Friday, November 22, 2013

The Eye and the Mind


The picture below is one that I took this past summer in Cuba, in a washroom in the lobby of Iberostar Ensenachos. A housekeeper had arranged the words with tiny flowers, and she was standing there, not far from her creation, a discrete smile on her face. Perhaps she was simply proud of what she had done, or perhaps she was hoping that the women who used the washroom and admired her floral arrangement would have a dollar for her.


“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” True, isn’t it?

This quote is frequently attributed to the French philosopher Henri Bergson but it belongs in fact to the Canadian writer Robertson Davies, from Tempest-Tost (Toronto: Clark, Irwin, 1951), p. 127.

I have no idea how this woman came by this quotation. Maybe a tourist had shared it with her. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it came from her directly. Despite the poverty of the Cubans, their education is rich. In Varadero, I have seen a woman reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” while selling trinkets to tourists in an outdoor market.

More than any place where I’ve been in Cuba, Cayo Ensenachos rouses a strange stir in my heart. It has a certain feel of decay, of lost glory, much like Cuba itself. Think of a colonial, white, luxurious palace that has been overcome by the jungle and by time… Think of wandering through deserted ballrooms and abandoned gardens, where the only water in the still water fountains comes from gushes of tropical rain… Think of a silence of the end of the world, and of the clickety-clack of crabs’ pincers, and of the surf like a haunting, distant murmur… Think of all the stories such a place might hold…


Since today is the date for Denise Covey’s blogfest, “Sharing,” I thought I’d share this with you. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

22 comments:

Vesper said...

Actually, the hotel was very nice and the grounds impeccably kept, although the water fountains were not in use. :-) :-) :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Cayo Ensenachos sounds wonderful! And how true that quote is by Robertson Davies. It becomes even more true as we get older too. Thank you for sharing!

Scheherazade said...

Some friends of mine just recently went to Cuba. I am waiting to hear about their adventures. That was a very striking photo and commentary to share.

Jenny Brigalow said...

Hi Vesper. Thank your for a very evocative introduction to Cuba. Its wonderful when history still seeps through the stones and whispers through the water.

the walking man said...

As an American when I think of Cuba, I think of how ignorant we are in not recognizing them as full partners in the world. My mind can not comprehend that a few ex-pats in Florida can hold the entire US government at bay.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

That quote really says a lot to me. So so much. Thank you for sharing this - I'm adding it to my collection :)

Brian Miller said...

def a lot of stories in every place if we are willing to look...never been to cuba but my wandering spirit would love to visit sometime....

Charles Gramlich said...

Such neat little things make up the experience of a life.

The Armchair Squid said...

I have no doubt that Cuba has plenty of amazing stories to offer - a lot of them, not so happy, I suppose.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

A very poignant post, V. Nice share.

Vesper said...

Chrys, you're right! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Scheherazade, thank you! I hope your friends had a wonderful experience. Lovely name you have, storyteller... :-)

Hi Jenny, thank you for your lovely comment. You are so right... :-)

Mark, politics are so awful, always representing what is worse of humanity, greed, envy, revenge...

Keith, I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you! :-)

Brian, you are very right. And I'm sure that you'll be able to visit Cuba soon... things have to change... :-)

Definitely, Charles. Thank you. :-)

Armchair Squid, I'm sure of that. But people in many countries of that region, not just in Cuba, are heartbreakingly poor...

Thanks, Bernard. Much appreciated, my friend.

The Armchair Squid said...

No doubt. I've never visited the Caribbean but have explored other tropical regions. If it's anything like Southeast Asia, I'm sure life is quite different once you get away from the beach resorts.

Denise Covey said...

Hello Vesper. What a very uplifting post to share. I love the quote and will add it to my list of quotes on Pinterest when I can. Love the pics too!
I've a deep desire to travel to Cuba. Have only heard good things of the people and the beauty of the island. Politics have a way of messing with the world, but people are much the same everywhere.

Thanks for taking part in the Sharing blogfest.

Denise

Sally said...

What an interesting quote and lovely pictures.

N. R. Williams said...

Wonderful post. You are a talented writer.
Nancy

Nilanjana Bose said...

Certainly some food for thought there. Cuba sounds awesome.

Yolanda Renee said...

I swear I wrote a comment last week - LOL. Mind is going. I loved the descriptive prose.

"Think of wandering through deserted ballrooms and abandoned gardens, where the only water in the still water fountains comes from gushes of tropical rain… Think of a silence of the end of the world, and of the clickety-clack of crabs’ pincers, and of the surf like a haunting, distant murmur…"

You do your pictures justice and your visit makes us wonder what evocative stories you will eventually share. A lovely, mysterious place to most of us, and I'm sure full of stories waiting to be told - by you?!

Jen Chandler said...

Hi Vesper, sorry it took me so long to wander over for the WEP fest. Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I've often found that what a people may lack in money, they more than make up for it in spirit. i love that this woman took the time to write that quote out in flowers.

Cheers!
Jen

Vesper said...

Armchair Squid, you are right.

Denise, hello! Thank you for stopping by and for your very nice words. I'm glad you liked the photos. Thank you for such inspiring blogfests! :-)

Sally, thank you! Glad you liked! :-)

Nancy, thank you so much! Much appreciated! :-)

Nilanjana, thank you! Cuba seems to me a bit of a land that time forgot... I'd certainly like to explore it more. :-)

Yolanda, thank you so much for your visit and your kind comment. :-) Stories... yes, I guess when you have the mindset of a writer you have to see them everywhere... :-)

Jen, no need to apologize! :-) Thank you for your thoughts and for following this blog. You are more than right about the richness of spirit, not just once I had the opportunity to witness that.

Michelle Wallace said...

I'm popping in from the WEP Bloghop.
A beautiful picture and accompanying quote.

Cuba sounds........ exotic!
A place filled with stories, just waiting to be told... what an exciting thought.

Lisa said...

I was right there imagining all of it. Beautiful. I would love some day to go there. Thanks for the short sight-seeing/hearing trip!

Vesper said...

Michelle, thank you so much for stopping by and for your wonderful words!

Lisa, I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thank you!