Eggs vs. Diss and other new year resolutions

Two days ago I got in mail a whole bunch of natural dyes that are normally used for fibres or fabrics (wool, silk, cotton), and I’m dying to try out dyeing eggs with them (did you like the pun, did you like the pun???). But then, on the other hand, there is the Damocles’ sword of the diss hanging over me, and if I dive into eggs, it’s never going to be finished, because eggs are so easy and fun, in fact, this is why I didn’t do any eggs last Easter season (but did sneak in two just before Christmas, because I wanted to make a gift).

So here’s the brilliant (or not) idea I’ve got: I read somewhere that one of the best ways to break out of procrastination cycles with overwhelming projects is to find an appealing way to reward yourself for the progress with something you really really like. So, I will try to use the eggs to facilitate the diss. That is, I will reward myself with making an egg or two only after having made some quantifiable progress with the diss – say, edited 10 more pages, or written 5 more new pages, or something like that. I’ll have to work out the numbers in the process, I guess…

I wonder whether this will actually work or not :). But I think the plan has a great potential.

I’ll probably also create a separate blog just to document my egg experiments.

Here are a chicken and a rhea egg I made two weeks ago, and did not show yet. The chicken (first photo) was the practice run on a brown egg for the rhea – the big pale yellow (second and third photo), hence almost the same pattern in both. The pattern on the chicken is almost 100% traditional (except the colors and colouring pattern), and in the rhea was slightly adjusted.


IMG_0189 IMG_0174

Another resolution is to keep up the music – I’ve gotten a good amount of practice (actually better than anything I ever managed to do on my own without any “group projects” in a long time, or maybe ever) from mid September till the beginning of December. But next three months my work schedule is going to interfere a lot with the “morning practice” I had in the fall, so I wonder how that will work out.

Add to that the double workload (factually it will probably be even more than double) I have this term compared to the last term, and another lunchtime meditation program in the new company, and the conclusion is this: unless I only do these 5 things (work, diss, meditation, eggs, music) over the next three months, and absolutely no other distractions or side-projects, something will have to give, and since I can’t cut the necessary stuff (work, dyss and meditation programs), I would have to cut the fun and inspiring stuff (eggs and music).

So, Happy New Year resolutions! 🙂

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:

Кінець елегійності

Кажуть, улюбленим маминим поетом був Антонич. Поки її не вигнали з останнього курсу університету і заодно з роботи, вона працювала у відділі рукописів бібліотеки Стефаника, і там десь переписувала собі його недозволені вірші. Мені Антонич не подобався, поки я його не почула – була в театрі Курбаса вистава з його віршів, і я там в нього закохалася – ходила на ту виставу разів десять мабуть, якщо не п’ятнадцять. Власне в Антонича познайомилася з елегійністю – досі пам’ятаю майже цілу елегію про перстень молодості.

Другий досвід елегійності – Гьольдерлін, з яким познайомилася в Гайдеґера. Може я помиляюся, бо Гьольдерліна знаю лише дуже епізодично, але мені часом здається, що в нього навіть гімни трохи елегійні – така от настроєва парадоксальність. Гьольдерлінова фраза в Істері “Wo aber sind die Freunde?” резонує з найсентиментальнішими і найвразливішими закутками моєї пам’яті. Так сталося, що під знаком тих слів я прожила минулі кілька років. Одним з мабуть найвиразніших моментів цієї моєї елегійності була смерть Сема, а з нею – раптова втрата виразності майбутнього цього дисера, не в останню чергу тому, що стало незрозуміло, для кого, тобто в розмові з ким його писати. Але це був далеко не єдиний аспект моєї елегійності, почався в мене цей період раніше, ще коли Сем був цілком живий і здоровий – він захворів якраз десь підчас моєї останньої Індії, коли я була у Вайтарні, спостерігала там за внутрішніми відномонами смерті іншого свого вчителя, і перетиналася там в снах з мертвими родичами (таки-так, Вайтарна – земля мертвих), про що тут трохи писала.

Перша частина мого дисера – теж про смерть, відповідно вона теж пронизана елегійністю. Якраз дописую її останні підсумкові розділи, скоро вишлю на прочитання новій керівничці, і сподіваюся що цим закінчиться елегійний період в роботі з картиною, в писанні, і може теж в житті, а це значить, що і в цьому блозі теж. (А ще я перестала жити сама, життя з іншою людиною добряче допомагає поборювати елегійність.)

Наступна частина дисера – під знаком спорідненого, але зовсім по-іншому настроєного, теж Гьольдерлінового слова Freudlichkeit. Це слово особливе, бо стосується воно не людських відносин, а тої атмосферної присутності божественного чи священного, яка наповнює наше існування здоров’ям і сенсом, зцілює і живить нас – тому допоки вона, ця “дружність”, чи може краще перекласти її як привітність, чи навіть погідність (такий ніби далекий переклад може бути виправданий через сукупність інших контекстів в яких знаходимо це “священне” в Гьольдерліна) триває “при серці”, чи може “під серцем” (???), то ми, люди, радо “порівнюємо” себе з божественним, тобто перебуваємо з ним у якихось справжніх, добрих відносинах.

Це, між іншим, мій новий Пілот Метрополітан, якого я таки купила замість того, якому погнула перо, впустивши на підлогу. Чорнило – коричневий пілот в картріджах.

Кінець елегійності – початок … чого?

Час покаже…

Intentionality of perception: noesis and noema again…

The other day, I was writing some transitions between the sections of the dissertation – those intros, conclusions and summaries (or signposts) that Sam told me are needed every 3-5(!!!) pages. Well, I’m not putting them in that frequently, that would drive me totally nuts, so I’ll wait and see how readable is this monster to my actually current first reader :). But here’s a little piece of theory that made it’s way into one of those summaries.

This section has taken us directly into the light, and has given us, hopefully, a good glimpse of what the light feels like. While trying to stay within the atmosphere of this white light, let us now retrace a bit from these somewhat ephemeral descriptions of feelings, moods and attitudes, from the noetic descriptions of how the white makes us feel, and spend some time in the noematic aspect, looking at how it has been painted, and what in the painting contributes to this particular atmosphere and feeling. In the next section we will start with talking about the white light, the place is it coming from and how it has been painted. This will inevitably keep bringing us back into the noetic descriptions of sense perception (mainly vision) as well as other faculties. Phenomenology in the end is about the chiasm of the seer and the seen through the seeing, of the one who touches and who is touched through the touching, and it is one of the most inspiring and insightful aspects of a bodily phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty’s style, to ponder about and try to understand what it meant that there is no subject-object divide, what it means that we actually see and touch the things themselves, that we see them with our eyes and touch them with our hands, and not have some abstract impressions of abstract qualities somewhere in our brain or mind, of something that might or might not actually exist somewhere out there, and might or might not actually be the way it appears to us. This is why, while describing noetmatically, what it is that we see, we will keep shifting to how we see it, and how it requires us to see it, and back again, to what it is we see and how it looks. The next section will provide the core insights about attuning to the white in spheres other than emotional, temporal and partially social that have been already introduced in this section.

pen’s black

So, I’m editing the first chapter of my diss, still fixing up and finishing up little things and also writing out larger passages, and see the comment of my former supervisor, Sam, to add reference to Merleau-Ponty on the “pen’s black quality”. So I wrote out in black pen, what Merleau-Ponty had to say about it, here you go:


And here is what I was writing about the black in the painting, that called for this reference:

There is a very strong contrast between the black and the red in the way in which they relate to the “natural” brown and green colors of wood and foliage. The black comes on top of the red as if stopping the flow of red, and its cold blackness suggests ashes, the burned, hard life-less matter.[1] This painting has so much contrast and so much darkness in it, that even from a comfortably close distance to the artwork it is often hard to distinguish “objectively” between black and dark brown or dark green. And yet, when described phenomenologically, the difference though subtle, is clearly visible. There is something particularly cold, particularly sharp and hard in the black proper, the way in which it cuts into the eyes much more than dark brown or dark green, the way in which it seems more than merely dark, as if it has a different dimension of darkness altogether.[2] The thickness and consistency of the paint in the dark green patches of foliage on the branches, is not much different from the black ones (except the green patches are more “chunky” whereas the black ones are more linear) and yet the green ones come almost naturally out of the flow of the red over the brown lines of branches, whereas the black patches feel odd, and seem to seal and petrify the surface of that flow. This black is one of the “signs” of death here, but not only of a particular dying, but also, as we will see later when talking about the “crack”, of depth and darkness that come along with death and with the mysteries of what is beyond, behind or underneath the face of the world that is brought together for us by the light.


[1] The motive of burnt trees becomes much more pronounced in Harris’s Lake Superior paintings, but even in Algoma it has been present in the paintings of the Group of Seven, see for example Frank Johnston’s Fire-Swept Algoma (1920).

[2] Merleau-Ponty says similarly about the black: “I say that my fountain-pen is black, and I see it as black under the sun’s rays. But this blackness is less the sensible quality of blackness than a sombre power which radiates from the object, even when it is overlaid with reflected light, and it is visible only in the sense in which moral blackness is visible. The real color persists beneath appearances as the background persists beneath the figure, that is, not as a seen or thought-of quality, but through a non-sensory presence.” (PP, 305, old book)