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23 June 2017
Morning Sedition

Samsara
(Circle of Things Lost and Found)

Grate Fisherman

Samsara
(Circle of Things Lost and Found)

(This image graces the covers of the hand-made, limited-edition greeting cards I made for the Summer Solstice, which happens to be today. I thought that both it and the accompanying text were equally appropriate to share, so I'm reproducing the card.)

Solstice is Latin for "sun stands still." For the few days surrounding each solstice the sun’s noontime elevation appears unchanged. The summer solstice pairs the year’s longest day with its shortest night; afterwards, the bright, warm summer of nature’s abundance inexorably yields to the return of the dark, cold winter of nature’s withholding. In Zen, this endless cycle of balance is called samsara.

About the Photograph

I took this in Manhattan about five years ago with a film point-and-shoot. I saw a man clad in white against the blazingly bright—and scorchingly hot—July sun, carrying but two things: a milk jug thinly layered with coins, earrings, and indeterminate small objects, and a long cotton cord tied to a weight capped with a blob of sticky gum. He was, in short, a fisherman, casting his line for lost valuables in the vast urban sea of subway grates.

He had little English, I no Spanish. Asked how the fish were biting he gestured to the jug, smiled, and shrugged. He never knew what he would find, yet he knew the world’s abundance would always make his expedition worthwhile.

When asked if I could photograph him he seemed oddly pleased and posed before resuming his inland fishing. The entire time he uttered not even a single word, lest the crafty and vigilant fish he pursued be frightened away.

He that hopes to be a good angler, must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit, but he must bring a large measure of hope and patience, and a love and propensity to the art itself; but having once got, and practiced it, then doubt not but angling will prove to be so pleasant, that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself.

— Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler, 1653

Tell me how you are searching and I will tell you what you are searching for.

— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind.

— Louis Pasteur

Best Wishes for the Summer Solstice,

Citizen Arcane

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