Tuesday, March 1, 2011

maybe its the horizon

It is certainly not the cultural offerings. The food is good but it can't just be the food. I even spent some time in grad school studying the colors to see if that was it. It wasn't. But I keep wanting to go back to the coast again and again.

A couple of years ago I started to think of the amount of time I spend at the coast just looking out at the horizon. We may say we're watching the waves but how long can you really pay attention to such a trance inducing motion? Maybe it is not the sand or the waves. Maybe I am just orienting myself.

As it happens I've been re-reading Leonard Shlain's book "Art & Physics" and just before we left for the beach last week I read a section dealing with Pythagoras, development of linear text, and light. Shlain mentions the effect of the horizon on humans as our chief orienting device. He goes so far as to suggest that many of the greatest and most successful empires may have excelled simply because they sat on or near a coast with the horizon in sight at all times. I've over simplified this idea of course, but when you consider linear thought, spacial relationships and the development of linear perspective in seafaring cultures you have to realize this is a point worth considering.

How many times each day do you normally see the horizon? For many of us our best chance is on a long stretch of interstate and even then we get only a thin line sandwiched between two clumps of trees. Even if you spend a good bit of time outside there's plenty of architecture and landscaping to block your view of the horizon.

I'm not an airline pilot or a sea captain but maybe as a human I'm wired to stabilize my movements and sense of direction based on the horizon. If in our modern lives with MapQuest or Google we think we no longer need this giant orienting line....perhaps we are fooling ourselves. Maybe our vanishing appreciation of the horizon could account for some of our stress and irrational thinking.

It seems the point of this verbal excursion is: go to the beach. Take a break and consider the horizon. I did and here's what it looked like this time around:

Blue jumping

Blue's special lens attachment for the iPhone (his toy over the lens)

Cold Violet

Warm Violet

Sand turtle with a giant Dali mustache

Sand pirate with Blue

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