Wanderers on Formby beach, Lancashire.
Acrylic on Canvas
Wanderers on Formby beach, Lancashire.
Acrylic on Canvas
More musings on the interaction and interplay between the ideas represented by ‘making’ and ‘becoming’ led to an emergence of some unexpected connections in my mental universe.
Making and Becoming are words and as such are metaphors which we use to communicate. Each of us will share some meaning in common but I doubt whether any two people have exactly the same nuances and harmonics of reference attached to these labels. That is of course what makes it so interesting. It is why creative pieces, whether visual or aural take on a life of their own once their enabler/maker has let go of them.
My travels took me through the landscape of ideas represented by Democracy, Duality, Mysticism, Newton’s Third Law, Reality, Quantum Reality and Wittengenstein’s proposition that “the limits of my language are the limits of my world” which is to say that the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.
That is probably where I should stop though like Lao Tsu I am going to go on using words but, hopefully, rather less than 5,000 of them. Ideas can be represented non-verbally in music, dance, sculpture or painting, Chagall was a consummate exponent of visual story telling, but words are necessary tools if often imprecise ones. So bear with me while I ramble on attempting to share what to me at least was an interesting journey of exploration.
So my last blog ended with the thought that many of the problems the world faces arise from too much making and not enough becoming. I was really considering the idea of making as a conscious act of will and becoming as the opposite process of emergence. Slower and less deliberate; the contrast between the yang energy of making and the yin energy of becoming.
So this led me Newton’s third law which states ‘When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.’ Or ‘for every action there is and equal and opposite reaction’.
Applying this to the ideas of making and becoming led me a bit further into wondering about its application to the abstract rather than the physical. For every idea there is an equal and opposite idea. This prompted some interesting speculation about modern-day politics with its oppositional right-wing and left-wing ideologies and I need to explore that in another blog or I will outdo Lao Tsu and spend 10,000 words before I finish. So back to making and becoming. Is it that one necessarily begets the other because they are the two forces needed in the creative process? I would say the opposing force to making is destroying and I think that would hold up in most people’s judgement. So I was left with asking what is becoming? What do I mean when I talk about this idea? I came to the conclusion that Becoming is a process that finds itself, it emerges. It occupies the still space and it is of itself and the centre. So as an artist or writer perhaps we should concentrate les son the making aspect of what we do and more on being enablers. Letting the work emerge as a result of the creative process flow through us. It is where I started from in thinking about making and becoming. The most rewarding part of being creative is the process. That is what illuminates the mind and spirit and energizes the body. The book,the poem, the picture, the song are the by-product of this alchemy. perhaps we need to apply this way of thinking to the whole way we live as a society?
Quantum worlds provide a very different experience and reality is simply what we observe (the double slit experiment) or what our brain produces from energy fields. So reality is subjective not objective. I am but equally and oppositely I am not. I use words to attempt to communicate idea/concept/understanding as perceived in my subjective reality. So Words are metaphors. Art and music are metaphors. My creation is altered by your observation and response to it. It becomes something new in your reality. That is change and the process of change the dance of life and entropy. Metaphor is metaphor; life is metaphor and the secret at the heart of the Tao is that there is no secret.
I didn’t discover any answers just more questions and possible paths to explore. The pursuit of understanding would be no fun if it could be answered as easily as ‘do you want a cup of tea’? On second thoughts that prompts a whole new set of speculations and is not as straightforward as it might appear at first sight.
My last post was about going to Carnac as relief from the general feeling of doom and gloom that was pervading our household over the current state of the world and where it seemed to be taking us. I didn’t mention that while eating our picnic near one of the sets of alignments I spotted an interestingly shaped bit of wood lying on the ground. Both David and I were the sort of children who collected interesting things (feathers, stones, bits of bone, wood etc) neither of us have out grown the habit and with his enthusiastic endorsement of it as ‘that’s fantastic looks like waves’. I tucked it under my arm and brought it home.
I photographed it on the tarmac outside the house when I got back so that I’d have a record of it in the state in which I found it. The piece of wood was pretty dirty and definitely not far off crumbling completely.
Found Art is one of my enthusiasms but ‘Found’ is one thing usually the ‘Art’ requires a little more effort. So I set to work cleaning, treating, sanding, oiling, polishing. A continuation of my Antidote to Doom and Gloom. The physical act of working on a piece of art is wonderfully absorbing. To begin with I had to pay close attention because it was extremely fragile and the last thing I wanted was for it to break into pieces but by the time it reached the stage of beeswax and polishing it had achieved its final form and the whole process became a meditation. Sitting in the October sun rubbing a piece of cloth backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards slowly bringing out the colours and the patina. While I was doing this I found myself pondering about the idea of making and the idea of becoming (in the sense of beginning to be). Making contains both the meaning of process of creating and the essential qualities needed for something. Michelangelo’s statement that ‘Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the sculptor’s task to discover it’ encompasses both meanings. But in the found art piece it seemed to me the wood itself played an active part. It transformed and emerged and the finished piece had its own identity. It Became.
The ‘finished’ piece, and I use finished only in the sense that I stopped working on it, has its own definite character and energy. My hands picking at a bit here, sanding off a rough bit there and polishing it for hours merely allowed this creature to be caught in the moment of its transformation from one thing to another. Certainly not the waves we both saw when I picked up the bit of wood but an ancient and powerful beast.
It seems to me that making and becoming are inseparable not just in the artistic process but in everything. If we make something without allowing it also to emerge than we have a flawed end result. Maybe that is most of what is wrong with the world at the moment too much making and not enough becoming.
Footnote to self – drink cider after and not before proof reading your article that way you won’t have the embarrasment of re-editing after you’ve posted.
In response to all the crap richoting around the world and pinging into my inbox, news feed and every conversation I seem to have these days we took ourselves for a day out. Mention of the Daily Mail is banned in our house since it hit a new low even by its own gutter standards. David’s blood pressure jumped twenty points (mine only went up ten – an exercise in peace and love of which I am proud) on reading the headline that equated forty two percent of the British population as ‘whingeing’, ‘contemptuous’ and ‘unpatriotic’. He even started muttering things like ‘its time to stand up and be counted’ and ‘we need to blockade their offices’. At the same time our FB feeds have been full of comments from our metropolitan liberal elite friends asking after cabbage picking jobs in France.
Yesterday was a glorious October day. Misty sunrise followed by cloudless blue skies and bright, warm sunshine. So off we went with a vow of silence on Brexit, politicians of all shades, capitalism and all things other than the present moment and where we were going to eat lunch. (The highest level of civilisation – Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
The alignments at Carnac are ancient. We make intelligent (and not so intelligent guesses) at the place’s original meaning and purpose but since no one involved published an artist’s statement or a funding proposal about its construction we don’t bloody know and probably never will. I like that. I also think my other half’s opinion that it was some kind of prehistoric welfare to work scheme is as likely as any other. Good harvest – lots of underemployed young men – get them hauling stones.
To me what it’s original purpose might have been matters less than what it has become to us now. The stones have weathered into new forms over the millenia. People relate to them in their own individual way, take from them what they need or want in the same way as any work of art might provoke a response. Every time we look at a painting or a statue, listen to a particular piece of music or read a familiar book our response is coloured by our own current mental attitude and mood. We see something new or we like something more, or less, or we have a different understanding. The piece itself is as it was when its creator let it go out into the world, it is us who change and mute.
So my response yesterday was seeing the art in the stones. The sculptural forms and colours. The play of light and shade. The references I noticed to modern art and undoubtedly the inspiration some sculptors found in the ancient connects us in a full circle of shared humanity. Though where in one piece I referenced Klimt’s kiss one of my non-metropolitan, non-elite but very free thinking liberal friends saw Elephant Seals. Ho Hum!
So enjoy a few moments of staring at the images and remembering that for all it’s scary present troubles the world is a beautiful place. That humanity contains not just the worst of emotions and impulses but also the best and that life is short but art is long. David’s day was spent studying the small intricacies of life. Filming the crickets and moths and grasshoppers, the way the blades of grass stirred in the breeze and cast shadows on the stones. A bumble bee feeding on a pine cone. The way life goes on in and around the big, momentous things almost untouched by them. He inspired me to photograph the apples I found around the stone under the tree.