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lovin me some gestalt

About gestalt dictionary says this: "A physical, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from its parts." I recently heard an expert say that gestalt occurs when the sum is greater than the total of its parts. Not true. That is synergy and a different animal. Experts say the darndest things.

The notion can be found in psychology. There it points to a personality so well integrated all the salient characteristics of the psyche are in a kind of unified field, not one characteristic fighting against another. In this sense, and when you think on it, not many folk have gestalt. A pronounced intellectual out of balance. Same with the sensualist, charismatic Christian, with the Wall St. man, the ideologist, the extremist of one stamp or another, the person who operates out of emotion only. Psychological gestalt points to a personality that can think, feel, intuit, sense percept. It seems to me such a personality does not compartimentalize, putting feelings in one room and thinking in another the way, say, Bill Clinton apparently can.

The notion can be found also in Lit Crit. There again the poem's or novel's gestalt depends upon its organic unity, how parts relate to parts, how when it's not possible to parse out the poem's, the novel's parts without killing the whole. I find my overly intellectualized contemporaries lacking in this respect. They don't seem to get it, don't seem to understand that a poem is not an erector set but an organic unity. But I'll take the gestalt of a poem a step further. When I read a poem and the words on the page raise an image of the poem that hovers over the page I know it's got gestalt, independant of writer, independant of word. A poem's gestalt is the Holy Grail.

Warming up to my main thing. In biology too there is this notion of gestalt, biology being a hard, physical science. Biologists call it gestalt of form. Or, the gestalt of form identification. A classic test involved a one hour old chick. Chick was placed in a corall. In the enclosure was a small open ended box. Above the corall was placed a lamp. When a piece of paper was passed underneath the lamp and cast a shadow over the chick, chick immediatly ran for the cover of the box. Form identification told an hour old chick it was in danger from a bird of prey. Sense of danger innate, not learned. Shadow itself enough to tell that child she was in danger. Gestalt is not learned. Gestalt is innate. This gestalt of form identification has been taken by Jungian psychologists as the biological foundation for the existence of archetypes, what were first called eternal ideas. The reasoning says archetypes exist, they are transcultural, not environmentally bound, they are eternal, and they are innately grasped.

I know this to be true in my own experience. By now I have dissected 10, 20, 30 thousand bees looking for tracheal mites. When they are there in a bee's tracheal tube, most often just inside the spiracle or opening in the thorax, I can see presence before I can see the presence. Starting out as training it's become innate. Don't even need anymore to see a foundress in the trachea to know she is there. Something ain't right, is how I express it to myself. I am never wrong. Gestalt identification of form.

This afternoon I was looking for queens. The ones marked were easy to find. In a colony of 10 to 60 thousand bees the queens unmarked not so much. In this one colony I pulled out combs. No queen. With a brood comb in hand, about to inspect it, I looked at the next comb still in the brood box, dark box. There she was, the sweet queen and unmarked. She was cryptic too. Exposed, she passed through a hole in the comb to its still dark otherside. But I slant saw her tapered self, knew I saw her before I knew I saw her. Pulling the comb out, it took a few minutes to find her again. But my body didn't doubt me. That is gestalt of form identification.


Last edited by Terreson, Mar/1/2014, 4:34 pm
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