Patterns and lavish decoration serve a useful purpose, despite some describing them as unnecessary and an exercise in over-indulgence. Art has historically been revered as a means of exploring and creatively depicting the world around us, and it has lead to the complex and convoluted structures in our midst to possess a certain kind of beauty. Cathedrals and temples designed by our ancestors are a testament to this, their determination to create something magical to inspire the communities in which these pristine titans sat in. The kaleidoscope is a perfect example – a mosaic that aptly sums up divinity in a symmetrical and aesthetically-pleasing way. The word itself is derived from Greek components as, “observation of beautiful forms”. But what are these forms that we observe?
I’m not sure whether those tasked with creating the first kaleidoscopes were trying to get us to develop an eye for beauty that we could detect in the natural world, or to conjure up beauty as a result of our everyday lives lacking the colour that we were craving. Whilst some would rightly say that it’s best not to add to that which is already brimming with complexity, it’s important to recognise that when it comes to observing the forms around us, we are often misguided without realising it. We are so bogged down by the carefully-dotted ‘i’s and the neatly-crossed ‘t’s, that we fail to see the bigger picture and begin to quickly grow tired of the repetitive natural world. Within our own kaleidoscopes, we filter out objects and moments because we simply can’t compute that much information at a time, but we risk missing out on forms that satisfy our cravings for beauty in the simplest ways.
‘Being in the moment’, although incredibly cliché, is the state of being that we should aspire to be in as much as we can. Humans are obsessed with overlaying, filtering and editing, and so admiring our immediate surroundings astutely for what they are could help us refocus our attention to the beauty that already exists. Morris West, the Australian novelist and playwright, was in awe of the universe, especially his realisation that what he was seeing was only one small corner of the whole of creation, and that majesty is what we all take for granted.
Whether that’s our local park, beach or feats of supreme architecture in our cities, there’s much more beauty to hone in on than what we perceive there to be. Our own kaleidoscopes should be set to readily appreciate that.