'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Shadows and Ways of Thinking

Sometimes our attention becomes focussed on not an object but its shadow.

I came into the lounge one sunny morning recently and the low light angle striking a model beetle I'd made, suddenly helped me see not it, but its cast shadow. This in turn made me remember this photo by André Kertész I'd seen once.

Seeing the shadow and not the object is rather like realising one has a paradigm.
However, usually the object, or way of thinking, just is. We don't question. We live day-to-day, doing what we have to do: eating, filling up the kettle from the tap, gardening, chopping the firewood, washing the dishes with detergent, working, filling up the car with petrol or groceries, emptying the car again, taking out the rubbish bin to the gate, seeing people, saying words, reading books, checking email.... The alternatives, the negative, different, or opposite views are sometimes hard to see. Because our Usual is so entrenched or accepted, it is hard to notice it, let alone question its validity.

Freidrich Hundertwasser was an interesting person. Among many of the interesting things he was and did and thought, is the idea that the straight line (in architecture) is bad for us. He considered it unnatural, and like toxic chemicals in our environment, slowly 'builds up' and causes illness and dis-ease. You can read more about a heating plant he designed for Vienna here.

He also liked to imagine the environment that surrounded us like a series of skins. Here is a little diagram he drew. Does imagining your life like this, change anything about the way you think, I wonder?


  1. So the house comes before (or inside) identity, hm. I guess that can be debated (and with very interesting discussions) In some ways I do regard my home as part of myself. On the other hand one can travel away from one's home and still be 'oneself'. That may require some thinking ;)

  2. I started off by thinking that I wasn't sure that I altogether found it easy to think in the way the diagram suggests. It appeared to me rather like the Buddist way of thinking (but I may well be wrong) with our self at the centre of the universe (inside our body's skin). The more I looked and thought, though, the more I wondered. In reality the diagram is simply a statement of the physical proximity of things with 'me' at the centre. That's pretty much a statement of physical fact as it is for each of us. So I'm not sure how it can alter how we see ourselves because I'm not sure how it can be different. It just is.

  3. On the subject of the shadows that is a phenomenon of which I have been aware and which has fascinated me since I was a child and saw fingers and hands used to make shadow 'puppets' on the wall. Ever since then I have looked at shadows with interest and a certain amount of awe.