|Oh, well, that explains it then...
I'm sorry, but this has to be one of the stupidest things I've ever read:
Creating the perfect Zen garden is now possible, thanks to the work of a team at Kyoto University in Japan.
They used computer analysis to study one of the most famous Zen gardens in the world, at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, to discover why it has a calming effect on the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come every year.
The researchers found that the seemingly random collection of rocks and moss on this simple gravel rectangle formed the outline of a tree's branches.
Calling Dr. Rorschach, Dr. Rorschach come to the emergency room stat!
The team from Kyoto University used image analysis to calculate the symmetry lines of the minimalist garden.
They found that the points halfway between the rocks formed the outline of a tree's branches.
Please note that the diagram used to illustrate the article shows the garden from above ~ infamously a perspective from which NO viewer ever sees it.
The notion that abstraction works because it triggers subconscious literal images may (and I emphasize, MAY) have some merit. But this is surely not the way to prove it. In this case, even if you buy the "tree" analysis (which I don't), certainly one could simply say: the human mind finds proportions attractive ~ for example the golden ratio ~ and some trees and some abstract spacing share those proportions.
Among other idiocies here, the analysis fails to take into account:
- The sand raked into patterns around the rocks.
- The relative heights of the rocks.
- The colors of sand, rocks, and moss.
- The proportion of the garden's enclosure.
- The atmosphere of the temple environment.
- The cultural reverence of visitor's who are expecting to see something special.
Here's my favorite bit:
The Ryoanji Temple garden was created sometime between the 14th and 16th Centuries by an unknown designer.
No explanation was ever provided for the layout of the garden.
HELLOOOOOO! It's a Zen garden! Explanation is precisely and utterly anathema to the whole experience. The goal is not to see trees, symbols, or tigresses, or Chinese ideograms. The idea (if I may even use the term) is to be present, aware, awake, and of beginner's mind. The fact that they were even trying to make "something" out of the "empty space" between the stones shows how wrong-headed the whole undertaking was.
Even more ridiculous is the notion that somehow now there's a magic formula for producing Zen Gardens! (Are they claiming to have found "trees" in every Zen garden, or what?)
This entire project was an unmitigated waste of CPUs ~ totally misconceived from the very start. The fact that it was apparently published in Nature appalls me.
[via BBC News]