An Important, Yet Small, Digression


As humans we have this propensity for language that muddles up how we see anything. We don’t look without thinking….but I believe we can if we train ourselves.

The reason for this kind of looking is the sharpening of the connection between ourselves and the entire spirit world. The knowledge on a non verbal level. Not unconscious……non verbal.

This knowledge expresses itself as deep feeling…..no names please! Refrain yourself. I can breath in the meta-meaning can’t I?

What about academia and “art history”?
In the past I have thought that this too muddles up the experience and have shied away from too much information……but, for instance, knowing about Van Gogh’s life and why the “Starry Night” looks the way it does…….is really quite separate from standing in front of it…don’t you think? It was in the Guggenheim in 1985 where I saw it.

So, thanks for your thoughts on this topic.

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4 Responses to “An Important, Yet Small, Digression”

  1. lhulke Says:

    It’s so hard to separate judgement and perception. We are hardwired to come to “conclusions”. It’s impossible to remove the lenses through which we see and perceive the world. Mindfulness helps me look inward with less and less judgement. This spills over to the outward gaze as well. We have to learn how to turn off the thinking mind now and then. Not easy, but doable. You might like “Entering the Castle” by Carolyn Myss. She deconstructs the end of intuition (and basically our relationship with the soul) when the Age of Reason began to develop.

  2. sweetcomice Says:

    thanks for your thoughts about seeing and judgment. I’m familiar with Carolyn Myss, but haven’t read her for a couple of years.
    Do you really think we are all hardwired to come to conclusions? I understand that we are trained to do this…one thing leads to another, the very idea of “process”, but the whole function of real art for me is letting the artist lead me on. The most interesting art/artists are those that take us where we least expect, the best stories are those that don’t conclude how we expect them to, or leave details hanging. The most intriguing mathematics is 2+2=something greater than 4.
    You are right about turning off thinking….again in the way we have been trained. Have you ever read any William Irwin Thompson?
    Again, thanks for the stimulating comment.

  3. Maggie Says:

    You mention training, and that looking without thinking is discussed in Patanjali’s sutras and is called Dhianna, I believe. It is what artists keep coming back to, because it is such pleasure, a state of simple fascination. And I remember doing it, believe it or not, as an infant. I remember what I now know was a fountain pen, but it was simply a form for which I had no words then.

  4. ewn Says:

    I’ve come to accept that any image that ‘makes an impression’ on me, whether I know its history or not, whether it’s aesthetically ‘correct’ or not, requires my attention. It has something to teach me about something I need to know, be conscious of. It doesn’t take long, however, for the intellect to take over: who is the painter? why was it painted? what have others said about this image? what’s it’s obvious or not so obvious purpose in this time and/or in the time it was painted? I can find myself on the edge of a bottomless pit of knowledge so that my naive and spontaneous response gets lost in opinions, judgments, facts… One of my favorite books is “Pictures & Tears” by James Elkins. He explores exactly this question of the connection between being moved or affected, and knowledge. He writes of his childhood response to Bellini’s “The Ectsasy of St. Francis” and how something fresh and personal was ‘lost’ as he learned more and more about the painting. I had a similar response to Brueghel’s “The Fall of Icarus” when I was twelve. I occasionally meditate on the good reproduction I have of it, especially when opinions, responses, judgments, criticisms are cluttering my mind and heart, to remind me that ‘beginner’s mind’ has to be remembered and cultivated every day.

    One surprise: just how many academic art historians and critics refused to contribute to Elkins’ book on the subject of being ‘moved’ because it was beneath them!

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