Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Beauty of a Flower


I recently remembered this short essay I read in Richard Feynman's The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. Feynman (1918-1988) is a Nobel Prize winning American physicist. Read this and I guarantee you'll never look at a flower the same way again. 






The Beauty of a Flower
 
“I have a friend who’s an artist and he’s sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say, ‘Look how beautiful it is,’ and I’ll agree, I think. And he says – ‘you see, I as an artist can see how beautiful this is, but you as a scientist, oh, take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing.’ And I think that he’s kind of nutty.

First of all, the beauty he sees is available to other people  and to me, too, I believe, although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is; but I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time I can see much more about the flower than he sees. I can imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside which also have beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at a small dimension of one centimeter, there is also beauty at a smaller dimension, the inner structure.

Also the processes, the fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting – it means that insects can see color. It adds a question: Does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which shows that a science knowledge only adds to the excitement and mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds; I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful. What an interesting take on beauty and perspective. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. This was such a beautiful passage. You are right, I will probably remember this every time I look at a flower from now. Wonderful isn't it? The kind of power people have to completely change the way we look at a thing through their words?

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  3. Such a beautiful blog you have here... And some wonderful book choices. Am adding you to my blogroll :) Do keep writing!

    Swati aka Birdy

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  4. I've added this book to my list, too. If I visit your blog much longer today, I think my list might get out of control.

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