The Persistence of Vision

Long before I moved to Taos, New Mexico, I read an impactful science fiction novella by John Varley called Persistence of Vision.

It wasn’t until later, discussing the story with my husband, Rick, who had also been impacted by the story, that I realized part of it happened in Taos, New Mexico.

Beyond the story line, there is something about how eyes, ears and the speech centers of the brain supply sensory information even when the physical body is impaired. The title of the story has to do with a simple physical property of the eyeball, and that is the outgassing of phosphenes, which create spectacular visual stimuli, even when the eye is closed. This usually is interpreted by our optical nerve as the color opposite of the subject matter.

For instance, if you stare a little at the sun then go into a darkened room, your optical nerve will register a turquoise blue in place of the yellow/orange of the sun.

Remember those optical illusions of staring at an oddly colored American flag for so many seconds, and then when you look at a white wall you would see the flag in the correct coloration? That’s how it all works.

That was referred to as the “persistence of vision.”

I would like to think that painting, for me, is the persistence of vision. It also represents the persistence of a creative urge that is unquenchable by anything but doing.

I am so grateful, both for the persistence I have maintained over the years, and now, for the space to do it in.