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Luna begins to explore. In Praise of Shadows. Virtuosity. Dream Scenario.

Luna // Nine Months // On Exploring

Luna is entering into an inquisitive phase of life and beginning to understand the flow of the world. To get a toy, she has to open her toy chest. To get a parent in another room, she has to crawl across the house. To get food into her mouth, she has to load it onto a fork (or, more often, simply grab it with her fingers).

Luna's newfound curiosity, paired with equally newfound mobility, is ushering in an era of independence. No longer content to simply sit and play, she propels herself across the home by pushing around her own high chair. When she spots something of interest, off she goes, a tiny explorer on a vast expedition across the familiar terrain of our living room.

Her explorations are indiscriminate and wide-ranging. Sometimes, she finds herself among my vinyl records, their glossy covers and intriguing textures drawing her in. Other times, her journey takes her to the kitchen, where the stove's surface offers a glimpse of her own reflection staring back at her. She reaches out, her small hand pressing against the cool, smooth metal, and then claps in perfect unison with her mirrored self.

However, not all her discoveries are met with enthusiasm from my end. Keeping small, potentially dangerous objects out of her reach (and mouth) is a never-ending task. Each speck on the floor, insignificant to the adult eye, becomes a target for her curious fingers. It's a balancing act, allowing her the freedom to explore while ensuring her safety. A dance of letting go and holding on, a parental rite of passage.

Mealtimes have transformed into adventures of their own. The careful, tidy feedings of the past have given way to a new chaotic ritual with Luna now an active participant. Food that makes it into her mouth is considered a success. Food that ends up on her face, her clothes, the floor, or in our dog's stomach is considered collateral damage in the pursuit of 'baby led weaning'.

As she grows and her curiosity leads her outward, Luna is becoming my little explorer – discovering the world while still finding home in my arms. Her blossoming independence is revealing a spirited nature, and I'm so grateful to be learning about her as she learns about the world.

What I Read

As someone who's currently thinking deeply about a physical space, I picked up Jun'ichirĹŤ Tanizaki's classic work In Praise of Shadows. I have to say it didn't particularly resonate with me, but it did get me musing about light and darkness, and how we shape spaces to create certain moods.

Tanizaki extols the muted, shadowy aesthetic of traditional Japanese architecture. To him, electric light is garish and destroys mystery. But to me, I can't imagine a world without it. In the morning, give me sunlight through tall windows, bouncing off every surface. In the evening, let discrete pools of light shift the mood to facilitate cozy conversation.

The part of the book that I found most resonant (and most relevant) was his musing on Japanese food requiring the right lighting:

In the cuisine of any country efforts no doubt are made to have the food harmonize with the tableware and the walls; but with Japanese food, a brightly lighted room and shining tableware cut the appetite in half…Above all there is rice. A glistening black lacquer rice cask set off in a dark corner is both beautiful to behold and a powerful stimulus to the appetite. Then the lid is briskly lifted, and this pure white freshly boiled food, heaped in its black container, each and every grain gleaming like a pearl, sends forth billows of warm steam—here is a sight no Japanese can fail to be moved by. Our cooking depends upon shadows and is inseparable from darkness.

It made me think about the lighting in which I find coffee most attractive, and the answer differs based on whether it's a crisp dawn, a sunny afternoon, or a rainy mid-day. I'll be doing some work to think about how to let light and shadow work their magic. As Tanizaki himself quotes Louis Kahn, "The sun never knew how wonderful it was until it fell on the wall of a building."

What I Watched

I'm fully ready for a world of spatial computing as brought to us by the Apple Vision Pro, and as such I've been interested in watching visions (forgive the pun) of virtual reality from the 90s and 2000s. As such, following Strange Days last week, I watched Virtuosity. Unfortunately, an incredible first act — in which police are trained in a virtual world against psychopathic AIs based on dangerous criminals — is almost entirely squandered by a middle act that descends into a by-the-numbers 90s action narrative. Russel Crowe plays SID 6.7 (Sadistic, Intelligent, Dangerous) with gleeful insanity, and every time the movie remembers that it has an intriguing futuristic setting to play with, it shines.


I also watched Dream Scenario, an extremely A24-coded exploration of collective consciousness and the Jungian shadow self — and was surprised to see that this too has some interesting things to say about virtual reality. I don't want to spoil it, as the film is new, but I was pleasantly surprised by what the film had to say about society's memetic gaze, and how it invented technology to reflect the film's internal logic.


That's all for now.

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