See, Hear, Taste, Smell, Feel.
Life is experienced in many ways. Sense of light, sound, pressure, flavour and aroma offer immersive stimulation of our immediate environment.
In fact, our sanity is preserved by screening out many of the stimulii recieved because if we paid attention to all of them our experience would be entirely chaotic. We distinguish between the gentle touch of a friend and the many touches we recieve from the clothes we wear, the furniture we recline in and the changing landscape and environment around us.
We learn from our life experience though all senses, not just through book learning. While in school, the arts are not considered core tools of pedagogy, although educational technology is increasingly recognising the role of art in learning and communicating. It is through the full experience of life that cultural memes are developed and transfered. For example, "the rock and roll" generation thinks about the world in a more complex way than those that went before it.
We encourage you to explore the diversity of life by trying new "media". Look at graphic art, movies and videos. Listen to music and explore sounds from other cultures. Try different foods and cuisines. And smell the aroma of all your food, before you put it in your mouth. Appreciate the wider aroma of nature, beyond the smell of roses to cut grass and even cow dung - you will soon recognise the difference between sour toxic waste and sweet natural compost. And enjoy the touch of the world, the wind in your hair, the rain on your face, and if you can share a massage.
Music and movies, story books, strange food and foreign aromas have been important parts of our big picture journey and a few of our favourite influences are shared here. Hopefully you'll find something amusing to enhance your life's journey.
Billy Joel and his team (Phil Ramone probably had a lot to do with it) really made a big impact with his songs Honesty and The Stranger. The lyrics made a deep impact resonating strongly with a sense of justice and humanity.
Courtney Pine became a hero accidentally when he gave a concert in Bangkok during which he jammed on two saxophones at once and played virtuous acid jazz.
Movies and TV
Yes please! The fantasy of teh big screen can transport you to another world. You can experience comedy and action without danger. Oldies are good as well as modern movies; take a look at Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye or Jerry Lewis, or those spaghetti westerns from the 60s and 70s - cool!
As for TV shows, they are a fantastic release and can nurture morals and social skills from Happy Days to MASH to Starsky and Hutch or more recent series like That 70s Show or The Big Bang Theory.
Video is a wonderful way of telling a story quickly and with lasting impression. Here are a couple of big picture story videos:
All is One - The Wombat .swf (1.4MB)
An Extraordinary Moment - Global Community .swf (6 MB)
Reading is becoming a lost art and books are disappearing from our homes as media devices give us sound bites and vision bites that prod our emotions. Reading remains a good way to get information and is a tool of the mind. Reading a story is a personal adventure in which you, the reader, create the actual picture in your mind. And it is teh tool for telling big stories and for developing the ability to hold a big story in your head. Sound and vision bites are amusing, but do not stretch teh intellect or imagination - a good book will.
Early reading of Enid Blyton is a wholesome start, though these days Skullduggery Pleasant might be enjoyed by more young readers. Ken Follett and Wilbur Smith are great for action adventure. Don't forget Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Agatha Christie (Poirot and Marple) who stimulate observation and deduction. Try a bit of Dickens to stretch your reading skills, though Shakespeare is a specialist. Tolkein and Clarke pioneered new worlds, and Chesterton put philosophy in a story. Today Pratchett has become a favourite as his humour reveals humanity.
The Impressionist painters lead the pack here because they bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. Paintings with faces are preferred to landscape or still life because faces are life. Constable and Turner were early practitioners of the impressionist style and the continental crowd took on the mantle - Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Pissaro, van Gogh, Matisse - all brilliant. And then at the fringe Dali took the vision further to fantasy, but did not give up on clarity and form. Explore art. Enjoy art.
Click here to see some photos of our world (collected by the UN in 1992) which influenced us.
Foreign food is great, whereever you are from. Nowadays cuisine is international so you can experience falvours and textures from around the world in your own community. If you travel, eat locally (though always be aware of hygiene!). It would be unwise to put one cuisine before another because national pride might be hurt, but you will definitely find flavours to enjoy beyond your own borders.