Entry 128, July 26th, 2011, 7:49pm (GMT +2)
Today's question: does understanding how the world works take the beauty out of it?
Mark Twain spoke of this phenomenon. Before he learned how to “read the river” as a riverboat captain, he loved to sit and watch it flow by. But after he learned to navigate, he lost his sense of wonder in technical jargon and analysis.
Today, just a minute ago, I saw a rainbow from the back deck over Cannes. Were I a prehistoric human, this would be a fortuitous omen – a sign from the gods of good luck. But because of my scientific education, I know that the rainbow is actually just light and water. We've taken them apart, and we can make them ourselves. Has the rainbow lost its power?
I think not. Despite our breakdown of the rainbow into different pieces, we've left something out. Science fails to take into account the person watching the rainbow. In seeing, I add something to the experience that cannot be measured or separated. If I am looking for support, the rainbow will be a sign of encouragement. If I am feeling sardonic, it will be a sarcastic god mocking me. If I am looking for something else, I will fail to see the rainbow. And if I am feeling scientific and analytical, it will be a marvelous collection of water droplets and sunlight.
The world still has power to make us feel things because of the act of observation. Our surroundings reflect what is inside. If we want the world to be beautiful, we need merely look for beauty in it.