The Impressionistic Nature of Experience

Published on September 1, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

You’ve undoubtedly seen those remarkably beautiful impressionist paintings—from a certain distance, they appear as they do. But the closer you get to them, the more the coherent patterns and forms of the painting reveal themselves to be pattern-less and incoherent points of color and light. Interestingly, we find a parallel in the world of science for when the physicist examines the material world, what appears at first glance to be a solid, material realm turns out upon closer examination to be far more indefinite, ambiguous and immaterial than was initially thought. Unknown

Now just as the scientist might examine the nature of atoms and subatomic particles, we can similarly look at our own subjective experience to see what it is “made of.” For just as one finds with a painting by Monet or Renoir, human experiences that from one perspective appear very coherent and structured upon closer examination disappear into greater and greater ambiguity and incoherence. Look carefully, exploring the nature, structure, texture and form of any experience and you will find that it naturally dissolves into a vast, structure-less field of vibrancy, a subtle dance of information and energy. Every detailed part, every aspect and tangible dimension that makes up a given experience, when investigated closely reveals a seemingly endless array of subtler and subtler wave-like aspects, dimensions and parts. It’s an interesting paradox, isn’t it, that the closer we look at the world and experiences, the less clear, fixed or definite they become?

Ironically, even though our lives are made up entirely of experiences (what else is there, really?), rarely do human beings ask what would seem the most basic, fundamental question: “What are experiences actually made of, experientially?” We’ve tended to take it for granted that we know what things are. But like the impressionist painting, things aren’t always as they appear.  So, that is my invitation, to take another, closer look at the experiential painting you call, your life. You may be surprised at what you find!


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