Chasing Coherence

What if we remain incoherent when we seek to establish a coherent state?

State, a powerful term, one with many resonances. None of them too good….

A coherent condition?

Again, the notion of coherence seems opposed to conditioning. How do we then establish a condition of coherence?

Then again, how does any of this leave behind the drive to save something, everything? A drive we’ve discovered only promotes further destruction.

Recent insights point at the profound limits on our capability to direct change. Without a working awareness of how constrained we are by the limits of perception and the tightly linked interplay between creativity and habit we are bound to be incoherent as we seek out some way to change consciousness, create and then inhabit some new, revolutionary mode of being.

One constant in these researches and contemplations has been the linkage between how discovering the extent of our limits brings clarity and cuts down the futility of our pursuits. This seems to be the case here as well.

The whole aspiration to gain higher planes appears fraught. There is a breathlessness and a gathering loss of perspective, a reintroduction of a frantic demand for getting what we want in it. This seems no different – and appears to lead us back into the same traps – as those we find in any other push to demand, to be driven by desire.

Peeling this onion has always involved an effort to get beyond the traps that have bound us so successfully for so long. The breadth in scope and length of time we’ve been dominated by these effective and pernicious traps continually expands. There is nothing easy about this task. It’s prone to bring on copious tears….

Traps differ from limits. This can only be seen from a wider perspective than from the one that constrains us while we are in it. A trap loses its hold when we can step back and recognize it for what it is. A limit never lets go, but provides us with necessary traction. Traction that would be unavailable in a friction-less world.

All of this is implicit in Jeff’s Negative Geography. A paradoxical relationship to negation that only appears negative if we are constrained by the wish to be positive. Or if we are driven by a fear of negativity. A condition that keeps us mired in negativity veiled by – and the shadow to – our demand for what we consider positive.


Incoherence surrounds us. We are mired in the difficulty of finding any way to reach a point of connection from which to build functional relations. The gulf between what we think we are doing, thinking, meaning; and how it is perceived from within another’s fractured view in this prison that is our culture of death; is immense. This gulf traps us; unaware of how profound the disconnect. It overwhelms us when we begin to glimpse its enormity.

Yet it is only by holding these difficulties before us, examining them, and staying with them; that we have any chance of discovering a space between trap and limit.

In painting we may begin thinking we know what we are doing. This does not survive contact with what we find on the canvas once we start. We enter a period of wandering. Glimmers of light and space are blocked by what we think we’re doing. If we attempt to heighten some effect – going to eleven – we destroy whatever was forming. It’s only by cutting away the blockages, the artifacts of our intent, that we find a way forward.

We are constrained. We know that what we need to do is difficult. We lack a path, a heuristic-led way to make decisions that would takes us further. At some point, if we persist, we discover a next step. Traps and blockages begin to fall away. Quality, nuance, and subtlety develop. Our limits become clear. This brings us to the fullest realization we are capable of.

This has nothing to do with the problem-solving habits of mind we reflexively bring to our actions. From within this dynamic it is clear that problem-solving is a deep misunderstanding of what is at stake, in play, available to us. The emptiness of any possible result problem-solving might provide is clear.

The painting comes to life. Takes on its own life. Has no further need for tinkering. It announces its wholeness in its every particular. It is sufficient. It does not change the world. It does not save anything. It is. This can be seen by anyone with eyes to see. A living thing – once we enter into relationship with it – ready and willing to take us along with it. An artifact and example.

We remain trapped between private moments of realization, of what is – not only possible, but present – while constantly reminded of the vast gulfs across which we seek to communicate anything of value.

Coherence is not a message. Not a recipe. Not a stage or state or condition….


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Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

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