Monday, July 14, 2008

Google Streets enters into "mono no aware"

Screen capture of my childhood home, from Google Streets
David Seaton's News Links
"Mono no aware", which in Espanglés would mean, "the monkey hasn't got a clue", is in fact, a Japanese term of art which, roughly translated,
"describes beauty as an awareness of the transience of all things, and a gentle sadness at their passing. It can also be translated as the "ah-ness" of things, of life, and love."
Lets continue with John Paul Gillespie's fine essay on the subject:
According to mono no aware, a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom; a fading sound more beautiful than one clearly heard; the moon partially clouded more appealing than full. The sakura or cherry blossom tree is the epitome of this conception of beauty; the flowers of the most famous variety, somei yoshino, nearly pure white tinged with a subtle pale pink, bloom and then fall within a single week. The subject of a thousand poems and a national icon, the cherry blossom tree embodies beauty as a transient experience.
Google has developed a new wrinkle called "Google Streets", which is the nerd's somei yoshino sakura.

Last night I used Google Streets to look up some of the houses I lived in as a child. Places where I haven't set foot and hardly thought about in nearly 50 years.

It was strange to use the mouse to follow the streets of my long ago childhood like a robot diving camera exploring the Titanic.

Like a robot or like my own ghost wandering unseen among its once familiar objects.

I found that I remembered where everything was, each corner that had to be turned to get to each place and floods of memories, few of them happy, at every poke of the mouse.

A Spanish friend of mine, wise in the ways of intellectual property, born and raised in a dictatorship, says that Google has to keep inventing all these toys in order to justify the sinister amount of information, all tied to our IPs, that they are gathering from and about us.

However, if you are old enough, and far away enough from your roots, and you truly want to schlep mono no aware, Google Streets is for you. DS

2 comments:

RC said...

I did not know you could visit the past that way. I'm going to do it too. For me, I hope I do not overload on the saudade.

RC said...

Noting that the senator {Obama} seems to emphasize the historic nature of his quest, Mr. Stewart said, “So far, our take is that he’s positioning himself to be on a coin.”

If Jon wrote that one himself, I congratulate him. I thought that was the best line in the Times article. Also, despite Dave's and many other bloggers' and writers' and pundits' attempts to sway me, I would vote Obama {it's moot, I can't vote}.

With that said, I loved the New Yorker cover. If Obama does make it to the White House, there will be plenty more satirical swipes so he better get used to them now.