Arts

The Thing About Leaves

Leaves don’t hang from trees and trees don’t look like this:

They look like this:

Cottonwood

Leaves are drawn out of the trees by the sun. Gravity might pull them down …


Síya?

… but all it does is turn their vertical stalk into many.

When this urge to rise against gravity is held by gravity, the landscape flows out laterally. It thickens.

It does so without losing its height. The Greeks called balance of this kind “beauty.”

Notice how water has an earthbound narrative. It doesn’t have this power to resist. Well, that’s not true.

As plants it does. When our ancestors said that art was uplifting, following the old Greek model, they thought it refined and purified the spirit. That’s not exactly it.

It can, however, find pattern, and pattern does clarify. We live in a culture that eschews pattern, that says it is a betrayal of living impulses. I know what they mean.

Smokebush Subjected to the Landscaper’s Art

 

The question is, what pattern? Found in what way?

The proverb “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” doesn’t mean that beauty is relative to individual taste. It means that beauty is in the seeing. It is the act of being in balance with the “other.”

That means be-ing the other, giving it the respect that is onward motion unfolding into time. When seen together, it is seeing and being seen at the same time.

American Goldfinch

This process is called becoming. It is Earth’s story. What applies to a bird, also applies to a hill.

One becomes it. What I see in the image above is myself. I am the other.

Western Blue

I light.

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