For, could we paint, sculpt, write, cook, garden, knit, crochet without hands or eyes or physical sensibilities that allow us to see, feel, hear, smell, and touch? When I look at my paintings, I see a kind of entaglement between imagination and reality. I sketch an idea I see in my mind, then, use paint to bring it to life in reality. The end result is always slightly altered from the way I originally imagined it to be, almost like the difference between seeing something underwater and then seeing it in the air. Our imaginations are softer than reality, even murky. Reality is harsh and bright in its visual clarity and yet, the most ancient philosophy on the planet, Vedanta, calls our minds, our imaginations, true reality. Everything outside of the mind is considered maya, or a cosmic illusion. When I think of the water analogy, it reminds me that once upon a time, long, long ago, we all spoke the same language...and I'll tell you why. The word maya is Sanskrit in origin but was adapted to Hebrew, as well as many other languages, at some point in human history. Interestingly, the word maya or mayim in Hebrew means water. When you look at something underwater, there's often the illusion that the object is larger than it is or colored differently, or sometimes, not even there. When you look through water, things aren't clear. They don't seem quite real.
I sometimes wonder if what we think is reality is truly only illusion, as the ancient Vedics said. Imagine that for a moment. True reality is not your job. It's not your house. It's not even your friends and family. It's what's inside your mind...scary, no? Especially if you're someone like Tim Burton or Stephen King!
We all have these strange moments from time to time where we somehow feel out of place, or out of time, like we don't belong or aren't where we should be. People translate that in many ways, past life experiences, psychic echoes, a form of clairvoyance...or even a kind of madness. But I think it's more likely that in those moments, our brains are attempting to remind us about what true reality is.
I love painting. But when I came in last night with the canvas after the sun finally set and began cleaning my brushes, I realized how temporary my efforts truly are. As long as I'm alive (my body, that is), the painting is meaningful. I'll look at it from time to time, recalling how I used this stroke or that combination of colors, and it will give me joy. But what happens to the painting after my body has run its course and I'm no longer here to enjoy it? Will my children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren keep those works, maintain them? The answer to that question is simple and somewhat sad. How many of us have things like that from say, three or more generations ago? You may have kept your mother's needlepoint, or your father's painting or your grandfather's photographs, but who will keep those things after you? It's just not practical to believe that such things will be kept and admired ad infinitum once we're no longer on this Earth. It's not practical period. We can't all be Picasso or Rembrandt or Melville or Hemingway or any other artist with the longevity of hundreds of years, sometimes more if you're Homer or Dante or other ancient writers or artists. Sure, we know that there are neolithic cave drawings. They still exist. But no one knows who made them, not really, Yes, we even found pieces of what we call Minoan art, but the Minoans, a people who lived on ancient Crete, didn't call themselves "Minoans." That was made up by the archeologist who first found traces of that civilization.
Though this may seem depressing, it's not really the truth. Because we, none of us, know what the truth is. If the ancient Vedics were right, what I see in my imagination and translate on paper or canvas will still exist. There is truth beyond what we know, or think we know. The field of astrophysics proves that everyday. Think to when Galileo first talked about the stars. He was considered a heretic. Think of when we believed the earth was flat...it seems silly today, but if you went back in time and told people the earth was a globe, full and round and orbiting the sun with other round globes floating in space and that we are but one small planetary system among millions, perhaps billions...what do you think that individual from the past might think??? Blasphemy would be my first and best guess. Madness would be next. Now, think of your reaction to what I'm saying here. Some of you may feel it contradicts your particular theology...blasphemy. Others may think I'm just off my rocker...madness. My point is that we what we think we know isn't always the truth and we have millenium upon millenium's worth of discoveries we once felt impossible to prove it.
Just like my painting, we are at a crossroads of imagination and reality as a species. But we first need to recognize our infancy before we can grow up, so to speak. We often mistake our technological advances for what I call psycho-social advancement, in other words, an evolution of universal human psychology that effects a globalized social attitude. We really need that to happen, because, in a very Oedipal way, we think we're moving forward, think we're doing the right thing, but may find ourselves the victims of our own stubborn natures, perpetuating a forced blindness out of simple fear.
Too much for your Wednesday morning coffee??? Well, they didn't call me the "green" professor for nothinig--"green" because no one needed to get those styrofoam mugs of coffee or tea to wake up and start thinking.... ;)
Before I sign off, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you. We broke 11,000 yesterday. We're already headed to our next numeric goal...and it's not even the end of the month! You, dearest readers, give me purpose and fill my otherwise empty words with meaning...and I'm grateful.
Until next time....