I recently explored what Midjourney would come up with in terms of yokai images, and it brought up some reflections in me.
ARE YOKAI REAL?
Yokai are supernatural entities and spirits from Japanese mythology and they come in great variety.
Is there any truth to the yokai?
The modern mind may say “obviously not” or go into a binary discussion. For me, that’s missing the juiciness of it.
If we go into that binary discussion of whether they are real or not, then the answer is “we don’t know” and “it’s a question for science”.
We can also say that if yokai are real to someone, then they are – for all practical purposes – real to that person. They live within a world where they exist and live their life accordingly.
We can explore what happens when people live within a world where yokai are real. How does it influence and color their decisions and life?
We can explore reasons for why people possibly invented and created stories about yokai. Was it to create a more rich and interesting world for themselves and those around them? Was it to scare children? To try to control the behavior of children and possibly adults? Was it to try to make sense of something that didn’t quite make sense, or where the randomness of life wasn’t a satisfying answer? Or all of those and more?
We can study yokai as possibly a real phenomenon. We can interview people who say they have seen and interacted with them. We can look for patterns. (There is an amazing documentary called The Fairy Faith that takes this approach.)
We can explore possible communication with and guidance from nature spirits. What do we find through interviews and case studies (e.g. Findhorn)? What alternate explanations are there? What do we find if we explore it for ourselves, possibly under guidance from someone more experienced?
We can look at how – to us – we are consciousness, and – to us – the world happens within and as that consciousness. To us, the world appears as consciousness and waking life and night dreams are no different in that way. If we don’t notice this directly, we may interpret it as “spirit in nature” (animism) and as if nature and objects have consciousness. And from here, it’s easy to imagine nature spirits and conscious spirits all around us.
We can explore whether, in any meaningful way, the universe IS consciousness (AKA Spirit, the divine, Brahman, God.) If so, maybe yokai fits more easily into our worldview. They would not necessarily be a surprise or anomaly.
Each of these views, and many more, has validity and invites interesting explorations. And exploring each one and all of them together requires some sincerity and intellectual honesty, which is an interesting exploration in itself.
AI IMAGES & “WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF THIS EXISTED?”
Then a little about AI.
I wouldn’t call what I and Midjourney come up with “art”.
For me, it’s more of a fun exploration to see what comes out of it. And, for instance, in the case of the yokai images, it’s more “wouldn’t it be cool if these were real sculptures?”.
I create images with Midjourney of things I would like to see in physical reality, for instance, as a real sculpture or painting.
Image: Created by me and Midjourney and really the creativity of humanity as a whole and the universe expressed through and as us.