I’m reading the most amazing book I have ever read at the moment. It is called The art of looking sideways, written by Alan Fletcher.
The best way to describe it would be the Bible for artists. It is a huge tome, full of anecdotes, stories, facts, fictions, images, quotes, It is described as a ‘primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination’. That is exactly what it is. It flits from theme to theme. It is like a stream of consciousness but it is hugely inspiring and colourful.
The author describes himself as a ‘visual jackdaw’, which is very apt I think. He collects words, words about stuff.
Every day when I read this book I discover something new. Yesterday, it was the concept of ‘morphic resonance’.
Morphic resonance on one level appears to describe the psychic abilities of species set apart. So if a flock of birds works out how to crack open a particular seed in Papua New Guinea later today, tomorrow a similar flock of birds in Wolverhampton, psychically connected to the first flock, might appear to make the same discovery.
However, on the more scientific grounding of reality, morphic resonance describes how species arrive at the same conclusion at near enough the same time about something new through as of yet unexplained genetic evolution processes.
The idea behind morphic resonance, coined by Rupert Sheldrake, is that memory is inherent in nature. This means that when a certain shape, structure or behaviour has occurred many times, it is more likely to occur again. This happens not through conventional interaction (such as communication) but through a process of “formative causation” which does not allow for any formal communication amongst species.
In simpler terms, the theory goes that knowledge can be unconsciously transmitted between minds. If one person or animal discovers something somewhere, it becomes easier for another person or animal to overcome the same issues when faced with the same dilemma.
A good example of how this could happen is with Blaenau Ffestiniog Syndrome. The sheep of this small Welsh settlement have recently learnt how to cross cattle grids by tucking up their legs and rolling over the bars. The farmers of the area where this has happened are concerned that this learned behaviour will transmit to other sheep elsewhere. Maybe it will, if morphic resonance is a sound scientific theory. It hasn’t yet, at least not to my knowledge and I do watch the news regularly.
However, this theory isn’t fact. There are many scientists who say it is poppy cock.
I’m a big fan of the teeny, tiny possibility theory of science so I, for one, hope that the theory is true.