the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.


Daylight Upon Magic

SOMETIME LAST WEEK, I drove through a brisk little rain shower that lasted perhaps ten minutes. A short while later, the sun broke through and a brilliant rainbow arched majestically over the LDP. It was a magical sight and a wonderful way to end a long, difficult week.
The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain
~ Dolly Parton ~

Now I know it sounds silly and childish, but I always get a thrill when I see a rainbow. To me it's a symbol of hope. I mean, rainbows are not just pretty, they make me feel like good things are coming. This is not very rational thinking, of course. But - unabashedly, I admit - many of the best things in my life are not based on logic or reason... So there you go... [now what would Dr. Spock or Spock & Tuvok say, I wonder]

So okay, maybe I do need to hop off that silly carousel. Be more mindful of the need for reality to balance my addiction to whimsy. Let cold hard facts weigh in objectively for a more grounded perspective. Oh, very well then, here we go...

Rainbows are an optical phenomena. They are caused by light bouncing off the insides of raindrops. The colours occur because different colours (wavelengths) of light are refracted by different amounts. This all, I understand from Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusions and the Appetite for Wonder.

By the way, this book is really more about the position of science in general in our culture, than it is about science. The title comes from Newton's discovery that the rainbow is not a mystical bridge to a pot of gold, but light split up into its elements.

I feel so damn cheated. Where got that 'fantastical boof of fairyfloss' waiting? :-S But well, airy-fairy aside, I suppose, you can't possibly get nerdier than Newton. Trust him to take away the beauty of a rainbow by explaining the science behind it. I'll take ole man Dr Seuss anytime!

Anyhow, in these things, brains trump fairy floss. Anytime, everytime.

Dawkins (of The Selfish Gene fame, and who, some critics have labelled, imo ironically, a 'greedy reductionist') makes the point that understanding something and seeing it for what it really is does not diminish the experience, but makes it even more beautiful. Douglas Adams (who wrote the critically acclaimed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) also addressed the issue:

"I will take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day."

He brilliantly adds that, understanding where we come from, who we are related to and how this vast, complex gene machine works does not make us less human or special. All it does is bring us closer to the world around us.

Why can't the fact that white light contains the full spectrum of beautiful colors be amazing?
Do we have to leave the world unexplained to appreciate it?

Why, indeed.

Because Ordinary Me have found what some unknown person of obscure origins once said to be not only true, but validated. Throughout my entire (unbrilliant) life. Over and over again.

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards,"

Does logic preclude or predispose the need for creativity and imagination? Tell me, who can deny that our complex universe is an astounding, majestic marvel?

The mere contemplation of its vastness and grandeur causes our heads (most especially airy ones like mine) to spin. It is after all, our appetite for wonder that drives us to explore, discover and investigate the marvellous natural phenomena that never fail to astound and intrigue us, to tease and to egg us on. And to push and stretch the limits of our imagination. And thus, our very limited understanding of our ourselves, our existence, our lives, our world and other worlds.

It is also, after all, our sense of marvel that gives us an intuitive feeling of the unity of the cosmos, a oneness grounded in scientific fact: we are made of the same stuff as all of creation. Everything that is, was, or will be started off together as one infinitesimal point: the cosmic seed.

Who cares if rainbows are not good omens? They're still beautiful and magical anyway.



Blogger Spot said...

the coffee hasn't hit yet...need time to digest this.

in the meantime, a skinny frog once sat under a rainbow and strummed his banjo...

Why are there so many
songs about rainbows?
and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions,
they're only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.

So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong,
wait and see.

Someday we'll find it,
the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

- Rainbow Connection by Kermit

10:43 AM  
Blogger percolator said...


You don't need no caffeine. Or digesting. You couldn't be more spot on!

Yes, Kermit sings a hopeful song about finding our perfect selves, that place we know we're supposed to be.

Inspirational lyrics countered by an almost melancholy tune. It feels like Kermit knows what he's supposed to be, but he's stuck in a swamp, on a log with a banjo. It's a confusing mix of hope and pessimism. Yet it captures exactly my feelings about my perfect self at this moment. There are things I know I should be and do that I'm not doing - for a multitude of reasons. I will never be my perfect self. I will always be a frog plucking a banjo on a log looking for rainbows.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Spot said...

i've not come across any adult who's put it down in words better. i find myself using Kermit's litttle ditty whenever i just can't explain in my own words the agnostic wonder of just experiencing life.

1:46 PM  

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