From negotiation to dialogue we move from scarcity to gift. Quantities are not affected, at least not over short spans – in the long run scarcity negotiations drive us to collapse and the Gift maintains and develops creation while filling innumerable niches to bring forth abundance. Technology is firmly within the realm of negotiation. Craft is a practice that keeps us in relationship with Gift, maintaining a dialogue with all of creation. It bends our desires to meet compassion with compassion. This is where its rigor lies.
Is it trying, or is it doing?
We favor our failed attempts like a wounded limb, but fail to recognize that it is our harsh coercive habit that generates this need.
Forgiveness, self-compassion, takes care of our shortcomings. We don’t need to fear and excuse our failures. If we forgive them.
Moving into this compassionate space let us find what really matters and let us do, not try.
Krishnamurti and Bohm talk of habit as a foundational principal. “Instead of speaking of Laws of Nature, we should be saying habits…”
Sheldrake is talking about the same thing. Morphic Fields are fields of habits, some are very strong and deep, again those “Laws of Nature,” while others are fleeting and malleable.
When we speak of acting in the world, we tend to consider the world as hard, filled with Laws. We counter with a harshness, a brutality of intention, that is meant to meet these intransigent conditions with suitable means, chasing after ends we pluck out of desires we know little about how they have formed and care less whether they are appropriate beyond the kick they give us, a jolt to say “I am here!” Ego cares not whether we create or destroy, so long as we give it credit!
Painting, painting in oil, at a modest scale, is a continual lesson in the inadequacy, the irrelevancy, of intention. If we can be honest and open about what we find, what is actually there on the canvas after it has begun to heal after our interventions we find passages, scraps of truth – in this case a rhyme with Being that carries light and shines forth with the rhythms of the Plenitude of Being itself. An immersion of “objects” in a “space” that is carried not by colored mud on cloth or panel, but as if by light shining out of this privileged space of our focused attention.
We may return and layer our experiencing and interacting with this place and our materials, and tools. We may find at times that a whole coalesces out of fragments. There is a sense of something being born. It is there….
Where is there?
It is at the place where our habits of thought and perception intersect with an image that exists where these habits run into the surface of pigments and substrate on the easel or the wall. The creation is a dialogue between the two and occurs in between.
Sheldrake talks of where consciousness resides and that if we are able to release, to let go, of our dogmas we know that it is out there and in here, that vision projects images as much as it takes in light to process in the eye and brain.
Interacting with images as I paint there is a give and take, a lag, and the need to open wider than is comfortable; all the characteristics of a birth. Marks are made. They disturb the field. They are physical, made of a simple amalgam of oil and powder with certain characteristics of color, transparency, translucency, opacity. Certain ways of adhering or repelling from the surface. Certain subtle changes as they blend and settle and dry into what came before. At the same time there is a complex interaction with intentions and expectations as I work. There are projections of desires and there are acceptations of results, of varying strengths and intensities of will or conviction to be resolved and to settle into schema that arise and slip away, or that build and maintain.
All this happens with a lurching rhythm that is always out of sync with any expectations. There is an exhilaration that is distinct from any wish-fulfillment. A satisfaction that appears to be directed at this clear and direct interaction with the fundamentals of what it is to be and act in the world.
What appears to be going on, in the deepest most silent way I have of interpreting anything, is that if we exert an effort to create and are attuned to the dynamics involved – within a sphere modest and direct enough to be perceivable as a whole – we are there to witness the give and take between outside and inside that takes place always but is mostly hidden from our view.
Habit seems to be the arena on which we act. As a painter I am constantly dealing with my habits both as mark-maker and as a perceive-er, as well as in how I deal with the gaps between expectation and perceived result. There is no willing away of habit. No doubling down of intensity of effort, no amount of will-power will force a change in habit. Habits change when we let them go. New habits develop when they attach themselves to us. Old habits can be pillars of strength and they can be crutches and blinders, all rolled into one! New habits can be liberating, but they can also be confusing and can lead to as much error as any established pattern.
If I can say any one thing about the act of painting it might be that it is a process of habituating one’s self to a shifting, bewildering, and oh so subtle interaction of elements that can only be met with an openness of habit and a letting go of expectation – together with an expansion of patience and a humility both directed at what we may expect, but also at who gets “credit” for what may be accomplished.
Krishnamurti said that when we are face to face with Fact! there is no “I.” There is no time. There is no thought. We confront fact and empty out and stand where we are in an awareness of our relationship that is direct. At that moment we confront the sacred! High school girls have that much right, “OMG!”
I face a canvas on an easel with a quickening of breath, an excitement of engagement that is unequaled in any other endeavor outside of moments of intense danger during which I’ve felt a similar proximity to the Fact!
This post does not coalesce. At least not in a habitually perceivable way. In this it draws from those experiencings of the act of painting. There always hangs before me the desires of habit to “normalize” what is there, to return it to what is comfortable. This has never led to any satisfactory result. It is a stepping back from the verge of giving birth. Our habit on the approach of mystery is to rub it out. It is only through the healing of perception that mix of physical and perceptual transformation that happens between in here and out there that we can reach a point where we can appreciate a new creation. It happens as we meet the sacred in the fact that leaves us present without movement but that which is directly within being. It happens as habit is stretched and accommodates to something that has not been before.
9 thoughts on “From Negotiation to Dialogue”
This is a lovely piece, Tony. Thank you.
Glad you liked it!
You are very welcome.