Saturday, 4 February 2012

Birdbath (04 FEB 2012)

All surfaces give back light to varying degrees; generally reflections are diffuse, just allowing us to see the objects themselves. In special cases, some incident light rays bounce off at an equal and opposite angle from whence they came, forming an additional specular or mirrored reflection in the observor's eye.

The only potential mirror in my garden is the pool of water in the inherited birdbath. Iced-over recently and scummy mostly, it's hardly a looking-glass. As the birdbath is broken, I'm able to lift off the basin and occasionally swill the contents into the nearest flower-bed, hoping that some fresh rain-water will soon replenish my tiny oasis-cum-oracle. Sediment starts to build up again a few days later, with an identical composition seemingly as before, the remains of avian ablutions (a.k.a. pigeon poo), I presume.


As this scene was less than inspirational I sought enlightenment elsewhere ...

“Reflection is the business of man; a sense of his state is his first duty: but who remembereth himself in joy? Is it not in mercy then that sorrow is allotted unto us?”


A number of web-sites give credit to Shakespeare for these words though they don't reference a source play or sonnet. I spent a while searching unsuccessfully for literature study aids to help me translate, convinced that my first impression couldn't possibly be correct : man doesn't remember himself in joy?

Reflection in the human psyche is not as questioning and soul-searching as introspection. It's simply when something that's happened before returns to one's mind. Scientists have proven that man is not alone in learning from the past, as some animals demonstrate cognitive behaviour too. (Who knows if they go as far as asking introspective "why?"s and "why me?"s.)

In short, I don't agree with the quotation. I do believe that the way we perceive what happens  in our lives bounces off and creates an image of who we are. In general, the reflection is diffuse and just helps others form an opinion of us; in special cases it's focussed, motivating others to learn from our mistakes or successes. The key word is perceive.

Some may see a dirty, old birdbath ... 


                                                                                                                  ... I see a reflection of the heavens.

Creativity is when our reflections are focussed and slightly offset from the norm. Repeated reflections and offsets, as in the blogosphere, have the potential to turn order into chaos or chaos into order, if you believe in chaos theory. It could be possible that the interaction of our gardening blogs could somehow eventually affect the way mankind treats our planet. Hopefully, it's for the best ...

(Chaos theory suggests that order can be found in chaos, equally chaos can be found in order, and there is hardly a difference between the two. Any phenomenon can be defined by non-linear equations ranging from the weather to creativity. You might expect the answers to be the same if you input the same numbers twice but this isn't the case; even using a computer, slight rounding-errors might yield unexpected results, the difference between order & chaos. It's the same theory that suggests a butterfly fluttering its wings in Hong Kong can affect (or effect) the weather in New York. More examples are given in the book the Turbulent Mirror.)


Please find other posts about REFLECTION at Donna's meme Word4Wednesday :

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2012/02/reflection-04-feb-2012.html

19 comments:

Bridget said...

I see a very nice birdbath!

HolleyGarden said...

I took the quote to mean: only when we are sorrowful do we ask "why" or "why me", but if we were continually happy, we may not reflect upon what happened, or how to change, or do any soul-searching. I do agree with you that each person perceives the same thing differently. I loved the way you saw the reflection of the heavens! And I do think that the interaction of our gardening blogs will make some difference to the universe, in some way.

Donna@GWGT said...

I had to read your post twice because I too saw a different meaning to the quote. Like Holley, my thought was sorrow is necessary to experience joy, otherwise how would one know true joy. And in reflecting upon sorrow, it gives meaning to and appreciation of joy. And I like what you saw in the birdbath, far more than many would. I really enjoyed this post. Chaos theory, way above my pay grade I fear. Now that is one to ponder.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

A very interesting quote. It was only after I read Holley's response that I got it. It is merciful that sorrow is allotted to us because it makes us reflect which is our duty--not sure I agree about the duty part. I spend a lot of time reflecting when I am happy too. Interesting that this quote is no where in Shakespeare's body of work. A couple of sites attributed it to the Koran.

Stacy said...

The Turbulent Mirror looks interesting--thanks for the link, and for the reflective post. If you're ever looking for a fun chaos-theory read some day, Connie Willis' novel Bellwether is a satire of corporate culture with chaos theory threaded through it...

debsgarden said...

Thank you for your thoughtful post! How we perceive the world is key to our actions. I wish we all could see the heavens in a birdbath! I am an optimist, and I do think a single blog can make a difference, though we likely will never know it.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Bridget - It's actually in the shape of a fish, the tail forms the basin. It looks quite tacky but it broke my fall (and itself) when I lost my footing once so I decided to keep it.

Thanks Holley - I couldn't get that quote out of my head. Your interpretation makes sense to me and the other commenters.

Thanks Donna & Stacy - I am not an expert on chaos theory. I stumbled on it by accident when I was researching for this post, definitely worth further investigation.

Thanks Carolyn - Searching for the source of the quote made me wonder how much we can rely on the internet to get true information. It seems that web-sites just copy from each other.

Thanks Deb - If I had a garden like yours, I would be even more optimistic than I am already!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

What an incredible post that caused me to ponder and reflect quite a bit...and the thoughtful reflective comments it has brought as well...this is what our blogs are doing...the influence we have to shape the world in a more postive light in some of the darkness...thank you for helping to make the light more possible!!

Alistair said...

b-a-g, one good thing about reaching ones more mature years is the realisation that some things are just too complex to handle, in my case making me happy in my simplicity. I like your birdbath that may have seen better days, after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Janet said...

What a well constructed post! Apart from the classy birdpath with the "not too new look".
I would offer you this quote...

"Each to each a looking glass reflects the other that doth pass" -Charles Horton Cooley

NHGarden said...

I was thinking your birdbath was a nice water feature in the shape of a shell...interesting post :)

Elephant's Eye said...

I would take that quote as, while happy we are being, not agonising over wherefores. Your shell birdbath (can't see the fish ... hint hint) appeals to me. Lots of texture and the gentle patina of well'loved' age. Retro rather than tacky?
I fizzle with rage when I see a bird'bath' DRY, displayed as a sick decor object.

Mark and Gaz said...

Your birdbath serves an important function in keeping your feathered visitors healthy. And I like it, I think it's a lovely feature!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Donna - I didn't expect much response for this post, even though it took a long time to write. I'm overwhelmed with the comments.

Thanks Alastair - I've known you long enough to tell that you're not as simple as you make out.

Thanks Janet - Your quote is very appropriate, us garden bloggers are all reflecting off each other.

Thanks NH, Diana, Mark&Gaz - A full view of the birdbath can be found in another post if you click on the label "birdbath" or paste this link http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/06/patio-weeds-05-jun-2011.html

Pam's English Garden said...

Oh, b-a-g, I wish I had your way with words. You have taken a simple garden object and created a complex, thought-provoking post. Well done. P. x

Malar said...

Beautiful post! I enjoy reading it!

Roberta said...

Chaos means life and I love it! And dirty old birdbath or not, I would very much like this for my own garden. I shop for one every year and come away empty handed. Very lovely post.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Hi B-a-g, this is the third time I have tried to put a comment together for this post, it got my mind going something rotten, but it works so badly at the moment I find it hard to be coherent! I often say that we are the sum of our experiences, but more recently I've realised that actually we are the sum of how we perceive our experiences. As much as we hoep and claim to be rational beings, we respond to the circumstances of our lives in a highly subjective way, and two people who ostensibly go through the same experience can take away very different versions of "reality". I like your distinction between reflection and introspection. I suspect that it is only by applying our selves and digging below reflection, in working at introspection, that we can hope to see that there might be other ways to interpret our experiences, and therefore that sometimes other people may have a point, or at least an understandably different experience...

b-a-g said...

Thanks Pam & Malar - Glad it made sense to you.

Welcome & Thanks Roberta - I didn't realise that birdbirths like mine were in demand.

Thanks for persevering Janet - Some people say that our personalities have already developed by the time we are two years old. Maybe it's already determined at that point whether we'll have a positive or negative mind-set.

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