Monday, August 18, 2014

Gone Fishing...

"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" - illustration of unknown origin found here.

"My purpose, however, is not to explore the great cosmologies, but the small ones; and to suggest that art is a process whereby life becomes myth, and myth becomes life....For us, the journey is a central fact of our lives.  Having set out on it, like it or not we have to keep on - to be heroic in spite of ourselves. Sometimes our most courageous act is to get up in the morning.

"I hope the postcards we send back are of some use to those who have only started on their own journey; if not useful, at least pleasurable. Earlier, I asked if we should trust those messages. I should have asked, Can we trust art? We not only can, but I think we must."

- From "Travel Notes" by Lloyd Alexander, (just) found in Travelers' Tales, (Myth & Moor).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Matrices of Sand; Art Which Heals

"It is possible to undergo a profound crisis involving non-ordinary experiences and to perceive it as pathological or psychiatric when, in fact, it may be more accurately and beneficially defined as a spiritual emergency."
- Stanislav Grof; quote found here.

"Navajo Sandpaintings, also called dry paintings, are called "places where the gods come and go" in the Navajo language. They are used in curing ceremonies in which the gods' help is requested for harvests and healing."
- from Navaho Sand Paintings

(left) Navajo Sandpainting found here.

"The performative power of sandpainting creation and ritual use reestablish the proper, orderly placement of the forces of life, thus restoring correct relations between the patient and those forces upon which the patient's spiritual and physical health depend. The sandpainting works its healing power by reestablishing the patient's sense of connectedness to all of life ( Griffin-Pierce 1991:66)."

- from Chapter 78; Navajo Indians sand painting, The History of Graphic Design, Guity Novin

"After its sanctification, the patient sits on the painting while the chanter performs a ritual to enhance the absorption of its healing power. Immediately afterward, the remains of the painting are taken outside to an area north of the hogan, where they are returned to the earth."

- from Navaho Sand Paintings

"The mandala is a formal geometric pattern showing the floor plan of a sacred mansion. Once the diagram is drawn, in the following
days you see millions of grains of colored sand painstakingly laid into place. The sand, colored with vegetable dyes or opaque tempera, is poured onto the mandala platform with a narrow metal funnel called a "chakpur" which is scraped by another metal rod to cause sufficient vibration for the grains of sand to trickle out of its end.  The mandalas are created whenever a need for healing of the environment and living beings is felt.  The monks consider our present age to be one of great need in this respect, and therefore are creating these mandalas where requested throughout their world tours. When finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the waters carry healing energies throughout the world."

- from The Sacred Art of Sand Mandalas, The Tibetan Monks of Drepung Gomang Monastery (.pdf) 

"The Oglala Sioux Holy Man Black Elk said "You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round" (quoted in Moodley & West, 2005, p. 298)."

- from: Chapter 78; Navajo Indians sand painting, The History of Graphic Design, Guity Novin

"The Mandala is a creation consisting of circles, which start at the center and extend outward. The circle, a primeval natural form – consider the stars, snowflakes, tree trunks – has served as an inspiration to humankind since the dawn of history. People from various cultures discovered that the creation of circular forms facilitated the expression of inner cosmic entities. Native American shamans draw dance mandalas during healing ceremonies; the Shield of David symbol is based on the form of a circle divided into six equal parts; and the Tibetan mandala symbolizes the cyclical nature of life and death."

- Eitan Kedmy, from his website.

"Native American Indians regard art as an element of life, not as a separate aesthetic ideal. In indigenous societies, the arts are aspects of public life that bring dancing, poetry, and the plastic and graphic arts together as a single function or ritual as the all-embracing expression. Art is indispensable to ritual and ritual is the Native American Indian concept of the whole life process. Native people see sand painting as indistinct from dancing, dancing as indistinct from worship, and worship as indistinct from living."

- from Native American Art; Sand Paintings


I am just about to hang up my "Gone Fishing" sign, meaning I'm going to be off the radar for the next month or two, but I wanted to finish the Matrices thread before I signed off... (unlike a number of other "threads" I've introduced on this blog, only to ultimately leave them dangling).

Happily, the images and quotes I chose for this post adequately describe sand painting, rendering any additional verbiage of my own fairly redundant (and, for this, we should all be grateful). ;-)

However, just a bit about mandalas, sand paintings and the Matrices...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Matrices of Light & Shadow; Alex and Allyson Grey

Spiritual Energy System (left); Universal Mind Lattice (right) - acrylic on canvas - 1981, Alex Grey

"Looking at Grey’s paintings and other works on display, Hoffberger said, “Given the way technology is moving, do we want to become like machines? With each new high-tech invention, how do you download a ‘you’ into an ‘it’?” Grey’s powers-of-the-universe paintings, with their images of trees as fecund bodies, along with choruses of prehistoric animals, suns, eyeballs and planets, evoke an eternal, all-unifying, omnipresent spirit. Grey’s art seems more all-embracing than the ecumenical posturing of those praying, chanting, bead-rattling leaders of so-called organized religions who sometimes pause to look beyond their own belief systems and pay a little lip service to the dream of world peace."

"Love, consciousness, and creativity are the highest refinements of the cosmic evolutionary force."

"The Inevitable consequence of Love is the building of Temples."

- Two quotes by Alex Grey, found on his website.


"Secret Writing Magic Square with Mandala Border" - oil on wood - 1990, Allyson Grey

"Language is like a portal through which the inner world of order may pass into the outer world of chaos."

- Allyson Grey, from her website: Chaos, Order & Secret Writing.


In terms of the the Matrices (described here) and their relationship to the human body,  I don't think I've seem a better visual description than those presented by Visionary artist, Alex Grey in his amazing Chapel of Sacred Mirrors series. It's almost as if they were made to order for the musings of a Space Pagan, most especially his "Universal Mind Lattice," which he describes here:

 "No longer identified with or limited by our physical bodies, our essence is an individual fountain and drain of Light, interlocked with an infinite omni-directional network of similar energy cells, the interpenetrating consciousness of all beings and things."

The odd thing for me, at least, is - at the exact same time, and the exact same place (New York) - while Alex Grey was painting the huge canvases that would become the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (see video), a far less flamboyant artist (me), was envisioning something along vaguely similar lines...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Matrices of Paper; the Creations of Eric Standley

"Either/Or Circle" - layered paper - 2001, Eric Standley
(click to enlarge)

Inspired by Gothic and Islamic architecture, much like Cristóbal Vila, another "matrix" artist featured on Trans-D, Eric Standley takes the fine art of paper cutting to a new level. That is, approximately 100 of them! 

What appears as one cohesive - and elegant - mandala is actually composed of layer upon layer of intricately laser-cut "windows."

To see the artist in action, David Pescovitz has posted a video found here.

The artist's new website can be found here.

(Thanks, DP!)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Revitalizing Vitalism; A Thought Experiment

"Aura" - digital/fractal - 2012, Renate S.
(Click on all images to enlarge)

1. a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces
2. a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining

 - Definition of Vitalism

"He goes on to show how the particular properties of consciousness might arise from the physical laws that govern our universe. And he explains how these properties allow physicists to reason about the conditions under which consciousness arises and how we might exploit it to better understand why the world around us appears as it does.

For Tegmark, this paradox suggests that his mathematical formulation of consciousness is missing a vital ingredient. “This strongly implies that the integration principle must be supplemented by at least one additional principle,” he says.

- From the article: "Why Physicists Are Saying Consciousness Is A State Of Matter..."

"Barušs wrote: "Scientific materialism assures us that reality is a meaningless, incidental, mechanistic, collocation of improbable events."

He summarized some of the ways in which the materialist interpretation of reality has already broken down: quantum events are seen to be non-deterministic; time is no longer linear, as effects have been shown to precede their causes; particles change position depending on where one looks or what one decides to measure.

Finally, he said, “Materialism cannot explain … the sense of existence that people have for themselves.”

- From an August 20 article: 8 Scientists Contemplate Place of Human Consciousness in Science  (New quote just found, August 22; hat-tip to Bruce Duensing!)


"Throughout the ages men have been intuitively aware of such a center. The Greeks called it a man's inner Daimon, in Egypt, it was expressed by the concept of Ba-soul; and the Romans worshipped it as the "Genius" native to each individual..."

"Is the earth dead or alive? The ancient cultures of east and west and the native peoples of America saw the earth as a mother, alive, active, and responsive to human action. Greeks and Renaissance Europeans conceptualized the cosmos as a living organism, with a body, soul, and Spirit, and the earth as a nurturing mother with respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, and elimination systems. The relationship between most peoples and the earth was an I-thou ethic of propitiation to be made before damming a brook, cutting a tree, or sinking a mine shaft. Yet for the past three hundred years, western mechanistic science and capitalism have viewed the earth as dead and inert, manipulable from outside, and exploitable for profits. The death of nature legitimated its domination. Colonial extractions of resources combined with industrial pollution and depletion have today pushed the whole earth to the brink of ecological destruction."

- From "Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World" - 1992, Carolyn Merchant.

"But what is it that shamans 'see' or 'know'? Shamanism is a kind of spiritual technology. It is a technology that is based on the animistic worldview much in the way that physical technology is based on the modern scientific worldview. Unlike modern science, however, which is based on the search for uniform laws that work the same way for everyone, shamanism has literally infinite forms of expression -- just as art, inspired creation, can take literally infinite forms and there are infinite cultural styles of art, yet the word "artist," like the word "shaman," has a cross-cultural meaning. (Indeed, art itself originated as a tool and expression of the shaman. Shamans are a kind of inspired artist, channeling a common source of spiritual energy in their own unique ways. Art as merely decorative is a modern, desacralized echo of the real purposes of art.) "

- from an article: Indigenous Shamanism, Animism, and the Spirits (by "Gayle") found here.


"Without an active agent, an ordering center, or an Intelligence, "consciousness" becomes a rather hollow proposition; another one of those phenomena which, if merely viewed as another mechanical quality arising from matter, has no intrinsic meaning. It has no "cause" and is no cause. It will not build a ship, invent a car, nor drive it. It will simply exist in a somnambulistic manner as a sort of passive, unspecified awareness. Consciousness, alone, does not create; and, by itself, cannot evolve. Consciousness alone, is not the answer to the existential quandary."

- Paragraph from a post file which never materialized, The Shamans of Spirit & The Shamans of Matter; Dia Sobin, June 12, 2014

"Because, who knows, but, hiding among those four famous "forces of nature" (recently renamed the "Fundamental Interaction") is an undiscovered ordering force, a "shadow" component permeating the matrix: intelligence, but wholly unspecific intelligence - without genre or gender - which, although diversified and expressed relative to the matter which interprets it, is also the architect of the matter it unfolds. I call it: Creatura... (most emphatically) not to be confused with religionist myths and its corresponding characters - example: "the man upstairs."

If "god is dead" religionists (specifically Western and Middle-Eastern varieties) killed it. They gave it limits; limits imposed by their own fears, politics and pathologies."

- Paragraphs deleted from a previous post, and added to a collection of notes; DS, June 28, 2014

"Creatura (singular and plural) - A creative Intelligence: the integrated ordering agent and organizing, self-referential noumenon present in all living organisms."

- A working definition of Creatura from a collection of notes; DS, July 1, 2014, posted July 28.


I was kind of on the fence about posting this "thought experiment"... I originally attempted to allude to it with a post containing a brief definition of Creatura. That didn't cut it for me, so I pulled it down (deleted post, July, 28, 2014)

For the past few months however, this concept - admittedly a "Vitalist" concept (or, more appropriately, Revitalist), and not even a terribly original one - has been stirring around in my psyche, coloring just about all of my thoughts. I've drafted (and destroyed) a number of posts, but they all seem to have the same general theme; a theme I was planning to slowly build up to, but now I find I'm not going to have the time (I'm about to take an extended hiatus from the blogosphere). So, it's now or never...