Thursday, August 16, 2007

Complex Simplicity

So in my cluttered brain I usually have a few bebesque ideas that rattle around and that I mull over in quiet moments, or standing in line at Target, or whenever there isn't an immediate task at hand, and one of these that's been pinging around is that of perceptions.

Lemme a-splain a bit-o background:
Last week the amazing Liz Wolfe wrote a very thought provoking blog about "honor in the ordinary" and my immediate question was - What makes something ordinary? What parts does something have that makes it common? If it's common does that make it more or less real? And is it those parts that make things common or real what make up "reality"? Because your reality is honestly the lens through which you perceive the world. And then I started thinking that it isn't a particular quality that make things ordinary, or real, or part of a reality, its how you see them.

Like Monet - he was a painter in a time when it was no longer necessary to hone the artistic talent of capturing the details of things. The camera had already been invented, so the artistic unicorn was to go inside of the mind as opposed to outside of it. Monet painted the same thing over and over again not to capture the thing itself, but the light that bathed it. He didn't even bother to blend his paint on the canvas most of the time because he wanted the perceiver's eye to blend the colors and make up the picture. That's why every time you increase or decrease the distance between you and a Monet the picture changes. Its a different painting because the way the light hits your eye changes. No two people have ever seen the same Monet. Even when they've seen it at the same time and in the same light. Kinda the whole "can't step in the same river twice principle" except without the dancing raccoons and all that.

But seriously - How beautiful is that? How beautiful is it that we can construct our own worlds so powerfully and still have the mobility to go in and out of each other's worlds as well? We essentially live on 5 or 6 different levels all the time. What we think, what our family might think, what our society would think, what would another society think of our society's thinking. We even have precious insight into God's perceptions and what He thinks. Especially of us.

I think this is one of the things Neal A. Maxwell meant when he outlined his idea of "complex simplicity".

So besides the individual and collective individual's thought windows, what further perplexes/fascinates me is the layers things and people have when being perceived. Its almost as if they want and don't want to be seen at the same time. Like things that are similarly different or are differently similar.

Children all look and act the same to a casual and intolerant eye (small, loud, usually pretty grubby) but are all so beautifully and differently complicated on a second look that it takes a special kind of genius to mitigate more than one.

Books all have the relative same shape and format but all have very different silent messages.

Like - if every car (speaking in a strictly aesthetic sense) in the world had the exact same interior - would we care about what kind of car we drove? People would all see us in our different cars from the outside, but it would all be the same to us on the inside? Would we value what we have more or less? Would we value ourselves more or less?

I don't really know or have any answers that would be valid to anyone other than myself. But I do know that we all live with a complicated hunger to distinguish ourselves but also to belong somewhere. I know that a good portion of people in a crowed room feel alone and that we somehow understand that contained contradiction is an inevitable part of life. We just accept diet candy and fuel economy SUVs. That abusive parents do love their children in some fashion. That we have to fight to have peace. We understand that things can live on two fronts but not necessarily serve two masters. C.S. Lewis said that "Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time." and that might explain everything. So our own dual natures are the cause and cure....
I dont' know. I don't know if any of this makes sense at all. I suppose I'll have to let it rattle around for a little bit longer.


Rachel said...

I did one of my knock-offs of Monet's Wheat Stacks. I called it "Cream o' Wheat Stacks" It's one of my faves.

Nice thoughts Lizzie.

Mz. Liz said...

I actually thought of that when I was image-searching. lol! Its my favorite of your parodies. You're lovely.

Liz W. said...

I've been pondering this post for about three hours now. Many insightful concepts are spoken of, Liz.

You've given me a lot to think about over the weekend...