Wednesday 18 August 2010

flowers and the curve of the eye

In this guest post, Wallace Heim, co-editor of the Ashden Directory, responds to Franc's recent comment.

Flowers are the perfect size for imagining. In an essay on the vivacity of flowers and the imagination, the philosopher Elaine Scarry (left) finds that because flowers can be seen so completely by the human eye, they easily ‘sit in the realm in front of our face and migrate into the interior of what Aristotle called "our large moist brains".’

Scarry writes about flowers in poetry, daydreams, conversations and painting. They are so vivid in imagination because their size means the concentration of detail and colour is more intense than if looking at a landscape or large animal. The curve and shape of petals ‘breaks over’ the curve of the human eye. They move in an arc between the material and the immaterial, blooming and fading, like the imagination itself. ‘We were made for each other.’

With ‘Flowers on Stage’, we wondered what vivacity flowers have in theatre, whether seeing them at that distance and in that ‘landscape’ could have a similar intensity of imagination, while coming from a different kind of experience.

Thank you, Franc, for offering your vivid responses.

Scarry, Elaine, (1997). ‘Imagining Flowers: Perceptual Mimesis (Particularly Delphinium). Representations. 57: 90-115.

See our 'flowers on stage' series: flowers on stage: the poppy, flowers on stage: the daffodil, flowers on stage: the lotus, flowers on stage: the lungwort; flowers on stage: ‘breath of life’, flowers on stage: kudzu and flowers on stage: snake's head fritillaries

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