Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

When I heard about this week’s challenge, a quote from Gertrude Stein popped into my head.

‘There is no straight line in nature’–Gertrude Stein

White tulips, Boston Gardens

White tulips, Boston Gardens

Can this really be true?  I racked my brains to think of a straight line that occurs naturally in the world, but I couldn’t come up with one.  Even the horizon isn’t perfectly straight.  If Stein is right, straight lines are the provenance of humans.  One might even say we’re obsessed with them.  They give us the illusion of order and predictability.  They mark the way from Point A to Point B. They measure the diameter of a circle.

Wacker Drive Pano, taken with the Photosynth App

Wacker Drive Pano, taken with the Photosynth App

Gifted mathematical thinkers through the ages have pondered the rules and limitations of lines and linearity.    Architects and engineers have joined the mathematical fun by creating skyscrapers that soar upward towards the heavens and leave a very human thumbprint on the earth.  But despite all this, we are left with an indisputable fact:

“Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line”–Benoit Mandelbrot

Curves Meijer Gardens

In other words, reality is messy.  It is full of chaos–curves and zigzags and dead ends.  It breaks rules.  It reminds us that the order and predictability of the straight line are our own very human invention.

And so, let me ask you, my very human readers, what photo do you prefer?  One with straight lines or curves?

From Tiberius' tomb, Italy

From Tiberius’ tomb, Italy

See other interpretations of this week’s theme at:


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