Most philosophy concerns
words and meanings, arguments and debates. But wisdom is also a matter
of perception and intuition. Images can convey what words cannot.
Here are my reflections on a particular image. Please feel free to
e-mail me your own, and I will include them (provided they are
New images are added each
month. Scroll down for this year's images, or for earlier ones, just
click the links on the left.
Nothing is perfect; all life involves a measure of unsatisfactoriness. In other words ‘Shit happens.’ The problem is not why it happens – given human limitations, inherent frailty and not infrequent bloody-mindedness, that’s all too obvious – but how to live with it and overcome our negative or destructive responses to it. Sometimes it helps simply to vocalize the problem or express it is some other way, as all who have been through therapy will know. I’m not sure of the state of mind of the person who stenciled this onto a wall in Stavanger, Norway, but I hope he or she found the doing of it cathartic.
What on earth lies hidden beneath these covers? And what does this image say about anything? We see the surface covering but not the reality beneath? Shades of Kant, perhaps, with an unknowable noumenal reality lying beneath the phenomena of our experience? For an existentialist on a bad day this could perhaps be an image of human beings in their essential isolation from one another! Things that are now redundant but being stored, just in case? An image therefore of over-production? Or perhaps of the inevitability of waste when technology becomes outdated? Any idea of what's under there? Your suggestions would be most welcome, or your comments on what this image says to you... The daftest of ideas could be posted here in honour of the feast of all fools, after all, it is April!
One suggestion: 'It looks like a homeless piano camp.' (from Nicholas Edwards.)
Or 'We think they're WMD left over from Iraq' (from David and Celia Forbes)
My own hunch - 'What happened to all the unsold Sinclair C5s?'
Flying back from Hong Kong to London, you pass over the mountains of northern China, then on through Kazakstan and further westwards into Russia. What struck me, looking down from the plane, was how beautiful but utterly inhospitable so much of the surface of the land is. Hour after hour and for thousands of miles, you pass over wild mountains with very few signs of human habitation. Then you see the occasional pipeline, then a solitary road, until heading back through Western Europe you look down over a landscape dominated by humankind. For me, that surrounding wildness puts all that into perspective.
Walking though the little streets of old Stavanger last summer, I came across this simple 'Wecome' notice, hung on a door. Perhaps just as corny as having it on your doormat, it nevertheless struck me - being so far from home - that, if taken seriously, that message is about the most important we can post anywhere near our home. It stands in stark contrast to the gated communities, cctv systems, security fencing, double-locked spyhole-equipped doors, and all the rest of the more normal protective layers we throw around our private domain, insisting that entry is by invitation only.
Another year; another set of resolutions waiting to be broken; another set of decisions, hopes and regrets. In many ways, I find each new year the source of both hope and confusion - hope, because what is new overflows with possibilities, and the opportunity to grow, share and improve; confusion because there are just so many things one might decide to do, each of which can shape the future for good and ill. It would be so easy if some choices were obviously wrong, others right; but it's seldom like that. There are many paths to follow, each looking in prospect just as good as the others, and they will simply become what we make of them, shaped by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. January comes loaded with a sense of responsibility, angst and perhaps a touch of Nietzschian playfulness!
All images on this
site © Mel Thompson