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Just a Pot of Basil At the age of eight one of my favorite things to do was dream about living in a time where gigantic beasts loomed over the earth Form the gigantasaurus to the brontosaurus I enjoyed anything from the Precambrian period I grew to appreciate the monstrous creatures even more after I took my first trip to the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh I had never seen such elaborate displays of marvelous full-scale dinosaurs since I was accustomed to seeing them no larger than the height of a book or television screen I recall roaming through the many displays pretending that I was one of them Usually I pretended to be the Troodon a species that is thought to have the largest brain in proportion to the rest of its body Even though I was smaller than the rest of the dinosaurs I always knew that I could outsmart them if I was a clever Troodon Of course I would forget that they had been extinct for millions of years as the plaques in front of the enormous exhibits reminded those who were tall enough to read them But I carried on in my world of dinosaurs while I was in the museum free to dream as I cared to The distance and time between the real dinosaurs and I disappeared when I was in the museum in my little world Therein lies the significant difference between seeing and imagining and being told or influenced that is being mystified Mystification as the art critic John Berger in Ways of Seeing explains is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident Berger 112 I was instantly captivated from the moment I saw the tied-together skeletons stretching as high as my own house should I have cared about the petty details that would have distracted me from my own imagination Original paintings are silent and still in a sense that information never
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