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February 13th, 2007

on seeing and hearing



(red morph by gurdonark of photograph of the moon Io. Original photo: NASA/JPL, available from nasa.gov).

"We can all recall acquaintances of whose integrity of purpose we can have no doubt, but who cause much confusion as they proceed to the accomplishment of that purpose, who indeed are often insensible to their own mistakes and harsh in their judgments of other people because they are so confident of their own inner integrity".--Jane Addams (with thanks to project gutenberg)

I looked today at pinhole camera pictures posted on flickr.com by a photographer in Japan. The little bursts of hazy scenery, seen through the pin-circle of the effective vantage, made a sense to me that a sharper image sometimes lacks. I made a mental note to find the one dollar instamatic camera I used a few years ago--barely a little tube with an aperture. I used to get a similar look from that rig-up.

I like to think lately about perspective. A solid telescope allows one to get a view of a distant galaxy that the naked eye does not afford. Through powerful binoculars, the galaxy is faint but visible. Through a small telescope, the galaxy is distinct but small. A large hobbyist scope yields a
gorgeous view, while the Hubble space telescope yields breathless wonder.

Things work similarly when viewed through a macro lens. Even a small microscope allows one to see protozoa of astonishing articulation and activity.
When I fail to take off my monofocal glasses, by contrat, sometimes I cannot read.

Last year I purchased a device which permits one to hear distant sounds. I cannot describe the thrill one experiences in finding that a distant, apparently quiet woodland contains a songbird's call, other than to relate that it's a palpable good thing. Sometimes I found that the songbird actually could have been heard, albeit faintly, with the unassisted ear. A kind of internal filtering, however, screened out the sound in my mind, until the assistance of the device pulled it "up in the mix".

The metaphors about perception and matters of human interaction seem obvious even to one who recently took a "fill in the metaphor" meme and managed to fill in non-metaphoric descriptors instead in at least half the resulting blanks. We don't always see and hear what those around us live. We all lumber by, rather like those "ships in the night" in the old Be Bop Deluxe song.

I think, sometimes, that through a better moral lens, we'd see moons of Jupiter, and endless miles of protozoa in green chlorophyll splendor.

shorn lambs and all that



The news pours forth winter weather tales from across the country like a global wintry mix. Given the fact that we have had only a token of rain, and no hint of snow, and are now merely dry and cold, I should not think twice about a little wind chill. Yet when I stopped for gasoline, and the wind whipped through me, I thought about my own chilly place in this universe rather than the needs of the many, which no doubt outweigh the needs of this one-unit few.

I snapped a picture of a large oak tree, still bearing its dead leaves. I meant to play with the leaves and make them look green, but then I decided to add flowers.

Our February weather usually happens in variations--70 degrees one day, 28 the next. I am keenly aware of 28, and am ready for 70.

But tell me, really, how are you?