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.
12 thoughts on “The Space We Need”
To clarify one point, our errors of perception are errors of interpretation. Everything from optical illusions to any form of confusion over what has happened.
Antonio. thoroughly gripping, utterly meaningful, concise and enlightening post.
Chapeau my friend…
Thank you Julien! As you understand so well; it’s heartening to hear when someone finds a point of connection!
You see Antonio, in my About section I stated the why of me keeping this blog. It´s strikingly similar to what you say here…That´s why I was so moved by your post…
Thank you for pointing this out. I want to read through your essay again in the morning light. I’ll respond then.
I go to sleep lifted by our exchange!
Sometimes the intention is better than the actual outcome.
I am in no way comparing my essay with yours. I simply point out that you articulated very succinctly the things I attempted to highlight, but didn´t have words for…
As always I appreciate your gentle and meaningful feed-back.
Yesterday I watched this interview with Hannah Arendt. She’s asked if she writes to “influence people.” Her answer resonates with me and I think it will with you too, “I’d say the most important thing for me is to understand. For me writing is part of this process of understanding. … Do I see myself as influential? No. I want to understand. If others understand in the same way I’ve understood that gives me a sense of satisfaction, like being among equals.”
I have a deep recognition of what you’ve written as well.
I only want to add that this is among my greatest satisfactions. The sense of friendship you’ve brought up that transcends distance and time.
Again, quite a prodigious synchronicity. Imagine, I was pondering earlier today: I am urged to write, sketch, play Bach and compose, because in those moments of innermost reflection, I UNDERSTAND MYSELF BEST. I explore and come to grips with and who I am.
I think one understands oneself best when one reaches a more and more stable and coherent inner harmony. It sounds as an overstatement, but it´s like being born again.
Again, as I write to you now, it strikes me as utterly vital, that one gets to know oneself insofar as one finds a greater rest of a renewed inner, and hopefully, in due time, outer space.
This saner outward space is brought forth by open and meaningful dialogue. By questioning together the totally outdated societal structures which are the outcome of immemorial fear.
Again, the importance of seamless relation. Of friendship – that blessed exchange which happens when an individual thirsts for self-knowledge, and finds echo for this pursuit in another human being. this is a great chance of co-creating a healthier space, a new story…A story no longer spawned be fear, but by Love.
I am so grateful for this connection.
What you call “inner harmony” I’ve been calling integration. I agree. It is the basis for everything.
The next step is dialogue. Seamless relation…. John Michael Greer has recently repeated that, “The opposite of a bad idea is another bad idea.” Co-creation is the only way out of this endless series of traps.
I am also grateful. And cheered by our continuing and growing connection!
Let’s see what more can come of this!
The same train of thought aptly expressed by Krishnamurti:
“But those who really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without beginning and without an end, will walk together with a greater intensity, will be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows. And they will concentrate, they will become the flame, because they understand. Such a body we must create, and that is my purpose. Because of that real understanding there will be true friendship. Because of that true friendship–which you do not seem to know–there will be real cooperation on the part of each one. And this not because of authority, not because of salvation, not because of immolation for a cause, but because you really understand, and hence are capable of living in the eternal. This is a greater thing than all pleasure, than all sacrifice.”
Thank you for this quote. I had not seen it before. Aptly expressed!