Rule Discussion After Watch 2 Continued


After the last watch, here are what I know of as new issues for the rule group:

  1. Can watching group members watch under other parameters without the expectation of that watch being added to the list?

My take (CJ): Of course! It should be one of the best by-products of watching that watching happens more often, that is more keen attention gets paid all the time… and as far as “reporting” goes, I think it’s fine to use each other as people to talk to about the watching. I intend for my mid-semester review to introduce the watching group to professors and to ask them to engage in a abbreviated watch that will not be added to the list, that is, I intend to do this unless the rule group deems this inappropriate.


  1. Photos taken of the watchers or of what the watchers are watching but not by the watchers. Does this count as documentation?

My take (CJ): I think that it would be unproductive to prohibit non-members from taking pictures of what is going on. I did mention to one non-member who wanted to take a picture of what I was watching that documentation is officially not allowed by the group, and he didn’t take the picture. He did take a picture of me, as did one other person. I have no interest in trying to police non-members (or members), so I think that simply expecting members to mention the prohibition against documentation to interested parties who are trying to take pictures should suffice. What non-members do with that information is up to them and not of a concern for the group, that is until such point that non-member documentation threatens to inhibit watching, such as if the non-member involvement becomes planned in advance or if the non-member activity or documentation is too distracting or if the documentation starts to have any, even slight, significant relationship to the core activities.

Totally agree.  I can’t think of any reason for non-members to take pictures except for the purpose of documenting members activities for the non-member’s personal use? What non members do with the information will, naturally, concern me and will interrupt my watch. Paying attention will be directed away from the “subject” for a period of time and that troubles me. That misdirection of attention, though, could be interesting. Why is paying attention to one subject alone so hard? —a thought i have been ruminating over. In any case, stating that we prohibit documentation is sufficient and then we TRY to let it go. No policing.


  1. Becoming part of what is being watched; changing the scene by being in it.

My take (CJ): This is a significant issue because in certain situations, there is no way for watchers to be neutral. At some points, I was forced to concede that I was watching myself in certain ways, because of the social dynamic in the space or near the space or because of the way that watching changed the space.

I think this is a necessary part of watching. Watching alters what is watched, according to quantum mechanics. There are theories of consciousness that take quantum entanglement as evidence of consciousness’ core place in the motions of sub-atomic particles.

Like if  “a tree falls ….”?  I don’t think i can speak to quantum entanglement as evidence of consciousness or in sub -atomic particles.  This experiment has reawakened, in me, philosophical ideas: Stoicism and Metaphysics, in particular.  I am definitely not thinking about the science of consciousness.  Artistically or aesthetically speaking, i can see that my body is part of the “picture” and that is curious because, technically, i should be outside of the subject. I have previously pictured myself as part of an audience like in a theater but that breaks down as soon as someone observes me for a time. But i don’t see myself as capable of analyzing that further. If I start thinking about my consciousness i will immediately have to worry about the non-members’ picture-taking consciousness.   “If a tree falls in the forest” …..i don’t care, i guess.
I’m not saying these theories are correct. But I do think that pretending that watching doesn’t change is silly,

?? When/how did “silly” come into this?
particularly if we do so in conspicuous places. I wouldn’t want to ONLY watch in ways where my watching seemed to be a major disruption, but this is a real dynamic that I think we should acknowledge and incorporate into our “practice,” if merely by being conscious of how to set up our chair or of how items on the “to be watched” list might place us differently in relation to what is being watched and therefore place us more to the forefront or background of the “subject.”

Agree.  I have been thinking about putting an open sketch book and a pencil in my lap because plein air people tend, in general, to be respected and left alone. I do not intend to sketch, however.

  1. Is watching the same as “living in gratitude”? (I was asked this at the NYPOP opening)

My take (CJ): we don’t need any kind of official position, of course, but I see the rule group documentation as a place also for the consideration of such issues. I think that gratitude implies a secondary layer of processing, of positioning oneself in relation to what is being watched. Watching is key; appreciation is important but secondary; being grateful is yet another distance from the watching and appreciation that incorporates self-consciousness, not merely consciousness, if that makes sense. I’m curious to hear what others think.

Agree. I think you put it wisely and with sensitivity and I appreciate you for doing so. I feel much more strident because I hated the book and most self-help books. If someone had asked me if I was “living in gratitude” i would have said ” fuck no! I don’t need to PRACTICE feeling gratitude!  I don’t need a month-to-month workbook for feeling gratitude and you asking me that makes me feel totally ungrateful about  the state of the human condition! Are you voting for Trump!”  As a bookseller for 35 years, it is MHO that self-help books are written to and exploit the pocketbooks of people who are in the depths of some kind of anxiety.  I can barely entertain the idea that gratitude is something i have to process in relation to watching a mini mart. I am watching solely in order to become more knowledgeable about the process of paying attention.


And the list will be updated to say:


I like the idea of watching some mode of public transportation: an escalator, an elevator, a bus station– even a busy bus stop. However, i am open to anything.


Rule Discussion After Watch 2 Continued

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