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June 22, 2010

World of Wonders

Every human starts out with one cell and we develop, via regulatory processes we are still learning about, into a collection of about 10 trillion cells. To date those 10 trillion cells have been categorized into about 300 types, and we know how to turn one type of cell into another type, and we know that different cells seem to have different preferences about where they like to live and what surfaces they like to grow on. And we know that the proteins within cells cluster together. Just like stars.

Another thing we know now is that "waltzing" pairs of black holes way way way out in space do their dance (follow their pattern of movement) in a way that echoes the movement pattern of electrons in their little tiny orbits around tiny nuclei in tiny atoms. This seems both revelatory and common sensical -- that the movement in atoms, which make up all stuff, echoes the movement of all objects made of stuff.

But who is the "we" I am referring to here? How many people really have an active engagement in the connections between atomic motion and the motion of invisible, immortal celestial bodies? And of course there is the question of what one does with the knowledge. Does knowing a thing compel one to spread the word? And what does knowing a thing mean, anyway? Facts are mutable, in time, and history is mutable as well. I used to "know" that punk rock would change modern life forever, that architecture was apolitical, that no one could ever be as bad a president as Reagan, and that Einstein wasn't a slut.

I also used to "know" that new endeavors of the mind were always their own reward, that curiosity was always a fuel for happiness, and that travel was always thrilling. But with age comes wisdom, especially about plane travel...and the recognition that it is patterns (of thought, of motion, of experience) rather than new and unique instances that make up most of what is.

So, if one recognizes a pattern, is one compelled to spread the word? I realize most of my paintings are exactly that. They are expressions about the sudden recognition of a pattern. I know I often feel something like compulsion when I approach the canvas -- not to capture something of myself there, but to capture a moment of recognition before it blinks by.

As if I can see, however briefly, what a vast collection of individual movements (thoughts, memories, reactions, words) looks like as a whole. And as if capturing that perception is worthwhile.


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