A Message of Peace

Written Friday, December 21, 2018


A Message of Peace


By (artist) Jon Keppel



I am not here to get you to think in any certain way or feel things that you do not already feel.  I am not a change agent in this presentation.  I do not have any impact on your consciousness one way or another.  I will not set you free so to speak.  I am not the answer.  


Consider for yourself that awareness may be an art practice, a way of doing art.  Or perhaps more aptly stated, consider allowing art to emerge in your life as both deep and light epiphany.  


If it can be the case that art is awareness and awareness, art, what does that mean?  This is a question that I offer to you.  It is in this sense something that is available through love that circulates throughout our entire being, both as a self and a universal flow.  


How did this come to be?  Or rather how did we become aware of it?  See the difference there?  It becomes real for us once we are aware of it.  Without awareness that which we are of does not emerge.  It is my contention that we are of art.


The development of the art object deals plainly with illusion.  The arrival of the concept or idea over the object as with conceptualism in the 1960s was a continuation of the development that is in art.  Consider now that art is in culture throughout.  It spans the globe and rightly always has even though some instances may not have been represented in full on what could be called the world stage or collective consciousness.


To continue this development, or revealing and reconnecting, of art, I propose the notion of putting the person above the object and the concept or idea.  The person is and becomes the art.  And yet as we say this, the person is a macro and microcosm of the limitlessness of the cosmos, the furthest inner and farthest outer extents whereby a through-spirit having to do with personhood radiates meaningfully through objects, ideas, actions and times respectively.  


This is a development that really has probably been going on since before humanity as we know it existed on earth.  For centuries there were proverbial paintings and sculptures made in many lands.  The Greeks, the Romans, the Renaissance and so much out beyond that in so many regions and varying cultures helped to bring this about.  The very development of a tool or technology as with axes made of stone are found to be a reflection of a change in awareness, of consciousness and understanding within the human beings of that time.  Tools and technologies used to make paintings and sculptures of the very most rudimentary nature were still vast openings in the nature of mind as it related to the phenomenal field.  It was an understanding which was reflected in material and expounded upon in material. But the real development, the primary arising in the wielder was a profound illumination of the heart and head of the human beings at the time.  


Nothing has changed in this regards for us.  We continue to discover, uncover and reveal what is to a large extent already there within and around us.  This past century, in a kind of joking way, genius in the life of a man named Marcel Duchamp switched our understanding of what constitutes an art object.  Famously, Duchamp took a urinal, a commonplace pre-manufactured industrial product and entered it into an art exhibition to stand as art via his choice as an artist, making it into art through that choice and awareness and thus bringing it into view to us as art as well.  This, I feel, is the contribution of Duchamp.  


From it we can extrapolate that not only is such a common object art when it is in a gallery setting but that every common object in life is already art by its nature of being an object of our awareness, an awareness that is a kind of art-ing itself.  From this time, starting from around 1913, it is my contention that a grand divestment of energies back into the everyday world has come about guided by the development of art that has brought our awareness of art away from being something primarily of a static or plastic nature, an art object or even a concept or idea connected to an object but rather a way of thinking and as such awareness itself that becomes the art of our time using the time of this writing and publication in 2018/2019 as a way of commemorating, affirming and reaffirming this realization.  This I feel should lead and in fact does lead to placing the existent nature and development of people as art for the foreseeable present and future.


This I feel comes at a most necessary and pivotal time for us as a culture, a global culture of global citizens facing hardships and atrocities such as climate change, the refugee situation, human rights, hunger, poverty, education and total existential freedom around the world.  Before I say more on how I feel it has come that an understanding that awareness is art and that it is in fact the art of our times in a very powerful way I want to give further testimony to the many practitioners and practices that emerged over the last century that make clear how art is crying out to be made one with life as the world through people as a radiating facet of a living ecosystem that circulates throughout the entire Youniverse.  


In the 1950’s musician and thinker John Cage brought to our attention how every sound could be music, that even traffic in everyday life could be thought of as a kind of music or the sounds of the stirrings of an audience could also be music just as much as what was going on on stage.  Music in this way circulated throughout all sound.  But just as much it was up to the way in which you listened.  That was the genius of John Cage, to help us to understand that if we opened our heart and head to what music could be, that it was all around us, already populated in our world as a living reality far out beyond our conventions of instrumentation and theatrical presentation.  


In the 1960’s Allan Kaprow with what became known as Happenings began to coax the zeitgeist of art further out from conventions like not only brick and mortar galleries and museums but the mental models that were upheld by institutionalization of such sites.  Folks began gathering at hotel pools for activities that were performative but without a narrative structure like what many times happened on a stage and in the sense that they were happening out in public spaces or quasi-private spaces such as hotels, they were all the more a part of everyday life.  A movement of this bringing together of genius and the nature of lived reality as art was continuing to move together.  


Also, in the 1960s Andy Warhol created his well known Brillo Boxes which looked exactly like their commercial counterpart thereby reducing the differentiation of art with everyday real objects to zero.  There was no telling them visually apart.  Arthur Danto made comment on this fact and also coined the term Artworld in a philosophical writing of that decade.  Again the boundary, which was always a boundary of understanding or constitution, was merging with the real of that era.  Movements in land art and conceptualism continued to bring art out of the gallery and into the world so to speak.  The art went from art object immemorial, like a painting or sculpture to one of ideas and concepts.  


Eventually in the 1990’s relational aesthetics emerged with perhaps most notably a work like Untitled (Free) by Rirkrit Tiravanija where simply Thai food was made and offered to folks to eat.  Art had become the very eating of food as a meal.  Social practice and social movements in art that started in the prior decades and continued to develop, emerged at the turn of the century and continue to this day to be high impact aspects of art as we know it.  


Of course we know that art objects have persisted and that concepts in art are still widely held in high regard.  But what of this development truly?  What of this movement into life itself?  What of the way that lives can be taken up as the work itself as with for example Ai Wei Wei working through a movie like Human Flow that gives us insight into the refugee crisis we are facing as a global community?  Or what of a local artist that I know named Shani Richards who creates or co-creates art experiences and aspects of events that promote voting, an actually lived act, not a theatrical act but a real act with real-world meaning and positive consequences?  Do we not see that art is becoming deeds, deeds in life? Countless instances in-between these signposts signify this development and support this claim.  This is what initially brought me to proclaim that art is the craft of life.  I saw so much potential and had found so much impartial and objective evidence for such an approach given the development of art in the Western cannon.  And in fact this development had the Western cannon being reintroduced into the flow of all arts everywhere thereby doing away with the power structures and bureaucracy that are sometimes emergent in the world of art.  


Art had become something literally of the people in body, mind, soul, and spirit.  Artists like Marina Abramovic had helped this along with works like The Artist Is Present at MoMA where she sat opposite an empty chair that was occupied by countless visitors to simply look them in the eye and be there with them.  What could be a more honest and open testimony and sure sign of art as life itself?  Art had, in that instance as well, become simply the living presence within us all, brought to our awareness.  


We see then in light of this understanding that has developed over the past century that art is with us all and is available to us everywhere and at all times, as our very lives themselves.  Of course traditions like paintings and sculpting will persist as they should.  We should never forget our ancestors and generations of skilled practitioners that helped to pave the way for our understanding.  Even to do it today can, I am sure, be an enlightening enterprise and one of value and merit.  However, let us begin to really get in touch with what the spirit so to speak of the art development is crying out for us to understand and take into practice: that we the people are art.  That our lives are art.  That our world (the earth for instance and all the human beings residing here) is art, all of it, the entire thing.


In this sense it is my proposition that awareness as art is the significant art of and in our times that can bring us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and help us to affect positive change in the world we live in and are a part of.  Instead of the social, cultural or political being only addressed or primarily addressed in what we know as exhibitions, what if we learn to incorporate actions in our lives as they stand beyond the gallery and museum as a way of bringing in positive change and right conduct into the way we live our lives?  I see this as being the logical next step in the developing artistic puzzle where art places the person now beyond the object or idea.  In that sense then we have an entirely new expanse unfold, one that is already happening but it is now simply that our awareness of it is brought into play and thus makes these realizations more and more real for us and in that sense positively impactful and helpful.  I see folks like yogini and psychotherapist Ashley Turner and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe as exemplary artists of our time for their pursuit of what might be called right action and personal appreciation and development in tandem with the reality we live in and are a part of.  But just as much we are each artists in that we each connect with awareness every day of our lives.  Art as wellness is also significant in this regard as well.  Art in this way is also a kind of relationship, a relationship with ourselves, others and the world at large.  There is no person alive today that does not get effected directly or indirectly by awareness.  


It is my proposition that we can learn to craft and co-craft our lives through practices like meditation and mindfulness that help us to be more aware of ourselves, our lives and the world within and around us.  I say this is not only good for us as individuals but that it also will help us answer world problems as well.  In conjunction with awareness, meditation and mindfulness,  I see practices like conversation, writing and reading to be profound instances of actually doing the work of awareness when it becomes a matter of doing rather than being though both are infinitely important.  Awareness is the spark that makes understanding possible and understanding is the foundation for action to be taken in support of communing with a deeper sense of value and meaning in our own lives and life itself.  And out beyond these aforementioned practices there are of course just simply deeds in life.  We must learn to accept ourselves and to love ourselves truly.  The work we do to inform, educate and inspire ourselves on an ongoing basis nourishes these deeds we help to enact, supplementing, supporting and illuminating these deeds with meaning and value that I feel are essential to fully realizing human life.  Once we become more accustomed to being more aware at a fundamental level we can begin to become more and more aware of the world around us and begin to affect positive change as we change ourselves.  The way we think is a way of understanding ourselves.  Learning to listen is a key element as curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist has intimated.  


It could be that awareness is a kind of creation.  It reveals what is already there within us but also brings it to light so to speak and makes it more and more real and able to affect positive change.  I hope very much to be able to continue to unpack these ideas and promote living actions that themselves promote this epiphany and just as important its lived experience.  I find that loving kindness, compassion and non-judgment are very important factors for this.  And I believe that we can all be artists if we choose to be.  There is innate goodness in us, we have only to reveal it as such to let it shine.  Sometimes that happens naturally and sometimes we have to help intentionally to bring it out.  Either way, it shines and is made real in our conducting of it.  That is important.  We can be the masterpiece.  In the end we the people are great art on par excellence with all creation, with all the cosmos, in our own special and humble way.  We matter.  


Note: This text and its sentiment has been the culmination of a lifelong endeavor to contribute meaningfully to the nature of art in the collective conscious.  I hope it serves you well.  Take care.  Thank you to RCP for being there/here.  


Copyright © Jon Keppel 2018 All Rights Reserved



The Exhibition is Dead

The Exhibition is Dead

By Jon Keppel

Many times we may think of an exhibition as a presentation of physical objects or phenomena placed in a brick and mortar space, a room of some kind, usually either at a museum or gallery. However as art history has taught us, art, especially over the last hundred years, has become increasingly untethered to a premeditated location for its dispersal, or perhaps more rightly stated, its emergence. It is no longer a static, plastic presentation of things in a sort of ordained and curated shell but rather a cueing-in to information, an encounter with the ephemerality of lived events and simply ways of thinking. So why do we still generate exhibitions or at least the exhibition of the white cube or a cube of any sort for that matter?

The loosening of the art object away from being a plastic experience began at least as early as 1917 when Marcel Duchamp forged, through the act of conception, rather than the laborious and somewhat clunky act of physical construction, the nature of the readymade. Duchamp’s genius emerged not only in his conferring of art status on everyday objects but also in the way he treated and invited us to engage mentally and philosophically with everyday objects. Since Duchamp it is not just that a urinal in a museum or gallery is art but that as a trace of his mental massaging of such phenomenon, we can start to understand such objects in life to be art as well.

Starting in the 1950’s, John Cage similarly teased our consciousness out of a rather dated and stogy matrix that placed art as that which emerged in an institution. Cage, like Duchamp, brought our understanding of art out into the world of everyday life and the ceaseless flow of physical, psychological and spiritual experiences to be had there. Music was no longer strictly or simply instruments being played on a stage in a concert hall, music came from the sound of the audience as well and also from everyday occurrences such as traffic. Music had become a way of listening rather than that which is listened to, arranged or not. This shift in understanding is key to the evolution of art so much so that we can say that the way we understand something is in fact a prominent if not key component of its production. Understanding, in essence, produces.

The Happenings of the 1960’s followed this trend of bringing art and our understanding of it outside of the gallery and into everyday spaces. Land art too, with a sweeping gesture, drew our consciousness out of so many rooms, both figuratively and literally and into the growing expanse of nature, the great outdoors and beyond. Perhaps what we call outer space will be the next site so to speak for our consciousness. In many ways it already is. The point however is that it is the liberating quality of thought itself that is truly the delimiting factor and the seed bed by which all that is around us begins to fully emerge. Producing, in art and in life, has become less about constructing physical arrangements of plastic parts, as with paintings and sculptures of time immemorial, and instead a process of revealing key attributes that are already present in the world that are reflected both within and around us (consider the shift that has taken place from a dynamic of industrialization to that of information) .

The limitlessness of what we call outer space is mirrored in the boundless nature of the internet which has become another prominent quasi-place to reveal art as such. Net art and sound are two major iterations of this evolution of art as an experience that erupts rather spontaneously, sometimes in many places at once and without the bureaucratic web that comes with much of the conventional art world’s pillars and platforms. Perhaps the matrix of the art world itself, its parameters and constructs are being transcended. The role of the artist in this rather limitless expanse is rapidly changing. Trends that have artists moving towards political office is one such example of this. Roles of what it means to be a curator and a director are also being brought into question as we consider more and more that the locus of art is a spontaneous, ephemeral experience that is had in everyday life. The rooms, so to speak, that the art of 2017 and beyond will take place in will be that of the heart and the head rather than any museum or gallery. We will look now within to see where we and art are going. For the exhibition as such is dead. We and art are alive!

All Rights Reserved © Jon Keppel 2017

To Live a True Life By Jon Keppel circa 1999

To Live A True Life.

 

By Jon Keppel

 

 

I am laying in a bed of tall, tall grass and letting my life pass by

when I allow myself to waver from the thoughts and feelings 

that I know to be true.  A bed of grass so thick with delusion

and self-deceit that no man’s eye could be asked to penetrate it.

 

It is my own will and perception, however, that place me in such 

a weary condition.  It is I, and I alone, who allows for the 

weeds of the world to pull me down into the blinding dirt of

confusion’s disease and suffocate the good parts 

that try so hard to dream inside of me.

 

I need only to stand up…

To rise above this mammoth green sea of doubt and strive

beyond the presumptions of my fevered mind

To search beyond the thickets of fear

that I have planted inside my head

and discover the unfaltering truths

that lay patiently waiting 

in the deepest cores of my being.

 

The grass is tall, but my home is in the sky.

 

I have only to reach for it

to call out its name

to call out my name

to accept its truth and deliver my beauty.

 

With a confidence so pure that no doubt can touch it

I will stretch my hearing legs and dance atop

the feeble grass that has bound me for so long.

If only I believe in who I truly am

and harness the powers

that grow warm and bright inside of me.

My heart will weep no more.

I will float above the venomous vines of worldly pleasure

and cross the threshold of art

that denies me the intimate knowledge of myself

that I rightly deserve.

 

I will no longer disconnect myself

from the spirit that gives me strength.

I will live a true life.

I will stand up proud and strong

even if it is by myself

and allow my deepest thoughts

to imagine, to sing,

to wonder, and to smile.

I will ascend into my highest self.

I will live a true life.

Mapping With Crayons

Mapping with Crayons 

By Jon Keppel

 

I used to snap crayons and imagine that that was what it felt like for God to break people’s necks.  To me it felt cathartic and so it made me wonder, did God practice catharsis? Of course you could use the crayon after it was broken but it never felt the same in your hand.  It did not alter the quality of the color that the crayon would make but it did alter the utensil’s standing as an object.  It changed the handling so to speak.

 

I had been give the suggestion of a coloring book upon attempting to recover from depression and found the notion to be absolutely vexing.  Coloring was supposed to be calming but I kept finding myself surrounded by halved crayons and a mostly untouched coloring book.  

 

Of course people were not objects, not really.  Sure they could be objectified but in the end there was a quality to human life that transcended the idea of being simply a thing among things.  There was a whole stew of feelings and psychosis that went into everything from tying a shoe to professing love and all that ambiguous mush in-between that fueled the spurting and sometimes comical theatre of life.

 

I have always wondered what it is that makes the world tick in this way as a kind of chimera.  Actors and entities, people and places, emerge quite literally out of nowhere.  The paradox of being in perpetual motion while at the same time never leaving your body, or the earth for that matter, was one that I would come to consider many times over.  Sometimes that thought haunted me while at others it felt like a miracle.  This juxstapositioning of seemingly contradictory ideas was something that would become a theme in my life.  It was the idea of holding diametrically opposed ideas in your head and heart at the same time. 

 

I remember taking a comparative religions course at university that had me contemplating a whole host of different belief systems: hinduism, buddhism, taoism, shintoism, jainism and on and on.  The instructor of the class had spent time with a Navajo Indian tribe as a part of his research and that seemed so exotic to me.  It was funny to me that that which was most exotic could in fact be the most native as well.  It makes me think of how so much of the ocean is as yet unexplored, housing creatures of outrageously alien shapes and formulations giving the depths of space a real run for its money.  Nevertheless, an ocean is a thing that we are used to seeing on a map and once something is on a map we feel more attuned to it because in a way it has been defined simply by entering our consciousness.    

 

The act of naming something whether an ocean or a person seems to in a very real way bring something into being and yet at the same time blocks its potential as a so-called natural phenomenon, one that enters the senses with no preconceived notions or judgements similar to the way the avant garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage described a baby seeing grass for the first time.  There is no conceptual filtration of the world but instead an intuitive encounter with the awesome power and mystery of nature.         

 

After my breakdown it was recommended that I take up coloring as a way of calming myself down.  It was a practice in peace.  I remember how when I got out of college I got involved with working at a call center for a roadside assistance company and that we were asked to color a character in a coloring book to represent us on a goals chart that was prominently placed at the front of the office.  I thought it was an insult to be asked to color a page from a coloring book after completing a four year degree in art but that was what the universe asked of me.  

 

The universe asked me many a strange thing over the course of my lifetime, things that never seemed to make much sense, even in the grand scheme of things.  I had always worked hard in school and prided myself on getting mostly A’s and some B’s.  I grew up believing that if you worked hard for something you would be rewarded for it.  But as my life unfolded that premise did not seem to hold up.  

 

I eventually quit that job like I quit many other jobs.  I did this with drinks too.  Not alcoholic drinks but regular sodas and juices.  I was always leaving half emptied bottles of this or that in the refrigerator, abandoned because I did not care enough for it to finish it or because the thrill of opening it had all too soon faded or perhaps it was just because I was plain full. 

 

I had had as many jobs in my life as there are crayons in a crayon box.  I would just pick ones out so to speak and use a little bit of this one and then a little bit of that one and then put it back in the box or simply snap it.  There was no semblance of a career.  I tried to make a career out of being an artist but you have to create art in order to do that and after the learning that you do not necessarily get what you work for I found it difficult to carry any project to full fruition because of an innate hopelessness.  

 

Ironically it was hopelessness that brought me to spirit.  Spirit with a small “s” and Spirit with a capital “s” as I think they are probably one in the same thing.  At some point I just sort of dropped off the map so to speak.  I lost direction so to speak and then I thought the idea of direction itself.  For years I existed in a haze of doctors visits, prescription medicine and odd jobs that really only had one thing in common…me. 

The Art Flame (a book by Jon Keppel) 2018

The Art Flame

 

By Jon Keppel

 

 

Part I 

Chapter One

 

    Inside each of us is a special gift, unlike anything this world has seen before.  It is in this gift that we alight the world anew and bring new music to fresh eyes.  Everything blends together.  We are situated in a mystery and we ourselves are a righteous unknown.  We hold infinity within us.  We connect to forever with every move we make, with every breath.  And it is from this vast and generous spirit that a flame of wild imagination comes forth, a flame that is in each of us and is unique to each of us while still lit from that same shared core that travels throughout not only all of humanity but the entire cosmos and beyond.  

    This is the flame of art, the beginning of all dreams, the knowledge, intuition, and sensation of being alive and yet also that which is beyond sensation.  The art flame is the experience of living.  This gift, like a seed, has been placed within us and it is now blossoming.  What fruits and flowers will it bring with it, what dreams?  This is where our hopes lie, afresh.  All is connected.  All is growing.  The flame is ripe for reality now and beckons us on.  Live your truth it says.  See to it that this world comes to know the real you.  Be an honest light.  Set fire to the heavens in good and prosperous ways.  Be the light you seek.  Be good.  Be art.

    There is much for us to come to know in this life: people, places, things.  But beyond all of this shines our center, that which makes us uniquely us.  Our centers may be different in quality yet they all share being center and in this way are of a unity.  Therefore, living our truth is a way of connecting with others.  Being true to ourselves unites us with all of humanity.  This is the truth I wish to share with you in these pages.  

    The light as we know it is coming from us.  We are in the sun and the moon and the stars.  As much as we are stardust, stardust is us!  Our nature through the miracle of perception makes this so, but also our very being is a testament to this.  We are united in our individuality and as such are beautiful in our being.  There is no limit to what we can think, say, do and feel.  And with respect, gratitude, and a genuine curiosity we will come to know this true magic that circulates freely throughout all humanity, all reality, all creation, and kind.  

    Thus we must come to know and use our imaginations as the awesome vehicles, torches, and homes that they are.  Our imagination shines in each one of us like the twinkle in a star.  It is the magic that is unearthed at our birth and what comes to be known by our given and taken names.  As with sparks from a flame, we carry within us the power of all fire everywhere and this too is the essence of our nature.  We are fire starters, each and every one of us, flames of divinity, flames of magic, flames of love.  And in this, we come to know that secret essence that erupts with both purpose and spontaneity.  We come to know ourselves as the universe.  

    It is within each and every one of us and connects us to one another in a myriad of ways.  It is accessible at any age, from any place, at any time.  It is the glorious pouring forth of what we hold but do not yet know.  It is not just the marks on the cave wall but also the hallowed breath that filled those walls, that same breath that we breathe right this very moment!  We are torchbearers in this way.  The cosmos is in our hearts, heads, and hands.  As such, everything we make and say and do is a part of creation, is a part of the art of the world.  Art is within everything we do, it, in fact, is us.  We are the art that we have been making since not only the time of dwelling in caves but since before the arrival of humanity in the world (I know that at first that may sound illogical and an impossibility but I beg you to give it a chance to blossom).  

    There is a beyond to us that lies at our center.  Art in this way transcends location.  It transcends culture, beliefs, time, nature, love and beauty and even humanity itself.  It is the truth at the very center of existence which, though it is ever mysterious, is also ever growing, ever glowing and kind, sometimes in ways that fall outside of our own conceptions.  

    

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

    With this being the nature of the Art Flame, we come to see quite differently what the art of our time is and how we can go about enacting it, appreciating it and more.  There is an essence to all that we do and that essence is art.  Creation myths speak to this.  It is the wielding of tools and also, sadly, of weapons.  It is an urge in all that manifests as the will to configure and reconfigure that which lies before us.  But what lies before us is a reflection and extension of what lies within us as one united human race and also as individuals and even beyond that a sentience itself and a kind of spirited matter.  We can hope now that a deeper understanding for what life is and consists of will bring us to a more benevolent and compassionate way of doing our craft such that great periods of liberty, freedom, and flourishing can see the light of day.  

    So how did the Art Flame start?  Such things are as mysterious to us as the beginning of time.  We do better to be grateful for what we have now and alight in its majesty such that its awesome power can truly shine in great and centrifugal ways.  For we radiate this spark.  We radiate this fire, this light.  And more than anything we are the mystery!  We are great and small.  We are that fine and glorious nexus of being that transcends dimension and scale and type.  This is what many have spoken of throughout the ages, a kind of gift, a kind of welcomed invitation to living that beckons us on.  So what will we do with it?  This is the question.  What are we doing with it right now?  

    I feel this truth in my heart, this awakening in the catacomb of souls that truly goes beyond even corporeal existence.  Spells of language, storytelling, painting, sculpture, and song are a testament to this for they outlast our individual lives and go on to inform, influence and inspire the lives of others after we are dead and gone.  Similarly, just as these crafted objects reach out through a chain of generations, our lives are bigger than any one of us and go on to affect not only future generations but also conceptions of the past through engagements with history.  We have a truth to tell and this truth is awesome.  And we tell it in the sometimes subtle and complex ways that our lives unfold, not only to ourselves but to each other and the world at large.  The truth radiates out from us in all directions.  

    You see there is art in everything we do, say, wear, eat and breathe.  It is in all of us, at all times and in this way transcends even the space-time continuum.  As such, art becomes the very stuff of life.  It is no longer simply paintings and sculptures made from time immemorial nor is it the pluralistic conception of art as Arthur Danto was still describing it at the end of his life, limiting art to contrivances including sound or music, video, performance, installations, new media and so forth.  

    We must come to understand that art is life itself.  Art is at the center of the spirit of life and is infinitely more and beyond that which transpires in a cave, gallery or museum.  Once we come to truly know this truth we can begin to slowly and gently unpack all of the gifts that come along with this understanding.  We come to know and to understand that art is the craft of life itself.  It is not only what we do in life but how we do it or perhaps better stated how we live it.  

    Once we come to arrive at this knowing, this understanding that art is life itself we can come to see each one of us as artwork, ever-changing and developing artwork.  There is a kind of sustained malleability and at the same time lightness to the essence of life in this way.   We are each a part of the art of the world as we sleep, wake and dream.  Life, in fact, becomes a kind of lucid dream in this way, where we co-create at the level of sheer existence that which we are, are of, and are surrounded by.  There is a kind of through-spirit to all existence, an artful current, an artful energy that erupts and emerges.  And as we come to know this art, in all that there is, we realize how we too are art and that in knowing this we can begin to pick up our lives in glorious and bountiful ways that have us dreaming ourselves awake as it were, to live as the hero or heroine of our own creation myth for and as creation itself.  

    Something that goes along with this realization or revelation is that as we ourselves stand as art, as artwork.  We see, meaning we come to know and understand, that personhood and the craft of personhood are inextricably wrapped up in who we are.  Learning to simply be and accept ourselves as we are, are also important factors to embrace.  Being a human being, which in light of this understanding also means being an artist while also being an artwork means a great many things, all of which we can sum up with the word, concept, and spirit of art.  For it lends itself to this depth and height.  It can afford this meaning.  

    Thus art circulates, it fluxes between the sacred and the profane, throughout all being, all time and all places.  It transcends beliefs, cultures, and philosophies and brings us to what is fundamental not only in ourselves but in existence itself.  With advancements in technology and travel, we are able to learn from all of the world’s wisdom traditions that share art as a common theme.  We are co-creators, co-creating ourselves, each other and the world as each shifts and changes.  We must stay ever mindful that we share in creation, that there is always in a way that which goes beyond ourselves which is also a part of who we are.

 

    

Chapter Three

 

    This question of who we are is essential rather than simply what we are.  Who it is we are and who it is we are becoming stand as fundamental acknowledgments in the ever-flowing stream of existence.  This is why this truth that makes clear how art is the craft of life comes to aid, like a balm, the sickness, and suffering to be had in the world and in one’s own self for the two are one in the same.  The art flame burns through all blocks to co-opt a saying of the yogini and psychotherapist Ashley Turner.  There is nothing that art does not transform into a higher state of being.  Art not only serves our development as beings, it is the development of our being.  You can begin to ascertain certain similarities to what I describe here in the name of art as being present in a great many fields of inquiry, most readily with spheres like religion, philosophy and so forth.  

    In a way, however, that which I speak of here transcends even the practice of naming.  Whatever we call this essence, this miracle of life, this existence, this plane of realities among realities does not change the essence.  But then again, who is to say that the essence does not change upon its own accord similar to how surface phenomena transition over time?  One could, in fact, mirror the other and all, absolutely all, the without and the within, could be in flux continually, eternally even.  

    The rose example may come to mind here which states that a rose by any other name still smells as sweet (and keep in mind how a rose is not always present in the world as it must go through a process of maturation to appear) but honestly that is not what we mean here.  Because that phrasing speaks only of the sensual and it is my contention that we need to go beyond mental impressions that compare and contrast in this way in order to get at that which we experience at a gut level of being, at a supra-sensual understanding of life.  Art is the key to doing this for it is inherently malleable and mystifies the notion of definition as does life itself.

    Art, in fact, is a doing as much as a product.  We can become attuned to this by reflecting on how the through-spirit of art is never ending (or in the case that it does have a terminus that we are not upon it now).  In the past, we may have used examples such as musical compositions, paintings or sculptures as kinds of works that are representative of art.  The revelation that art is the craft of life blows all of this away.      Presently, however, we can also speak of the lives of individuals as art not only the traces and marks they made.  To make this point clear, it is the life of the person I believe and the person themselves which is the true masterwork even more so than externalities generated though these may be seen as extensions of what comes to be generated within. Also, we can also speak of genres or movements in music, painting, and sculpture just as we can speak of civilizations in regards the lives of people.  You see these works, what I refer to as lifeworks reach out beyond the terminus of corporeal and material reality.  Nothing is ever truly finished.  Though we will reach moments of conclusion the song of life as art will be sustained, perhaps indefinitely. Art comes to stand for this.  

    The art object that we have come to know in the past several centuries and particularly in the 20th and 21st century is an illusion.  The repeated attempts by countless artists to merge once more art with reality leads to the disillusion of the art object as we know it in modern and contemporary times.  It does not speak to the undergoing truth that radically unites all essences of all times and places.  It is worth stating that there may be no glory in all of this though either.  Particular examples of musical compositions, paintings and sculptures may come and go just like individual people but every minute transpiring is sacred in the universal flux of creation.  There is still sacred beauty.  That is why we must be able to absorb history but also let it go.

 

    In a way then creation is not even creation.  The term transcends itself but to good ends.  I call this quality miraculous because it deals with finite ends, as material decays, yet there is also a through-spirit that at a core level does away with frail constructs such as the ego or names.  We come to serve the spirit of truth, a truth that includes lies!  It is fitting as I see it that the word or name art be used to help give us some sense of clarity in our own personal and collective development, especially with art’s history as tactics of illusionary effects.  For one must know reality well in order to make an illusion of it.      

 

    Chapter Four

    Art has, as a name and concept, been confined like a whale in a bound book, in other words that which is exceedingly too small to house the reality of which it speaks.  We see then, or begin to see anyway, how a subtle shift in our understanding, an almost imperceptibly small shift, can make all the difference in the world, literally, as we come to know the true value and meaning of art in our life.  

    We, the people, are this value.  Again, art proves to be the very stuff of life itself.  Previously many people have thought of art as drawings, paintings, sculptures and so forth.  Then as things like to do, art underwent an evolution or development that blended it back into reality through such things as performance art, land art, net art, conceptual art, installation and so forth.  Art, as far as our understanding and convention went, began to be released from the tidal pools it had been circulating in and dwelling in known as galleries and museums and instead began to appear in the heart and head as the domains in which to facilitate, conduce and house artistic activity.  

    Making the conception of art clear, rather than trying to formulate a definition, is the message of this book and one that seeks to begin a wildfire of its own in the heights and depths of all humanity.  Art, like life, is a mystery.  For once we see that art is not just what happens at the bristled end of the paint brush we understand that all of creation is wrapped up in art and artwork.  We begin to see how our lives and our lifeworks happen within us and also in a transpersonal way and how as those inner epiphanies are unlocked so too does the phenomenal world blossom, open and reveal its possibilities.  

    In this way we see then how art comes from the wonder that we have within ourselves and that doing artwork deals with delving into one’s person.  Analogies perhaps will not do the reality justice but let us say for now that it is as if we water through safe and gentle means our deepest interiority so that our world may reflect the wondrous maturation and growth that comes forth from within, from the unseen.  That is not to say that people have found themselves engaged and most likely will continue in what can at times amount to turbulent ways of interfacing with their given opportunities and hardships.  However, the purpose of this writing is to make clear that we may be a part of an awesome power while also healing that which brings us suffering and ailment.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  We can heal while expelling the most vile and wretched afflictions, if we find that we have those, while also enacting our joy and jubilation through our art as yes cathartic, communication and much, much more.   

    This is where this so-called new sense, new to our 21 century sensibilities, of what art is comes to begin to reach a certain stage of fruition.  It is as we dive deep through acts such as meditation, conversation, reading, visualization, prayer and other manifesting techniques that the true brush of the artist is revealed.  For we begin in this way to paint with reality itself.  Our technique so to speak is one brought to life through our judgments, employment of our character, thought, imagination, which essentially all lead to building not things but lives!  And these lives are the work! 

    Sure we have societies, civilizations and the like but no one has or ever really will care for abstractions such as these.  In the end, you cannot really care for a country per se but rather for the people of that country.  I love ideas but they are not people, just as no mere thing on a wall like the paintings of time immemorial have the innate value of a human being.  

    If you disagree with this, I beg you reconsider your connection like the shifting sands of the lifeworld at the very deepest and most profound levels.  No, we care for individual people or collections of people not abstracted swaths.  Concepts like community and compassion help us to keep the people as the purpose rather than the division that can arise from titles and mapping.  

    What I mean to say is that abstract concepts such as society do no justice to what it means to be an actual human being of flesh and blood.  We must remember lives not merely life.  The abstract concept of life must not eclipse the reality of living itself, of being there for one another and showing up for ourselves.  This goes not only for the human family but for all life, sentience, Earth and its emanations.

    We can see in a way, we can come to understand that the dead matter we placed on display, those paintings on walls and sculptures on pedestals, cannot provide us life in any tangible way and life is what we are after, in the final analysis!  This is not to say that there has not been a good spirit in the procurement of dead materials in an attempt to express different feelings of unrest or joy but just that, given the freedom to access the potential of all that lies within us, if it is proving that doing so changes dramatically the efficacy of this arranged dead matter, then we have to begin to consider or reconsider what it really means to do art.  What is artwork?  

    In my estimation, literally everything.  Artwork can be made or simply noticed, engaged with hopefully related to in some way for the benefit of the acting party and co-creators.  And in this lies a wondrous realization.  As we unlock and reveal the true power of art and what art is, what it can be, we see how there is no need to concentrate our energies merely into sterile cubes such as galleries and museums which, as I love them so, are still very much like the caves from our distant past.  Technology, travel and other discoveries have pricked open the conventional notion of an exhibition and its relevance.  These kind of procurements might yet persist but the zeitgeist of art has traveled on into not merely including them but the whole of real and imagined endeavors throughout the entire dimensionality of all life, at all times and all places.

    As such absolutely everything becomes an aspect or quality of art.  For, again, art becomes the craft of life itself.  All of the centuries a making artworks, of seeing craft as what transpires on the bristled end of the paint brush versus what happens on the end at which it is held is in a way seen now in hindsight as mere character building.  It could be said that any skill or trade could be said to be such character building but also, just as much, could be said to be an art.  

    There is frequently said the art of this and the art of that.  So much the more because art is in everything, and more than that art is everything, and what is more than even that, art is what transpires between everything!  That reminds me of what painter Anselm Kiefer said of his work, how he was always more interested in what happened between the paintings where as the conservators were always preoccupied with the material or static plasticity of the painting itself. 

    

Chapter Five

    As we begin to paint with reality we of course do away completely with all these tools and concepts that we have previously associated with the term art.  There is no need any longer for an easel or even a studio (these traditions may be kept up for an innate value but what I mean to say is that they are not strictly necessary.  Also it seems that our notion of how we share art (through the convention of exhibitions) is ready for a radical transformation.  

    The way we make our bed is a delineation of art’s presence in what it is we do.  The way we style our hair.  What we choose to cook for ourselves or the restaurants we choose to go to.  There is in these senses still a kind of aesthetics involved.  We may build a house for ourselves or do architecture in a certain way but we must always imagine how aesthetic choices, like what type of shingle to put on a roof, compare to the crests of the Himalayas.  

    This is the type of awesome power we want to unearth, for it is of us and we of it.  It is our birthright.  Things on walls (paintings and so forth) do not create life, they do not create people, flora or fauna.  We have learned a great deal from these inanimate things but we can learn more, in many cases if not all, from the exertion of the artist as it emerges during the course of lived action rather than from the traces or marks that a particular kind of exertion may leave behind.  Such is the call to life and its arrangement.  

    Art now calls for us to access this life flow or stream, I feel.  Movements like relational aesthetics  and social practice in conventional art have have hinted at this.  Physical things will persist of course, but the emphasis must be placed on forming good people, good character and so forth, or more clearly allowing for the innate goodness to arise in the soul though recognition and daily awareness of one’s fullest being through artistic thinking directed toward the very stuff of life. The rhetoric of juxtaposed matter must always be kept as a diminutive aspect of the fuller spectrum of life as we come to know ourselves as a masterwork, on par excellence with all of creation in a way.  Remember that we, ourselves, are co-substantiated with all existence.  

    In this way then, why not go directly to the source?  Artist talks of the last century hint at this.  Why peer at a sheet of canvas with marks on it or a slab of rock with some gauges in it when you can go directly to the person and hear what it is they have to say, what it is they were trying to say with the procurement of dead matter?  

    Granted some folks may be using art as a means of communication and expression and there is nothing wrong with that, that is of course beautiful too, in its own right.  But historically speaking, art went through developments over the past several centuries which culminated in what I offer you here now as a kind of re-divestment of energies, human life-energies back to the full constellation of being rather than a minuscule amount and kind as has been associated with the so-called arts for the past several centuries in designated locations such as cathedrals, galleries, palaces, museums, theaters, concert venues and so forth.  Art is much more than this.

    Danto’s end of art spoke of the coming of this transition, or illumination, but did not fully flesh out the ramifications of a post-historical, any-thing-goes era.  For when art can be anything, it truly is anything not simply a vast number and kinds of contrivances in a pre-ordained network of institutionalization as was a typification of the conception of the art world (by Danto and also  George Dickie) but rather throughout the entirety of existence, of the cosmos itself, starting with the life spark of humanity.  Art is bigger than the art world.    

    It is true that this might strike you very much like what religion and philosophy have tried to tackle or accomplish in the past but I think it is very much a type of scenario similar to fields used for crops.  Sometimes, the fields must be left fallow in order for their particular expression as a quality of nature, material or otherwise to be made nourished and fertile again.  

    Something similar happens with aquifers where at one time there may be a lake at another that same slice of land is dry as a bone.  Religion and philosophy are not insignificant.  They may come back around again in different and exciting ways.  But, in all honesty, I feel that they are already implicated in this move of art back out from the galleries and museums and into the lifeworld fusing it with artistic essence, presence and spirit.  We have the opportunity to utilize art to truly connect us as the single world we innately and truly are, a family, a home, a beacon in the cosmos. 

    

Chapter Six

 

    You may be wondering does this person wish us to believe that we can somehow do away altogether with material reality and in fact in some sense I am saying that, in that imagination is our innate tendency to liberation.  And this liberation is fundamental to our well being, to our life-right.           But what is more is a kind of zen quality where, through contemplation, a mountain gets to be unlike a mountain only to eventually return to be a mountain.  I think when we tap into our deepest core the grand illusion of the world becomes an allusion and we struggle to create stories to make sense of it all.  The material world is like a collection of props for these stories.  This is similar to the same way that a story works in a film.  Surface phenomena and visual effects transpire, just as they do in life, however it is the undergoing or undercurrent of the meaning behind these phenomenal displays that really touch us and move us and bring us to the fullest sense of understanding and belonging that we are capable of.  Art in this way is the story of the world.  The mere fact that we describe creation myths with the word creation is testament to this.

    Speaking of these kinds of stories, it has come to my attention that science shows we will have to evacuate the planet at some point without fail in the time that falls before us.  This brought one recent television program to relate the idea of a space ark that would be dreamed up, engineered and constructed in order to shuttle life from this planet to another.  How very fundamental is the imagination to such an endeavor?  And what is imagination but the art spark of pure creation?  It looks very much as though this kind of creativity is not just for us to thrive but for our sheer survival!  The one may very well be in the other.  Such is the life spark.   

    There is room for all of this to become much, much more.  The change you seek is always already within you, it is simply a matter of letting it out.  As we come to understand this setup in which the world is connected we begin to truly understand all that is within us as well and that is when things get really interesting.  It is then that we fully realize that limitations are only perceived to be so and that we are infinite and eternal in our own right.  In this way, we have the very world inside us and we bring the world to life, we make the world as with poiesis everyday of our life.  The art flame may start as a spark but it ends as a fire of truly mythic, truly awesome proportions for we come to see that the spark itself is also a kind of fire and the fire a kind of spark.  We are connected.  Art is bringing us forth.  Now is the time to glow, to shine, to burn bright.  Now is the time to ignite your art.  

 

 

 

Part II

What Do We Do With The Art Flame Once It Is Lit In Us?

 

Chapter Seven

 

    So what does it mean to ignite your art and burn bright given that conventional means and modes of enacting art are changing so transformationally?  What are we going to be actually doing if there is no more isolated art object as it has come to be known, no more galleries and museums (or at least de-emphasized and relegated as equal to any place else as a site or moment of art)?  

    This is why I am using the term lifework as synonymous with artwork.  Who we are as people, as societies and as one united human race or even more than that a community of sentience is what matters now.  It is not just for our survival but because it is the right thing to do.  What precisely do we mean by sentience?  And what precisely of spirited matter?  These are the questions we have to ask ourselves as we peer into ourselves and see that which is beyond.  Art is raging in brilliant and bountiful ways to be sure outside of the canons and conventions of the so-called art world.  There are art worlds within art worlds.  We must now harness them all, respectfully, with reverence and hope.  

    In this idea of co-creation we make ourselves along with the fount, rivers and sea of universal energy.  It is my belief that all beliefs tap into one unified field of energy for their source.  If this is to be the case in our lives we have to take to studying any or all of the surfaces of belief with a kind of malleability and adaptability so that we may not become attached to any one particular of this universal field.  

    I am certainly not the first to talk about life in such a way, though there may be some unique characteristics to my own personal assertion it is also in a way the honest and genuine attempt to let go of, completely, all of that which divides you from one another and the universe at large because you have developed a fully nourished sense of self in the studies of your own life.  

 

    If this is the case, we come to see once again that idea of that which is center to us sharing something with that which is center to all (and I mean all).  It must be a point of fellowship and connection that transcends values without doing away with our humanity and a respect for being itself.  The idea of a center itself, whatever it may be, is what unites us in this sense and that is crucial.  

    We need not use words like soul or any other delineation that tries to catch the wind so to speak.  As we tap into our innermost well, we see that, in fact, we change by not changing.  We see that there is something that gives us form by not becoming form itself and this once again is our connection to art.  Eckhart Tolle has spoken of an unmanifested realm that I feel somehow shares a conception with this one.  It is my belief that art is the transference of energy that flowers being.  It is not just likened to the miracle of a seed beneath the ground. It is that miracle.  We are as much the ground in this sense as the Earth itself.  We radiate together an immanent energy of life.  

    Art in this way deals with character, with wisdom, compassion, holiness, sacredness, the profane, enlightenment, God, the Devil, Shiva, Yahweh, death, life, imagination, spirit, soul, paradox, guidance, truth, love, hope and on and on, ad infinitum. .  

    The categories of belief are pricked open and what comes billowing forth is something like a poetic meeting of wind (breath) and water (body) in the sea, that mystical sea that permeates all.  Joseph Campbell comes to mind in these regards as the hero’s journey becomes the work that we do in our life to develop ourselves and progress in our awareness of ourselves.  In that knowledge, we become a beacon for others who will be terminally wrapped up in their own light and constellation of being.  

    Art in this way begins to become that which we believe in, that which we ascribe to and procure.  But it is no longer a contrivance in a workshop or studio.  We need, in fact, a new conception of a place for art, one in effect that does away with the confines of a room, or space, altogether.  Perhaps the body is the place in which we can carry out these developments as an innate host for the mind and soul or some other way of saying that which functions within a person, as a person in this plane and perhaps beyond.  The body becomes space in this way.  

    Therefore each person becomes a unity of studio and exhibition space all in one as a blending of characteristics takes place.  Social media is just the beginning to transcend time and place in this way.  To my mind the iterations and manifestations of these revelations are truly infinite in nature.  It is not up to me to say where these things will go though I do still feel called to shed light on the possibilities as I see them.  

    My starting point is conversation as it is a form of interaction or participation that both receives and offers up in its undertaking.  It is crucial that there is no longer an artist/viewer dichotomy or author/reader dichotomy in these regards.  I am not saying exactly that these traditional practices should be done away with altogether but that it looks as though we will need to make a serious break from divesting our energies in this way for the foreseeable futures as they do not speak to the life energy that is within us all.  The call for engagement in this way is profound.  We seem to be moving into an era of exchange over exhibition.

    Chapter Eight

 

    I am not actually a big fan of social media but social media seems very much to be lighting the way as to how the very real act of engagement can transcend place and time.  It is a beginning.  And as the technologies progress to allow for more dynamic assertions than simply “liking” something there could very well be a coming forth of our truest inner feelings in a kind of globalized heart realm.  

    Paradoxically, or contradictorily, I am called to write in a rather standard fashion but there may yet be some strength and power in the shadow of a rather quaking dawn that makes this writing only one aspect of a more diversified offering through my life, including conversations, posts online, comments on social media, emails and a variety of other dynamic ways in which to engage, some that may even be yet to come.  I believe that some of this idea of engaging that transcends time and place may, with a great many other artistic qualities, be how we come to understand social awareness as we travel into outer space down the road.  

    I would like to also say that there are always remainders in a field so human.  There are always mistakes, imperfections and happenstance but I beg you that we can learn to incorporate these flaws into an edifying conception of ourselves without exalting constitutive natures.  In other words, saying we are imperfect is no excuse for doing bad to others or even ourselves (and also being itself).  We must transcend this paradox and unite with the center.                In the meantime, developments take time and therefore we can seek solace in these writings, you and I both, as this is the level at which our understanding lies, however, there may yet come a time, sooner or later, where we must be prepared to let go of these conventions and see life as it truly is, naked, unmasked, unlimited and whole.  

    Until then, I see the study of these truths to be a rather noble pursuit within the confines of the pages of a book or digital screen.  These are the ages we are living in.  I write to you now even if this mode of delivery is or becomes archaic in hopes that my message may ring louder than its format. I speak in this way not only to extant modalities, for a true message will transcend the notion of formatting.  This message could have been shared as a podcast, website or blog.  It could have even been a painting or sculpture for it has in its DNA a skin-shedding or blossoming essence, a continually renewable transformation.  The painting becomes a website and then becomes something we cannot even imagine yet.  

    I, similar to the world itself, am a work in process.  And though there are times to rejoice and times to mourn, I think we can all say that we all want to continue to grow.  That is my hope in any event, hope that I believe is infinite, just like love and goodness.

    Essentially what we want to look at is the artist becoming engaged with the everyday as transcendental and also the everyday person employing their natural artistic abilities to life projects.  The possibilities of this are so very awesome that it is difficult to even fathom.  I do not know if it will ultimately help to share with you my own journey but I do feel at some core level that what it is I am attempting to describe here will come out in the details of my own reckoning and that those details may serve as a starting point for you the reader in ways that will make sense to you given your own particular set of circumstances, predicaments, feelings, beliefs, thoughts and so forth.  Here is what I can tell you of my story…

 

A Twist, My Story

 

    I was raised to believe in human potential and have sought to the very best of my ability a kind of eternal and infinite glory in the liberation of my body, mind and soul through coming to understand at a core, I mean the very core level, what it is I am, we are, etc.  And it is in this writing, right here in this moment of writing, through the miracle of writing, that I wish to tell you that I do believe that there may not be a center or core to all reality.  

    How radical you may say!  How contradictory you may say after everything I have shared in the proceeding pages however what I mean to express here to you is that though a center might be illusory to a certain extent, it is a means to accessing truth similar to how we tell stories to illicit responses which can sometimes move one to action.  We must consider in these regards the nature of absence as presence and consider deeply the paradox and mystery of that, for I feel that the mystery of art responds to the mystery of life such that they can become one in the same and provide existential illumination.  

    Having a sort of phantom center is not a bad thing it just means that our being consists of a myriad of means and ways that reflect the ends or end without there actually being an end.  I say this for our depths, our heights and for the farthest reaches of ourselves.  Limitlessness is another way of saying this.  

    I hope I have done justice in the previous passages to your own soul and spirit (or in whatever way to identify existentially if you identify at all).  I do not believe it an erasure but rather, a coming to terms with what is actually there, a kind of space or void that connects, the meeting point of the within and the without.  I think we have so very much more yet to learn!  

    We must of course stay humble and humane in our attempts to progress, to proceed but such is the way of the mind, a technology in itself when thought of in a certain way.  The abilities are tremendous.  Such goes for the shear magnitude of the solar system, the galaxy, the cosmos at large.  These are some of the epiphanies that are innately within each of us.  Where does it end?  Does it end?  Is our imagination somehow an immaterial signal of the illusion of space-time as I believe Albert Einstein was procuring?  

    We are in a way making room for what the new art will be together in these pages, my imagination mixing with your unique and I would say holy imagination.  Such is the magic of the written word whether seen through paper or pixel, or sometimes better yet, the spoken word as it travels speaker to listener (and sometimes back again) in a kind of precise and quasi-perfect form of expression leaving absolutely no trace or extra expenditure.  

    Think about how making art only through sharing ideas, through conversation and possible body gestures could help the environment, not just now on earth but if placed within the context of an intergalactic space mission.  Dancing relates to this as well.  Everything we need, we already have innately.  If our minds are prepped in this way we will be able to deal better with ourselves and each other with fewer and fewer  physical things, putting emphasis more on a sense of authentic relating.  Acclimation is going to be an issue on the space ark.  Art may be a gateway or portal for how best to establish a healthy, creative and peaceful attitude.  

    Such, when we converse wether whole heartedly or in a light manner we are stoking and enlivening our interior and as such setting up illuminations of the exterior with our higher and higher states of attuned, informed and spirited consciousness.  

    We will look for sometimes subtly different, sometimes radically different things in the world after a good conversation, or even after a bad conversation for that matter.  There is a certain sense of being environmental with this notion of the conversation as art as I have mentioned and a kind of fundamental and highly function element of our humanity.  We are dealing with the immaterial, the emotive, the intellectual, the intuitive, the impetuousness, the fevered, the hungry and the starved.  

We are each prone to becoming starved for nutrient-rich conversations that feed the soul, nourish the heart, illuminate and stoke the intellect and bring a person in total health to life and perhaps beyond.  For we must each wait for our particular portal to transpire in that way, what we describe as death or a passing, in order to truly know what such a transition consists of, if it consists of anything at all and if it is in fact knowable.  

    This is the magical gift I wish to bring to your attention.  There is no equipment necessary.  We are the art.  We are the ways, means and ends.  We are the content and the construct.  We share life experience which is a type of currency that cannot be transferred in as a direct way or as potent as through a heart to heart conversation.  That is is why breakups are respectfully done in person.  

    There is something to the kinesthetic presence in all that arises in that transpersonal arena we all share, an arena with no bounds mind you that is more a manner of thinking and approaching the world rather than what one finds there.  Such is the artistic attitude that I have spoken of in other writings of mine.  It brings us to the magic of that realm which exists between the everyday and art, where a new way of thinking about it all shines forth and comes to our aid in procuring a fresh, brilliant life for ourselves. Thus we can see that there is still work to be done here before we get to go forward with what it is we will actually be doing so to speak because all of that in a way comes after setting our hearts in the right pattern with our wish.  We must stoke on, in the page and in the power of presence!

 

Part III

The Artistic Attitude

 

Chapter Nine

 

    Before I go on to address what I feel the artistic attitude is I want to say a little about myself.  I think that it will lend some levity to these passages and also make some of the ideas that I am attempting to communicate here more relatable.  I think it is important to give some context about where, so to speak, these ideas are being processed.  It is never a good time to tell someone that you have been mentally ill.  It comes out in a sort of lurch in most instances that tends to potentially quickly reframe everything that is being said.  I say this to you not to upset you but to bring you in that much closer to where I am in my journey and to let you know that no matter what you are going through there is hope beyond hope for what will ultimately become of us. 

    I say this also because I believe we have to come to terms with our own circumstance in order to be fully the human beings we are in good ways capable of being!  Existence gets turbulent.  Art gets turbulent sometimes.  Living is that which takes a tole but also in taking that tole, renews, refurbishes, retains that art flame that was there before we were even born and will rightly be there after we die.  

    To say that I was mentally ill is no small fete for me.  It deals with a profound sense of shame that I am just now getting to more fully understand.  It is as if I did the nastiest thing of all in life and defiled my ability to process life in a natural way.  I, of course, did no such thing.  I have only been good (all things being equal), only truthful in my coming to terms with my predicament as a human being. 

    It takes guts to admit to yourself, really admit to yourself, that you are “just” a human being.  For me that was my dearest mistake in life, to see being human as something that is diminutive.  No God or Devil can truly take from us what we are innately born with, our truth to power!  I want to tell you here in my own humble way that life itself is a beautiful expression of the ineffable.  That is not to say that it is not expressible but rather that it is revealed in a very artful manner.  And I know that you may innately know this and believe it too but I believe it helps when we gently remind each other of this in a good-spirited way. 

    Thus it is a call from beyond, I believe, that draws us forth in life and harnesses our good for good ends, purposes and powerful, powerful discoveries.  Let’s for once put away the past and the future, the before life and the after life and let us instead have the strength, the true inner strength to really live, fully, right here, right now, wherever and whenever you are reading this to say to ourselves first I am a creator and I have the power to create a massively awesome life to the best of my abilities and my abilities are awesome.  Truly awesome.  

    Everything else falls away, most readily negativity.  We are left with our truth, that center of which I have spoken of over the course of these pages.  You have a center inside of you and it too is the center of all that there is and is not.  It is that absence as presence again.  It is massive I know, but get used to it because from here on out it is going to be an awesome journey and being prepared with what I am calling the artistic attitude is going to be essential to understanding and making sense of all that happens and just as important what does not happen!  It all matters and is all a way of telling us a story as we ourselves tell a story just by being alive.  It just pours out of us.  In some sense it becomes a conversation between you and the universe this time instead of between you and another person.  

    Sometimes, I think it helps to personify the universe and I think that comes from the center of which I speak, the center and truth that is with us all.  It is a mystery.  Never forget that you are this center and truth and for as much as they are illusory tools of distinction they serve a purpose for us as we are here on Earth.  They make palatable, convincing and even hopeful that which would otherwise be a terrible calamity.  We choose life because we want this calamity to fall away and we know that it is possible.  As I write these words to you now I feel it in my bones that this is true.  We are the engineers of the world as it stands now.  We are co-creators united at the center of all centers which transforms into an infinity, an eternalness, a glorious, rapturous temple of now that is already present in everything we touch, do and say.  This is the art that I speak of.    

    Believe in yourself!  Believe in yourself as a fine and cherished art work.  Cherish yourself!  Cherish absolutely every, minute detail about your being, your body, your mind and know that even if it gets sick reality will go on and that you are this reality!  I know this may sound like a lot for a book that may have been billed as the second coming of art but honestly this is it.  This is the work, the energy that is being brought forth in you and me as this is written and read.  It is a dance.  I offer you kindly the chance to dance.  

    We come to know each other’s center in this way and awesome power is unleashed that is already flowing within and without all things in the world of worlds.  It could end up that there are many, many other worlds out there.  Just look how tremendously vast and potentially diverse the cosmos is.  So many stars out there are ventured to have planets that may very well be hospitable to life.  And what of the edge of the cosmos?  What of a beyond to that?  Has your mind ever traveled to that point before?  Even still you are already there in your imagination, I believe.  It is through your imagination that you will become the artist you were always meant to be, the one your dreams knew about before you were born.  This is how life surprises us in some very wonderful ways.  

    It is because the truth, our truth and the truth of truths is not always, if even ever, what we thought it might be.  My heart hurts in writing that.  It is a very hard lesson to share and to share in.  But I believe that the truth will in fact set us free, free from suffering and free from a concept of ourselves that was processed as a function of outside influences and forces not from our truth center which is our God-given innate right.    Press on warriors of the world!  Press on into horizons more bright.  Now is the time for you to discover truth.  I wish that for us all right here…              

  

    Chapter Ten

 

    Art as we know it is over.  But do not get upset.  Well, maybe get a little upset and then just learn to let it all go and get into what it is you were meant to do here.  Arthur Danto was right but he did not take it far enough.  These are my heartfelt thoughts in any event which I wish to share with you now.  The days of real art (or art being made real) and artists really living are on the rise!  The star of a new kind of knowledge is rising now and will shed light all across the land.  Honestly, I believe this is so.

     As our awareness rises in our heart of what it is that brings about change in the world we come to know a better way of doing things.  And it is in our innate nature not our prescribed nature that this will come to fruition.  We sew the binds of reality ourselves.  The viewer brings art to life (a mighty call to learn to love one another if ever there was one)!  Make it live with every breath we breath into the dream.  We are actually generating it.  This is the liberation I wish to share with you.  There is no end to the night that is inside of you but just the same there is nothing to stop the light from shining throughout, completely.  

    This is what you may find upon entering the glorious world, the gate of the world now as it stands, eternally now, infinitely now.  All else falls away.  In this we come to know our true selves, our true nature.  There is no more illusion to be had.  All comes from the absolute heart center of life and living.  There is in fact nothing else in all of reality.  

    This is the art flame.  That raging, burning, knowing that, though acknowledgement takes place, says no to the lies and uplifts us in every way possible.  The art flame carries us forth and also the artistic attitude for as we come to know, truly know ourselves as art and artist we see the boundaries fade away between the forms of this world and find that a through-spirit erupts in all of being to the extent that we are of its flames innately.

    The question becomes, how do we cultivate an awareness to truly conduce the artistic attitude?  First, we must truly identify the preciousness of our lives as they stand in coordination with the flux of all creation, all reality.  There are certain ways to raise this awareness.  Reading of loving kindness and compassion, generosity and wisdom are good places to start.  Learning to listen is another extremely important aspect.  One’s art comes forth in one’s truest heart center.  Listening unlocks this.  And that heart center is truly connected to all of life’s transactions and unfolding.  

    Tapping into our truest self and seeing beyond the illusion of the world brings us closer to a true state of the art.  Wisdom guides our source through the many trials and pitfalls that emerge as a byproduct of incarnation and manifestation.   There is no turning away from the matter of life.  Galleries and museums are modes that though, of a certain kind of service, bring us from the innate and in-life flow which all art inevitably goes.  It is a matter of the heart and head not of brick and mortar.  I would  hope that the many people employed at galleries and museums would have their hearts smile at this development.  New instances begin to take flight.  That time, for instance, when one lies in the darkness as one prepares for sleep, wherever and whenever that may be, there we are in the thick of art!  This is a true time, just as any other for inscribing art.  And we bring it forth through what we beckon and allow into our thoughts before transitioning into slumber.  We may be aided by a smart phone or not in these instances but ultimately it is within us that art arises and circulates!  We are the art! 

    Likewise we find art smack dap in the middle of having a meal or making love.  Art is all of these as well.  We are in effect constantly retouching an ever-malleable swirl that we call life, the world and so on.  Such is our art.  And in so doing we bring our ability to create and co-create with us, in the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the dreams we dream and so on.  The art flame brings us to this understanding that all that falls within our given light is a dimension of art being enacted through our living it.  This is how any object whatsoever becomes a part of art.  Marcel Duchamp’s development of the readymade was a significant pivot in helping us understand how this is so.  For it is not simply that any object can be said to be art by placing it in a gallery or museum but rather each object and phenomenon already has art in it to begin with.  

    The artistic attitude replaces in this way the idea of institutionalization as a means for deciphering what is art.  We do not need the physical or even the immaterial network of being that espouses itself as the art world in order to tell us what is art and so forth.  We can transcend this and I believe we rightly should as a community.  Taking up the artistic attitude transforms our differentiations back into their core states of being and also offers a through-continuity to all that transpires, in action and deed, production and purpose.  That is not to say that we should not go on enlivening one another but that the strictures of the art world need not remain in place in order for communication, inspiration and creative continuity to take place.

    In acknowledging this innate illumination of all that manifests as an art essence we identify and give rise to the true power and potential of art, for it comes out in absolutely all that we do, all that we are and all that we seek to become.  In this way, art takes on a place of spirit itself and brings forth a new understanding of what it means to exist, as both a human being and beyond.  Art comes to stand as a certain kind of understanding, an art world essentially but not one that has feeble definitions and conventions like the skeletons of centuries past.  I say this with reverence for the lives that accompanied those skeletons.  Instead, however, there is a living, thriving pulse in all that there is and this, this is the art world, ever changing, ever adapting.  Yes, it happens in physical objects designated as art by physical and social contexts but it is so much more dynamic than that.  All, absolutely all, which is upon us, can be seen, I feel, through the eyes, and more importantly through the heart, as art.  

 

Chapter Eleven

 

    To say that art takes on a role of spirit is not to say that one thing takes over another but instead we come to know that one has always been the other and so forth.  The distinguishing of spirit from art is only in as much as there is no differentiation but that conceiving of life as art gives one and all the understanding that creation is unfolding from within and is actively creating not only that which stands but also that which stood and will stand in a more general and abstract way under the title reality.  Thus we see that our lives are a part of this art continuity and we see the importance of bettering ourselves and developing ourselves by engaging with ourselves as the world, as art in action.  

    This subtle shift in understanding is exceedingly important and impactful in that it brings us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and empowers us as the co-creators we truly are to embark on a journey that culls forth as we go, different and new ways of being, thinking and living.  We come to see and know that we are the life-source.  We are the power of life, though in our own aspect.  As such then we can help to bring about with our attitude, openness and generous spirit that which is all around us, within us, throughout us as a matter of art.  

    Communing with art as all in this way is precisely what brings about a deeper and deeper understanding of art that is not simply about representation or even ideas alone but rather a full understanding itself of our life experience as art.  Thus it is the weight behind the events that unfold that beckon us on to the meaning within the narrative that unfolds, a meaning that is beyond any one of us, beyond the quality or bounds, the shear nature of narrative itself.  In that I seek to tell you a truth in theses passages, not simply a story.  We are talking here about something which has a through-quality amongst all stories, a kind of realm or realms that permeates all being everywhere and as such this through-quality is art.  

    As such there is no stricture to what art as the craft of life can become yet I personally espouse kindness, good natured critical contemplation, deliverance and purity of thought, spirit, deed and action to be among the very most precious and uplifting manifestations of art itself.  Deed may become the most prominent art form yet.  We have the power within us to be anything, though the wisdom traditions show us and hopefully teach us that we must maintain respect and dignity for ourselves, for others and for all creation as we register in life as art, as presence.  It must be acknowledged and appreciated that through technology, travel and a proliferation of information we can now learn as an entire world from all the many wisdom traditions to find our center, our center as a world community.  It is the space between which connects us.  

    I wish very much to say here that I do not mean to intimate that people will not feel horrible sometimes, that they will not feel longing and what feels like inescapable pain, suffering, isolation and heartache.  But as my work with meditation has shown me, we can learn to control how we react to life events and this makes all the difference in the world.  I have to say that as a youth I very much enjoyed peering into my emotional wounds, they fascinated me and I think they offered me some sort of sadistic inspiration which lead to me burning myself out.  These ways were not sustainable.  We have only to look at the many suicides and substance abuse cases of artists from time immemorial to see these dangers.  

    I feel that we ultimately have to learn to heal these wounds if we are to subsist.  There is no doubt that art in the past has been used as catharsis, and in some very tremendous ways, exploring thoughts of killing and destruction and pain-making in innumerable ways very much because such things happen in life as the news of any given night will show.              

    However, it is my premise that when enacted fully, art itself always becomes an edifying, constitutive and constructive formulation.  There may be some gray areas as there always seem to be but on the whole, art lifts us up as individuals and communities precisely sometimes because it engages with very dark feelings of isolation, loneliness, pain, suffering and so forth. Some of the best art I experienced in my youth dealt precisely with this, with articulating the wretched pain that is felt as a part of the human condition.  There is even more to be explored in that same way and others.   Art is all, but I believe that edification is at its heart and that we should be filled up by this for ourselves as society.

 

    Chapter Twelve

 

    It must be said, I feel, that art as presence, even if it is an absence as presence, is something that is brought forth for consideration in this writing very much but it must be remembered that representation and mimesis are still very much expressions of the art flame.  It is just that such a state becomes an option of many in the deliberation and culling forth of genuine, humane and artful living.  I want to make it clear that I very much believe in the efforts of the many around the world who do make art objects, paintings, sculptures, sound installations, songs, videos and much, much more.  I do this as well however I see a need to go beyond this now, a sincere and profound call to go beyond!   

    It must be also said that as art is the craft of life there is no expression that escapes this formulation or witnessing of this circumstance however the degrees of the art flame are diminished as they travel from that which is made of genuine love, love which is made all the more stronger when it draws forth from love of self as love for others in the context of love for all of creation.  

    This is where purpose and power come from, love, nothing else.  Whether known or unknown, this is the case.  I believe hate falls away like any other kind of negativity as we rise within ourselves.  And I believe that it is our innate nature to rise!  And we each will do so the more that we are listened to.  That is another reason why listening is such an important factor for the coming age as curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has intimated.  We must always remember, that which is crafting, may not be a reflection of who we innately are.  We must be able to accept ourselves regardless of the flux however.  This is important as well, not to excuse our faults but to be at peace with them.  Life calls for an unfolding. I feel that we are lead to a dance, and again, change by not changing.  Life in this way is the dancer and we, the dance.  Such is the art that I speak of.

 

 

 

Cultivating the Artistic Attitude

 

    As I have stated before in other writings, there is something called the natural attitude in philosophy which stands in distinction to the philosophical attitude.  The natural attitude has one thinking about such things as what time it is, where to go for vacation and what to eat for dinner.  The philosophical attitude has one thinking about such things as who am I, what is the meaning of life and what is art?  The artistic attitude, I propose, offers us a means for accessing, drawing forth and sharing what it is we are experiencing in everyday life such that our tastes, personal philosophies and conceptions of ourselves and the world get engaged with in full and put into play through everyday living.  Mind you I do not mean strictly the hum drum of everyday life such as washing clothes, bathing, preparing a meal and so forth but I do mean to include those as well.  

    We have to begin to think outside of the entire structure of the art world as it has been described to us by Author Danto, George Dickie and many, many others.    Their prevailing conception was one that typified our consciousness and resultant activities at a particular time, however our consciousness, I feel, can go beyond that now.  Life is not institutionalized, not in its truest sense.  And what is art but life itself, truly, or more specifically the craft of life itself?  I repeat this conception because it is critically important.  Something that we need to gently and carefully begin to guide our minds and hearts away from is the idea that art is some thing that is made in a studio and then interfaced with in the space time continuum through a gallery or museum (I know I have said this many, many times but it is important to reiterate as we continue to explore what art can be).  Instead we can say that art is simply some thing made and then interfaced with in the space time continuum, always as an aspect of something larger.  Important to note is that sometimes to make means to uncover and arrive at an experience simply by listening more actively with one’s whole being, body or both.  

    I want to say that it is not as if all institutions are inherently bad they in fact serve some very benevolent and constructive purposes.  But I do believe that the mindset about masterworks has to change.  We the people are the masterworks on par excellence with creation itself.  You cannot take it with you.  As I have likened them before, the gallery and museum have been like cocoons.  The metamorphosis has taken place.  It is now time for art to reenter the domain of all reality (there may be other institutions that arise but I beg you allow that to arise organically).  

    To my sense there is a shedding of all materiality in a way that leads one specifically to personhood, character building and so forth.  But in all actuality there is a bit of transformation in between that takes place where folks of all walks of life, from all cultures, times and places begin to open the gift of the art flame and come to truly know what their creative powers fully hold within them.  

    This is why firstly, we have the opportunity to experience new kinds of projects in between what we have previously distinguished as art and reality.  This is where mindfulness comes into play.  We begin to hone in on the miraculous nature of every living thing, creature and person.  In this sense then also, the artistic attitude begins to gently place a stronger emphasis on listening than only on constructing.  Creativity in this way becomes as much about cuing in to what is already there before us as it does placing our creative hand within that stream of apparitions, phenomena and knowledge and transmuting it into something which serves a human need or desire.  

    In this sense though, the active listening, the deep witnessing of the miraculous nature of the world in a way becomes a creative act in the sense that nothing can be said to exist without that which apprehends it through consciousness.  Of course things do exist beyond entering into human consciousness but at the same time they do not quite reach a level that we would call reality in an active sense.  Not to mince words though.  One could say reality and mean the entire spectrum of known and unknown phenomena.  In a way we can begin to think of art as this sort of scanning out into the entire field of phenomena and using the deep listening to issue forth knowledge, understanding and so forth.  One great example of this is watching a program like Planet Earth II where the flora and fauna of the Earth are made witness-able through a television or computer screen.  Animals and land formations from the Earth that completely defy the imagination are there for viewing.  It is easy to accept this information as common but it is truly miraculous that we are able to access, interface and engage with it regardless of time and place.  

    

Chapter Thirteen

 

    If we can say that the truth is at the center of things then it stands to reason that truth may be indescribable in that there are no more relational comparisons to be found, no up or down, left or right and so forth of the matter.  Imagining a target and envisioning the very center illustrates this dynamic.  There is no spatial variety with which to describe the coordinates of the dead center. 

    It may stand also that our conception of art as central no longer has relational qualities relative only to other finite, ephemeral material manifestations.  This is why we must consider that there may yet come a time when art is no longer about producing anything at all but simply the practice or coalescence of being.  It may be hard to figure what that exactly means in the present moment and I get that for many folks.  We are so used to the idea that an artist is someone who makes something and then through various channels, currently galleries and museum, that which is made gets shared, which still as of now in 2018, is still very much a plastic thing or at the very least an exhibition of some localized phenomenon rather than an exchange.  

    But as all of the cliches hint to, how the author is dead, the 4th wall has been broken down and so forth there may yet come a time when we no longer expect to be fed something but instead eat from what is already there.  This is, as I have said before, why conversation is so vital to what art has become.  It is that exchange of ideas, feelings, thoughts and emotions that actually is the center which is stirred by plastic reality but not confronted as with eye to eye, in person experiences.  The old adage of a person learning to fish versus being given a fish comes to mind and heart here.  The more we promote a creative life the more we become our own artist and art and then when interfacing with others it becomes more of a conversation and true exchange rather than simply an imbibing.  

    I get it, there are some folks who use plastic reality to express themselves and will feel saddened and maybe even threatened by this change of conception but I truly feel that all of material reality is a giant prop for the main event happening within us.  This is why we say we are moved by things.  If we tap into that which moves in this manor of speaking then we too become a part of the magic.  We are in the act of creation itself.  

    Again, we all are artists (and I have learned of Joseph Beuys speaking in this sort of fashion as well).  It is my feeling that we all are art as well and that creation is about sharing care through wonder (it is about a great many other things but at its core I feel it must remain this).  In other words our understanding of this is a manifestation of awe of creation.  The trend of participation in art works leads us to this opening up of the entire field or realm of being to be fully enacted as an art enterprise.  We come to see that art in this way is actually in the stream or flow of life itself.  This radically changes how we think of material reality.  Materials, whether arranged or not, do not house meaning.  And this is why I love Danto’s definition of art so much, because we are the embodied meaning, we are meaning embodied, literally.  Whatever we look to dead material to find we ourselves bring it, with us.  At the very least we are an ingredient and would venture to say a key ingredient at that.

    All of this art then has been as a night, reflecting like the moon, a powerful source of light, the fire of day.  As I have stated, I do not mean to diminish people’s efforts in plasticity.  I think that those efforts were and remain infinitely special in their own right.  I myself have procured these.  However, I believe that our art flames are done reflecting.  The art flame wants to burn bright in its own regard.  

    The historical record and development particularly in the Western tradition which I am most familiar with is calling out for this to be the case.  I want to say that I am sure there is art being made everywhere not just in a Western tradition and so forth but there are limits to one’s knowledge and in any event I feel this change is ready to take place now on a massive scale drawing on all of the art traditions and avant-garde movements from around the world.  

    It is time we hold our hearts closer to the flame now and become that which is ignited throughout all creation, that which swirls lovingly as art.  And as our hearts move closer and closer, one day our flames will turn into one great fire, an art fire.  A sea of fire, with waves of flames, traveling out beyond our current point of inception.  This will be a generous light.  Our eyes, lit like stars, all drawn in close together, churning like a piston, like a great explosion sustained, burning through all blocks, enraptured, inspired and alive!  Such is the art fire.

 

Chapter Fourteen

How do we work with this new art?

 

    The place to begin in these regards, I feel, is with mindfulness, heartfulness and meditation.  Bringing one’s self into alignment with the nature of creation, with the nature of being is vital, similar to tuning a fine instrument.  We must be conscious of our efforts.  Yes, of course, music so to speak can happen at random as John Cage taught us, yet it is through the development of ourselves that the music of the spheres begins to be played in full through our expeditions had in our everyday life.  We can bring about great change just with our attitude.  The artistic attitude is a part of this.  We may rightly ask, what does it mean to be an artist now?  What does it mean to be art?  Or more specifically how do we take up the artistic attitude?

    Everyday we can come to know this more and more fully.  Meditation, even a simple practice of 10 minutes a day can extremely open up the pathways of understanding one’s self and others in seriously awesome ways.  In this way, we become primed to interact with others as we ourselves are brought into alignment, right being, centered, grounded and lit, ready to fly in our own unique and miraculous natures.  

    Just as artists of old had to know about reality in order to make an illusion of it so too do birds know where the ground is when flying.  We come to know the mystery more and more as we delve into our own power source of energy, feelings, thoughts and emotions and really come to understand things about ourselves, discover ourselves, which in the end was the purpose of historical art in my estimation.  Self discovery is within our grasp at all times, in all places. 

    And let me say that I feel this new era and dawn of art as being the craft of life itself has the potential to truly be just that, a brand new era of how art is conceived of and also how it is enacted.  It is not time yet I feel to begin to imagine yet just what that might actually look like, though that may be revealed over time. 

    I am more just setting the table so to speak for what is to come.  This is essentially the joining together of meditation with creativity to help bring about or conduce what it is we want to be a part of in the world.  Some ideas that come to mind are activism, technology, science as just a glimmer of how the artistic attitude may be practiced.  There will be even spheres of knowledge and practice that have not yet been imagined.  And they will be in line with art as a through-circulating phenomenon, a supra-sensual, beyond sensation phenomenon.    

    I must tell you finally what it is truly that is important with art, that it be kind, that it be open, that it be true, that it be willful, that it not step down from it’s most powerful place.  Gratitude, positivity, hope, love and sheer brilliance comes forth naturally when we learn to let go of the negativity that is not even truly alive!  The negativity is an illusion.  Our sadness is real but the negativity is not.  We have the power of attitude to guide us.  We have it within us to pick our heads up and face the day anew, each morning, everyday, until our time to transition, to die comes for us, not we for it.  

    Only love that strong could bring us out of our own innate love of life, even those that are pessimistic, even those that doubt.  We are a burning raging fortress placed as an infinitesimally small speck in an infinite sea of night, but we are not alone.  The world keeps us company.  And we will find our ways together into a new time.

    Unleash your broken dreams.  The time is now to bring forth your wishes and spend, spend, spend!  You can’t take it with you.  I don’t mean money either.  I mean your dream dollars that you have been saving up this whole time for your chance to live and to live again.  Use this writing as a moment to pivot and see within yourself, that you are change itself and that there is no greater force in the entire universe other than your own beating heart.  You are alive, goddamnit and you deserve to be heard.  And what is more, you, you are the one to listen!  Listen to yourself now and come to life finally.  Be who you truly are.  No more lies.  No more shoveling it all around.  Wake up!  Be who you truly are and rise through the ash of the world to be born as the genius that you are, innately.  For genius, like stardust, is inside of us all.  Let it burn brightly.

 

Copyright © 2018 Jon Keppel All Rights Reserved

Taking Place

Taking Place by Jon Keppel  

 

The idea of the world as an extended domain in which a variety of actors and entities intermingle is a worldview that has emerged over the course of centuries and from many different sources.  The acquisition or reckoning of self-consciousness is something that has developed simultaneously with the idea of boundless objectivity.  That is to say, as self-awareness and self-concern have grown more prominent so too has the consideration for that which is not the self, that by which the self is born and distinguishes itself.  Along with this sense of existential autonomy, the idea of the individual mind has also gained a great amount of influence.  It is generally thought that human beings have a kind of personal cache of intelligence that is conceived as being, before all else, housed in and around one’s head.  To a lesser degree the mind is thought to branch out from this locus by means of one’s bodily senses, along with various fabricated instruments of detection and any of a number of technologies that let one perceive from a distance.  

This definition of the individual as a part of the world that interacts with other parts of that same world in dynamic but irresolvable ways is tantamount to the principles that are at the core of the subject to object dichotomy.  The idea of the world as a place brings about these roles: the here and the there, the now and the then, the self and the Other, the viewer and the viewed.  At the same time, viewing the world in this way brings about a number of important considerations in regards to the nature and authenticity of what it means to inhabit an experiential world.  It is fair to ponder whether this distinction is the result of an observation or a choice.   

    Essential to the subject to object dichotomy is the concept and perceived reality of space.  Space both separates and connects the subject to the object and vice versa, similar to a how a referee operates in a sporting match.  In this way of thinking, two distinct entities co-habiting a common objective realm are engaged by their disparity.  This disparity is constantly being renegotiated, which in turn reconstitutes the appearance of the object and the perspectives available to the viewer.  This act of resituating, no matter how subtle, exacerbates the available appearances to the extent that an object is never viewed in its entirety.  In a sense, the concept and adjoining experience of an entire object becomes problematic, arguably approaching something unfathomable.  

The depth and diversity of appearances radiating from any given object that lay at the subject’s disposal provide such a dense and contingent welter of information that one must not only cordon off other objects and phenomena that surround an intended object of focus, but one must also cordon off certain aspects of that object’s own appearances in order to establish a meaningful relationship with it.  What is more, one must behold those chosen attributes in a certain way in order to facilitate correspondence.  So it is not just the fact that the subject is limited to only certain faces of an object that inhibits the ability to perceive directly the totality of an object but also the incomprehensibly diverse and conditional nature of the face that the subject does see.  

In the Phenomenology of Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty makes clear the problematic nature of deciphering the normal state of any given thing.  Trying to imagine an object in total isolation, such that its appearances are not affected by surrounding forces becomes inconceivable.  Factors like humidity, quality of light (both natural and artificial) and shear spatial distance, to name a few, come to play pivotal roles in establishing the appearance of any given object.  For example, an apple found on a tree in an orchard beneath the light of the sun would appear much differently if taken indoors and lit by a tungsten bulb.  The nature of the light helps to establish the nature of the perceived object. 

It is not however simply the object that one perceives.  As Merleau-Ponty states, drawn from his mentor Franz Brentano, consciousness is an intentional act.  Perception, therefore, is not only consciousness of something but it is a certain kind of consciousness directed at a particular aspect of that something.  This observation extends to the related statement that the mind can take on only one thing at a time and in a sequential order.  Likewise, it can take on only one aspect of that something and in a sequential order.  Thinking about the apple again, consider walking into a dimly lit room.  One must first bracket out all of the other objects contained in that room in order to peer directly at that which is perceived to be an apple sitting on a table.  In looking at this placed object it may appear dull, smooth and crimson.  Upon turning on the light, we may notice that there is in fact a good amount of green scattered throughout the skin.  What is more, if we approach the apple and sit down at the table to inspect it further, placing our nose very close to the surface, we may notice a great many other shades of milky browns, burnt oranges and so on.  Upon picking the apple up and turning it in our hand we may notice that the other side is almost entirely green and that the side that we had been peering at which seemed to be spherical is in fact more like an ellipse.    

These are the types of experiences that one has when interacting with the apparent face of an object.  What once appeared simple suddenly becomes complex, dynamic, articulate and sometimes strange.  What was once wide becomes narrow; what staggered, pales.  When we look into the face of another, we cannot see the back of their head, nor can we see our own.  As we circumnavigate such things in the world as an apple, a table or a person we come to know them in the round.  That is to say, as we survey such objects and move about we gather information from bifurcated moments in time that when recalled can be collected and dynamically displayed in the mind as mental impressions.  We bare witness to that which, moments ago and from a certain perspective, was concealed.  So too do we, through observation of the world, incrementally reveal parts of our own person, our own hidden totality, our own nature, that, only moments ago, were concealed.  

The act of circumnavigation is an important aspect of our perceptual life, in that it unfolds that which is bound or obscured by space and time.  This however is ancillary in regards to that which is chosen in the face that one does see; the one that we are given moment by moment.  For this relationship is that which establishes the teeming sea of flickering memories and reflections, subtle and instantaneous determinations that pair, un-pair and pair again in the night of one’s mind.  Before these constellations can take flight though, each unique cell of illumination must be birthed by the interplay between the mind and that which it takes as its object.  If we imagine once again to be seated in front of the apple on the table, we stare for a moment taking in the fact that there is perhaps much more green than red.  As we become more familiar and accepting of this, our past determinations and impressions begin to recede and fade until we acknowledge that we are in fact looking at a green apple not a red one and in so doing are now able to project, or extract as the case may be, any number of appropriate associations to that which we know to be a green apple in the world. 

We may think of the paintings of Rene Magritte.  We may think of that well-known Beatles’ album.  We may consider whether the apple is a Granny Smith, a Golden Delicious or a yet-to-be-ripened Fuji.  We might think about its taste, whether it is tart, sweet or sour.  We might think about the word apple, its letters, its pronunciation or its etymology.  We may think about the word apple written out in different fonts, with different kerning and in different languages.  All the while, that which stands before us has not changed its physical makeup and yet it has changed its status as we project our own stocks of knowledge onto its face and mine, bit by bit, from its symbolic history and our own.  Its presence informs our thoughts and our thoughts inform its presence producing new potential usages, messages, meanings, utilities and values.  It transforms for us and in so doing, transforms its very appearance.

    In order for this type of exchange to be possible though, the object of focus must, before all else, either naturally rise or intentionally be drawn to the surface of all other available phenomena, both externally and internally.  In sitting down to peer at the apple, one has in a sense shooed away all other surrounding objects, phenomena and events in order to have the opportunity to consider it as a particular of the world, as an object.  At the same time, one has also shooed away all other forms of extraneous inner considerations such as superfluous thoughts, unrelated memories, and imaginary fantasies in order to focus the mind directly at the object, like a gun to a target.  The outer and inner horizons find a common vanishing point, aligning at a single physical location (in perceptual studies this is often referred to as the zero-point).  Consciousness finds a way to anchor itself in the material world and to distinguish a coordinate by choosing a point of contact.  The spectacle of the world is momentarily subordinated.  One gives oneself to the object and in-so-doing, the object becomes a screen by which one’s own personal biography can join with one’s general knowledge of the world to produce an experience.  The two can join in ways unique to the relationship formed between that particular subject and object, and yet, through language, signs and other social means of engagement, remain communicable to the world. 

    A physicist for example may envision the molecular makeup of the apple, the various sugars and pectin lying beneath its fiber-rich skin.  A baker may devise the ways in which the apple can be prepared as a part of various dishes and desserts.  An entrepreneur, on the other hand, may consider the apple in light of its market value thinking about the labor it takes to pick, package and ship the apple to have it sitting there on the table.  Each person forges a unique relationship to the intended object of focus.  Still, the apple, whatever an apple is, sits there before one in the world as a matter of fact.  It can, at anytime, regardless of its perceived ontological character, be picked up and eaten.  Our thoughts and interpretations, desires and intentions do not on their own change the materiality of an object.  However, when paired correctly with appropriately calibrated acts, certain thoughts can be transferred into the substantive world and analogously transform what they find there.     

    For example, the physicist could have a theory about the subatomic makeup of an apple and decide to place the apple in an atom smasher in order to study its molecular structure.  Its protons and electrons would literally be resituated in hopes of mirroring the hypothesis.  The baker could set out to achieve a similar effect, though on a more macroscopic level.  Perhaps a certain consistency in the apple’s flesh is desired for a particular type of dumpling, whereby it is placed into a heated oven and made to soften.  Similarly, the entrepreneur could foresee a type of apple staying fresher, and therefore more likely to yield a return, when placed in a certain type of environment.  The apple could be placed in a climate-controlled warehouse, whereby its physical qualities would be preserved and its shelf-life extended. In each case, the individual’s conceived interests transform the materiality of the apple in a way that reflects an intentional thought.  The apple is transformed, yet not so much that it is no longer an apple.   

    In other words, it is not that one can in a sense think an apple into another piece of fruit such as an orange.  However, if one can find a correct relationship between one’s intentions and the physical attributes of objects available, one can transform a chosen object towards a certain end by transferring a thought from the mind into the material, and thus perceivable, world.  This applies not only to how individual objects are constituted and conferred with meaning (i.e. how different types of apples get their name and culinary reputation) but also to how objects gather meaning, both rhetorical and intentional, when juxtaposed alongside other objects in space and time (an apple set next to the bible could conjure up a very specific type of association).  Fully developed thought then becomes in a sense the way in which the physical world is arranged by intentional acts.  These acts find their impetus in those articulate images, mentioned earlier, that are strewn from dynamic, though ambiguous, impressions in the mind.  This is how the inner life of the mind finds a way to take place in the world as we generally use the term.  

    We see however that this process remains a subtly two-way street.  One’s perception of an object can be guided by one’s intentions, which are influenced by one’s interpretation of an object.  These interpretations can be colored by one’s unique stock of knowledge, which has been gained from previous experiences with the perceivable world.  The physicist may not notice that the apple is not spherical because he is not concerned with the dimensions of the apple.  The baker however will notice this in deciding whether or not a certain apple will make a nice presentation for a dumpling.  Likewise, the baker may not notice that a particular type of apple may yield certain striking images when placed under a microscope regardless of its outer shape.  Depending on the circumstances, neither person may actually pick the apple up and do anything at all with it based on their own personal assessment of what an apple is, what it should be, what about it is important and what it should be use for. 

    An object’s potential to facilitate these meanings and achieve these usages however does not necessarily stem exclusively from its own material substance and structure but also its ability to connect with and separate from other material objects in both simple and complex ways.  Objects, whether they emerge organically into the world or are manufactured there, are aggregates.  That is to say, they are made up of parts.  They each have constituents of their own and many times stand as constituents of greater unities and systems of which those unities are a part.  An apple, for example, is that which is consistently made up of varying determinable parts.  It has a skin, a stem, flesh, seeds and so on.  These characteristics are after all how we know that it is an apple in the first place and recognize it as such.  Conversely, an apple comes from a tree: a whole of which it formerly was a part.  That which we know to be a tree in the world has its own set of varying determinable parts such as a root, a trunk, a branch, a leaf and in some cases a fruit.  This observation offers an entry into how the mind discerns one attribute from another when scanning, or considering, the apparent face of an object, person or place.  It also hints at how the mind creates schemas in order to relate wholes to parts and vice versa.

    If we place the physicist, baker and entrepreneur all in the same exact spot, one after another, each will be faced with the same view of the apple.  Each will have the same line of sight and surface to take in and yet each one’s mind will be prompted to search for and react to different characteristics of that face.  Light reflected from the apple will enter the pupil of each at the exact same angle and intensity, stimulating and patterning the rods and cones that it finds there in similar fashion.  Each one however will edit, pair and relate this raw sensory information in their own way.  Their intentions and biases will tend to make their minds gravitate towards certain bits of incoming data and discard others.  The baker may pick up on the smoothness of the apple’s skin, or the lack thereof, and make a judgment about its ripeness and therefore its taste.  The entrepreneur may focus instead on a tiny localized sore spot that is superficial, not effecting the taste of the apple ultimately, yet lessening its visual appeal, and thus its potential to attract a buyer.  

    In the dichotomy of the subject to object worldview, consciousness erupts into the world as the mind and the body attain various positions in space and orient themselves in relationship to other people, objects and places.  This process of orientation continues though even after a physical perspective has been determined.  The body momentarily calms its endless locomotion and commits itself to a particular perspective of a given thing.  The mind however continues surveying the object by assessing the face that that perspective yields.  The mind, guided by the will, subdivides the various attributes of that thing’s apparent face to determine where certain elements begin and where they end.  Also, it decides which ones are currently important and which ones are not.

    This is how the mind can behold a tree (e.g. an apple tree) as an object and then for whatever reason, decide to focus on one of its attributes and consider that attribute as an object in its own right (e.g. an apple).  The mind can toggle back and forth between seeing an apple tree at one moment and simply an apple the next.  Likewise, it can resolve to behold an apple tree or it can from the same physical perspective choose to take in all of the other surrounding apple trees and consider the phenomenon of an orchard as the object of its thought, subjugating the tree as part of a yet greater determinable whole. 

It is this critical and creative skill that enables the mind to draw meaning from an object and ultimately the world at large.  One guides one’s thoughts towards certain attributes of that object’s available appearance and by relating those attributes to each other, makes the spectacle of the world articulate.  The same way that we gather meaning by studying the relationship of objects to other objects, their unity and division, so too do we determine the meaning of a single object by studying the relationship between its various self-contained attributes.  Consciousness is seemingly attracted and gathered by the gravity of one’s will into that which we understand to be the mind.  It then coalesces and is directed towards a particular of the world in order to understand that particular object and by contrast itself.  It is at this moment that the subject and object are produced.  This is how the world occurs, for us and for our witnesses. It is the way in which we come to know the nature of experience.                   

It must be remembered though that central to the idea of occurrence is the idea and presence of motion.  Nothing can occur without arriving in some way and departing in another.  Motion, as has been noted by many others, is essential to perception itself.  The conundrum though is that as subjects approach and engage with objects in the world the appearance of those objects are equally dependent on the mind of the individual which by definition does not move in that it is immaterial.  The world may be made up of subjects and objects, parts that perceive and parts that are perceived, but the experience that one has as a result does not happen in the world at all.       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)    Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1945. Phenomenology of Perception. Paris: Gallimard.

 

2)    Schutz, Alfred. 1973. The Structures of the Life-World. London: Northwestern University Press.

 

3)    Husserl, Edmund. 1954. The Crisis in European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

 

Copyright © 2007, 2018 Jon Keppel All Rights Reserved

Kind by Jon Keppel

Being of one another, whether in the flesh, remotely or by proxy shares corporeality, body-being).  Corporeality is the given force of human life articulated, that is of a person as any and all space(s) and time(s): the manifestation of presence in kind.

 

Consider that the world is experienced as perpetual motion and that the body itself is included.  As such, there is no now by the nature of experience (i.e. there is no phenomenon of mind). The totality of the body is consciousness whereby it takes conscious place, consciousness being a uniquely human trait. 

 

The body takes while acquiring points of view by assuming moments in time of consciousness and thus sustaining belief.  The world therefore is synonymous with consciousness and has nothing to do with concepts of space and time but corporeality instead (i.e. being in the stead of space and time, being in the place of). The body is the place of the world.

 

What comes to be known then as the phenomenal world of being is an amalgam of retrograde expressions of presence in kind, that is to say the world as such is an illusion only in so much as it is always out of synch with a single human being.

 

Motion makes us human.

 

There is no beginning or end, by definition, to perpetual motion only the presence of consciousness in kind. Conception nor mortal death are experienced because there is nothing to remember, for the body is of consciousness. 

 

Apprehension is all that remains, by way of motion, instead.  Similar to how a simple magic trick is enacted which may exceed comprehension, the speed of apprehension decifers experience.  And since motion is imperative to experience, speed becomes the nature of experience.

 

The body, being of consciousness, exudes the world by being in motion.  Corporeality galvanizes experience by orienting motion.  The body grasps the world by apprehending (i.e. it comprehends via its totality, the incorporation of phenomena). 

 

Grasping requires displacement, which is an indirect articulation of motion in the absence of a preordained now.  As an anaology the hand demonstrates this while grasping at any thing.  It displaces while apprehending, it takes conscious place by moving something into its displaced being (i.e. re-places consciousness). 

 

Copyright © 2018 Jon Keppel All Rights Reserved