Monday, February 27, 2012

Symbolic Omniscience

"The basic characteristic of any artistic expression is the ordering of a visual impression into a coherent, complete, living form. The difference between a mere expression, however intense and revealing, and an artistic image of that expression, lies in the range and structure of its form. This structure is specific. The colors, lines, and shapes corresponding to our sense impressions are organized into a balance, a harmony, or rhythm that is is in an analogous correspondence with feelings; and these feelings are, in turn, analogues of thoughts and ideas. An artistic image, therefore, is more that a graph of emotions. It has meaning in depth, and, at each level, there is a corresponding level of human response to the world. In this way, an artistic form is a symbolic form grasped directly by the senses but reaching beyond them and connecting all the strata of our inner world of sense, feeling, and thought. The intensity of the sensory pattern strengthens the emotional and intellectual pattern; conversely, our intellect illuminates such a sensory pattern, investing it with symbolic power. This essential unity of primary sense experience and intellectual evaluation makes the artistic form unique in human experience and therefore in human culture. Our closest human experience is love, where again sensation, feeling, and idea live in a vital unity."

“For some time there was a widely held notion (zealously fostered by the daily press) to the effect that the 'thinking ocean' of Solaris was a gigantic brain, prodigiously well-developed and several million years in advance of our own civilization, a sort of 'cosmic yogi', a sage, a symbol of omniscience, which had long ago understood the vanity of all action and for this reason had retreated into an unbreakable silence.” 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Poetics of Space

"House, patch of meadow, oh evening light
Suddenly you acquire an almost human face
You are very near us,
embracing and embraced."

"Our house is our corner of the universe... it is our universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word. If we look at it intimately, the humblest dwelling has beauty... The house, like fire and water...[recalls]... flashes of daydreams that illuminate the synthesis of immemorial and recollected... Through dreams, the various dwelling-places in our lives co-penetrate and retain the treasure of former days... We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection... The house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace... The places in which we have experienced daydreaming reconstitute themselves in a new daydream, and it is because our memories of former dwelling-places are relived as daydreams that these dwelling-places of the past remain in us for all time."


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Transcendent Order

"When we say that order is transcendent, we mean to say that somehow, the order makes contact with some other reality, or some other 'something,' which lies outside of and beyond our normal experience. We need a word for this something. It is hard  to find a suitable word, since, by definition, the something is beyond normal experience - and presumably, therefore, outside the range of things which have ordinary names... I use the word 'ground'  to refer to this something.

The ground is imagined to be a pure reality. It is a state of reality, or substance, which is in the universe, but not accessible to normal perception and normal awareness. It is, however, not assumed to be distant. It is generally assumed to be here where we are, and even more real, more authentic, than the reality we normally experience. It is thus supposed to be a state of matter, or state of things, or state of existence, which is more fundamental - and of which one might say that 'the universe is really made of this stuff.' All this is 'the ground.' It is the ground beneath our feet, the ultimate ground of substance on which all things stand.

Color not only establishes wholeness as a single quality, a oneness beyond structure.It begins to establish a connection with this ground. The inner light we experience in the cases of great color seems to penetrate beyond normal experience, reaching through to this ground, showing us this ground, making us feel the ground... the experience of inner light reveals an ultimate world of existence as it really is, perhaps, and shows us a glimpse of a reality which is more profound, more beautiful, than the one we experience every day...[it is the] first direct experience of the I."

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Transcendental Mirrors

"Bodies of still water are
themselves like minds;
transcendental mirrors, 
Platonic cameras
to catch and hold 
the phenomenological long enough 
for the onlooker to grasp its reality,
the eternal thing behind it."

- David Mason Greene

"There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about his sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath; like those fabled undulations of the Ephesian sod over the buried Evangelist St. John. And meet it is, that over these sea-pastures, wide rolling watery prairies and Potters’ Fields of all four continents, the waves should rise and fall, and ebb and flow unceasingly; for here, millions of mixed shades and shadows, drowned dreams, dreaming still; tossing like slumberers in their beds; the ever-rolling waves but made so by their restlessness."

"The Pacific," Moby Dick

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

On Seeing

"The child has to learn how to separate out the images which assail the newly-opened retina... a whole series of 'senses' are necessary... 

A sense of spatial immensity, in its greatness and in its smallness, disarticulating and spacing out, within a sphere of indefinite radius, the orbits of objects which press around us; 

A sense of depth, pushing back laboriously through the endless chain of events and measureless distances of time which a sort of sluggishness of mind tends continually to condense for us in a thin layer of the past; 

A sense of number, discovering and grasping unflinchingly the bewildering multitude of material or living elements involved in the slightest change in the universe;

A sense of proportion, realizing as best we can the difference of physical scale which separates, both it rhythm and dimension, the atom from the nebula, the infinitesimal from the immense;

A sense of quality, or of novelty, enabling us to distinguish in nature certain absolute stages of perfection and growth without upsetting the physical unity of the world; 

A sense of movement, capable of perceiving the irresistible developments hidden in extremely slow development - extreme agitation concealed beneath a veil of immobility - the entirely new insinuating itself into the heart of the monotonous repetition of the same things; 

A sense, lastly, of the organic, discovering physical links and structural unity under the superfical juxtaposition of successions and collectivities.

...we have only to rid our vision of the threefold illusion of smallness, plurality, and immobility for man effortlessly to take the central position... the momentary summit of an anthropogenesis which is itself the crown of a cosmogenesis. No longer will man be able to see himself entirely unrelated to mankind, neither will he be able to see mankind unrelated to life, not life unrelated to the universe."

Monday, February 06, 2012

Music of the Eyes

"What prohibits me from treating my perception as an intellectual act is that an intellectual act would grasp the object either as possible or as necessary. But in perception it is 'real'; it is given as the infinite sum of an indefinite series of perspectival views in each of which the object is given but in none of which is it given exhaustively."

(1908 - 1961)

"Perhaps art is just taking out
what you don't like
and putting in what you do.
There is no such thing 
as Abstraction. 
It is extraction, 
gravitation toward a 
certain direction... 
It is nearer to music, 
not the music of the ears, 
just the music of the eyes."

(1880 - 1946)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Celestial Melodies

"...above all, I perceive in me with joy, a new tone, sounded by a violin within my innermost being. Its strings are tensed or relaxed through simple differences of temperature and illumination from without. Yet from deep with our being (an instrument that the conformity of habit has condemned to silence), there appears a song - out of those derivations, out of those vibrations -  from which all music arises. The weather, on specific days, leads us perchance from one sound to another. We rediscover the lost melody, which - as we might have guessed - appears with mathematical necessity, and which we, without knowing it, sang from the first moment on. Only these inner modifications - inner, despite the fact that they came from the outside - renew the outer world for me."

"It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlit night, when all waves rolled by like scrolls of silver, and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude: on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the brow. Lit up by the moon, it looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea."

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Illumination and Purification

"The outcome is this...the whole conscious being is open to spiritual experiences of every kind. It turns toward spiritual truth in thought, feeling, perception, and action; it is adjusted to respond rightly... The second thing is the free influx of all kinds of spiritual experience, experience of self, experience of God and of the divine creative power, experience of the cosmic consciousness, a direct contact with cosmic forces and with the hidden movements of universal Nature, a psychic sympathy, union, inner communication and various kinds of reciprocal relationship with other beings and with Nature as a whole, illumination of the heart through love and devotion, through spiritual joy and ecstasy, illumination of the senses and of the body through higher experiences, illumination of dynamic action in truth and love, purification of mind and spirit, heart, and soul."

(1893 - 1963)

"Complete consciousness is present to us at all times, every moment, but we reject it in order to maintain our prejudices, our ideas. But sooner or later we will relinquish our ideas in favor of response... Life is consciousness of life itself."

(1912 - 2004)

Friday, February 03, 2012

Hermeneutic Mysteries

"I see photography as an extraordinary means to undertake an exegesis of the Real, prompted by the first and literal level: the image of the evident objects. Any subsequent new meanings are discovered and rendered manifest through a hermeneutic process unfolding from the limited surface of the photograph; new interpretation will spring from the depth of the apparently flat surface of its image.
As with the sacred texts, all levels of meaning of a photograph are contained within its boundaries, simultaneously present to be discovered and revealed. Through a photograph we may see and transcend the object, moving further from its literal sense.
We are the interpreters of a great mystery: we belong entirely to reality and are part of this mystery.
In a 1995 presentation that Michelangelo Antonioni made of Beyond the Clouds, the film that proved to be the last one of his life, he said:

...we know that beneath the image revealed there is another one more faithful to reality, and that beneath this image there is another one, and again a new one under this last one, up to the true image of the absolute and mysterious reality that no one will ever see..."

"Photography and Torah"
(quoted from The Edge of Vision, by Lyle Rexer,  p. 281)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Appearances and Consciousness

"The order and regularity
of the appearances,
which we entitle nature,
we ourselves introduce.
We could never find them
in appearances,
had we not ourselves,
or the nature of our mind,
originally set them there."
Critique of Pure Reason

"Cosmic Consciousness is ... as far above Self Consciousness as is that above Simple Consciousness. The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe ... Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence - would make him almost a member of a new species."

Cosmic Consciousness

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Timeless Unity

"A timeless, limitless, perfect unity underlies all our feeling and thought, underlies every form of existence and every part of our self. We know this through a deep, inner awareness for which we can give no explanation or proof, because it is itself the source of all knowledge, proof, and explanation. Depending on our degree of personal development, this awareness in us may be obscure or clear.

In reason and in nature this highest reality appears to us in its internal and external manifestations. We feel ourselves to be a part of this reality. As creatures both of nature and of reason, we constitute an entity which contains both nature and reason , and thus partakes of the divine. This opens two different directions to our mental life. We may, on the one hand, try to reduce the multiplicity and infinity of nature and reason to their original, divine unity. Or we may try to represent the inner creative unity of our selves in an external multiplicity. In doing the latter, we exercise capability, in doing the former, we show insight. Insight produces knowledge and science. 

Capability produces art... [Art] owes its existence to the creative activity of the human spirit, and... sprung from a unity, it must itself be a complete, coherent, and quasi-organic whole."

Physiologist / Painter (1789 - 1869)
Nine Letters on Landscape Painting