Of course, play requires work, games require rules. Let's flip the script and instead of looking at this work in progress, let's look at Veritasti's new 'JaPop' template I'm slowly developing. Hopefully the end product will have an effect of "Hey, neat idea, it's very fun and Japanese Yogurt Shop looking.. woah, look at that detail in the lollipop, how'd he get the sugary glossy strand look?" The success remains to be seen. Of course, the frivolity of the design comes from hours upon hours of work. I'm working all my graphics from absolute scratch - hand drawn work - right now I'm making a giant swirl lollipop for a sun in my slowly growing virtual summer day theme made of virtual candy. The renderings, the mathmatics, the color swatches, the pixel by pixel fine tuning - and then of course we realize in the end, everything we see on the screen is actually a manipulation of two things - a 0 or a 1, firing off little shots of light at different frequencies. Of course, we don't really look at a webpage and see: 01001110101010100101111001110, nor do we even care to see something like this (which is the CSS for the peppermint flower):
background-position: bottom left;
No one, myself included, finds that visually appealing to look at. However, combine it with
in the body of the code and a file called "botL.png", and you now have a peppermint candy flower with lime jelly wedge flowers. Of course, the picture itself is nothing but that 001001111010010110101001 from earlier. And the appearance is something quite different than the actual behind the scenes ugliness. Yet to a programmer, (think Link in the first Matrix), it becomes beautiful.
Much like Blogger Templates and people's interest in the final pretty product rather than the base structure, when we say 'our plate is full' we reference the plate, but we never take time to look at the actual chinaware. We give it a courtesy nod and then we immediately start talking about what's on it. The Taoists have a great metaphor for life: they compare the Tao and all of us to a field of flowers - when you look out upon the field, you see all these magnificent blossoms. What we tend to overlook however, is the soil underneath - the actual field itself from which the beauty grows and to which it will one day return. We never pause to look or thank the loam beneath the flower petals - it's to messy down there, smells funny.
My life it seems, is gaining a semblance of normalcy. This morning as I made myself some coffee and took a bite of danish, I contemplated a nap before work; I quickly recounted the television schedule wondering if I had missed anything over the week; I started a load of laundry and chuckled at the video of our President ducking Iraqi footwear; I thought about the different phone plans through AT&T and Verizon weighing the advantages of the Bold versus the Storm. I started to listen to a 'Learn Italian' CD in preparation for a possible Tuscan vacation next year. This, by all means, is a rather normal life. It would be pleasant to stop the inward searches and lay content in this new land.
I once wrote that for us to have a moral and social outlook that made any sense we needed to first establish why we're here. In the much belated 23Cantos (I'll tell you how it ends right now) I propose that in the end, we are both art and artist, but more than that, we are art, artist, art critic, museum guide, private collector, and most often if not most importantly, middle aged couple from Iowa that has no idea what the hell we're looking at. In order to truly appreciate the masterpiece of our existence, we have to understand what the artist was trying to portray in the first place, what's the message hidden in each and every stroke. And we have to appreciate it on many levels. We must experience the piece. The piece in question is not some separate thing from us, it is in fact ourselves. We are at the same time undeniably individual entities that are completely made up of the most basic of common materials and inextricably integral parts of the universe in which we find ourselves living; as the flower is seen completely separate from the earth upon which it too is completely reliant and made up of.
We don't need this information, but a true critic should not only appreciate the surface of a thing, but the grace and complexity within that makes it so. Try applying this to everything in your life, and as we look deeper, so will our own depth increase...