Ode to Eyes

Nature is amazing. There might be better words to describe it, but “amazing” is unceremonious enough to still be expressive. If let’s say, Pascal won his wager and there is a god, Stephen Fry might be right that he’s an evil, capricious, monstrous maniac. But if Pascal lost and everything happens by chance, then it’s “utterly utterly” astonishing how many things nature does get right, just like that. I don’t know if there has there been more despair over the absence of a god than there’s been praise for nature’s wonders.

We can think about this world, in its entirety, as a huge canvas, where each one of us is painting their own life on a little patch of the canvas. A bit like the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel. Maybe that’s what makes them so perplexing. Sometimes our paintings meet, sometimes we ruin someone else’s painting, sometimes someone else ruins ours. It’s either a nursery exercise or an allegory for existence (or rather, coexistence). Overall, the painting may be chaotic, perhaps with no artistic value at all. But still, some details are drawn really damn well, whether they are drawn by an individual or collaboratively. And these details make life worth living.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hyeronimus Bosch 

For Woody Allen in Manhattan, it’s “Well, all right, why is life worth living? That’s a very good question. Well, there are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. Uh, like what? Okay. Um, for me… oh, I would say… what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing… and Willie Mays, and… the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony, and… Louie Armstrong’s recording of ‘Potatohead Blues’… Swedish movies, naturally… ‘Sentimental Education’ by Flaubert… Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra… those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne… the crabs at Sam Wo’s… Tracy’s face…”

I’ve asked people in the past what makes their life worth living. I got very pragmatic answers. V said the meaning of life is exchange, bartering, everything is an exchange bla bla bla. Back then, I thought he was an idiot, but now I think I get why he’d say that. S said it’s helping people, being a good person. Nice, but boring – is he the living counterargument for psychological egoism? A said it’s about pursuing your goal, working hard towards achieving something, and savouring that little bit of happiness between achieving your goal and finding a new one to look forward to.

They are all a bit right, I think. I’ll keep asking.

In my case, I could go on a spree through art and literature and talk about all the beautiful things like Woody Allen but I think his answer is actually just “Tracy’s face”. “It is necessary to fall in love – if only to provide an alibi for all the despair you are going to feel anyway.” (Camus) I wouldn’t say face though, I would say eyes. If there’s one thing nature got right, it’s eyes.

Eyes can talk better than mouths

Eyes can touch better than fingers

Eyes can shoot better than guns

The eyes chico, they never lie

Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Oh, those weepers, how they hypnotize!
Where’d ya get those eyes?

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