Monday, March 09, 2009

Revisiting reconstitution

Christopher Reiger
Sumi ink and watercolor on Arches paper
11 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches

In "Becoming phoebes," I described the satisfaction I feel when contemplating the giving over of contained corporeal energy to the rest of life. I dubbed this process "reconstitution" and, citing the essayist Edward Hoagland as a writer who "speaks to the magic of" this process, included an excerpt from his terrific book On Nature.

A week later, I picked up the most recent issue of Harper's Magazine and read Hoagland's essay "Curtain Calls," an inconsistent and rather bleak take on the contemporary state of things. I later debated the merits of Hoagland's rich pessimism with my father, and decided that older writers must be forgiven some of their bitter steepings; after all, it generally holds that older thinkers long for what once was and younger thinkers dream of what may be.

In any case, Hoagland again dedicated some lovely passages to the notion of reconstitution. In light of the recent, related post, I thought I should share them here.
"If this globe is the only heaven we have, I doubt the trip will be a long one. Downward into the seethe of soil and the sea, we landlubbers become marine again.

I believe in continuity through conductivity: that seething underpinnings of life's flash and filigree, its igniting chemistry, may, like fertilizer, appear temporarily dead, but spark across species like the electricity of empathy, or as though paralleling the posthumous alchemy of art.

Gazing out the window, I see nothing but motion, high and low - scudding clouds, swinging leaves, right down to the millipedes (if I step outside) seething in the soil. Death, be not proud. Plant me when I die so that I can seethe with them."


Donald Frazell said...

Personally, I never feel depressed about life, just humanity when it gets self absorbed and greedy. Life itself is a wonderful gift, one which we should thank god, in whatever manifestation or form, everyday. My wife has already agreed to throw my cremated ashes into the deep carved fjord of Montana de Oro, where the cermaic jar may burst and i return to where I came from, ashes to ashes, dust to duest, mud to primordial mud. In the place I feel the most at home.

She plans on living forever, and just may well do so, goddess that she is. But humanity has no guarantee of eternal life. Not when we destroy it so wantonly. With so little regard for the future, of mankind and our home. Our economic situation was created by mans avarice, as the stock market runs on nothing but greed and fear, and I am buying up underpriced stocks as fast as my limited means allow. Idiots.

But we will come out of this, hopefuly wiser, for a litle while. For we are history ignorant, so many magazines, newpspapers, cable channels, yet we cannot see. That is all data, we have lost the ability to process it, and this is where Creative Art comes in. It reflects life afresh, so we can see it with new eyes, the jibberish of lies and greed tossed aside, except for today when it did conquer art for awhile, as it does in all times of decacdence. When man feels omnipotent. And so shows his feet of clay.

We are weak, life is strong. We will adapt, but resources and time is running out. We must focus on what is important, ignore the selfishness of the left and right, the vanity, the power hunger, the self deception of the self absorbed. Truth. It comes before our desires. We adapt to it, or die. This we must take to heart, and begin to build again, this time, for the future. Art has its place, neither more nor less than other fields of human endeavor, but it is essential. Time to come out from the shadows, and bring out life's purpose once more.

art collegia delenda est

Donald Frazell said...

By the way, the Monarchs you draw are my wifes favorite butterfly, they eat off the milkweed in the backyard, and the caterpillars look curiously like my butterfly, the Tiger Swallow Tail, which seems to have bred with the local Mourning Cloak, we do lots of swirlin here in the LBC.

Obama type mutts and strange new butterflies. But our kids all think they are Snoop Dogg, and swirled in every conceivable ethnic combination, even the old blonde broads listen to Snoop and Sublime. Weird. We are going back to nature here, vultures, squirrels, possums, fox, hawks, coyotes and racoons now prowl the city. Curiouser and curiouser.

bioephemera said...

Christopher - I just saw this post. Wow. I have to send you a photo I set up a year ago to use as a reference for a painting. . . let's just say there is more than a passing resemblance to that painting!

Hungry Hyaena said...


Thank you for the comments. Indeed, things do get "curiouser and curiouser!"


Please do send it.