Pondering the Waterfall

I am not artistic. I also am not a connoisseur of art, but I do appreciate some paintings and drawings.. I am not the type who frequents art museums, but I will occasionally visit if there is a special exhibit that grabs my attention. For example, one time while I was living near Raleigh, the museum in Raleigh had a special exhibit of Renaissance art, including some pencil drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci. Renaissance art has long caught my interest because of the theological and philosophical themes. Raphael’s “School of Athens” is one of my favorites.

I also enjoy the drawings of M. C. Escher. The way he portrays structures that could not exist in three dimensional space is intriguing. I have a few of his drawings in my den where I have my writing desk. I do not know why, but I had the idea of staring at my Escher’s “Waterfall” picture until an idea hit me. I suppose one could call it a focused brainstorming session.

“Waterfall” shows a building with a waterfall. The water at the bottom flows through an aqueduct back to the top and then down the waterfall again but without actually flowing uphill. Yes, this does not make sense in three dimensional space, but that is the fun of Escher’s drawings.

I soon wondered how the people in the drawing deal with evaporation. The geometry allows the water to continually travel the aqueduct and waterfall, but some would evaporate. Eventually the cycle would cease. Maybe they live in an enclosed biosphere which recycles the water. The background landscape could be the interior surface of the enclosure. If so, then it is a small enclosure.

I also noticed a man near the bottom watching the waterfall, perhaps pondering something. Maybe he is considering the same things as I am. Well, not exactly the same because the geometry of his world, while it is unusual to me, is probably normal to him. Nonetheless, maybe he is pondering how the water is recycled and how to maintain the cycle.

I also wonder how they retrieve water which splashes from the bottom of the waterfall. Maybe the man is pondering a solution to that. The woman also needs water to wash her laundry. Are they husband and wife? I do not see other people. Maybe the building is their house. Where are the other people? Are these two alone? Why are they inside the enclosure?

I do not know what Escher intended to communicate when he drew Waterfall. The musing above are merely my personal speculations. I firmly believe in authorial intent when interpreting writing and art, and so I will defer to Escher in determining the proper meaning of the drawing. Nonetheless, it can be fun to let one’s imagination go wild just for fun.

About henrywm

I am a graduate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. I am interested in Christian theology and church history. I also enjoy science fiction and stories which wrestle with deep questions.
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