Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reed Flute Caves and Indonesian Fireflies



So after a lot of hemming and hawing I've decided to take a slightly different tack to this whole blogging thing. Or rather, I've decided to go with the more conventional approach.

As I've said (way too often), when the painting is going well, the writing suffers. Although the two languages compliment one another, when I'm operating in a predominantly visual mode, I find it difficult to write. Pecking at the keyboard becomes a frustrating chore when I’d rather be in the studio. The good news, however, is that I'm almost always in a painting mode this last year, and so the studio time is productive and my new works continue to get stronger and more exciting; the flip side, of course, is that I'm never much in the mood to write (unless I'm reacting to art or some particularly curious article or idea).

The longer posts and short essays that regular readers are accustomed to may go the way of the dodo or at least become exceedingly rare. The “more conventional approach” I have in mind? Content comprised of tidbits - arty links, random thoughts, poetry and the like - punctuated by the familiar “Gallery Reports.” I’ll reserve any essay efforts for publications and online journals.

And, so, to get things started…a picture of the Reed Flute Cave in China’s Guangxi Zhuangzu region. The photograph, by James P. Nelson, was published in the July 2007 issue of National Geographic. The ceiling of the cave is seen reflected in an underground pool.

Admiring the image, David Abram’s writing on sensual vertigo came to mind.

“Late one evening, I stepped out of my little hut in the rice paddies of eastern Bali and found myself falling through space. Over my head the black sky was rippling with stars, densely clustered in some regions, almost blocking out the darkness between them, and loosely scattered in other areas, pulsing and beckoning to each other. Behind them all streamed the great river of light, with its several tributaries. But the Milky Way churned beneath me as well, for my hut was set in the middle of a large patchwork of rice paddies, separated from each other by narrow, two-foot-high dikes, and these paddies were all filled with water. By day, the surface of these pools reflected perfectly the blue sky, a reflection broken only by the thin, bright-green tips of new rice. But by night, the stars themselves glimmered from the surface of the paddies, and the river of light whirled through the darkness underfoot as well as above; there seemed no ground in front of my feet, only the abyss of starstudded space falling away forever.

I was no longer simply beneath the night sky, but also above it; the immediate impression was of weightlessness. I might perhaps have been able to reorient myself, to regain some sense of ground and gravity, were it not for a fact that confounded my senses entirely: between the galaxies below and the constellations above drifted countless fireflies, their lights flickering like the stars, some drifting up to join the constellations overhead, others, like graceful meteors, slipping down from above to join the constellations underfoot, and all these paths of light upward and downward were mirrored, as well, in the still surface of the paddies. I felt myself at times falling through space, at other moments floating and drifting. I simply could not dispel the profound vertigo and giddiness; the paths of the fireflies, and their reflections in the water's surface, held me in a sustained trance. Even after I crawled back to my hut and shut the door on this whirling world, the little room in which I lay seemed itself to be floating free of the Earth.”


T.H. WhitesMerlin said “There is only one thing for it then—to learn… That is the only thing that the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” I agree, though I would add that learning to look, feel, taste, touch and hear anew, learning again how to just be, like the proverbial baby…that also roots the human animal.

I hope you all are well.

2 comments:

Sunil said...

Ahhh! Fascinating picture. Could lose yourself in the colors. I am glad in a way that the writing is not going too well as we are bound to see a good painting from you at the expense of the one...
We will miss your longer musings, though...

bioephemera said...

I agree - i'd rather see art than writing, although I am sad that you will be posting less. I like your super-long essays. But to "help" you post more random tidbits, I just tagged you with a meme:

eight random facts

I bet you won't do it, though, will you? ;)