Sunday, October 24, 2021

Seeing the Tree

"Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say, `That is an oak tree', or `that is a banyan tree', the naming of the tree, which is botanical knowledge, has so conditioned your mind that the word comes between you and actually seeing the tree? To come in contact with the tree you have to put your hand on it and the word will not help you to touch it."

- Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)
 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Nature of Water


"After spending many hours meditating and practicing, I gave up and went sailing alone in a junk. On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water! Right then—at that moment—a thought suddenly struck me; was not this water the very essence of gung fu? Hadn’t this water just now illustrated to me the principle of gung fu? I struck it but it did not suffer hurt. Again I struck it with all of my might—yet it was not wounded! I then tried to grasp a handful of it but this proved impossible. This water, the softest substance in the world, which could be contained in the smallest jar, only seemed weak. In reality, it could penetrate the hardest substance in the world. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.

Suddenly a bird flew by and cast its reflection on the water. Right then I was absorbing myself with the lesson of the water, another mystic sense of hidden meaning revealed itself to me; should not the thoughts and emotions I had when in front of an opponent pass like the reflection of the birds flying over the water? This was exactly what Professor Yip meant by being detached—not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling was not sticky or blocked. Therefore in order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature."

- Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973)
Artist of Life

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Beyond Language


"When I was nine years old, the world, too, was nine years old. At least, there was no difference between us, no opposition, no distance. We just tumbled around from sunrise to sunset, earth and body as alike as two pennies. And there was never a harsh word between us, for the simple reason that there were no words at all between us; we never uttered a word to each other, the world and I. Our relationship was beyond language—and thus also beyond time. We were one big space (which was, of course, a very small space)."

- Inger Christensen (1935 - 2009)
The Condition of Secrecy

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Thoughts in a Universal Mind


"I found myself thinking about what, if anything, a tree might think. Not thinking the way we think, but the way a single neuron thinks, integrating information over time. It might take years to register the premonition of an idea, centuries for an entire forest, networked through synapses established by chemical signaling pathways among its roots, to form a thought. After three years I was no closer to an understanding, except to have gained a lingering suspicion that trees were, in some real and tangible way, as John Ambrose Fleming put it, 'manifested Thoughts in a Universal Mind.'"

- George Dyson (1953 - )
Analogia

Postscript. An experience I had during my family's recent trip to view New Hampshire's fall colors (see last three posts) reminded me of a funny story I wrote about years ago. It concerns Brett Weston, the second of Edward Weston's sons, and who was an accomplished photographer in his own right. Brett, who like his dad, spent most of his time taking photographs in California (e.g., Point Lobos and Big Sur), was one day invited by a friend to join him on a trip to Europe. Agreeing to go, after some cajoling, Brett and his friend visited Ireland, then Scotland, and later London. But Brett's eye, perhaps even more so than his father's, was tuned strongly toward abstraction. Thus, despite traveling though some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet before arriving in London, Brett had not once pulled out his camera to take pictures! What he did come home with was a few images of rust on a small dilapidated metal plate that beguiled him as he was making his way across the London bridge. A more complete version of this story can be heard in a wonderful documentary about Brett Weston's life as a photographer. While my trip's "compositional oeuvre" was not nearly as single-mindedly-focused on a single abstract theme (I've already posted rather conventional fine-art "takes" on autumnal colors), I must admit that easily half of the shots I took were of the knots in the pinewood of our cabin's walls! Since the left part of my physics-trained brain kept seeing electromagnetic fields, space-time continua, and gravitational vortices just about everywhere my eyes looked inside the cabin, the right side of my brain insisted I search for abstract compositions. Interestingly, while these images contain no color (they are digitally reversed black-and-white shots, which I think work a bit better as "abstractions"), and were all captured inside a cabin, for me, they just as palpably capture the essence of experiencing New Hampshire's autumnal multispectral pleasures!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Intemporal Surreality


"It must be confessed, however, that Perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain Perception."

G.W. Leibniz (1646 - 1716)
Monadology

Postscript. Or, to paraphrase a well-known aphorism by physicist Werner Heisenberg (and italicizing my photo-centric alteration), "...what we observe and communicate is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to, and transformed by, our method of capturing it with our camera." Keeping with the same themes and questions that underlie my last two posts (i.e., how to best "capture" New Hampshire's gorgeous autumnal colors during a recent "long weekend" trip), one can start off by saying - tautologically - that any image I chose to capture must, by fiat, represent a particular slice of nature that I saw (through my lens). But how much of my experience of the totality of a given scene (the ambient conditions, light, sound, my state of mind, etc.) remains attached to whatever image(s) I chose to use to represent it? How much (or how little) of any of this is communicated and interpreted as such by the viewer? And, what can I do to instantiate and intensify this experience (for the viewer)? Of course, these kinds of questions have been asked since the dawn of photography, with no easy answers; from Alfred Stieglitz's equivalents to Minor White's admonition to take pictures of "what else" things are. The triptych communicates my early-afternoon experience at a quiet little roadside pond (that, objectively speaking, hardly even merits a "label" on a map; it is "just" a spot on the road from point A to point B on a nondescript stretch of a local highway) far better than any single image does. It does so in two ways: first, because it displays not one but several simultaneous and distinct but related views of the same scene, it gently insists that the viewer "fill in the gaps" in her own mind; which cannot be done except by imaging what it must of have been like to stand there taking these pictures (not to duplicate my experience, but to imagine what it was like, transformed by the viewer's own predilections); and second, because none of the individual images show off the colorful trees directly, but via reflection only (and using a slightly longer-than-normal time exposure, as well), there is an implied intemporal surreality (at least I hope that that is the impression it conveys), which is close to what I was "really feeling" when I took these shots. In the end, and as presaged by Leibniz wise words, it all boils down to the primacy and ineffability of perception. And to the even deeper question of who's "doing" the perceiving? 

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Intelligible Triad


"Man is a little world--a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a fetus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause--the Spiritual Light of the World? This is the trinity of organic and inorganic nature--the spiritual and the physical, which are three in one, and of which Proclus says that 'The first monad is the Eternal God; the second, eternity; the third, the paradigm, or pattern of the universe;' the three constituting the Intelligible Triad."

- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831 - 1891)
Isis Unveiled

Postscript. While still on the subject of yesterday's post (i.e., my family's "long weekend" trip to New Hampshire to experience its gorgeous fall colors), but on a decidedly less mystical level than Blavatsky's elegant passage describes, my problem as a photographer was to find a way to capture the "magic" of experiencing autumnal color. Of course, there are myriad ways of doing so, starting with the obvious: just take pictures of the gorgeous color! However, in practice (as with most artful things that matter), the devil is in the details, and "taking pictures of the gorgeous color" is far from trivial. The core difficulty, as all photographers know, is that a beautiful landscape seldom makes for a beautiful photograph. To be sure, I was surrounded - overwhelmed even - by the sublime beauty of endless assortments of multispectral colored ferns and bushes and trees and leaves ... and all of it is beautiful; but why this fern, or that clump of trees? In a nutshell, this is the core joy and frustration of photography, as a whole; a microcosm of an endless aesthetic struggle, one might say. Even though I captured a fair share of the obligatory "wide vistas" (I may share a picture or two in forthcoming posts), this trip turned out to be mostly about discovering smaller, quieter worlds within ostensibly grander "larger than life" explosions of autumnal color: a ragged leaf on an even raggedier lawn chair; a withered overturned leaf bathing in the cold waters of a small pond; and a newly fallen leaf gently resting on a moss-strewn rock (along the trail that led to the waterfall that appears in yesterday's post). None are Ansel Adams-ish "Wagnerian" landscapes, but the triptych, as a whole, nicely conveys a bit of what I felt as I was gazing at New Hampshire's Ansel Adams-ish "Wagnerian" landscapes of magnificent color - a microcosm inside the great universe!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Just Follow the Stream

 

"Be soft in your practice.
Think of the method
as a fine silvery stream,
not a raging waterfall.
Follow the stream,
have faith in its course.

It will go its own way,
meandering here,
trickling there.
It will find the grooves,
the cracks, the crevices.

Just follow it.
Never let it out of your sight.
It will take you."

- Sheng-yen (1931 - 2009)

Postscript. The image reveals the upper part of the 6th waterfall (out of a total of 7) that rewards hikers taking the "Brooks Walk" trail at the Castle In The Clouds conservation area in New Hampshire (located in the Ossipee Mountains of Moultonborough and Tuftonboro, to the northeast of lake Winnipesauke). Since my wife and I had only a few precious days over a long weekend to admire the gorgeous northeast fall colors, our time on trails was necessarily limited. Well known photographer-friendly hikes were all but off limits, partly due to the expected requisite time and effort and partly due to the vast - and unforeseen (at least by me) - crowds of fellow-hikers! Admittedly, the last time I was in New Hampshire was as a teenager on a family trip with my parents (c.1975); i.e., just a wee bit in the past. But while I didn't expect the half-dozen or so cars parked unobtrusively by the side of the road I remember seeing back then, I was still shocked to find massive 200+car parking lots with timed entry! It was the same kind of "dissonance between memory and reality" shock I experienced on a 2012 trip to Yellowstone. Luckily, other less populated areas (than, say, the Franconia Notch area where the parking/hiking logjam appeared most rampant) still exist; like the Castle in the Clouds, for which I have to thank my wife for finding! So, rather than giving up all hope and skedaddling back to our cabin (in very not-Zen fashion), within the span of a few hours I went from commiserating over being unable to park, hike, and take pictures, to parking (with ease), eating (at a nice cafe close to a parking lot with few cars), hiking (on a beautifully maintained trail barely 100 feet from both car and cafe), and having an almost embarrassingly easy time communing with and composing my pick of waterfalls! Lessons: (1) stop basing expectations on 50-yo memories, (2) be flexible and mindful of unforeseen opportunities, and (3) listen to what your wife suggests doing instead :)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Fiery Organisms


"Just imagine ... that somewhere, in the cosmic vacuum, close to absolute zero, there are creatures nothing like us, let’s say a kind of metallic organism, that are conducting various experiments. Among others they succeed—never mind how—suffice it to say they succeed in synthesizing a living protein cell. A single amoeba. What will become of it? Of course, only just created, it will immediately fall apart, explode, but its remains will freeze, because in a vacuum, the water contained within it will boil and instantly change into steam while the heat of the protein transmutation will immediately irradiate.
...
There exists—so I am told—only one kind of life: the development of proteins that is familiar to us, divided into the realms of plants and animals. At temperatures removed from absolute zero, in barely three hundred small steps, evolution occurs, and its crowning glory is the human being. Only man and those like him can oppose the tendency prevalent throughout the Universe for chaos to grow. Yes, according to this statement, everything is chaos and disorder—the terrible heat inside stars, the walls of fire of galactic nebulae set alight by mutual penetration, the gas balls of suns; after all—say those sober, rational, and thus undoubtedly correct people—no device, no kind of organization, not even the smallest trace of it can appear in oceans of boiling fire; suns are blind volcanoes that spit out planets, while planets, exceptionally and rarely, sometimes create man—everything else is the lifeless fury of degenerate atomic gases, a swarm of apocalyptic fires shaking their prominences.
...
...you think the Earth is a crumb of life within an ocean of nothingness. You think man is solitary, and has the stars, the nebulae, the galaxies as adversaries, as enemies. You think the only knowledge that can be obtained is the kind he has possessed and will continue to possess—man, the only creator of Order, endlessly threatened by a deluge of infinity that radiates distant points of light. But that is not the case. The hierarchy of active endurance is omnipresent. Anyone who so wishes may call it life. On its peaks, at the heights of energy arousal, fiery organisms endure. Just before the limit, at the point of absolute zero, in the land of darkness and of the final, hardening breath, life appears once more, as a weak reflection of that one, as its pale, dying memory—that is us. "

Stanislaw Lem (1921 - 2006)
"The Truth" in The Truth and Other Stories

Friday, September 24, 2021

Universal Causation


"But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Energy Field


"Colors are not possessions;
they are the intimate revelations
of an energy field…
They are light waves with
mathematically precise lengths,
and they are deep,
resonant mysteries with
boundless subjectivity."

- Ellen Meloy (1946 - 2004)
The Anthropology of Turquoise

Friday, September 17, 2021

Wholeness


"When the healthy nature of man works as a whole, when he feels himself in the world as though in a great, beautiful, worthy, and precious whole, when his harmonious sense of well-being imparts to him a pure, free delight, then the universe, if it could experience itself, would, as having achieved its goal, exults with joy and marvels at the pinnacle of its own becoming and being."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1842)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Evanescent Beauty


"To the attentive eye,
each moment of the year
has its own beauty,
and in the same field,
it beholds, every hour,
a picture which was
never seen before, and
which shall never
be seen again."

 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Wonderful Triangles


"The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment! Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"

- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)
Walden

Friday, September 10, 2021

Connecting With the Ineffable


"Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable.
Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself,
and see if we may not eff it after all.”
- Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

For dedicated readers of my blog, this entry will appear a bit out of the norm. For one thing it does not include any photographs taken by me; for another, I'm quoting an "Adams," but not one whose first name is Ansel. The diptych you see above contains two of my dad's acrylic paintings he completed in the spring of 2001, which (immediately after completing them) he called Premonition 1 and 2, respectively. And, as he commonly did with "new" work, he displayed them on my parents' living room's main wall; where they unceremoniously hung through 9/11. Today, Sep 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of that day, one that is simultaneously best forgotten and never forgotten. Unlike the families of the 2977 people who were killed that day (including 2606 at the World Trade Center), my family did not suffer the pain of losing any loved ones in that tragedy; though we believed for a time that my mom, who was 70 years old in 2001 and worked on the 91st floor of the second tower, was, using a favorite turn of phrase of hers, "a goner." Somehow, miraculously, she survived (you can read a bit of her story in the New Yorker Magazine - just search the page for "Ilachinski"), and eventually died almost exactly 16 years later, on Sep 9, 2017. Like so many other "survivors," my mom suffered gravely from "survivors guilt," anguishing to her last days over why she, an "old timer" (her words) lived when so many young people did not. My dad, who was at home in bed at their home on Long Island as events unfolded (and only a few months away from passing away from cancer a few months later) was too weak and riddled with pain-killers to know or assimilate much of what happened that day. After my mom finally made it back to their home close to midnight, she was startled - shocked is a better word (if I remember how my mom characterized it) - by "seeing" my dad's theretofore innocently but provocatively named "Premonitions" - still hanging quietly on their living room wall - transfigured into truly prophetic - albeit unrecognized - warnings; which is at least how my parents now interpreted them. For me, all these years later, these paintings are touchstone reminders of the mysterious rhythms and patterns that make up our universe; echoes of even deeper connections that special souls (such as my dad the artist) are sometimes able to forge with the ineffable. As memories of 9/11 flood my mind on this anniversary, I find solace in the art my dad bequeathed me (even these two "Premonitions"; you can see more of his work here), and the memory of so many happy years I still had to share with my mom. My prayers go out to those who were not so lucky.

The Matrix of All Matter


"I regard consciousness as fundamental, matter is derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. There is no matter as such; it exists only by virtue of a force bringing the particle to vibration and holding it together in a minute solar system; we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. The mind is the matrix of all matter."

- Max Planck (1858 - 1947)

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Dynamic Interconnection


"The basic recurring theme in Hindu mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of God—"sacrifice" in the original sense of "making sacred"—whereby God becomes the world which, in the end, becomes again God. This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God, and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play. Like most of Hindu mythology, the myth of lila has a strong magical flavor. Brahman is the great magician who transforms himself into the world and then performs this feat with his "magic creative power", which is the original meaning of maya in the Rig Veda. The word maya—one of the most important terms in Indian philosophy—has changed its meaning over the centuries. From the might, or power, of the divine actor and magician, it came to signify the psychological state of anybody under the spell of the magic play. As long as we confuse the myriad forms of the divine lila with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahman underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya. (...) In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play. The dynamic force of the play is karma, important concept of Indian thought. Karma means "action." It is the active principle of the play, the total universe in action, where everything is dynamically connected with everything else. In the words of the Gita Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life."

- Fritjof Capra (1939 - )
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels
between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism

Monday, September 06, 2021

Divine Language


"… symbolism seems to us to be
quite specially adapted to the needs
of human nature, which is not
exclusively intellectual but which
needs a sensory basis from
which to rise to higher levels.
...
… the highest truths, which would not
be communicable or transmissible
by any other means, can be
communicated up to a certain
point when they are, so to speak,
incorporated in symbols which
will hide them for many, no doubt,
but which will manifest them
in all their splendor to the
eyes of those who can see.
...
the world is like a divine language for
those who know how to understand it.
...
… if the world is the result
of the Divine Word offered at
the beginning of time, then nature
in its entirety can be taken as
a symbol of supernatural reality."

- René Guénon (1886 - 1951)
Fundamental Symbols, The Universal Language of Sacred Science

Friday, September 03, 2021

Forging One's Own Path


About 6-1/2 years ago, I blogged about my youngest son's (Josh's) joyous "discovery" of the magic of photography. Having (back then, newly and quickly) acquired a few "old" Polaroids, including the venerable SX-70, and moving on for a time to Canon's AE-1 Program (a model I learned from in the late 1970s!) before settling on a more modern Fuji XT-2 that he never leaves the house without, Josh's honeymoon with photography has never ended. I had no way of knowing any of this would come to pass when I wrote (back in march, 2015): "Of course, I have no idea how long Josh's enthusiasm will last. It may die out, it may intensify, or it may transform into some other related art form. But if these early indications are a valid data source, he has clearly been very deeply bitten by his creative muse. May they forever more remain inseparable." Prescient musings, indeed!

What a sincere joy it is - as a photographer and loving father - to witness Josh's continued - accelerating - maturation as a bona fide artist. He and I (Josh, somewhat reluctantly at first, humbly unsure of his pictures' aesthetic "worth") finally put together an on-line gallery to show off some of his best work. Speaking just as a father, it melts my heart to see this flowering of Josh's artistic passion. But speaking as a photographer, I am simply awed by his prodigious talent. To go from effectively never having "clicked a shutter" before 2015 (and ignoring Josh's very early foray into photography, when he was 5, and played with a Casio QV-10 for a few days before relegating it to his closet, and never touching it again), to the technically and aesthetically superlative images - any of which I would be proud to call my own, but alas, cannot, since they're all unmistakably Josh's! (Josh does all of his own editing, and has never taken a course on photography) - that you will find on his new website, is astoundingly rare. 

Whatever irreducible bias I may have as a father aside, Josh's images are infused with a palpable artistry. While his and my aesthetic spaces do overlap in places (we both love epic" landscapes and run toward magic light without cost to life or limb), the pattern-of-patterns of his images is uniquely his (this, despite, or possibly because of, being exposed to his dad's photography for so many years). To forge one's own aesthetic path is far from easy, but is a clear sign that something special is brewing. Although he is most passionate about taking - and expressing his photographic vision through - macros, his well honed eye for light, geometry, and composition in general is seen in all of his photographs. But enough gushing by an unreservedly - and unabashedly - enthused dad/photographer. Go take a look at Josh's work on his new website. You won't regret it!

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Delusion of Separateness


"A human being is part of the
whole called by us a universe,
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself,
his thoughts and his feelings,
as something separate
from the rest, a kind
of optical delusion
of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind
of prison for us;
it restricts us to our
personal decisions and
our affections to a few
persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free
ourselves from this prison by
widening our circle of
compassion to embrace
all living creatures and
the whole of nature of
its beauty."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Three Quarks for Muster Mark


"In 1963, when I assigned the name "quark" to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been "kwork." Then, in one of my occasional perusals of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, I came across the word "quark" in the phrase "Three quarks for Muster Mark." Since "quark" (meaning, for one thing, the cry of a gull) was clearly intended to rhyme with "Mark," as well as "bark" and other such words, I had to find an excuse to pronounce it as "kwork." But the book represents the dreams of a publican named Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. Words in the text are typically drawn from several sources at once, like the "portmanteau words" in Through the Looking Glass. From time to time, phrases occur in the book that are partially determined by calls for drinks at the bar. I argued, therefore, that perhaps one of the multiple sources of the cry "Three quarks for Muster Mark" might be "Three quarts for Mister Mark," in which case the pronunciation "kwork" would not be totally unjustified. In any case, the number three fitted perfectly the way quarks occur in nature."

- Murray Gell-Mann (1929 - 2019)
The Quark and the Jaguar

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Similarity of Form


 "The Sage embraces similarity
of understanding and pays
no regard to similarity of form.
The world in general is attracted
by similarity of form,
but remains indifferent to
similarity of understanding."

- Lie Yukou (c.400 BCE)

Monday, August 30, 2021

Divine Spark


"Those who love much, do much and accomplish much, and whatever is done with love is done well.... Love is the best and noblest thing in the human heart, especially when it is tested by life as gold is tested by fire. Happy is he who has loved much, and although he may have wavered and doubted, he has kept that divine spark alive and returned to what was in the beginning and ever shall be. If only one keeps loving faithfully what is truly worth loving and does not squander one's love on trivial and insignificant and meaningless things then one will gradually obtain more light and grow stronger."

- Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Transparent as a Dragonfly


"Perhaps everything lies in knowing what words to speak, what actions to perform, and in what order and rhythm; or else someone's gaze, answer, gesture is enough; it is enough for someone to do something for the sheer pleasure of doing it, and for his pleasure to become the pleasure of others: at that moment, all spaces change, all heights, distances; the city is transfigured, becomes crystalline, transparent as a dragonfly."

- Italo Calvino (1923 - 1985)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The Heavenly Gate


"It comes out from no source, it goes back in through no aperture. It has reality yet no place where it resides; it has duration yet no beginning or end. Something emerges, though through no aperture - this refers to the fact that it has reality. It has reality yet there is no place where it resides - this refers to the dimension of space. It has duration but no beginning or end - this refers to the dimension of time. There is life, there is death, there is a coming out, there is a going back in - yet in the coming out and going back its form is never seen. This is called the Heavenly Gate. The Heavenly Gate is nonbeing. The ten thousand things come forth from nonbeing. Being cannot create being out of being; inevitably it must come forth from nonbeing. Nonbeing is absolute nonbeing, and it is here that the sage hides himself."

- Chuang Tzu (c.369 B.C. - c.286 B.C.)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Conceptualizing Elephants


 "The skies and land are so enormous,
and the detail so precise and exquisite
that wherever you are you are isolated
in a glowing world between
the macro and the micro."

- Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)


Postscript. These two very distinct images were both taken while on a hike up the Cascade Pass Trail (in Northern Cascades National Park, WA) with my wife and youngest son about a month ago. They obviously represent - and evoke - vastly different emotional and aesthetic sensibilities, yet each captures but an infinitesimally small part of the experience of hiking up this amazing trail. From an epic - and audibly loud -"Wow!" as we turned a corner and were thrust into the first image, to an oh-so-gently-whispered, "How lovely!" as my eye fell on a patch of small ferns quietly sitting along our path, this trail is that, and infinitely more in between. My vain efforts to capture its fathomless heights and depths and all sorts of visual delights with a camera reminded me of the proverbial blind men awkwardly - and absurdly - stumbling around trying to conceptualize an elephant :) 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Turning Matter into Spirit


"There are three kinds of men: those who make it their aim, as they say, to live their lives, eat, drink, make love, grow rich, and famous; then come those who make it their aim not to live their own lives but to concern themselves with the lives of all men – they feel that all men are one and they try to enlighten them, to love them as much as they can and do good to them; finally there are those who aim at living the life of the entire universe – everything, men, animals, trees, stars, we are all one, we are all one substance involved in the same terrible struggle. What struggle?…Turning matter into spirit."

- Nikos Kazantzakis (1883 - 1957)
Zorba the Greek

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Sliding Down Earth's Spacetime Curve

"The air around you is filled with floating atoms, sliding down the Earth's spacetime curve. Atoms first assembled in the cores of long-dead stars. Atoms within you, everywhere, disintegrating in radioactive decays. Beneath your feet, the floor - whose electrons refuse to let yours pass, thus making you able to stand and walk and run. Earth, your planet, a lump of matter made out of the three quantum fields known to mankind, held together by gravity, the so-called fourth force (even though it isn't a force), floating within and through spacetime."

- Christophe Galfard (1976 - )
The Universe in Your Hand

Postscript. This height of this lovely waterfall - Rocky Brooks Falls near Dosewallips State Park, WA - is hard to judge from the picture alone, but it is among the Olympic Peninsula's tallest at about 230 ft! Rocky Brooks falls is also embarrassingly easy to get to: a short 4 mile journey by car on a paved road from the main highway that runs up the Hood Canal, and then (the truly embarrassingly easy part) a 200 yard (!) hike - though "hike" is not the best word: you'll hardly have time to take more than a few breaths before coming to the falls, and can keep the munchies and extra water back at the car. Well, maybe that last part is a bit premature... the falls are so extraordinary to experience in person - the sound, the smell, the subtle mist, the surrounding bird song, and the gentle burbling stream that both greets each expectant visitor and says farewell - that one is well advised to anticipate a longer-than-casual-length stay. Over the course of my family's two weeks on the Peninsula, I took four trips to this falls - the shortest of which lasted no less than 3 hours - and each time spent far more time just sitting and communing with its tender rhythms than prowling around with tripod and camera looking for compositions. A reminder that there are special places that - with "good motivation and appropriate merit" (ref: a blog entry I posted about a week ago) - palpably compel you to stop whatever you're doing and just ... be.

Monday, August 23, 2021

An Element of Absolute Chance


"We must...suppose an element of absolute chance, sporting, spontaneity, originality, freedom in nature. We must further suppose that this element in the ages of the past was indefinitely more prominent than now, and that the present almost exact conformity to law is something that has been gradually brought about... If the universe is thus progressing from a state of all but pure chance to a state of all but complete determination by law, we must suppose that there is an original elemental tendency of things to acquire determinate properties, to take habits. This is the third or mediating element between chance, which brings forth First and original events, and law which produces sequences or Seconds... This tendency must itself have been gradually evolved; and it would evidently tend to strengthen itself... Here then is a rational physical hypothesis, which is calculated to account, or all but account for everything in the universe except pure originality itself."

- Charles Saunders Peirce (1839 - 1914)
The Monist (1890-1893), quoted in Truth, Rationality, and
Pragmatism: Themes from Peirce
by 
Christopher Hookway

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Forms and Shapes


 "Although our modern way of thinking has, of course,
changed a great deal relative to the ancient one,
the two have had one key feature in common:
i.e. they are both generally ‘blinkered’ by
the notion that theories give true knowledge
about ‘reality as it is’. Thus, both are led to
confuse the forms and shapes induced in
our perceptions by theoretical insight with
a reality independent of our thought
and our way of looking."

- David Bohm (1917 - 1992)
Wholeness and the Implicate Order

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Energy of Thought and Matter


"There is a relationship between what we think is out there in the world and what we experience as being out there. There is a way in which the energy of thought and the energy of matter modify each other and interrelate. A kind of rough mirroring takes place between our mind and our reality. We cannot stand outside this mirroring process and examine it, though, for we are the process, to an unknowable extent. Any technique we might use to 'look objectively' at our reality becomes a part of the event in question. We are an indeterminately large part of the function that shapes the reality from which we do our looking. Our looking enters as one of the determinants in the reality event that we see. This mirroring between mind and reality can be analyzed, and more actively directed, if we can suspend some of our ordinary assumptions. For instance, the procedure of mirroring must be considered the only fixed element, while the products of the procedure must be considered relative. William Blake claimed that perception was the universal, the perceived object was the particular. What is discovered by man is never the 'universal' or cosmic 'truth.' Rather, the process by which the mind brings about a 'discovery' is itself the 'universal.'"

- Joseph Chilton Pearce (1926 - 2016)
The Crack in the Cosmic Egg

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Chrono-Synclastic Infundibula


"Just imagine that your Daddy is the smartest man who ever lived on Earth, and he knows everything there is to find out, and he is exactly right about everything, and he can prove he is right about everything. Now imagine another little child on some nice world a million light years away, and that little child’s Daddy is the smartest man who ever lived on that nice world so far away. And he is just as smart and just as right as your Daddy is. Both Daddies are smart, and both Daddies are right. Only if they ever met each other they would get into a terrible argument, because they wouldn’t agree on anything. Now, you can say that your Daddy is right and the other little child’s Daddy is wrong, but the Universe is an awfully big place. There is room enough for an awful lot of people to be right about things and still not agree. The reason both Daddies can be right and still get into terrible fights is because there are so many different ways of being right. There are places in the Universe, though, where each Daddy could finally catch on to what the other Daddy was talking about. These places are where all the different kinds of truths fit together as nicely as the parts in your Daddy’s solar watch. We call these places chrono-synclastic infundibula. The Solar System seems to be full of chrono-synclastic infundibula. There is one great big one we are sure of that likes to stay between Earth and Mars. We know about that one because an Earth man and his Earth dog ran right into it. You might think it would be nice to go to a chrono-synclastic infundibulum and see all the different ways to be absolutely right, but it is a very dangerous thing to do. The poor man and his poor dog are scattered far and wide, not just through space, but through time, too.  Chrono (kroh-no) means time.  Synclastic (sin-class-tick) means curved toward the same side in all directions, like the skin of an orange. Infundibulum (in-fun-dib-u-lum) is what the ancient Romans like Julius Caesar and Nero called a funnel. If you don’t know what a funnel is, get Mommy to show you one."

- Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007)
The Sirens of Titan

Postscript. Do you see a "dog" in the image above? The photo is a rather straightforward shot of a stain on a piece of driftwood captured at the appropriately named "Driftwood Park," just down the road from the Coupeville Ferry Terminal on Whidbey Island, WA. My brain's strange lifelong affliction of conjuring associated memories of stories and books whenever an abstract image presents itself to my camera's viewfinder (the phantasmagoric mystical visions of Borges are a particular favorite of mine, as kind followers of my blog well know!) was in full force when this "dog-like stain" (or, more precisely, this "dog-like stain caught in an energy field") caught my attention. Why, that's "Kazak-the-dog running into the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibula!" I thought to myself, as I clicked the shutter with a smile (well, I almost remembered it correctly; I had to look up the reference later - but my brain got the gist). I'm not sure that this association - now that I've confessed it - makes the image any better (it's a very simple abstract), but I'll bet you can't now see anything else except "Kazak-the-dog running into the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibula!" :)

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Oysters, Beyuls, and Palimpsests


"We are surrounded and embraced by her;
powerless to separate ourselves from her,
and powerless to penetrate beyond her.
We live in her midst and know her not.
She is incessantly speaking to us,
but betrays not her secret.

As I - finally! - jump back into the practice of posting an image or two with accompanying quotes (I've been busy with "day job" activities and travel for what seems like forever! - for those kind readers who are still with me, a humble bow and "Thank you!" for your patience), there is no better place to start than by explaining what the title of this blog entry ("Oysters, Beyuls, and Palimpsests") is referring to.

I have written before of viewing old subjects with new eyes (that summarizes how a Kauai I thought I knew well after multiple visits that began in the early 1980s, gradually revealed new truths about herself, but only after I changed my own way of "looking"), but never before have I experienced this as deeply as I did on the most recent trip my family and I took to the Pacific Northwest; specifically, the eastern part of the Olympic Peninsula that opens into the Hood Canal. As on myriad past trips, my reading material played an unexpected but vital part in steering my eye/I toward specific elements of the physical environment. In Scotland, I was "accompanied" by a biographies of William James (in 2009) and of Jon Schueler (2016), and both shaped the photography I did on those trips; likewise, in Kauai (in 2014), my compositions arose in part from a book about the island's history that I was immersed in on that trip; and the same in Alaska (in 2018), when a book on Alaska's history gently fueled my imagery. On our first trip to the Northwest (in 2019), I was reading histories and biographies of 19th century Western/U.S. photographers (William Henry Jackson and Carleton Watkins), and my photographs from that trip tended toward the Ansel-Adams-ish "epic" macro landscapes. But, on this most recent trip, my lens was almost always trained on far quieter and subtler kinds of micro-landscapes.

To be sure, part of the reason was the weather. While July's "heat dome" (that descended over much of the Pacific northwest) had dissipated by the time we arrived, it had not gone entirely, and the area was blanketed in unseasonably high temperatures and perfectly clear skies (i.e., far from ideal conditions for landscape photography). Luckily, the book I chose to accompany me on this trip provided both solace (from the physical conditions) and nourishment (of a spiritual kind), that together compelled me to view an old subject with astonishingly new eyes. 

The book is called The Heart of the World, one of seven that Ian Baker has written on Himalayan and Tibetan cultural history, environment, art, and medicine. This particular book - written in 2004, and one of the very best adventure/spiritual-quests I have ever read (!) - is ostensibly about finding a fabled colossal waterfall deep within an unexplored part of Tibet’s Tsangpo gorges in the Himalayas (Baker has subsequently been honored by the National Geographic Society as one of six ‘Explorers for the Millennium’ for the ethnographic and geographical research he was a part during his quest to find this waterfall), but is really an extraordinary (and extraordinarily spiritual) account of how one's state-of-mind/reality determines access to Beyul, or "hidden lands where the essence of the Buddhist Tantras is said to be preserved." 

Writing of Beyul, the Dalai Lama asserts in the book's introduction, that "...such sacred environments ... are not places to escape the world, but to enter in more deeply. The qualities inherent in such places reveal the interconnectedness of all life and deepen awareness of hidden regions of the mind and spirit. Visiting such places with a good motivation and appropriate merit, the pilgrim can learn to see the world differently from the way it commonly appears..."

While in the Pacific northwest, I read small bits of The Heart of the World each day, cherishing and relishing it's quiet insights and deep wisdom before drifting off to sleep, and anticipating the next day's activities. The result was that my attention was drawn far less to "Wagnerian epic"-like vistas, and more (so much more!) to the timeless essence of place - such as the Oyster-shells seen in the triptych above. Why Oysters? For one thing, our Airnb rental was close to the Hamma Hamma oyster saloon near Lillywaup, WA; so - given the "non photographer's weather" - my wife and I wound up having a lot of time to kill during the day enjoying local quisine. For another - in dreams at least - oysters are associated with quiet meditation and “going within." And, since like palimpsests, oysters record both time and events, their ubiquity in Lillywaup (heck throughout the Hood canal) entwined with my nightly excursions into Tibetan Beyuls. Oysters became my own palimpsests of spiritual and aesthetic journeys, both real and imagined. I was utterly mesmerized by their siren call; the elegance of their form, and the numinous quality of their decaying shells. And on those rare occasions when I was lucky enough to have particularly "good motivation and appropriate merit" - such as when I chanced upon a small deserted beach strewn with oyster shells - the results were pure magic! I caught brief glimpses of the preternatural luminescence that permeates an ineffable Beyul-of-the-mind. 

For those of you interested in viewing a few more examples of what I'm tentatively calling "Numinous Palimpsests," I have posted a small portfolio on my main website.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Mere Hint of Outer Meaning


"This essential connection between color and form brings us to the question of the influences of form on color. Form alone, even though totally abstract and geometrical, has a power of inner suggestion. A triangle (without the accessory consideration of its being acute — or obtuse — angled or equilateral) has a spiritual value of its own. In connection with other forms, this value may be somewhat modified, but remains in quality the same. The case is similar with a circle, a square, or any conceivable geometrical figure [which has] a subjective substance in an objective shell…

The mutual influence of form and color now becomes clear. A yellow triangle, a blue circle, a green square, or a green triangle, a yellow circle, a blue square—all these are different and have different spiritual values.
...
Form often is most expressive when least coherent. It is often most expressive when outwardly most imperfect, perhaps only a stroke, a mere hint of outer meaning.
...
Every object has its own life and therefore its own appeal; man is continually subject to these appeals. But the results are often dubbed either sub- or super-conscious. Nature, that is to say the ever-changing surroundings of man, sets in vibration the strings of the piano (the soul) by manipulation of the keys (the various objects with their several appeals)."

- Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944)

Postscript. My apologies to subscribers who expect - rightfully - to receive an image, quote, and/or other musings on a regular basis! Due to the inevitable vagaries of "day job" responsibilities, it has been difficult to find time to re-acquaint myself with my camera ... so, please be patient, as I'll likely be "offline" for the next few weeks as well 😞 In the meantime, the lone image(s) I've managed to expose in well over a month, and arranged in triptych form above, provide a bit of solace. They are each (almost) undisturbed patterns I found under my feet as I was reading a research paper in my mother-in-law's garden in Florida. Followers of my blog may recall that I had - up until the age of 10 (i.e., 50 years ago!) - the most common form of synesthesia (a "crossing of the senses"), wherein I "saw" even numbers as "warm tones," and odd numbers as "cold" tones. But I also have a vestigial remnant of perceiving certain patterns as sound. It has never been as pronounced as my memory of the "visual/number - color" crossing, but it has been with me throughout my life. However, never have I had as intense a synesthetic experience as I did in mother-in-law's garden when eyes/brain glanced at the arrangement you see up above. I literally hear jazz-like music as I look at them. The Kandinsky quote appears of necessity in this context, since he was an acknowledged synesthete (and whose abstracts the natural “random” assemblies shown above remind me so much of!). For those of you who want a quick and fun read about what is currently known about synesthesia, a good place to start is a non-technical discussion by one of synesthesia's pioneer researchers, Richard Cytowic.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Universe as a Whole


"It would be indeed unusual if it turned out that the set of orders that our mind is able to construct and accept, having as it does a deep sense of 'understanding the essence of things,' matches precisely the set of all possible orders to be detected in the Universe as a whole. We should admit that this is not impossible, yet it does seem highly improbable. This way of thinking, so modest in its assessment of our abilities, is probably the only way recommended, given our lack of knowledge, because we are not aware of our limitations.
...
As long as Nature’s actions in the animate and inanimate world fill us with wonder and offer an unmatched example for us, a realm of solutions that exceeds in its perfection and complexity everything we can achieve ourselves, the number of unknowns will be bigger than our knowledge. It is only when we are eventually able to compete with Nature on the level of creation, when we have learned to copy it so that we can discover all of its limitations as a Designer, that we shall enter the realm of freedom, of being able to work out a creative strategy subordinated to our goals."

- Stanislaw Lem (1921 - 2006)
Summa technologiae

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Withered But Still Strong


 "All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

- J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973)
The Fellowship of the Ring

Monday, May 17, 2021

And He Built a Crooked House


"I don't think of a house as an upholstered cave; I think of it as a machine for living, a vital process, a live dynamic thing, changing with the mood of the dweller—not a dead, static, oversized coffin. Why should we be held down by the frozen concepts of our ancestors? Any fool with a little smattering of descriptive geometry can design a house in the ordinary way. Is the static geometry of Euclid the only mathematics? Are we to completely disregard the Picard-Vessiot theory? How about modular system?—to say nothing of the rich suggestions of stereochemistry. Isn't there a place in architecture for transformation, for homomorphology, for actional structures?"
...
"'Blessed if I know," answered Bailey. 'You might must as well be talking about the fourth dimension for all it means to me.'"
...
"...the house was no longer there. There was not even the ground floor room. It had vanished. The Baileys, interested in spite of themselves, poked around the foundations with Teal. 'Got any answers for this one, Teal?' asked Bailey. 'It must be that on that last shock it simply fell through into another section of space. I can see now that I should have anchored it at the foundations.' 'That's not all you should have done.' 'Well, I don't see that there is anything to get down-hearted about. The house was insured, and we've learned an amazing lot. There are possibilities, man, possibilities! Why, right now I've got a great new revolutionary idea for a house—'Teal ducked in time. He was always a man of action.'"

- Robert A. Heinlein (1907 - 1988)
And He Built a Crooked House

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Borgesian Window


"As afternoon progresses and I look up from my work to gaze out this window, I may be invaded by springtime, or if it’s summer, by the perfume of jasmine or the scent of orange blossom, mingled with the aroma of leather and book paper, which brought Borges such pleasure.

The window has one more surprise. From it, I can see the garden of the house where Borges once lived, and where he wrote one of his best-known short stories, “The Circular Ruins.’’ Here, I can move back and forth between two worlds. Sometimes, following Borges, I wonder which one is real: the world I see from the window, bathed in afternoon splendor or sunset’s soft glow, with the house that once belonged to Borges in the distance, or the world of the Library of Babel, with its shelves full of books once touched by his hands?"

- Maria Kodama (1937 - )
Mr. Borges’s Garden

Saturday, May 15, 2021

A Mere Door


"How concrete everything
becomes in the world of
the spirit when an object,
a mere door, can give
images of hesitation, temptation,
desire, security, welcome
and respect. If one
were to give an account
of all the doors one has
closed and opened,
of all the doors one
would like to re-open,
one would have to tell the
story of one's entire life."

- Gaston Bachelard (1884 - 1962)
The Poetics of Space

Friday, May 14, 2021

Entropic Melodies


"The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations - then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation - well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it to collapse in deepest humiliation."

Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Postscript. One of the first major publications that some of my work was featured in was Black & White magazine, way back in issue #41 (Feb 2006). The images were from what I called my "entropic melody" series. But the "melody" part applies equally to the images (as in "living melodies of otherwise visibly decaying parts") as it does to the - still ongoing - process of creating them (on a vastly different space and time scale). Though I like to think of my "synesthetic landscape" series as my longest "in progress" portfolio, the truth is that - having started "only" in 2009 - it takes a back seat to something I believe I'll never tire of: finding "life" in lifelessness. And so, on a recent "long weekend" vacation with my wife and youngest son (also a photographer), and armed with this spur-of-the-moment self-reflection, I found my eye and lens trained not (entirely) on the natural beauty in the West Jefferson area of North Carolina (of which there is plenty to be had, to be sure!), but rather on the regions' splendors of human-created and now neglected decaying beauty. Looking over the 30 or so "keeper shots" I returned home with, no less than 25 of them are of nothing but "withered but beautifully decrepit" sentinels - and occasional palimpsests - of  times past. And, for the photographer, a glimpse of a longer-term "melody" playing out in an always evolving aesthetic landscape. I will be featuring a few of my favorites from this short-much-too-short trip in the coming days.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Patterns


"To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.

We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in."

- Oliver Sacks (1933 - 2015)

Postscript #1. The triptych consists of images I captured one day last summer after my wife parked her car in a garage near a local farmer's market. I was mesmerized by the "organized cacophony" of shimmering reflections off other car's hoods and hubcaps that arranged - and revealed - themselves to anyone interested in looking. Though I lamented not having my "real" camera, I was happy to have my iPhone to capture this lovely visual feast! Yet another gentle reminder that we must always be on alert to the universe's ceaseless wonders. And, though I rarely talk about the "nuts-and-bolts of photography on my blog (and much prefer posting images and musings than highlighting what f-stop I used), here's a small - hopefully useful - foray into the "nuts-and-bolts" department: to better prepare for unpredictable contingencies (i.e., for when I'm out and about without my usual shoulder and/or back-breaking warehouse-in-a-bag assortment of cameras, lenses, and filters), I recently purchased a tiny - almost babyish-looking - camera; albeit one that is fully functioning! Since it is designed to fit in even a child's pocket (!), I've resolved to always have it on my person when leaving the house for any reason. For those of you curious, it's Canon's G1X Mark III, which is best described as an ultra-miniaturized mirrorless version of their (older) 80D DSLR. While its fixed-lens is neither particularly bright nor sharp, the sensor is effectively the same one used on the 80D; yep, an APS-C sensor in a body that fits inside a shirt pocket! You can check out a review here. So far, I'm loving it, though have yet to post any pictures captured by it. But I suspect that'll soon change :)

Postscript #2. For those of you saddened by not having Oliver Sacks' sage wisdom around anymore (though his books forever enshrine his genius), there is a wonderful new biography available, called Oliver Sacks: His Own Life. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Awe of a Flower


"I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts."

- Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)
The Beauty of the Flower