35. The Aesthetic Effects of Flower Forms
by Culture and Anti Culture
(For context see Post 1)
Flowers are the apex of aesthetic creation in nature. As with all other aesthetically charged phenomena, there is a language of form, color and gesture among the flowers. In this post, we will touch upon the language of form. The purpose of these descriptions is to aid in arresting one’s attention on the shapes of flowers and to experience them more deeply.
1. Daisy vs Trillium
Many petals Few petals
The daisy objectively belongs to the warm, sunlit, open air of the meadow. Its composite flower form has a cosmic aspect; it seems to be in touch with everything. It has a solar, peripheral quality. The straight outwardness of the petals and the pushing forward of the central disk creates a force that is assertive, active, outward, radiant, busy and noisy. The great regularity imparted by the many petals is very reminiscent of the inorganic world – a snowflake or a mineral crystal.
The trillium is quiet, calm, stately, less active, less energetic. It is more elegant, more undulating, languid, and more individualized. The flower structure is less strictly geometric and crystalline, more passive and sensuous. The petals are less flat and broader; they fold backward instead of maintaining a rigid plane. The center of the flower is recessed and unseen. The trillium is at home in the dark, damp depths of the forest floor.
2. Stream Violet vs Penstemon
By breaking bilateral symmetry (two petals above on either side, and one striped petal below) the violet is already suggestive of a sensing, face-like quality. It is still wide open like the daisy, but radically more localized (rather than radiating), and more personalized and ensouled, with its hint of facial expression. It is less straightforward and more enigmatic than the daisy, yet still planar and extroverted.
The penstemon is much more directional, adding the physical element of depth and concealment, by virtue of its tubular structure and intricate inner organization. This is in contrast to the universal, all-relating aspect of the daisy and, to a certain extent, the violet. The penstemon is beginning to have a body, a torso – a hint of the animal element delicately ensouling it.
3. Baneberry vs Bleeding Heart
Baneberry is a thick cluster of lines and points; a dense little galaxy of star-like nodes and connecting filaments, opening out into the universal periphery. It is without back, front or sides. In this sense, it is more boundless than the daisy and the violet – a veritable celestial globe of a flower, permeable to the light.
In contrast to the all-relating filaments of the baneberry, the bleeding heart is walled off from the surrounding world: fruit-like, yet hollow, a hidden world unto itself. There is something unflower-like and secretive in this kind of complete enclosure and pendant-like quality.
The natural world is the epitome of refined taste, astounding in its variety. Yet there are archetypal polarities lurking everywhere, just beneath the surface of our shallow attention: the many and the few, outward and inward, open and closed – embodied within each, a fundamental aesthetic power.
Simple, sustained contemplation begins to disclose a language of form in nature. This is partly what Goethe meant when he said: “Let the phenomenon be its own theory”.