Angle of Repose

This challenge was a bit more difficult for me, as I realized that I take many pictures of–and am fascinated by–angles of light and shadow. But refraction seems to be less about reflection, and more about how an image is transformed in the reflection. Or even how light itself is transformed, as it passes through an object. I remember when I took this abstract composition of a broken stemmed flower I was fascinated by the way the word ‘found’ was transformed, and amplified, as it were, in each little bubble of glass….upside down.

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Weekly photo challenge: ‘For this photo challenge, show us what “refraction” means to you. It could be an image taken in a reflective surface, it could be light bent from behind an object, or it could mean remedial math homework: the choice is completely up to you. I’m looking forward to seeing how you interpret “refraction.”’

The Liquid Network

Avant Garde:  ‘From your musical tastes to your political views, were you ever way ahead of the rest of us, adopting the new and the emerging before everyone else?’ IMG_2277 This question reminds me of the quote from astronomer Carl Sagan:

‘If you want to bake an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.’

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What is often viewed as ‘new’, more than likely has its roots in something old. Older than ourselves. Older than our own culture.

Creative or derivative? Discoverer or inventor?

The study of ‘where ideas come from’ is a fascinating one. Whether your passion is music, painting, writing, or designing toasters; every artist wants to be an innovator. The reality is that we are likely deriving ideas from a sort of existing matrix that we benefit from whether we consciously acknowledge it or not. As a musician, I am always amazed at how composers of the last two centuries could take the merest threads of a folk tune and elaborate it into complex orchestral arrangements. But these brilliant men still started with a simple musical motif that had been in existence for many ages before them.

In this fascinating Ted Talks interview, Steven Johnson speaks of what he calls ‘the liquid network’ of ideas. He tells the intriguing story behind the birth of that ever fertile breeding ground for ideas and revolution–the European coffeehouse–and, in a funny twist, how it relates to the origins of GPS. As Johnson puts it:

“Chance favors the connected mind”.

There are many studies that show that collective brainstorming in a social environment–as opposed to solitary musings–have been the most excitingly productive. In a curious link to yesterday’s daily prompt on ‘messy’, Johnson also suggests that the socially chaotic community gathering place may be a better environment to source in our desire to think outside our individual little boxes. This phenomena has also been referred to under many studies and by names just as ‘collective intelligence’. (There is a thought-provoking book entitled, The Wisdom of Crowds.)

In a recent post over at my genusrosa blog, I touched lightly on this topic: Gossamer Abundant, as it is one that continues to fascinate me. Gossamer threads of connectedness…open platform of shared ideas….liquid network….the ‘ambient ether’ of Georges Santayana….all ways to attempt to describe how we become more than the sum of our individual parts.

To be truly avant garde is rare. The simple answer to the day’s question for me is: no, I am never avant garde. My built in WordPress spellcheck won’t even let me spell avant garde without officiously correcting it for me into something ordinary and of my own language. It’s annoying me greatly, but can I argue with it?

The truth is, even if you are leading the pack, you are still one of a pack. If you are the latest rage of ‘strawberry balsamic ice cream dusted with fennel pollen’, you are still ice cream. You haven’t invented the universe.

After writing this post, I am craving a cup of coffee, and a slice of warm apple pie served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. How ordinary. How simply perfect. Who first thought of it?

Nose in a Book

Daily Post:

‘Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?’

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Snobbery is the darling child of prejudice. And prejudice in any strata of life can be destructive. Snobbery suggests a petty concern with trivialities. Think bigger. Much bigger. Get out of yourself and off your postage stamp of real estate.

Or are we talking about high standards? The hated word? No one likes to be held to a standard, it seems. Unless we stick to the safer passions, such as coffee and chocolate, or drinkable harvests.

Is this a question of style or taste? What a slippery slope that can be. In the seventies there was a pop song that was a riff off of a Rachmaninov piano concerto. I used to love that song. Oh how I loved that song. Now it annoys me that I was ever that teenager who didn’t have sense enough to turn her nose up at ‘saccharine poor me pop plagiarism.’ Now I am passionately fond of Rachmaninov’s concertos, knowing full well that the intellectual world of musicologists dismiss his work as ‘too melodious’. Snobbery.

At times, it is hard not to make character judgements, or friendship choices, based on the lack of certain tastes, or the abundance of certain tastes. This would limit us severely in getting to know a wide range of people from all walks of life.

I love to read; I love to collect books. Within that sphere it is only natural to form a taste for this or that. In my home there are several nine foot bookshelves, filled to the brim with books. Very little bric a brac on those shelves. Just books. There are globes. There is a large-can’t-miss-it antique grand piano in the center of my small living room. There is history in this room. When someone walks in for the first time and completely ignores, or is unmoved by, what I consider any of these compelling elements, I am slightly stunned. But then, I love history. Not everyone loves history. (Even a die hard snob, if they’ve been dead a few centuries, would interest me.) Yet I would hate to think that my personal attachments and interests would blind me to the possibility of making a new friend.

It’s not that the thing is important. Don’t admire the object. Admire what the object represents. Ideas. The world of ideas, both musical and literary. The history of ideas, art and creativity.

The ‘idea’ that snobbery somehow makes us better or more interesting is flawed. Ideas that promote better relationships, or foster meaningful human interaction make us ‘better’.

Snobbery can, however, result in a really good bottle of wine. And for that–I forgive it.

“I do not mean to object to a thorough knowledge of the famous works we read. I object only to the interminable comments and bewildering criticisms that teach but one thing: there are as many opinions as there are men.” Helen Keller