We learn the shapes and they are so simple: square, triangle, circle. But the shapes that are not simple: there is a square inside a square, a triangle with a rounded edge and circles of different sizes connect to form a spiral. Eventually, we learn about these too, these combinations-of-shapes, and no matter how many edges or curves, we learn that each silly shape consists of the essence of those basic shapes that we first learned.
The shapes, no longer content to live within two dimensions begin to pop out from the page. On graph paper they assume new forms, the forms of three dimensions, and as such the square becomes a cube and the triangle a pyramid and the circle a sphere.
And what of the cube with another cube inside it, the pyramid with a curved edge and the sphere containing spheres that form a spiral?
As with the primary colours: red, yellow, blue. Not reality but art theory. Not art theory in practice, but colour-mixing. Could it be those hues combined consist of nothing more than those hues we already knew? Is a clock-tower nothing more than a square, extended into three dimensions, a square with another square inside it (the empty space) and a pyramid perched on top?
Is the clock merely a circle and the hands of the clock mere lines? What of the seconds that pass as we wonder; a second when considered for more than a second rapidly becomes memory and memory becomes history no matter how poorly remembered.
Is a religious fresco merely shapes and primary colours? Is a bowl of pasta? Is the sky on a clear night, glittering with stars? Is all that we know, and are, reducible to these primary facts? What of these words… they are “shapes” of a fashion. And what of the imagination that takes these words and sets them alight with images described like: red triangle, blue sphere, green square.
What of the thoughts that toss and tumble and the shapes that are incomplete, or where one line extends beyond the boundaries presumed to be proper, like an untidy triangle that forgot to comb its hair? What of beginnings and endings and molecules and waves and the ocean churning and churning and churning.
A bubble may appear as a perfect sphere until it pops and then it is little more than myriad tiny spheres too small for the eye to see. And the grains of sand too. And the sun that stains the sea red and then dips below the waves and out of sight.
Is all that we know, and are, reducible to these primary facts?
Are we… merely imperfect shapes?