28 April 2008

What is Art?

I read a blog about Beauty by Sumangali entitled The Eye of the Beholder and I started to reminisce about the obsessive quality - or dedication if you will - of youth and how glorious it is to be obsessed for the first time: about anything.

I must confess I was obsessed with art at the close of my teenage years. I never actually studied art, but I did share a house with a number of artists while living next door to an art school. You can't get any qualification for that, but combined with unemployment, it gave rise to a curious condition in me.

I undertook a kind of artistic study, albeit one that lacked any structure whatsoever. I drew and painted with crayons, pencils, acrylics, ink and watercolours. I baked pottery in my kitchen in the middle of the night. I made sculptures that most commonly included feathers, pine-cones, string, wire, scrap metal from construction sites and all manner of found objects. I wrote poetry and carried the Tao Te Ching with me everywhere. I wandered through my neighbourhood in dreams. My life was a gigantic collection of symbols that I was constructing and deciphering at every turn. Things took a lot of time to work out.

Yes, my lost years.

Suffice to say, I would ask strangers at parties with absolute sincerity, "Do you believe in art?" A question, which oddly, seemed to confuse the art students most of all. Actually, I don't know that I was ever not nonsensical (why can't sensical be a word?) in clarifying what on earth I was talking about. I only knew on some level that art as an act of creation was a chance to get in touch with a Higher Power.

Even now, to think of those days brings tears of mirth to my eyes. My friends would come over and sit in my room, surrounded by beach pebbles - in front of an open fire if it was winter - and we would just play. It was like kindergarten: people would take their pictures or creations home with them when their visit was over.

Anyway, only the poetry really survived.

There is no truth in history.
Truth is Eternal,
It is this moment's Grace.


Nowadays, I have developed a deeper appreciation of the fact that all action is a type of art. What matters is the intention or purity of will behind any action. This is what can take me to the Highest. If I want the supreme enjoyment of becoming an instrument of the Source then my action has to be to surrender to God's will.

This the art of beautiful living that I have come to discover through meditation.

19 April 2008

The Monster That Ate Itself

I have now read Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire by the pundit Chalmers Johnson.

It was hard! These are authoritative, scholarly books and correspondingly dense. Also, the sheer weight of the topic might bring you down. These two books are part of a trilogy and the final volume is Nemesis. You can get a feel for these books by reading an article I found at webdiary or I have posted a video to finish this post. Mr Johnson is an intellectual par excellence. I can't even pretend to summarise this stuff cogently - at least not for more than 30 seconds.

To take a break I went to fiction-land to read The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana, both by Graham Greene. What makes these both remarkable is the way they straddle the border of non-fiction and fiction. The Quiet American was a remarkably prescient work. I wouldn't describe Our Man in Havana as a comedy, but it is a good comedy of errors.

On Radio National I found an interesting speech by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes called The Three Trillion Dollar War.

April 13

While I was meditating the other night, fragments of phrases and words were floating through the white and I tried to build a house of poetry for them.

Thy golden form of Bliss, bare, beckons...

O Prince sublime of Peace...

Scion of supernal light...

King of the Infinite...

The Mother of Love...

In vain, I sought to order analogy, metaphor, simile and symbol to feed the hunger of my adoration, until I surrendered.

He is everything, He is all,
There is no form without
That he knows not within.