Art school was where I learned that success was a trap. How limited my teachers were. Experts. Hemmed in by reduction. It would take thirty-five years for this to sink in. Not surprising if you consider the trajectory of the intervening decades, beginning with the height of their positions at the time. The accumulated authority they wielded. And, ending with the present transparency of endemic bankruptcy visible in every sphere. Easy to have doubted the lesson then. Hard to ignore it now.
Inevitability has a trajectory. From a position of weight and permanence to an avalanche of decay in which every certainty dissolves.
What we need is a space. A space where we can craft a response. Space in which to acknowledge, accept, and understand that there are no places – not just untouched or free – no places at all that are not… complicit? No place that is not mired, twisted, broken. This drives us to seek a space. Not the outer space of Twentieth Century fantasy. Not any space of escape. Not even a space of hoped-for salvation. No Heaven or Kingdom of God.
The space we need is internal but not simply mental. Not an abstraction of intellect or emotion. What comes to mind is that it is a space in which to integrate. To integrate all aspects of what is broken. A space to integrate every dichotomy, beginning with mind/body; but continuing on from there.
This is a notional space. The discovery of a field of action. The kind of space where healing can take place and also where points of traction can be found. Other ways of moving, navigating. Orientation. Finding the horizon and points of reference. Also a place to discover equilibrium. Establish forms of balance. Recognize new forms of balance that are not just stubborn attempts to reclaim lost certainties, diving back into illusions that have lost all usefulness.
Our failures are profound. They begin at the level of perception. This colors every domain in which we have compounded error upon error. We need space to discover the depths of these mistakes. We need to grapple with – not only the unavoidable consequences – but also with finding ways to expand our perception and discern new forms of order. A complete re-examination of what order and form, connection and viability, mean. What they are. How we can see them. How we can interact, conceive, relate to them.
All this needs to happen within a space that is – not protected or insulated from the forces of disintegration, that is not possible – a space where reflection, connection, recognition – integration – can take place… in spite? of those forces. Illuminated by the fires of destruction?
A question of Antifragility….
This space is a cultural space in its most profound sense. But this label does not contain it. Its referential orbit is too small. The entire notion of orbits, revolutions, re-anything, renaissance, rebirth, born again, and on, and on….
You can see how these notions all drop us right back into the same old soup.
“This time is different!” A perennial excuse to prop-up exceptionalist denial. But what if this claim were turned on its head?
Our failures of imagination have us holding onto a notion of human nature that insists that the poverty of our conception is not the result of the narrowness of the sphere of what can be imagined from within our existing conditions. When the poverty of our conception is a sign of our blindness to what is truly possible while we chase after fantasies to maintain our illusions when in every case they show themselves to be hollow and deadly traps of self-destruction embraced from within the broken and disintegrated traumatized heart of our despair.
The space we need shows itself to us whenever we discover joy and the strength to counter that despair. Not with further fantasies but with palpable, tangible moments of connection, integration, and the expansion of perception and recognition that shows us that just as physical limits are absolute – where our current notions lead us to believe they are surmountable, “If only…!” The limits of perception and understanding – not knowing, that ersatz understanding! – that creativity in its true sense, attending to what-is, is not constrained in these ways.
Even this can so easily be misconstrued if we fail to understand that none of this is put forward from within the fantastical realm of cause & effect.
Power is not only limited it is always destructive. Destruction is its only end.
While power appears unlimited and strength is always limited; strength’s limits, because of their transparency, bring us into contact with creativity which does not have the same limitations as those that constrain power; and creativity integrates us into relation. Integration. Integration with infinite creativity where destruction continues to exist but is no longer the end of all our actions. No longer an end in itself.
Entering this space changes nothing and it changes everything.