This is a watercolour painting of, quite obviously, a waterfall
somewhere in the Brecon Beacons, d’uh.
The painting is occasionally called Descartes’ Waterfall, until cringing with embarrassment it reverts to the more prosaic, far less pompous “Waterfall”.
Why Descartes? I was lucky to go to a campus university. It is a funny thing, but as soon as they leave home most students go wild, I suppose this is caused by their release from the repressive kindness of parents. This genteel rebellion usually consists of not going to bed. In my day we used to spend hours at night just shooting the breeze. These “discussions” always seemed to end in an argument between science and arts students, that usually focused around the question “When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no one is nearby to hear it, does it make a sound? that usually is wrongly attributed to Descartes. The science students always answered yes, describing the mechanics of how sound is produced. Then the Arts and Humanities would chime in with “but how do you know?” The debates would then get quite heated and invariably ended up in students flinging buckets of water at one another. Oh so very very middle class.
I have always thought insisting something doesn’t exist because you can’t perceive it is an arrogant point of view. The waterfall in the painting is surprisingly isolated. I remember “discovering” it one day on a picnic with my children and it just occurred to me – Look at this beautiful thing. It is not on a map, you can’t see it from a road and there is no path leading to it. Indeed, there is no sign of humanity just a waterfall. It’s been here what a 1000, 10,000 maybe 100,000 years? The water rushing, gushing, splashing and flowing over this little cliff, but that can’t be right. This can only have come into existence now that I have arrived. What a lot of nonsense. It was here before and it will remain after me. This got me to thinking – we really do overrate our importance in the scheme of things.
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