Imagine Finding Me

Chino Otsuka

Visual artist Chino Otsuka has created composite images of her past and present selves, like a digital time machine. This is so good. Otsuka’s work has restored my faith in humanity, which was pulverized a couple of days ago by the news that Ashton Kutcher has a million followers on Twitter.

I have a rule of thumb about art and artists: If a normal person has no hope of seeing the point of your work without an accompanying explanation about you and your artistic “theory” — you suck.

I look at Otsuka’s photos and with no words at all I’m immediately transported, I’m weeping with joy at the possibilities of life . . .


I have a chance to meet,
there is so much I want to ask
and so much I want to tell.

— Chino Otsuka

If you could go back and meet yourself as a child, what would you say?

When I look at photographs of myself as a boy, I see someone whose parents were not cut out to be parents, who, when they turned their attention to the boy at all, it was to tell him how disappointing and inadequate he was.

I see a boy who has taken that to heart, and will grow up with it, and even though as an adult he’ll eventually learn to compensate and in some cases overcompensate for it, will always know in his heart that he’s inadequate because his parents taught him that he was.

I’d like to go back and meet that boy and tell him that I love him. That’s all.

  14 comments for “Imagine Finding Me

  1. MS
    19 Apr 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I’m still not excited about that art. Yes, it’s a cool idea, but there’s no interaction between the young girl and her older self. At least not in the slideshow you linked. They’re just there together…she’s not sharing anything with her younger self.

    If I could go back and meet myself as a child, I’d tell myself the same things I tell my son today. That after school, no one cares if you were a geek, jock, drama queen or some other label, so don’t let it bother you, ever. That he is responsible for himself, and for making good choices. And that he doesn’t have control over anyone but himself, and that no one has control over him besides himself.

    And I hope he isn’t blaming me for any perceived inadequacies and other self-esteem issues when he’s in his forties.

  2. 19 Apr 2009 at 7:51 pm

    We can’t complain about how our parents messed us up? There go most of my best songs.

    — The Boss

  3. PE
    19 Apr 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Hi MS

    That sounds like — yawwwn — good advice…

    Look, I’m sure you’re a great mom but if you want to push my hot button, go ahead and suggest that parents aren’t responsible for their kids being the way they are.

    Because of the activities that my son’s been involved in, I meet a lot of kids and a lot of parents, and I’m endlessly disappointed with both, mainly because of this attitude that “you can’t blame me for my kids being the way they are.”

    Really?! Who can I blame then? You have angry parents with angry kids. You have parents berating their kids and the kids have confidence problems. On and on. It’s so simple. You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to figure out exactly why these kids are the way they are.

    I blame parents for everything, good or bad, about their kids. Always have, always will.

    You want to know who’s responsible for my kid being the way he is? Me. And his mom.

    As Dr. Laura says: “I am my kid’s mom.” Now Dr. Laura is a cunt, but I wish I had a supply of “I Am My Kid’s Mom” signs to carry around and smash over the heads of every parent who thinks they’re not responsible for their kids being the way they are…

  4. MS
    20 Apr 2009 at 9:34 am

    @Fake Bruce – You’ll have to read your lyrics again. You addressed your daddy issues off and on over the years, but your repertoire contains so much more than whining about being repressed by your parents. Don’t sell yourself short.

    @PE – I never said I was a great mom, and I do believe parents are responsible for their kids to a certain extent, like when they’re minors living at home. You asked what people would tell their young selves, and that’s what I would tell my young self…the same things I tell my kid today. As a parent, I would hope you realize one of the main objectives of raising a child is to teach them to take care of themselves, because you won’t always be there to wipe their tears and hound them about doing their homework, etc.

    Maybe the activities you have your son involved in lend themselves to a more “entitled” attitude. After all, you live in Irvine and your kid plays hockey and drums…not exactly a poverty stricken area nor a poor man’s sport or instrument.

    I want my son to grow up believing in himself, and believing he has the power to be in control of his life. I don’t want him to be 45 years old and crying about his lack of self-confidence, all the disappointments in his life, and blaming me or his dad for any of that crap.

    If you want your son to grow up to be a man who blames others for his problems, then by all means, keep blaming your parents for yours. He’ll learn by example. If you don’t, then think about dealing with your issues and moving past them. Again, he’ll learn by example.

    Stop trying to place blame in a misguided attempt to understand the world and your own behavior. Start accepting responsibility for yourself and expect others to do the same.

  5. Sylvia Plath
    20 Apr 2009 at 10:33 am

    My son just killed himself. I hope no one’s blaming ME for that.

    P.S. I love those photos.

  6. MS
    20 Apr 2009 at 10:48 am

    @Sylvia – Monkey see, monkey do…

  7. MS
    20 Apr 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Pretty soon, I’m going to have to start charging you for this kind of therapy.

  8. PE
    20 Apr 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Hi MS –

    Your article says that parents can screw you up, you can overcome it but it may be hard work. How is that different from what I said in the first place?

    Did you read this part:

    Does that let them off the hook? Does it mean that you have to forgive them? Not necessarily, but if you want to change things, you need to accept what they did to you and move on.

    As for my own parents, I don’t let them off the hook but I don’t know what to forgive them for either. They did the best they could, but they were too bogged down in their own misery. They made Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes look like Ozzie and Harriet…

  9. MS
    20 Apr 2009 at 11:21 pm

    It’s different because you’re still blaming them for your feelings of inadequacy. Even going as far as saying you’ll always know you’re inadequate because they taught you that you were. That’s not moving on. That’s called being stuck.

    You already started down the right path with “They did the best they could…” and then you negated it with a “but.” Just go with the “They did the best they could,” and keep moving forward.

    Nobody had a perfect childhood and everyone has problems. But some people move on, and others stay stuck. Holding onto anger for 30 years seems like a less than constructive way to expend energy.

  10. 21 Apr 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Please go back to watching the Lifetime network or wherever you’re getting your naive views on human psychology and stop with the amateur psychoanalysis…

    Holding onto anger for 30 years seems like a less than constructive way to expend energy.

    Merde. To those who despair of everything reason cannot provide a faith, but only passion, and in this case it must be the same passion that lay at the root of the despair, namely humiliation and hatred.

    Passion, madame! That is what gets one out of bed in the morning! Some people prefer coffee but you’d have to drink a shitload of it — pardon my French — to generate the same level of energy.

    I said “pardon my French” and I am French. That is a good one, non? Ah, you Americans sicken me…

    When you win a Nobel Prize in literature, then come back and lecture people on constructive ways to expend their energy.

  11. God
    21 Apr 2009 at 12:59 pm

    PE drinks a shitload of coffee…I’ve seen him. Now quiet down all you alt-personalities or I’ll smite you all with one fell swoop in the form of a bolt of lightning as you walk from your car into Starbucks.

    MS doesn’t watch Lifetime…she did study psychology in college though, and practices it on a daily basis. And to the dismay of many troubled people who don’t want to see themselves for who they really are, her perceptions and analysis of them are rarely far off base.

    See you on Sunday, angry man.

  12. MS
    21 Apr 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Wow, God coming to my defense? Thanks big guy!

  13. God
    21 Apr 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Think nothing of it, my dear child.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *