Surrender, the Book of Job, and William Blake

Today is the 260th birthday of William Blake, and on this special occasion, I wrote another reflection inspired by his illustrations of the book of Job. It is about the lessons on surrender.

When the Morning Stars Sang Together Butts set.jpg
By William BlakeThe Morgan Library, extracted from Zoomify by User:GGreer, Public Domain, Link

Surrender is one of the fundamental concepts of the meditative practice, and at the same time it is one of the most difficult concepts to understand, to accept and to enact in life. We often struggle with it, or even against it, again and again it puts us to test, and sometimes we pass it, while other times we fail. Surrender has to do with giving up something of our own and instead accepting the conditions of someone else. When we talk of meditation, or of spirituality, we often say that we need to surrender, and that calls for two questions. The first one: what it is that we need to surrender? The second one: when we surrendered, then to whom or to what?

The meditation I practice is about growth. It is about developing your capacities, about trying to become the best of what you can possibly be individually, and, as much as possible, improving your community and your society. In the process, we often develop a subtle ego, a feeling of moral or spiritual superiority, a false arrogance in believing that we know best how things should be done and what is the right thing to do, what is just and who deserves what. The first of our questions then would be relatively easy to answer (though not very easy to enact): we need to surrender, often, and repeatedly, all kinds of false ideas, false identities, false presumptions and habits, we have to try to gradually shed everything that prevents us from eventually manifesting our truest and purest Self and fully identifying with that Self.

Now, let’s talk about the Book of Job. It is one of the most puzzling stories from the Old Testament, perhaps because it is about surrender, perhaps also because it challenges one of the allies of our subtle ego, – a sort of retributive justice we often use to explain misfortunes (usually the ones that happen to others). It is a belief that suffering must always be the punishment for sin (and that whoever suffers must deserve it), and, correspondingly, that health, wealth, and happiness must always reward “goodness” and “righteousness”.

I’ve been inspired to ponder about the story of Job and to write this post (asecond one already), because a while ago I came across amazing illustrations by William Blake. He made two sets of watercolours and one set of engraved prints. Luckily for us, they are nicely collected and available in the public domain here [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake%27s_Illustrations_of_the_Book_of_Job], and so I invite you to explore these illustrations also while you are reading the post. It means a lot, that of all the themes of the Old Testament, Blake worked so much on the story of Job.

So, here is the story of Job. Job is a righteous man, well-respected, just and pious. God has a discussion with Satan about Job’s devotion to God, and Satan claims that Job is only pious because he is doing well, he has everything one might want in life, but were he to be deprived of his wellbeing, he would not remain faithful to God. God accepts the challenge and allows Satan to take away everything that Job has: his wealth, his children, and eventually his health, to see that Job will remain pious even when the blessings he is enjoying are stripped away from him. At first Job stays strong, but eventually, as things get worse and worse, and also as Job’s friends begin to say that Job must have committed some sins, to be so badly punished by God, Job loses his calm. He insists that he has not done anything wrong, he doesn’t know why God is punishing him, and eventually he feels that to die would be better than to suffer so miserably. It seems, justice is a huge issue for Job, he feels that his suffering is not just, and so he calls on God in despair. This is why the book of Job is so interesting, so challenging and so philosophical at the same time. It contrasts our human sense of justice with the divine justice, our human character with divine qualities, our limited human capacities with the infinite nature of God.

The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind Butts set.jpg
By William BlakeThe Morgan Library, extracted from Zoomify by User:GGreer, Public Domain, Link

Then something happens. The Lord answers Job from the whirlwind. The response of God is very interesting, for in beautiful details it tells Job that while Job knows very little it is the God who is present and is working though all aspects of nature, all elements, the whole creation. It doesn’t directly respond to Job’s plea, but it brings his existence into perspective. Job recognizes his own caliber, and then God restores him back into his wellbeing, gives him back his wealth and family, his respected position, but, most of all, his solid faith in God.

Now, what are the lessons to learn from the Book of Job with regard to a meditateve practice?

I remember, one of the things I still had in my teenage years, was the feeling of closeness with God, the feeling of God’s presence, the sense that I could talk to God. It was not just the belief that God existed, but also the feeling of trust that God takes care of things, and everything will eventually work out. As I was growing up, I lost this feeling, became close to being an agnostic, and that has dramatically changed the emotional quality of my life. One of the first things I rediscovered once I settled into the practice of meditation, was that sense of emotional security, the feeling that things are happening the way they supposed to happen, and everything will be alright in the end. It isn’t just a belief, rather, it is a tangible feeling of the flow of energy that is healing, calming and comforting.

Something that occurred to me recently, also with the help of the story of Job, that to be able to “surrender”, we have to have at least some sense of who or what it is that we are surrendering to. We need to have and to sustain the experience of some Power that “runs” the universe, in all those beautifully detailed aspects that we read about in God’s response to Job. We need to trust that Power, whether we call it Divine, or Nature, or Universe, that it cares and takes care of everything, including us. This experience of the established connection with the Energy of the Universe is what ultimately sustains us through the challenges that life might bring, and it is the condition of us remaining balanced within and stable, even when the outside conditions are turbulent. It is not enough to rationalize and to understand, it has to be experienced, and the experience has to be established, as Job says (quoted by Blake): “I have heard thee with the hearing of the Ear but now my Eye seeth thee”. It was not enough to “hear” God for Job to maintain his sense of what God was, he had to actually “see” God, and that has restored his connection which he was losing when challenged with suffering. This is why we keep insisting in our meditation classes, that no matter how much you read, and how much you know, you will only progress on this path through daily practice of meditation, for that is the only way to have an actual real experience of  being connected to the Energy, and to establish that experience within you.

The Vision of Christ Butts set.jpg
By William BlakeThe Morgan Library, extracted from Zoomify by User:GGreer, Public Domain, Link

Something that often came up in the old Christian and anti-Christian arguments about the existence and nature of God with regard to the problem of evil, was the whole sense of bafflement, that Job also experiences, that how can the benevolent and powerful God allow for the “suffering of the innocent” in the world? A way to approach the issue from a slightly different angle in this: in the story of Job, who actually has the need for that drama of loss and suffering to take place? Does God need to test Job through suffering? Obviously, not. When God appears to Job and responds to him, Job’s suffering is never addressed, neither is the notion of justice, that is not what is at stake here. It is Job himself, who needs to go through this experience, firstly to be able to see where he is at, and how strong is his state, how pure and how true is his understanding of himself, how adequate is his understanding of and trust in God. Secondly, through this experience Job can learn, he can grow a little further, he can shed that (already very thin, after all he is a good and pious man) layer of subtle ego and self-righteousness, which, when tested with loss, pain and nightmares, makes him think, that he is the one who knows what is just, that he can make a judgement, and he is right to be disturbed when that judgement is clashing with reality, thus bringing God into question.

So perhaps we can try out this approach. When things are not going according to our plan and our preference, we can take on a challenge and use the unpleasant (disturbing or even painful) situation to test ourselves, our state, our attitudes, our reactions, unlimitedly, the level of out surrender. We don’t need to go through suffering as horrible and painful as that of Job, regular small or bigger challenges of our lives will do.

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On gurus and shishyas, teachers and disciples…

We watched a Marathi film Katyar Kalijat Ghusali about music, musical traditions and the learning or grooming of the artist. The film is excellent, and no wonder, it is based on the old Marathi play, the music for which was written by Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki, who was the guru of my first Indian music teacher, Arun Apte. In the film, they have retained a number of songs from the original play, and, of course, it had to remind me about my four months of learning music in Vaitarna, and also about some of the stories Arun Apte was telling about his guru and their relationship.
It is really amazing, how the story in the film touches on the subtleties of the guru-disciple relationship. I will probably need to watch it again, and perhaps more than once, to understand more of it – if you only have a hint of this experience in your own life, and especially if you are not really a part of that tradition, it’s not easy to understand it beyond the superficial level of the apparent.
The film is about the stages of the maturing of an artist, and the challenge in maturing without a guru who can instruct you, or without one who is willing to do so. Yes, of course, it is also about going beyond the ego – that most difficult arrogance one acquires, when one begins to master some, even tiny aspects of the art, and this is the message the film claims to deliver, from the very beginning till the end. But I don’t think this is the most valuable message of this story, at least for me that was not what felt most important, inspiring and meaningful. It was interesting to see struggles the hero has to go through to connect gradually to deeper and deeper sense of music – through learning the knowledge, then imitation to the point of identification with the guru, then to mastering a different style, and perhaps eventually finding one’s own style, though this film finishes at the point when that stage would have probably just start.
What moved me the most, was the importance of being “recognized” and blessed by your guru to go on being an artist. It is not just about the learning and the instruction, and not about the ego-oriented achievement or pride, but about that special love and care that flows between the guru and the disciple, both ways, that ties them together, for that special kind of relationship that exists between the two, part friendship and part parent-child relationship, both of them together, and yet neither of them, but something else, the relationship that becomes even more beautiful because of the difference and uniqueness inherent in it. So when the guru witnesses the disciple who has mastered the art, not only the technical proficiency, but also the respect for the art and for other artists, and has met the essence of the art, that is the greatest and the only gift that disciple can offer back to the guru, as gratitude for all the lessons, for the generosity and the dedication that the guru has given while teaching. That is why it is so important for the hero in the film to have a chance to sing for both his gurus.
Maybe I’m wrong in saying that one has to be Indian to really get to the heart of what it means to be a disciple and to have a guru. Maybe it is so difficult for me to find the inspiration to finish this dissertation, because Sam has died – it has been written for Sam, working with his art, having made mistakes that disappointed him and having tried to correct them, having worked though the difficult challenges and found the treasures of understanding that he praised and admired. Now this last stage of putting the parts together, adding the final decorations and polishing the work, seems meaningless, when he is not going to be there to witness his disciple “perform on stage”. Yes, yes, I know it has to be done, but it’s hard to find that drive, that creative call and commitment, that flows from the bountiful expressions of the art practiced by a live guru.
Of course, it’s a different story, when the guru-disciple relationship is happening in the field (kshetra?) of spirituality, rather than a more “human” art. It is said (if I understood it somewhat correctly), that when a disciple has reached the state of mastery, then there is the recognition of God being the Guru. The one who has achieved that state, is learning from God directly, and is performing for God, to please that Divine Guru and to give thanks for the teaching, the love, and the care. Maybe I’m wrong again, and that’s also the case with music as well as philosophy and any other “art”?
Here is the recording of my first music teacher performing for his (our) spiritual Guru, and singing to please God. This is my favorite of all his recordings that I have seen, though I probably never heard him singing this song live… Enjoy…

By the way, that Marathi film with English subtitles is here: http://www.einthusan.com/movies/watch.php?marathimoviesonline=Katyar+Kalijat+Ghusali&lang=marathi&id=2783

Canajoharie Arts Academy – 2015

I already wrote one post here about Canajoharie few years ago, but that was in Ukrainian. Now that my blog is transitioning into the English mode, and also Canajoharie showed itself this time in quite a different light, a new post about it is definitely due.

Heidegger is quoting Hölderlin sharing his experience and insight in a letter to a friend that “all the holy places of the earth are gathered around one place”. This phrase resonates with me very much, I like to think of the common essence or fabric of both the actual physical places that have spiritual significance to me, and also of the places of the inner world. It is in the spiritual dimension that the outer and the inner places become interfused, the battle-fields, the temples, and the resting places, the places homely and dearly familiar, as well those wondrously alien and thus fascinating… Maybe one day I will write something about the inner musical places too, the places created by this or that raga, wouldn’t that be interesting?

Back to Canajoharie, one of my holy places. A week-end of the international meditation seminar was preceded by two weeks of the summer arts academy, and this was the first time that I was at the Canajoharie arts camp not as a volunteer, or just a visitor, but as a student. Perhaps this is why Canajoharie felt different, or maybe not, maybe it actually was different this time, no matter whether and how one was involved.

The type of meditation we do, Sahaja yoga, or Sahaja meditation, is simple, and it works quite well with even small commitment, provided it is consistent. And yet, it is really felt and enjoyed, when it becomes a worldview and a lifestyle, when it permeates the totality of our experiences, when it becomes an atmosphere, a sort of fragrance, which we breathe all the time. So we have this notion of sahaj culture – the aspects and ways of life that define the living within the atmosphere of this meditative state and make it easier for us to be in touch with, or, rather, to be immersed in, the ocean of Energy, and to feel at home within it.

Art is, and from the beginning has been, one of the key aspects of sahaj culture. Shri Mataji, the founder of our meditation technique, has promoted arts within our meditative community, especially, but not exclusively, Indian classical music. She created opportunities for us not only to be exposed to music and art with good energy, but also to study it and to become good at it. Somehow, the arts give us special access to meditation, as if they create the shortcuts to get there in the first place, and then also to explore the subtleties and depths of this meditative state once we are there.

And so these arts academies were established in India, where mainly us, the Westerners, could come and learn Indian music, dance and art within a meditative environment. The first one (?) was for a while in Nagpur, I’ve heard lot’s of good stories about it, but it was well before my time. Then it was in Vaitarna, and I was lucky to have stayed there for four months, quite early in my “sahaj life”, learning singing from Arun Apte.

When I was leaving Vaitarna, I was sure that I would come back, in a few years, and more than once, I even had a few ideas about what I could maybe do for Vaitarna. But then Arun Apte died suddenly, and Vaitarna went through a few cycles of closing down, then opening for some time, then closing again. I did go back to visit and stayed there for about ten days in 2013. I guess, I wanted to feel out and also to face, what this actual Vaitarna as well as my inner “Vaitarna” could be like without Arun Apte, and it was quite an intense experience.

In the meantime, the music doesn’t stop, we have all kinds of music (and art) workshops, shorter or longer, in different places, and in the last years we’ve had maybe three or four arts camps in Canajoharie, New York state, about 6 or 7 hours drive South East from Toronto. The last one was two years ago, right after my short Vaitarna visit, and I considered taking classes, but I just did not “feel it”. So I hung out there for about a week, caught the first big public concert, which the teachers gave in Albany, enjoyed very much and went home. This summer I decided it was time to come and take classes, no matter what. I was looking through the list of classes, considering the possibility of trying out something “new”, but ended up taking two vocal classes and harmonium class, all from the same teacher, and never regretted it, because the experience was so joyful, so elevating, and at the same time grounding, that it felt incredible, both satisfying and humbling, and also inspiring.

One of Vaitarna’s gifts was the amazing capacity to absorb music. You sit in class, and try to repeat these difficult musical phrases, and you know you are not getting it, and you feel like you will not be able to get it for a long time. And so in the evening you go through the class recording again, sleep on it and next morning find out that you actually got it. You just have it now, it’s in you, and you barely even cooperated. Something similar was experienced by many of us in Canajoharie this time, both the teachers and the students were commenting on how fast we all were learning, and how much we were achieving in such a short time. It would be an oversimplification, and the unfortunate one, to reduce this special quality to the efficiency of learning, to make it about goals and results. Rather, as Alan once mentioned, it is about the subtleties of this music or art, once you start getting it, you can appreciate and enjoy. What was important to me in these classes was not the result of learning this much, that fast and that well. It was the enjoyment of the process, the tasting of the art, and the atmosphere that was extremely friendly, becoming in tune, and not only musically, immersing into this exploration and feeling so good, that you would want to linger in it, and wished that it never ended… The classes, of course, were the best, but also outside of the classes each of is took or gave, the atmosphere felt very nourishing and inspiring. It was great to spend time with other teachers and students of all ages, to chat and to listen, to eat, and occasionally to cook, to laugh (and we did laugh a lot), and to meditate.

I think it was around the third or the forth day, that I started noticing Vaitarna’s presence in Canajoharie. It wasn’t just the classes and what was happening there, rather, the place itself was sounding different. Sitting at the pond with the feet in the water, enjoying an afternoon break, the barking of the dogs and the noise or tractors somewhere in the fields, and the light, and the wind, and the serene mood, all of it in totality felt so intensely similar to sitting on a roof in Vaitarna and waiting for the sunrise! I heard the bird calls so elaborate and unusual, which I have never heard in Canajoharie before. Of course, it wasn’t the koyal, it was probably some owl that was late enough in it’s nightly pursuits for me to still catch it when I woke up around 4 in morning. And yes, waking up between 4 and 5 without any alarms, and feeling completely awake – that was just like Vaitarna also. I have a feeling, those who have been to Nagpur academy, and there were quite a few people this year in Canajoharie, who spend some good times there, were also feeling the presence of Nagpur. I could feel a slight hint of Nagpur, even though I have never been there. Cabella was also somehow present, with its river, and the castle, and the simple rustic way of life. So all these holy musical places of our sahaj world became gathered around Canajoharie, fused with it, made this Canajoharie very different from the place I have known and also loved before. Different, but also the same. I felt the presence and continuity of this sahaj musical tradition, that somehow was connecting us to its beginnings in this era and the different forms it took relatively recently, as well as to the previous manifestations centuries ago – we sang Kabira, you know.

It is not that there is one single physical location, to which all holy places can be traced and from which they originate. It is rather a place in the spiritual realm, where meditation is painted by the beautiful colours or the art, where it explodes with the cooling fountains and where the rainbows are born in the meeting of sunshine and the water. When this place somehow starts manifesting locally, be in in Canajoharie, or somewhere else, it brings together all these other places, the holy places of art, where art is inspired by the Divine, and where we become attuned to the Divine through art, if we cooperate, even barely, and then it becomes global – magnificent and breathtaking.

When the arts academy was over after two weeks, I though it could not get any better, and it did not, but something else, equally beautiful and inspiring, though in a different way, kept me blissed out for another two weeks: some of our teachers joined by two other musicians went on a concert tour. I will definitely write more about that later, for now, here is the the video of the last concert of the tour in Dallas, enjoy!

You can see more videos and photos here: Festival of Inner Peace

Про мого кума, очі Модільяні, Мерло-Понті, і здатність бачити

Мій кум влаштував був мені день відкритих дверей, прорекламувавши в себе на ФБ мій провокативний пост про коментування, і коли я ходила до нього подивитися, шо там люде кажуть, то побачила цей ось дуже цікавий лінк: http://whattheysee.tumblr.com Дійсно шкода, що це не регулярний блог, а, так виглядає, одноразова серія, було б цікаво побачити більше таких картинок на темц “що “бачать” твори мистецтва”, а разом з тим прослідкувати, чи розвивалась би якимось чином концепція їх подання. Мені ця серія нагадала була кілька моїх дуже старих постів і галерейних досвідів, кілька ще старших спогадів, і разом з тим спровокувала кілька новіших думок і спостережень.

Перше спостереження, що в той час як американці схильні називати заклади, в яких тримають і виставляють твори мистецтва, музеями, тут в Канаді власне мистецькі заклади називають галереями. В музеях теж часом трапляються твори мистецтва і виставки їм присвячені, однак вони там фігурують як культурні артефакти радше ніж власне мистецькі. Тому тег тут в моєму блозі називається gallery (можна клікати), а не museum. Давно, між іншим, не ходила нікуди – треба мабуть заплатити десь мембершіп і відновити цю практику.

Відразу кинулося в очі, як друга зверху картинка (з дівчинкою в сірому шалику), та й загалом ціла задумка проекту резонує з цим ось давнім постом про тяжке життя музейних наглядачів: https://msvarnyk.wordpress.com/2007/03/05/наглядачі/ Ці люди – водночас і жерці і жертви страшної і нелюдської інституції під назвою “галерея мистецтва”. 🙂 Я так ніколи і не написала, чим атмосфера та інфраструктура школярської гарелеї в Кляйнбурзі відрізняються від елітної галереї в Торонто, столичної галереї в Отаві, чи швейцарської “галереї для снобів” на околиці Базеля… Про останню вже мабуть мало що напишу, бо була вона давно, і пам’ятаю я її епізодично, хоч і яскраво. А ще була якась велика Берлінська галерея, куди Андрухович завів мене, щоб подивитися, серед інших, Бройґеля, і невелика Берлінська галерея, на три поверхи, з Матісом, Пікасом і Клеєм; Амстердамський музей Вангога, Мюнхенські і Копенгагенські галереї, але то все було життя до жж, враження від цих галерей записувалися в листи і листівки, і були втрачені автором, себто мною. Я б з величезним задоволенням підписалася на якийсь хоч би мінімально вдумливий але не надто постмодернізований блог чи колонку з оглядами/враженнями галерей і виставок (англійською або українською), якби мені хтось їх порадив, – радьте!

Тепер про Модільяні, він там під кінець стрічки, і з ним в мене пов’язані такі ж яскраві спогади, як ота його картина, хоч давно вже я його не бачила. 2004-2005 навчальний рік, зима, помрев, Сем викладає свій останній ціло-річний (тобто на два семестри, а не на один) аспірантський курс, де вперше дає нам читати цілими розділами свій свіжодописаний (так ніколи і не опублікований) манускрипт про метод. Паралельно ми читаємо уривками Ніцше, Гайдеґера і Мерло-Понті, там де Сем про них пише, але наголос в першу чергу і в основному на сам метод. Десь мабуть після першого місяця, чи може навіть раніше, ми починаємо кожен другий тиждень замість в уні ходити в картинну галерею, і там це вже переважно навіть не семінар, а hands-on воркшоп – зрідка Сем нам там ще щось дорозказує, що не встиг сказати минулого тижня, якщо воно нам на сьогодні вже треба, а так загалом Сем пояснює що будемо сьогодні пробувати, розділяємося на групи, або й навіть кожен сам по собі, і йдемо “на завдання”, а потім збираємося разом і обговорюємо, як пішло, що не виходить, і т.д. Ми часто ходили в галерею і в попередніх Семових курсах про Мерло-Понті, але все одно то було радше епізодично, в цьому курсі ми працюємо з мистецтвом, і, власне, з методом теж, систематично і грунтовно.

І тут до нас привозять цілу виставку Модільяні, уявіть собі! (Ось її опис – нічого не викидають 🙂 http://www.ago.net/modigliani ) Ходити туди групою ми не можемо, там постійно вечорами товкотня, ми і так неабияк дратуємо наглядачів тим що стовбичимо біля тої самої картини довше двох хвилин, якщо ми ще станемо групою і будемо щось обговорювати, то зробимо там корок і нас взагалі з галереї забанять. Але четверо наших вирішують писати свої пейпери власне по котрійсь із картин Модільяні. Брейді писав може навіть про цю даму на червоному, яка на лінку, Дієґо і Нік про ковбасяну дівчику (була там така страшненька трохи картина), а Керолайн – про якусь іншу, вже не пригадаю. Я свій пейпер писала про болото свого Гарріса, ну і добре що так, бо сам Модільяні мене не пер особливо, а потім з тими їхніми пейперами і заключним етапом їх обговорення в барі в нас вийшов серйозний такий інцидент з обрáзами, сльозами, вірменським питанням, зрадою (!), і потім ще кількамісячним вияснянням відносин, я була замішана лише в останні два аспекти скандалу, а якби писала про Модільяні, то може би була замішаною у всі, що було б набагато гірше.

Тепер, вертаючись до цього проекту – побачити галерею очима твору мистецтва – я звернула увагу на Модільяні, бо пригадую, що одною з його портретних особливостей було те, що очі переважно були якісь несиметрично криві – принаймні одне з них (очей), переважно було якесь перекошене, і дивилося кудись не зовсім туди, чи не так. Я не пригадую, чи ця натурниця в нього теж була зі скривленими очима (вона взагалі не до кінця типова – може якась рання, чи навпаки, пізня?), репродукція маленька, на ній теж не дуже видно, але мені подумалося, що якщо в Модільянівських портретів зазвичай щось не те з очима, то чи не мало би воно впливати на те, як той портрет би бачив галерею і нас з вами, коли ми на нього дивимося, чи проходимо поруч? Це, в свою чергу породило масу інших зауважень: а Марсіас і маленька танцівниця, в них взагалі очі розплющені, чи заплющені? А автопортрети старших дядьків без окулярів – вони не далекозорі часом вже в такому віці? Тобто мерло-понтіанець в мені починає пірхатися з приводу абстрактно-об’єктивного фотографування і питати: а як же тіло, як же ж око, як же здатність бачити?

Там в принципі є остання катринка внизу з чорним квадратом замість того, що “бачить” мрійлива дівчинка, але якщо поміркувати, то з феноменологічної точки зору і цей квадрат мене теж не влаштовує. По-перше, незрозуміло, чому саме там чорний квадрат – чи тому, що в неї заплющені очі, і вона ніби “нічого не бачить”? Але спробуйте самі заплющити очі, особливо серед білого дня в сонячній кімнаті, і самі переконаєтеся, що те “ніщо”, яке ви побачите із заплющеними очима, зовсім не схоже на той чорний квадрат, для цього вам навіть не доведеться особливо замріюватися. Якщо ж абстрагуватися від того, який в тих портретів стан очей, і від їхньої “тілесності” загалом, і спримати проект не як те, що вони “бачать”, а як те, що видно з їхньої точки зору (хоч така інтерпретація назви проекту не виправдовує себе), і тоді проінтерпретувати “чорний квадрат” як вид “збоку” (бо ж дівчинка в нас там в профіль намальована) внутрішньої сторони рамки, чи вид “зсередини” самої канви, такий підхід теж мене не цілком влаштовує. Справа в тому, що точка зору, навіть якщо би вона дійсно була точкою, відкриває перед собою якийсь горизонт, з точки зору виходить кут зору, і відповідно, навіть з точки зору тої дівчинки в профіль мабуть було б видно ще щось крім рамки в профіль.

На цьому етапі міркувань я перериваюся, і йду подивитися, хто недодумав проект :). Виявляється, що то якась американо-японська зірка дизайну. Ну, добре, хай буде, бо якби то якийсь митець чи мисткиня 🙂 так підхалтурили, було би трохи сумно. Чого сумно, та ж того, що митці – це власне ті люди, які вміють бачити, і вчать бачити решту нас. Це митці навчили нас бачити геометричну перспективу, ідеально і абстрактно розміряний архітектурний простір з точки зору такого ж абстрактного глядача, і ті ж митці кількасот років по тому навчили нас, що жива людина насправді бачить не мертву перспективу, а дивні речі, як то тарілку на столі трохи збоку, а трохи зверху, одночасно. Тут я передаю привіт Раїсі Григорівні, бо завжди дивувала Сема розповідями про те, як не по-Декартівському, а правильно нас вчили фізики, як завжди нагадували, що формули наші спрощені, бо ми нехтуєм і тим, і цим, беручи за модель зазвичай ідеальну точку у вакуумі, тобто, фактично, нехтуючи тілесністю і речей, і нас самих, і нашого простору теж. Сфотографувати одним механічним, чи, тим більше, цифровим оком камери “об’єктивний” простір “з точки зору” твору мистецтва – це знехтувати власне тим, над чим весь час працюють митці – над містикою і таємницею дару бачити. Я ще можу довго розводитися про те, як ми бачимо насправді, і я не бачимо, і про Мерло-Понті, і про його феноменологію, яка активно і послідовно заперечує як ідеалістичний, так і емпіричний підходи до пояснення нашого сприйняття, в тому числі зорового, але може краще колись іншим разом, а може ви і самі щось прочитаєте…

Мерло-Понті ходив в галерею не насолоджуватися, а працювати. Він ходив туди вчитися бачити, в Сезана, Моне, і компанії. Не виключено, що саме звідти взялися його геніальні розділи про apparent size (навіть не знаю, як це по-українськи сказати), про впізнавання, про тяглість сприйняття простору у “Феноменології сприйняття”, ну і вже точно звідти відносно раннє ессе “Сумнів Сезана” і відносно пізнє “Око і дух”.

Так до чого тут мій кум? – спитаєте ви, ну і в першу чергу сам кум теж. Кум мій до того, що він має (серед інших) дві дуже цінні якості. Перша – це здатність бачити, (в тому числі, бачити оком камери простір який не механічно-мертвий, а справжній, живий), і вона розвинута в нього набагато краще, ніж в мене. Друга – це те, що йому все цікаво, і тому якщо хтось і дочитав цей пост до кінця, та ще й з задоволенням, і якщо хтось міркуватиме про те, що тут написано, а може навіть і піде колись читати follow-up, то це буде мій кум.

On the red and visual perception

Adding more footnotes to the diss, this time about Merleau-Ponty’s patterns of the gaze in face recognition, but also more generally about different modes of vision.

Here’s the painting I am writing about:

Beaver Swamp Algoma 1920

Too bad you cannot see the red properly in this reproduction (or, for that matter, in any reproduction of this painting that I have seen, no matter how fancy) – it comes out and becomes alive in person only… Here’s what I wrote:

It has been already mentioned before, that the red of the trees flows, and the eyes of the viewer run with the red. It seems, there is nothing special about the eyes running, they do so most of the time in our everyday life, they follow the lines, glide on surfaces, dance around the details, and so on. Rarely do our eyes slow down to the point of almost stopping, rarely do they sink into the depth, rarely do they stay around the same place for a while, yet, his happens in Beaver Swamp when the eyes attune to the light of the bright spot on the horizon, and it is important, because this shift in motility of the visual field opens up for us a shift in the whole bodily attitude from the usual and familiar running around and dealing with entities, to the attitude that becomes sensitive to background and ground, to the generalities of light and color fields, but with that also to the possibility of sensing out Being and the holy. However, before we can shift into that attitude and that sphere, it is important to feel out and describe the “more usual” attitude and motility that is highlighted in this painting by the flow of the red.

I have named it the “focused vision”. It is already there as a pre-given, “default” way of looking when the eyes start examining the painting from a closer distance. It seems, the “focused vision” never stops and never has enough, trying to study and master the painting to the smallest details, trying to become “at home” in the painting and figure it out as much as possible. Similarly to how the eyes create patterns and “routes” when learning a particular face, and then are able to recognize the face through those patterns[1],they also create, or, rather, discover, the patterns of movement within the artwork, the “routes”which highlight the main features of the space of the artwork, its depths and perspectives, its tensions and regions. These patterns when learned, help the viewer regain some of the familiarity within the space of the artwork established during previous encounters and allow one to feel out and study the other or the subtler aspects of the artwork.

Here in Beaver Swamp, the focused visionfollows the artist’s lines in the artwork: the lines of trunks and of branches, the reds, browns and blacks. It follows the ridge of the top of the forest wall on the horizon, it glides on the surface of the lake in the distance, sometimes moves along the lines of clouds in the sky, it follows up-and-down the trunk of the tree on the right which still has some green foliage left on it, and it “checks” the green in passing. The focused vision loves to pass, it loves to follow, to slide, to move, and not just to move, but also to move on, to be always on the move, in motion. It likes details, and readily dances around them for a bit. It likes what is definite, de-fined, particular.[2] The favorite route though is going upwards from the red at the bottom of the trees on the left side of the artwork curving in a half-circle along the longest red branch that is pointing to the white spot in the middle of the horizon, hanging there and back horizontally a bit, but unable to hold on to anything there moving back to the red area where it has started, and doing the movement all over again. This movement draws on the textures and shapes in the painting, on branches and trunks, on browns and blacks. It is, however, the red that really fuels the circular run of the eyes and makes it repeat. It is the red, that attracts the eyes towards those branches again and again as only red could attract, and it is the red that actually “runs” through this movement, taking the viewer along.

 

[1] Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of Perception gives us an amazing phenomenological description of how our gaze recognizes a face, which he concludes: “To see a face is not to conceive the idea of a certain law of constitution to which the object invariably conforms throughout all its possible orientations, it is to take a certain hold upon it, to be able to follow on its surface a certain perceptual route with its ups and downs, and one just as unrecognizable taken in reverse as the mountain up which I was so recently toiling and down which I an now striding my way.” (PhP 253 old)

[2] It is important to stress, that the “focused vision” is indeed geared into “particularities” – the lines, the figures, the “entities”, while the “background vision”, which is created in the painting by the light of the bright spot on the horizon, is attuning the viewer to the color fields and light, so to “generalities” rather than “particularities”. As we will see towards the end of this chapter, the “background vision” has a completely different style and manner of movement, to the point that we could perhaps even call it the vision of stillness, and it is one of the main perceptual entries for us into developing a sense of the different bodily attitude, the one which is sensitive to background and field, rather than figure and line, “generality” as opposed to “particularity”, and so which bring us closer to is feeling out in perceptual and motor ways being rather then only entities.

слово-текст-книжка, і ще про кров

Я вже раніше казала, що цей пост, що нижче, мене захопив і не відпускає вже кілька днів. Написала була панові , що мені воно нагадало перетин кількох робіт одної канадської мисткині, а коли він запитав, якої, моя відповідь перелилася за межі нормального розміру коментаря, тому пишу її тут, нижче.

Originally posted by at Self-describing

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Мисткиню звати Лані Маестро, нажаль, вона не дуже активно присутня в інтернеті… Я хотіла була про неї щось написати десь під кінець літа, але так і не зібралася, от і нагода тепер.

“Нагадування” і “схожість” коли йдеться про мистецтво – штука завжди недо-визначена, і в якомусь сенсі багатозначна, хоч це не значить що вона суб’єктивна і аби-яка, я спробую коротко (наскільки це вдасться – upd.: не вдалося) описати цей перетин, наскільки воно буде зрозуміло – то інше мабуть питання.

Те, що робить , наскільки я розумію – спроби якось випробувати, програти (в сенсі музичному, а не азартному) поняття простору (чи краще було б сказати місця, топосу) мови і тексту – це в ширшому сенсі, але також і топосу книжки, сторінки, паперу – в сенсі локальному і локалізованому. Тобто ця геометрія слів чи навмисно, чи вимушено, рефлектує над, і відбувається в, різниці (проміжку) між “гео” і “метрією” тобто між землею, матеріалом і матерією (книжкою, сторінкою) з одного боку, і “абстрактною”, безтілесною, мовою, словом, текстом, поняттям, (а також ритмом, тобто власне метром) з іншого боку, які на ту сторінку лягають і її таким чином “вимірюють”, визначають, означають, обмежують. (Тут, звичайно, дехто мабуть впізнав Unter-Shied пізнього Гайдеґера, а також його ж “мову”, і Riß також, ну і грецьке перас, звичайно, також.) Це в загальному.

Конкретно ця річ (як її назвати і означити?), ця крапля крові вражає тим, як мінімалізм форми контрастує з густим наповненням змістом, як “форма” твору прекрасно перегукується з контрастом всередині самого поняття – це крапля крові це ніби так мало, але разом з тим безмежно багато. Тобто зовні це всього лиш малесенька червона дірка, один акуратний прокол, але по другий бік цієї поверхні – все тіло, вся його глибина, густа заплутаність, темна наповненість – чим? Життям? Може вона так і вражає, і лякає теж, бо через таку малесеньку дірку, крапля за краплею, навіть такою ніби абстрактною, може витекти вся кров, все життя. (Про абстрактність – площа точки в геометрії ніби-то має бути рівна нулю, тобто ця точка крові теоретично не мала би містити в собі ні краплі субстанції, але ж тоді вона би мала бути невидима, ну чи хоч би чорна, а ця червоність крапки над “і” враз перевертає і руйнує цю абстрактність, її неможливо ігнорувати, трактувати відсторонено як геометричний об’єкт.) Досить мабуть про це – можна би було ще багато про що поміркувати, і це було б дуже цікаво, але загалом мабуть зрозуміло, в якому приблизно напрямку, тому не зараз і не тут…

Про канадську мисткиню. В неї була ціла серія раніших творів мистецтва у вигляді книжок – мені пощастило кілька з них добре порозглядати, бо після закінчення інсталяції вона їх пороздаровувала, в тому числі моєму керівникові, який приносив їх часом на заняття. Книжки були зроблені вручну, в більшості “порожні” – де-не-де в них можна було знайти якесь слово-два написане від руки, але решта були лише “малюнки”, “сліди” зроблені кіптявою від вогню, тобто вона в них “писала” вогнем.
Ось тут є ілюстрація:
http://universes-in-universe.org/eng./bien/sharjah_biennial/2009/tour/museum/lani_maestro

Ну, може власне ці не так виразно перегукуються, але в неї була ще інша книжка, в якій не було ні вогню, ні слів, ні нічого взагалі – але була наскрізь проколота (здається, навіть не проколота, а вручну, тобто нігтем, прошкрябана дірка через всі сторінки). Ото мені та книжка з діркою перегукується з проколом (puncture) цієї краплі крові.

Тема червоного, крові, і абстрактності (в тому числі digital) мови, слова, тексту, перегукується мені з її недавньою інсталяцію her rain – вона про це розповідає трохи і показує на початку цього ось відео (пропускайте вступ):

Якщо в когось не показує – ось прямий лінк.

Моя Швейцарія

Я вже писала раніше, що частину своїх недавніх перельотів через пів-світу літала вперше швейцарськими авіалініями. Відразу мушу сказати, що маю давній сентимент до Швейцарії і всього швейцарського – в той час як більшість моїх знайомих (включно з самими швейцарцями, але їм – можна) постійно плюються, на приклад, з приводу швейцарських снобізму і ксенофобії, чи надмірної організованості, ригідності і браку адаптивності, чи обивательського або містечкового підходу, мені особисто зі всім швейцарським, в тому числі з людьми, завжди неймовірно “везло”. Я не можу пригадати жодного швейцарця чи швейцарку, і жодного швейцарського досвіду, який би в мене викликав якісь негативні асоціації, і навпаки, більшість їх в моїй пам’яті мають виразно позитивне, а не всього лиш нейтральне забарвлення.

Читати далі про мою Швейцарію