One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Changing the perception, not what you like most?

I like Sherlock Holmes and have watched all the series and movies based on this fictional character. The expression, “I suspect nothing and everything”, taking the “absence” of something as important clue as “footprint” and drawing big conclusions from seemingly very small and sporadic clues are my favorites that have dragged me to be big fan of this character. In short, Sherlock Holmes is what a rational man can/expected to do in controlled and deterministic yet thrilling fictional world. The utmost efforts of mankind to rationalize everything and look down to what appear as irrational are a self-serving evidence that rationality is most sought trait at least to “modern-humans” (Sometimes when I come across some evidently irrational expressions and comments in favor of rationality and sanity, I just get a stroke of puzzlement; Thanks to our brains that have evolved to ease us by changing the perceptions to create reality at least by illusion if not by facts; foods for beliefs?).
Cottingley Fairies
Being a fan of the fictional character of Sherlock Holms as a symbolic representation of a rational man, it is natural to think of the mind behind the character as a highly creative and rational person. Arthur Conan Doyle is the creator of this character but you may be amazed to know that the creator of such a rational character also believed that fairies do exist. In 1921, he wrote the book, “the coming of fairies” and he believed that the 5 photographs of fairies that were taken by two cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths in 1917 in Cottingley, England were original. He was a member of “Ghost Club” and based on the differences of beliefs on “spiritualism” broke up with his friend, Harry Houdini who was a magician and was opposing “spiritualism”. So, how a rational person accommodate such an apparent paradox? Before pondering on this question let’s explore some more related paradoxes…

This is what one of my teachers told us as a joke,

…. The government started a literacy project for distant villages and was sending teachers to villages to teach people reading and writing. In some villages the village chiefs were opposing and resisting the project. A teacher reaches in one of such villages where village chief was against the project. He chooses the mosque as his classroom and evenings for his classes. It was a good strategy as people were free at evenings and were coming to mosque for evening prayers and following chatter. He succeeded to attract most of villagers and it made village chief furious. The village chief appeared in one of the class sessions. The teacher wrote “snake” on board. The chief went to blackboard and draw a snake beside the word and asked villagers, which one looks like snake, my snake or the teachers snake? Villagers replied your snake. The chief was successful in driving out the teacher by saying that he was fooling people…..

This is not really funny to make you laugh but I remembered this parable yesterday when I saw some large abstract sculptures and paintings exhibited at concourse between Albany State Museum and MacDonald. I am somewhat OK, with those abstract painting that have expressive color combinations but what about sculptures? The materials, colors and shapes, nothing in them are expressive. Expression is at core of Arts. Without expressions nothing makes sense in Arts. The modern Arts are like Arthur C. Doyle beliefs in fairies, there should be something that is above our understanding to merit as an imaginative.

I would have forgotten about the Modern Arts but today seeing a wooden abstract sculpture that has replaced by “late” fountain in front of library tower at University reminded me again the debate of the teacher and village chief. To me, nothing is more expressive, beautiful and romantic than water, especially fountains and water falls. I think, the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang is right. Perhaps as our rationality grows so is our irrational parts and Modern arts is an expression of our co-evolved irrational part. May be my obsession and thirst for natural beauty is due to my primitive rational part.

I better to grow more rational so my irrational part also grow and start loving modern arts. No I think, a better solution is to change my perception to accommodate more paradoxes. It is much efficient way..hehehe. In fact, there is one aspect of modern art that I appreciate and that is the factor of “rebellion” but not to the extent that Ai Weiwei and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy's went. It is my understanding that cultural rebellions, though sometimes controversial helps in shedding hardened skins and shells during cultural metamorphosis. So, how rational men accommodate irrationality under at an attractive names of Modern Arts and even religious devotions? I think, the answer lies at plasticity of our left hemisphere. It has the job of rationalizing our deeds and likings. No matter, how much irrational and paradoxical are our devotions and likings, left hemisphere is very good at rationalizing things and convincing us.

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