well before my rational mind can identify it.

There are many ways of seeing, but the truest and best is with the intuition, for it takes in the whole, whereas the intellect only takes in a part.

Soestsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman

What is my intuition searching for?


What Is Pattern?

Pattern is a flicker of remembrance. An echo of the millions of imprints from a lifetime of searching and sometimes finding beauty and meaning. It is connection to our past.

Pattern is an "intuitively perceived essence;" it suggests "infinite potentiality," writes Soetsu Yanagi.

If a building" (or a photo, painting or other creative work) "makes us light up, it is not because we see order; any row of file cabinets is ordered. What we recognize and love is the same kind of pattern we see in every face, the pattern of our own life form.

Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing

Pattern is personal. What resonates with me might not resonate with you at all. Different experiences, different connections, different patterns.

Pattern, then, is an extract of our life experience boiled down into something that we recognize as true to ourselves, but we cannot put into words.

An Example

Take the photo of the junked car at the top of this post. I was driving near Menan, Idaho looking for that flicker of inspiration where my intuition recognizes something of beauty that needs to be captured.

I stopped and took a dozen or so pictures of this car. Later I chose the one I liked best, the one that best fit the pattern. Only then did I begin to analyze with my rational mind why this photo rang true for me. What intuitively perceived essence had my subconscious latched on to? What pattern had it identified?

Here are several, but there are many that I could never put into words. They remain locked deep in my subconscious.

This photo is beautiful to me because it captures what I always try to find when taking photos of old cars. Stability in motion, motion in stability. The car looks as if it is about to fly because the fence posts and trees are leaning backwards, suggesting speed.

It reminds me of that incredible sense of motion when I took the photos below from the Shinkansen with my iPhone as I traveled with my oldest son from Kyoto to Sendai.

The car also reminds me of my Grandmother's car. A car I barely remember. Just that it was black and white, had a similar shape as the car in the photo and had a ivory colored statue of Jesus on the dashboard. I remember riding in the huge back seat only once at age 3 or 4 on our way to Albers Supermarket for groceries.

Making An Artist of the Viewer

There is more, but the point is this photo fits a pleasing pattern for me. It is a perfect example of something good in and of itself as I described in my post on How To Be Happy. Something good for its own sake because it is beautiful.

But it is a hidden beauty. A beauty I have to draw out of the photo myself. Soetsu Yanagi calls this process "making an artist of the viewer." In a sense, we complete works of art when we see them with our intuition, thus completing the pattern.

-J.D. Stein | November 2013

View From Shinkansen
View From Shinkansen
View From Shinkansen

View From Shinkansen
View From Shinkansen
View From Shinkansen

View from Shinkansen - Kyoto to Sendai - (click image to see larger)