What makes an AHA moment? What makes you suddenly think, “THIS makes it worth being alive?” And is it different for each of us?
If our brain translates the world, taking raw, fizzling energy and rendering it as a tree, a car or a sunset, do our depictions vary? I have often wondered whether my idea of green is yours. It certainly isn't my husband's – we often argue about shades of blue and green. Dogs see muted colours but does their exquisite sense of smell paint a rich olifactory picture? Are they transported by the subtlety of urine?
My moments are often verbal. I pause to taste a word, to toss it round my mind like salad, to savour its richness. Does an artist get a feeling of “rightness” at a curl of the pen? Is a line supremely satisfying as it curves down the page?
People enthuse about their art, which often to me is jumbled sound or shape. Yet it means something so important to them that they will spend a lifetime trying to nail perfection. This builds on my last post, the idea that we are necessary to take God's vision of creation and make it manifest in three dimensions, through our translation of the mathematics of the universe into landscape, movement and emotion. Does love exist if we are not there to feel it? If a tree falls in a lonely forest, does it make a sound? And if, as I have read, a frog only sees moving objects, will it only see that tree while it falls?
Impressionists painted, not the customary classical, precise almost photographic landscapes, but what the eye saw at that moment, shifting colours, moving light. Not what they thought they saw as previously, which I always think gives a leaden stillness to many old paintings, but what they really saw – with depth and movement. Makes me think that only the invention of photography released artists from depiction to expression.
Yesterday, I was walking by the harbour as clouds slowly coalesced and faded. A man was unloading a truck nearby. “It makes you glad to be alive,” we said simultaneously – and looked at each other. Two strangers who recognized the pulse of life.
Whart Are You Looking At? The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz