Ode to Gavin Pretor-Pinney in Somerset, United Kingdom
Veerle Corstens | July/August Issue 2012
“In our busy everyday life, it’s essential to sometimes not need to do anything,” says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, who has even turned doing nothing into an art. The British philosopher, author and graphic designer established the magazine The Idler, a publication for loungers, in 1993, together with Tom Hodgkinson.
“Watching clouds is a great excuse for doing nothing,” says Pretor-Pinney. In preparation for a lecture about clouds, he thought he’d give the subject more prestige by naming it The Cloud Appreciation Society. At the lecture’s end, so many people asked him where they could become members that he decided to actually found it. Currently 30,462 members from 94 countries post photos of beautiful clouds on his website: photos of clouds that resemble Dalís or a bank-robbing Michelin Man, or that simply enchant the air. “Plain blue skies are uninteresting,” says Pretor-Pinney. “The air is also one of the last wildernesses that haven’t been touched by human hands.”
On a cloudless day on Cornwall’s beach he discovered the meditative power of wave watching. So he wrote The Wavewatcher’s Companion, in which he writes not only of the waves in the ocean, but also the blood that streams through your body in waves and even the waves in stadiums. Waves are movements of energy of which we’re barely consciously aware. “Every beat of your heart is a wave,” says Pretor-Pinney. According to him, every wave carries information with it; a ripple in the water, for example, shows that a bird has landed. “But don’t forget,” he says, “ocean waves are a great pleasure to watch—the breathing of the ocean, the mood of the ocean.”