Elisa's Blog
Thursday, May 12, 2005
So a couple of days ago I was hanging out at the East and West Bookshop again (remember? it's that feng-shui bookstore that smells delicious with the fountain in the middle of the carpet I told you about before...), and was browsing through a book written by some Japanese dude, called "Water Crystals" or "Messages from Water" or something weird like that.

What this Japanese dude had done (well, maybe I shouldn't call him a "dude" since judging from his picture he looked like he was in his autumn years more than the sun-bleached, wild summer ones, but anyway...) was to create some snowflake-like crystals by basically freezing some water in a bottle. Now bear with me for a moment (for your brain may already be screaming what I'm just about to point out). As you may imagine, this description of the methodology is very dubious, because as you know ice does not form hexagonal "snowflake-like" crystals easily in this way (to get a snowflake, water vapor needs to turn directly into ice without condensing into water droplets first), but let's set that aside for a second, pretend I misread the description of what he did, or even pretend for a moment that you could get some decent snowflakes this way, and let me continue with the narrative of his fascinating experiments.

The real point of his procedure, and this is the fascinating part, was to see whether the water crystals (as he called them) had anything to say about our world as follows: before freezing the clear water bottle, he "exposed" the water to words written in Japanese characters by wrapping a paper with the words around the bottle. Then, he concluded, if the water agreed that the word was a word with "positive energy", it would form beautiful, complete, hexagonal snowflakes, but if the word or phrase had negative connotations, it would form amorphous blobs of ice. The same kind of thing would happen to a crystal produced with pure Swiss spring water versus one collected from the tap water of Jakarta, for instance (and therefore the crystals would make some sort of political commentary about pollution and the sad state of our environment), and so too with water exposed to classical music vs heavy metal, colorful light vs darkness, and so forth.

Regardless of the eggregious abuse (to name it kindly) and misapplication of the scientific method, it was absolutely enthralling to flip through this book. The choices of phrases and things the water bottles were exposed to were, actually, quite intriguing, and had a certain poetic beauty. After a while, it was easy to flip the book's premises upside down, treat it as an coffee table photographic art book, and begin to actually enjoy it. The words and phrases the water was exposed to then no longer had the significance of being the motor behind the resulting photograph, but on the contrary, merged seamlessly into silently declaring the name of the depicted snowflake.

Thus, a regular, geometric snowflake with a playful edge became "Playing Catch with Dad", a buxom, soft and rounded one became "Mother's Cooking", an elaborate, ornate snowflake with dendrites of filigree was called "Beethoven's 5th", a confused mass of frozen droplets was "You Fool!", an amorphous crystal photographed in an ominous dark background was named "Satan", while a pure, simple, no fuss hexagonal crystal proclaimed: "Joy".

It was a good book, I concluded.

Interesting you came upon that book. The creator's (Dr. Masaru Emoto's) work on the Water Crystals from "The Hidden Messages in Water," was referenced and displayed in the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

If you'd like a really odd perspective from various "expert" opinions of how humans perceive reality, rent that movie. But be forewarned, it may excite you in the beginning and downright frustrate you at the end.

At first the movie seems to be about quantum physics and the different possible outcomes of "choices" we make, for example, our projection of words affecting the creation of snowflakes. Then, with a very deliberate legerdemain, it devolves into a spiritual self-help guide for depressed folk. It got so silly that by that time I had to perform a similar perceptual alteration you did with the book and began to focus on and enjoy the soundtrack and special effects (which are rather well-done) and not so much on the remaining message.

Whatever your final opinion of this so-called docudrama may be, when it's over (if you possess the wherewithal to finish it), you will be saying "What the Bleep was that?"
Good timing. I refer you to the Bad Science section in the Guardian newspaper for the same day as your post.

It looks like Dr. Emoto's PhD is the same as the one that the authors dead cat managed to obtain a few months ago.
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