Saturday, May 13, 2017

In the Mind's Eye

It is still on my shelf, my 1987 copy of James Gleick's book Chaos, one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books. One of the gems that I highlighted: "In the mind's eye, a fractal is a way of seeing infinity."

In the mind's eye—what a wonderful phrase, validating of both intellect and imagination, of the necessity of both working together as a means of interpreting perception in the reality of the moment. As always, I am reminded of poetry and collage, each of which is also "a way of seeing infinity."

How to describe the blindness of those who lack this "mind's eye," those who live by destruction rather than creativity? Or those who cannot balance the two—balance, as one thinks of Jackson Pollack, so many inner demons and yet the capacity to create something new, something that changed our collective mind's eye and made us see everything anew (those waterlily panels of Monet! We get it now!).

For an artist, what better evocation of chaos theory (infinite possibilities within finite parameters) than Pollack's drip paintings. Understanding those finite parameters—the edge of canvas or page; the poetic line and stanza; the letter and spirit of the law; the boundaries of human dignity—lets us manage and even thrive within the chaos of daily life. We are witnessing the beginning of the end of the ability to thrive. We must find a new way to see infinity, to brush up against those finite parameters and pull back, creating a new possibility that was there all along.

Artists and poets, please keep showing us the way.

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