Stand Still and Look Until You Really See

I am a fan of Dave Pollard’s blog. He writes stuff that nobody else writes – about nature, about enviroment, about us as human beings, about making us feel we are still alive.

Here, he writes about the differences between two ways of showing attention. He distinguishes between right and left brain:

Betty Edwards’ famous book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, contains a wonderful series of exercises for those who are convinced they can’t draw. I only picked it up after I’d read Edward de Bono’s Serious Creativity and discovered that creativity is a learned skill, not something that you’re ‘born with’ (or without). Edwards’ book taught me that drawing is also an acquired skill. Or, to be more precise, it’s an ‘unlearning’ skill, because it requires you to defeat our natural inclination to view objects as series of icons (a left-brain ‘shorthand’), and instead view them as lines, shades and spaces (a right-brain abstraction). The reason we think we can’t draw, says Edwards, is that when we try to draw, our left brain gets in the way, telling us that what we’re drawing when we draw a face is two eyes, a nose, a mouth etc., which our brain symbolizes in certain iconographic ways, so that our drawing turns out to be a drawing of these symbolic icons, rather than what we really see.

He particularly says:

The book provides some other exercises to improve the strength of your right-brain and apply it to the art of drawing. What’s more important to me, however, is the realization of how the analytic left-brain, which our culture tends to favour and over-exercise, diminishes our awareness of the world around us. I remember in high school a poster with the caption Stand still and look until you really see.

And as always, he finally gives us the touch of this unreal world:

In the book Easy Travel to Other Planets, Ted Mooney describes a future world where people are so bombarded with meaningless information, abstract facts that don’t really matter, that they become psychologically paralyzed, unable to focus on anything, and succumb to what Mooney calls ‘information sickness’. In some ways we are already there. The trappings of our society and culture have already separated us from, and deadened us to, most of what is real in this world, and surrounded us instead with artifice — bland, manipulative, numbing ‘entertainment’, office and home lighting (and air conditioning, and jobs) that are artificial, news that shows wars as light-shows instead of people dead and dying, cars that insulate us from any exposure to real people or real weather.

The saying look until you really see is really important. This just applies to anything.


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