PATTERN SPOTTING IS NOT SPOTTING PATTERN
by Andy Weddington
Friday, 08 February 2013
"Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern." Alfred North Whitehead
For today, as is sometimes my way, a different sort of comment. A message, some might conclude. And that's fine. But a lesson intended for all.
First, a thought about the precision of language as relates to today's title - pattern spotting is not spotting pattern. Enough said.
Regular readers of this forum know my affinity for nonlinearity. That I am not only educated and versed in human behavioral psychology, Chaos Theory, and General Semantics - all with clear ties to nonlinearity - I religiously apply principles from those distinct yet convergent disciplines to every day living and writing and painting. Such keeps life interesting to me, unpredictability at bay, and others ever guessing. It's fun but not a game, to me.
One of the concepts that crosses the three fields of study is pattern (recognition). Pattern is all about us - look around - we're surrounded by pattern. Life is pattern. People make pattern - sometimes intentionally, sometimes unknowingly. Pattern can be simple. Pattern can be complex. Pattern can be obvious. Pattern can be elusive. And pattern can be everything in between. Though sometimes, most of the time, it is not so obvious. Sometimes pattern requires not only closer looks to detect but takes looks, over time, for pattern to emerge. Patience.
The great artists, the great painters - whether painting realism; impressionism; expressionism; abstract - were (and are) students of pattern.
I am not so much interested in the hard science, the multi-dimensional plotting (e.g., 'strange attractors' of Chaos Theory), for decoding pattern as I am mere perception and appreciation of and practical application. Experience helps detect pattern. So does instinct.
Weeks ago something caught my eye as unusual, perhaps pattern. Not sure, I've looked regularly and, with time, there is indeed pattern. It's emerging. There's not much to say about it now other than I'm watching. Today's desert wind storm should not interrupt, but you never know.
Painters, when designing space on canvas, speak to positive space (the thing) and negative space (the area around the thing) - neither space being of any more importance (amateurs err by focus on the positive - they ignore the negative, to their unknowing failure). But the arrangement of all space, in as discreet a design and pattern as possible, is important. It is what makes for subliminal, unknowing, intrigue and even beauty, sometimes.
The pattern I've seen emerge, a logical inference albeit fuzzy, has come about as much for the positive space as the negative space. In sketchbook, with a big fat chisel-edged Sharpie, I draw and note, simply. Three computers help with capturing real time snapshots for study but not yet clarity - more time necessary. At this point, it's interesting but nothing worthy of canvas. Besides, as typically happens when pattern morphs from subtle to obvious it's less interesting. So why bother.
There are readers to whom today's short comment will mean nothing - in part because they've never heard of Chaos Theory nor General Semantics. They care nothing of pattern and go about daily life oblivious - though their lives full of pattern; it's a human tendency. And yet they'll wonder what I'm talking about and why. And that's okay.
There are readers who will take a moment to think - because having heard something about which I speak maybe will pay a little closer attention to their surroundings - at home, work, and leisure - for a few days and maybe longer looking for pattern. And simply note, when detected, it's interesting. And that's good.
There are readers who will more than mull over this idea of pattern. They're the ones interested in people and psychology and have surely heard of and even read articles and books about Chaos Theory, and maybe even heard the term General Semantics (but naively, and wrongly, confuse it as one and the same with Semantics). They will think about it in context with what they know and maybe apply it to a nagging problem and solve it. And that's even better.
Pattern is not coincidence. Coincidence and happenstance occupy fantasyland - where, amongst the average majority, the impulsive and reckless reside. Pattern - however overt, however subtle, is reality - arguably just beyond - and where artists, the 'seers,' live. Little gets by them.
Therefore, the happy collision of events in space - of psychology and Chaos Theory and General Semantics and still more - is not accidental. Pattern.
So, I'm paying attention, closely, to everything, as is my nature - pattern all about. Trusting eyes - ability to 'see' and think and reason - and nothing nor no one else.
Some pattern elates. Some pattern disappoints. And some pattern eventually makes the canvas and some pattern won't.
I like Whitehead's opening thought. It's good. Insightful. Relevant.
And finally, there are readers, known and unknown to me - here, there, everywhere - who are sitting back in their seats, scratching their heads, maybe nodding, and fidgety. Uncomfortable. Maybe anxious. Maybe troubled. And that is the point. To reach readers. To make readers, if only a few, uncomfortable. And anxious. Make them think - to wonder - about...
A message, perhaps, but a life lesson for all.
And breaking from commentary pattern, there is not a Post Script for today. Some will be bothered.