Learning to See
when they want to train a baby elephant
to stay still when it’s told to, they tie it to a green stick.
Its owner knows that when that elephant grows up it might be chained to a tree ~ and if it decides to walk away, it can simply take the chains and the tree with it.
They also know their adult elephant won’t do that.
All its life, when it was time to stay still, it found itself tied to a green stick.
Tie that adult elephant to a green stick, and it will be there when you get back.
So, it goes a lot further than Pavlov’s
simply salivating dogs.
More experiments proved that if fish are made by the presence of a plexiglass barrier to swim in only one half of a bowl, after removing the barrier they will still swim in that half of the bowl only.
Flies, forced beneath a certain altitude by the same type of barrier will also continue to limit themselves to that level after its removal.
Perhaps the definitive (and deservedly award-winning) experiment in this arena of inquiry involved the raising of two litters of kittens in separate rooms. One room contained only vertical visual stimuli, the other only horizontal.
When those cats grew to adulthood, those raised in the vertical room proved physically unable to perceive horizontal visual stimuli, and would walk straight into them when presented. Ditto the cats from the horizontal room when presented with vertical stimuli.
the very latest research indicates
that we never physically see what is actually before us in any moment.
What we see is a ‘smoothed’ composit of the fifteen to thirty seconds prior to its viewing.
Perhaps the reader is now prepared to believe this truth:
At the approach of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria
to their first harbor on the shores of the New World, two categories of Native Americans were on hand to greet them:
Those who could see them, looming larger and larger ~ the biggest construction any of them had ever known.
And those who couldn’t.
These continued to stare at an empty harbor until the moment the first of the sailors rowed to shore, looking ~ very odd, to be sure ~ but recognizably like a human being.
So, how does all this relate to beauty?
Simple: Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, right?
In case the reader needs backups:
“Beauty is in the heart of the beholder.” – H. G. Wells
“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.” – David Hume
Dreaming or awake, we perceive only events that have meaning to us. Jane Roberts
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Mark Twain
You have to imagine it possible before you can see something. You can have the evidence right in front of you, but if you can’t imagine something… it’s impossible. Rita Dove
yours foolie find special interest
in the following quotation of Paul Gauguin:
It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.
She reminds her readers of the mainstream attitude of derision and scorn meted out to those capable of seeing the energetic auras of human beings and other life forms ~ until the advancing science of photography proved them to be seeing exactly what actually existed but remains invisible to most.
Having monkey-climbed up and down the ladder of consciousness more than a few times her ownself, yours foolie can report the visuals to change dramatically according to ones current level of consciousness.
We create what we see
Quantum physics has now proven that the object which next strikes your eye does not actually exist until your eye does strike it, carrying your expectation of seeing it there ~ at which point it coalesces for your express satisfaction. If it’s a chair, you can then sit down in it. If it’s a pen, you can use it to write with.
When you remove your gaze, your weight, your hand ~ it flies apart again.
yours foolie suggests
that modern civilization is becoming blind to beauty
… through the continual creation of its opposite.
Beauty is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which otherwise would have been hidden from us forever. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Beauty awakens the soul to act.
We are learning, too, that the love of beauty is one of Nature’s greatest healers. Ellsworth Huntington
Not seeing what is right before us
because we’ve never seen it before is a physical phenomenon
but not seeing what is right before us because we are privileged to see it every day is something quite other.
It belongs in that class of “unavoidables” which when we examined them in the first chapters of this series we found to be anything but ~ in fact (one and all, dear readers; please review if you yet doubt it) neither common nor natural to the human animal at all ~ prior, that is, to the deepening cesspools of modern civilization.
Among the native populations of the Trobriand Islands, Malinowski recounts, courting young couples plan afternoon or evening dates for walking together to nearby locations of beauty. These are greatly prized, preserved and deeply appreciated by all.
Their innate esthetic refinement is such that it is considered a breach of good taste to bring food to these locations with which to distract and dull the mind and heart from such a joyously lovely spectacle as is presented to their higher senses of beauty and grace.
No one from this culture will ever say
what everyone in our own culture, on hearing, chuckles and shakes their heads over ~ because it’s so true:
Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?
George Bernard Shaw
The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.
And why was it we wanted to be able to see (and create) beauty, again?
Because, fellow foolies…
“The love of beauty in its multiple forms is the noblest gift of the human cerebrum.” – Alexis Carrel
To love beauty is to see light. Victor Hugo
We go to hours of daily trouble
and spend buckets of money
trying to make ourselves beautiful.
Here’s how it’s really done:
There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.
A woman whose smile is open and whose expression
is glad has… beauty no matter what she wears.
“Beauty has a lot to do with character.”
– Kevyn Aucoin
Since love grows within you, so beauty grows.
For love is the beauty of the soul. Saint Augustine
Seek beauty in the world around you
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The real sin against life is to
abuse and destroy beauty.
Katherine Anne Porter
Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.