Friday, March 21, 2008

Perception is Reality

Joshua Tree California © Rick Chapman 1999.

I would like to quote an author named Robin Williams, (no not that famous actor and comedian, but a woman living in Santa Fe, NM who happens to share the same name).

-- quote --

The Joshua Tree Epiphany
by Robin Williams

Once upon a time, Robin received a tree identifying book where you could match a tree up with its name by looking at its picture. Robin decided to go out and identify the trees in the neighborhood. Before she went out, she read through part of the book.The first tree in the book was the Joshua tree because it only took two clues to identify it.

Now the Joshua tree is a really weird-looking tree and she looked at that picture and said to herself, "Oh, we don’t have that kind of tree in Northern California. That is a weird-looking tree. I would know if I saw that tree, and I’ve never seen one before."

So she took the book and went outside. Her parents lived in a cul-de-sac of six homes. Four of those homes had Joshua trees in the front yard. She had lived in that house for thirteen years, and she had never seen a Joshua tree.

She took a walk around the block - at least 80 percent of the homes had Joshua trees in the front yards. And she had sworn she had never seen one before!

The moral of the story? Once Robin was conscious of the tree, once she could name it, she saw could see it everywhere. Which is exactly my point. Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You own it. You’re in control.

-- end quote ---

So, why am I including this quote from graphic design and typography author Robin Williams? Because her little story about suddenly discovering the joshua trees in her neighborhood as a young girl is relevant to anyone learning something new about the world that has already been seen, and lived in, for one's entire life.

All artists have to rediscover what seems like the obvious, and each one of us has our own approach. No one way is THE right way.



Bryan Covington said...

I saw this and thought "Wow I just read that last week. We must read the same blogs. Where was that?" I thought I had bookmarked it to share with my students. So I went and scoured my RSS reader looking for clues, no luck. I searched Technorat thinking it might be some internet wide "meme", no luck. Eventually I found out that I HAD heard it, in your first walk cycle post. Oh well, back to work. I did bookmark it this time though.

Erik Westlund said...

Hey Bryan! Great to hear from you. Miss hanging out and talking about students, and other funny stuff.

Yeah, I kinda went back over the same turf in relatively few posts. Just seemed to valuable not to highlight this one item.

Well, I'm glad you dropped by. Good getting your post.

(Wow, my blog is getting bookmarked, that's too cool... )