Do you ever catch yourself looking at some scene or other, and notice a disparity between what you immediately feel, and then think?
Allow me to give you a brief example.
(It would have been great to draw for this post, but in this instance, I think a googled one plus several hundred words is better).
I’ve been thinking about it for a lot of the week, and that would be awesome for you to see it too!
Walking back home from the bus stop last week it started, quite suddenly, to pour with rain. The immediate physical environment was uneven countryside tarmac lanes and unkempt hedgerow. It was around eight p.m, which at this time of year means the sun has gone to bed. It’s dark.
But not completely. A few buildings cast a few bits of light.
I knew the way home, and the phone torch helped prevent me from any falling over mishaps. But I wasn’t focused on that. What caught my attention was the light on the wet surfaces outside the little puddle of light emitting from my phone.
The dark hues, and not so dark reflection, and ripples. The pattering.
It calmed me.
That’s what I felt, and I noticed it because these sorts of scenes do not typically have that sort of effect on me.
Not sure what the temperature was, only that it must have been above 0 degrees Celsius. Presumably my shoes were soon to be soaked through and I’d have cold toes, like now.
It’s not surprising really, given the hours I spend staring at screens and soaking in abrupt urban noises that these sights had this serene effect.
Later on, I thought about this — about my response. And other similar scenes, particularly those in pictures and paintings, which evoked different senses, or emotions.
These types of scenes have historically evoked sadness in me. Why?
“There’s no one else in the picture. The city must be lonely.”
“It’s dark and blue. Dark and blue means sad.”
“The artist has created one painting.”
Intellectual processing takes a relative truckload of mental calories. And, I’m not sure if exclusively, but it relies on categorization and internalized socially constructed values; ‘if it’s not this, then it is this instead’, that sort of thing.
Internal disharmony becomes more likely, as other subtle mental biases might come into play and perhaps egocentric defenses too.
Like just now, as I very much struggled to be concise with those words and the meaning I wanted to convey.
Mindful observation is not always ‘natural’. It’s not even always practical. But it can be encouraged by asking questions, rather than being set in one way of thinking or opinion.
If I were to make a painting out of it, I’d probably only need to use five or six colors. My eyes were seemingly rather fatigued.
The self is an illusion
This sentence somehow or other got into my head this week and I’ve been churning it over.
It’s weird, and scary to go deep with it. But just the sentence. Whenever I get locked into an unproductive self — defeating funk.
Essentially, a lot of the suffering you go through is wasted energy and you don’t even need to suffer the suffering and I’m telling you to stop, stupid human.
Suffering to some degree or other is a necessary factor for growth and development. And that’s hard enough, let’s not make it any harder on ourselves if we can.
Magic and wonderment
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” — Arthur C. Clarke
Magic does not mean only one thing. It can be lots of things, and ‘magical’ performances and stage shows are one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking events I’ve been lucky enough to attend. But we must try to draw a line between reality and self — deception.
This was for me one of the recurring themes in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is a powerful literary exploration of what can be viewed overall as the repetition of history.
The story follows even generations of the Buendia family in the fictional southern American town called Macondo.
The story doesn’t have any overall main character and the narrative switches between different people, and their situations and perspectives.
In a way, Macondo itself is a sort of metacharacter in the story. And despite the various misfortunes and misdirection’s of the townsfolk throughout, it is the last victim in the book, when it is left in a state of near-abandonment and degradation until a hurricane finally wipes these decrepit remains of the town away completely.
One of the driving forces to damage Macondo to this point of vulnerability were the self — inflicted misfortunes caused by the Buendia’s.
For instance, several times early on in the book never before seen technologies and phenomena are brought to Macondo by a band of gypsies. Such as a telescope, a magnet and blocks of ice. José Arcadio Buendía, in particular, becomes obsessed with these ‘magical’ items, eventually to the point oh his own ill health.
For José Arcadio Buendía seeing the ice would have been otherworldly. And as one might expect he becomes obsessed with keeping it. Of course, it doesn’t last long in this pre refrigerator and basic understanding physics part of the world. The ice melts into water, and quickly.
Alas, it doesn’t stop José Arcadio Buendía squandering his time, money and health on these objects.
The book is densely imaginative and exploratory of many other themes too, and I would not want to oversimplify.
Life cannot always be or look ‘wonderful’ to us. There are often other things necessary for our survival that don’t involve being in that state. Additionally, we should not expect to be able to switch it on and off quickly, either. If it were that easy.
When was the last time life life turned up with a block of ice for you?