Astonishment can be found everywhere, it’s intrinsic to human nature; when we notice it, we must share and reproduce it.
Spreading astonishment to viralise inspiration /
The Japanese have a word to describe astonishment: aware. This word not only can be traduced into English as “astonishment”, but also as the feeling of astonishment at the moment in which it begins to evaporate from our perception, a melange of richness, completion and imminent loss, like when we see a hummingbird on a flower —and after an instant is has gone.
Astonishment creates extremely different reaction: among the first, indubitably, we can find inspiration and the need to share it. Maybe that is why the “Share” option in many websites is more than a way of viralising the contents, but also a manner of sharing with others an image, a video or information which has changed, perhaps slightly or, perhaps momentarily, the way we see the world and how we get involved in it.
Probably astonishment is the emotion behind viral contents —and hence, of the dynamic of sharing that information with our friends or our audience. Perhaps with some idealisation we could envision the Internet as an enormous filter to share amazement, but a simple conversation with friends could be much more enriching if we shared that information (whether they be experiences, information, books, films or music) which has touched the fibres of our being somehow and which, to complete the cycle of astonishment, we must share with them.
Perhaps the indigenous people of Lakota may serve as a good example to help us better understand astonishment. The word that comes closest to defining the feeling in their tongue is itonpa, which means “thank” and to “care for”. When something amazes us, that something becomes important to us, and we wish to protect it and share it, this happens with natural wonders and artistic expressions; a part of us is silently grateful for being able to witness the beauty of the world and that of human creations, which triggers the necessity of sharing it with our loved ones.
Additionally, the quintessential product of astonishment is something we all, as artists or potential artists, know well: inspiration.
Even the physical response before astonishment (using again the imaginary example of the hummingbird); we pause our breathing: a sudden halting of our train of thought, a complete physical and emotional availability to experiment the fast moment that evaporates as we experience it. The following response is to take in as much air as we can: literally to inspire.
All this because inspiration is a force of nature: it is the best argument since it appeals to our emotions and not to our intellect. Which words could we add to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony coral crescendo, or how would we explain the flow of emotions we experience when we see images of a supernova in the midst of an explosion? In the same way art, nature and social causes appeal to our empathy (the possibility of putting ourselves in the place of the other) to join forces and build a better world.
Inspiration is an unstoppable flow that is born from astonishment and the need to share it. It is a force that isn’t produced but reproduced: it mines, like water, it forms fountains and waterfalls, it evaporates to come back as thousands of small droplets and as rain it dampens everything around us. We only have to take notice of it: the astonishment is there, just now, before our eyes.Tagged: admire, inspiration, viralise