Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rediscovered 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."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dreaming with Open Eyes


"...you go into a state almost like an aware kind of sleep, which means you’re all free, just let it be, let it become, and with tremendous compassion towards everything—maybe human beings, or nature, or objects—you incorporate. It’s almost like a... in Buddhism, you would say incarnation. You become things, you become an atmosphere. And if you become it, which means you incorporate it within you, you can also give it back. You can put this feeling into a picture. A painter can do do it. And a musician can do it, and I think a photographer can do that too. And that I would call the dreaming with open eyes."

- Ernst Haas (1921 - 1986)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fallible Perceptions


"Realities are wrapped in such a veil (as it were) that several philosophers of distinction have thought them altogether beyond comprehension, while even the Stoics think them hard to comprehend. And every assent we may give to our perceptions is fallible: the infallible man does not exist. "

- Marcus Aurelius (121 - 180 CE)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What is Unknowable


"Science of nature has one goal:
To find both manyness and whole.
Nothing 'inside' or 'Out There,'
The 'outer' world is all 'In Here.'
This mystery grasp without delay,
This secret always on display.
The true illusion celebrate,
Be joyful in the serious game!
No living thing lives separate:
One and Many are the same."
...
We can never directly see
what is true, that is, identical with
what is divine: we look at it
only in reflection, in example,
in the symbol, in individual
and related phenomena.
We perceive it as a life
beyond our grasp,
yet we cannot deny
our need to grasp it.
...
The highest achievement
of the human being
as a thinking being is to
have probed what is
knowable and quietly to
revere what is unknowable."

- Johann Wolgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

See Yourself Seeing Yourself


"You will never stop seeing yourself. You can do nothing, you cannot escape yourself, you cannot escape your own gaze, you never will be able to: even if you were to fall into a sleep so deep that no shock, no shout, no burning pain could rouse you, there would still be this eye, your eye, that will never close, that will never sleep.

You see yourself, you see yourself seeing yourself, you watch yourself watching yourself. Even if you were to wake up, your vision would remain the same, immutable. Even if you managed to grow thousands, billions of extra eyelids, there would still be this eye, behind, which would see you. You are not asleep but sleep will never come again. You are not awake and you will never wake up. You are not dead and even death could never set you free."

- Georges Perec (1936 - 1982)

Monday, December 05, 2016

By Means of the Senses


"Wherefore a man can know nothing by himself, save after a natural manner, which is only that which he attains by means of the senses. For this cause he must have the phantasms and the forms of objects present in themselves and in their likenesses; otherwise it cannot be, for, as philosophers say: Ab objecto et potentia paritur notitia. That is: From the object that is present and from the faculty, knowledge is born in the soul. Wherefore, if one should speak to a man of things which he has never been able to understand, and whose likeness he has never seen, he would have no more illumination from them whatever than if naught had been said of them to him."

- John of the Cross (1542 - 1591)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Source of it All


"Coastal people never really know what the ocean symbolizes to landlocked inland people—what a great distant dream it is, present but unseen in the deepest levels of subconsciousness, and when they arrive at the ocean and the conscious images are compared with the subconscious dream there is a sense of defeat at having come so far to be so stopped by the mystery that can never be fathomed. The source of it all."

- Robert M. Pirsig (1928 - )

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Living Light


"There is the motion, the actual wave and radiation of the darted beam: not the dull universal daylight, which falls on the landscape without life, or direction, or speculation, equal on all things and dead on all things; but the breathing, animated, exulting light, which feels, and receives, and rejoices, and acts — which chooses one thing, and rejects another — which seeks, and finds, and loses again — leaping from rock to rock, from leaf to leaf, from wave to wave — glowing, or flashing, or scintillating, according to what it strikes; or, in its holier moods, absorbing and enfolding all things in the deep fullness of its repose, and then again losing itself in bewilderment, and doubt, and dimness ... It is the living light, which breathes in its deepest, most entranced rest, which sleeps, but never dies."

- John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

Postscript: Ruskin's quote was inspired by his devotion to J. M. W. Turner's art (as is my Synesthetic Landscape that appears above it). I have been thinking of Turner lately because I've started reading what is turning out to be a magnificent new biography: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner, by Franny Moyle (Penguin Press, Oct 2016).