“Snowflake” Bentley

February 11, 2006

Snowflake Bentley

“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, 1925

snow crystal and annotation

I have always loved revisiting my well-worn copy of Snowflake Bentley’s classic book, Snow Crystals (the book is still in print and published by Dover). In it are thousands of breathtakingly beautiful pictures of snow crystals, or “flakes” as we usually call them. I use them when I teach my music theory students or young composers about theme and variations. It is also a beautiful resource when describing patterns in nature: the notions of center, symmetry, balance, and beauty. In snow crystals I am reminded of the mandala, and the symmetry inspired sand paintings of Buddhists or Native American artists/monks, and the many other just-as-fragile works of art by humans who yearn to resonate with the beauty around them.

Mandala of an Esoteric Form of Vajrapani

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