Wednesday, March 10, 2010
the hybrid art of obvious observation
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 to 1832) was a writer and philosopher who believed strongly that science and nature could not be understood solely on the basis of data derived by breaking matter down into its constituent parts. He believed instead in a kind of research based on intuition or empathy derived from prolonged, reverent observation of a thing in its whole form. He referred to this style of investigation as "delicate empiricism".
Gardeners who practice permaculture techniques notice patterns of prevailing sun, wind, and rainfall over long periods of time in order to help them live on and cultivate land in harmony with existing ecosystems. Permaculturists look for simple, sustainable ways to maximize productivity and efficiency while minimizing the amount of effort and resources expended.
The great poet Allen Ginsberg said, "Notice what you Notice."
Obvious observation is inspired in part by all of these things. And, last but not least, by the Quaker proverb, "Proceed as the way opens."