Thursday, November 11, 2010


All forms of organization require an overview, a proportional distribution of forces and resources. Good organization creates a balanced structure where the various elements are mutually supportive and in harmony. The composition of the whole should be the goal throughout.
The size of the windmill at Lewes, Delaware made me rethink my attitude regarding wind for energy, particularly where the context has not been considered. It so dwarfed the little buildings around it, it was like it had been placed by a race of giants and was totally out of harmony with the historic coastal town. I have read that residents are having health problems and there are complaints about the noise.
If the effort to reduce global warming creates disharmony in the whole, it’s not a good or lasting solution. The prospect of a line of windmills off the Delaware coast worries me.
I’ve taken refuge in the healing power of that unbroken horizon for decades. It’s an antidote to the constant visual activity of daily life. We respond physically to the space around us, our bodies in constant unconscious adjustment to where we are, particularly wherever there is motion.
The way the soothing repetition of the waves extends into the stillness of the horizon stretching the whole width of the visual field is deeply healing. Before we rush headlong into to solving a problem without thinking of the less tangible but more important repercussions to our collective mental health we need to step back and think of the aesthetics of the overall picture. I was startled to hear that it’s against the law to argue against windmills or cell phone towers on aesthetic grounds as though such considerations are frivolous and irrelevant. The look of the windmill at Lewes is an image of humanity as insignificant, worker bees at the base of a monumental shrine to a megalomaniac technological consciousness. The structure of a windmill may be beautiful in itself but to put it in the wrong context can be grotesque. Competition and the priorities of material gain interfere with creating an overall harmonic structure. It doesn’t have to be that way. In France I saw a cluster of windmills in a large empty plain with no villages nearby for them to measure against and the proportions worked. The land was big around them and empty of reference. Seeing it from a high-speed train was all the more appropriate to the picture. The modern can co-exist with history. Progress doesn’t have to dehumanize. Everywhere I went in France I saw consideration of beauty and harmony of form, thoughtful proportions and plantings, even in traffic circles. If we’re going to learn the art of living, attention must be paid to our integration with our surroundings. David Bohm wrote that creativity was an act of “fitting”, looking for what works best with the existing structure.
The restorative power of the ocean coast is not just in the waves and smell of salt water, it is the continuous horizontal line, its stillness that is so restful. To break that up will not only destroy that healing power it will create a new visual wound.
Art would not have existed throughout human history if it had no deep-seated value.
Modern culture underestimates the human need for harmonic form. It heals by entrainment, infiltrating our perception with a beneficial order. Thinking in categories shields us from the requirements of the whole. But the blatant disregard of the harmonic integration of all involved systems is irresponsible. Our pilgrimage to a place of beauty is led by the wish to heal and fortify what is best in us. Whether an individual is drawn to
the coast or the mountaintop (also endangered) the human need is clear. Destroying what visual beauty is left is an assault on the soul of the species.

1 comment:

Artful Hubris said...

I really envy your vision. That fresh approach to visual communication. You look at the world around us in a deep way. Deep as in a conscious, careful relation to an environment.Allowing it's "suchness" to talk. You have a conversation not a speech.