As a child I would often awaken in the morning feeling the absolute gift of being alive. It took a powerful external event to interfere with the cohesive and unified sense of mind that existed than. There was in that a sense of harmony and connectedness and a feeling of the absolute perfection of life that allowed for a complete presence to each moment. This extended into my youthful years with encroaching periods of chaos and self induced calamity gradually becoming more frequent. Over the years of succumbing to external pressures to become something I gradually seemed to lose that sense of mystery and perfection and all else that naturally emanated from “not knowing”; perhaps being led astray in the pursuit of perceived need, convention and the illusive promises of self development.
I don’t know if it could have been different; if I could have been nurtured into a more authentic unfolding of self in those days. I was vulnerable in my exposure to my teachers and conditioners and what William Blake refers to as the usurpation by the rational function. I was taught and convinced to carry things that didn’t belong to me and I was lost, not able to realize what was occurring or what to do to find my way or how I might attend to life authentically or responsibly or how to find refuge in what I was becoming.
Gratefully, I had at least a deep sense that something was amiss in this and that there was something more inward and when it was allowed to come forward it would elevate even the most mundane of things. I slowly came to find my way back to attending to this inward calling, trusting in its illumination. It turned out to be something more authentic of myself ; something of that childhood experience. An innate “awareness”, that had become lost in the fog of becoming again discovered, allowed me to remember the relevance of this very natural way of being, creating and experiencing that I was inseparate from in those younger years. Awareness continues to allow me to let go of the dependency on what I have accumulated that interferes with those wonderful moments of realization of the gift of life.
This is a multi medium creation. I’ve used oil pastels and acrylic paint and inks in this one. I’ve tried to create the sense of illumination and less than ideal forms of birch trees. I love painting birch trees; something about the contrasting affect. My paintings never turn out how I envision them to but I am happy with this one.
I’ve turned to doing some water colours these days. I also experimented with ink in this one.
What is the ontological status of an image held in the mind? It will not escape the attentive reader’s notice that throughout the essays the word imagination is given a capital initial. For the poet, as for her master, Blake, Imagination is the supreme faculty by which true poetic vision achieves the fulfilment of its intrinsic quality as the agent of spiritual perception. Here we are far from the commonplace idea of imagination as simply the passive mirror of images drawn from the sensorium, a view that leaves unanswered the question, in what sense can it be said that such images are ‘real’ or ‘unreal’?
For Kathleen Raine Imagination is theophanic vision and is thereby a transcendent faculty. The capital indicates the distinction. In Imagination we are the very act of apprehending the Sacred in participative mode in and through images that render cognitive experience as inherently meaningful.
It all sounds here to be academic and beyond the normal but William Blake’s assertion was that active Imagination presents images of ‘what eternally exists, really and unchangeably’. We all have that capacity but our conditioning is such that we have forgotten it’s done in so doing have forgotten something of ourselves.
Our world has been dominated by a “scientific, economic and political—materialism, which we imbue our trust in; that all of reality can be, and finally will be, explained by rational, physical laws. We believe that there ultimately exists “a theory of everything,” and that the truth will finally be discovered from the observation of parts and particles.
Jean Gebser refers to the stages of conscious development as expressions of our existence that are evolving all of which have deficient aspects. How we perceive the world is influenced by our stage of conscious development. In terms of our collective consciousness, “scientific, economic and political—materialism, seems to be the dominant influence in our day and age. Every stage of development has deficiencies that need to be overcome as part of the requirement that they are evolving. The consequences of our current way are now becoming apparent despite the innovation and amazing change to life that it has brought. A deficiency is that at the same time it has left much of what is not measurable and accessible to the human senses unavailable for consideration. There is a tendency of hypertrophying one aspect of the structure at the expense of others and a kind of superrationality that coolly dismisses all “human” considerations from its concerns. As Wendell Berry indicates, it accounts for “the vivisectionist who ignores the cries of his tortured laboratory animal; the concentration camp commander who meticulously works out the most “efficient” means of murdering his victims; the philosopher who denies the existence of consciousness because he has “never seen it.” This is the affectless, lucid reasoning of the “impersonal” scientists who view the world without a trace of any feeling for the living soul of nature, a view that allows them to “take it apart.”
There is a cost that is becoming increasingly apparent, for our remaining stuck at this point of human development and the inability to unfold towards a greater, more comprehensive illuminated embodied way of seeing. I do not know whether or not I have arrived yet at the place of realization that William Blake wrote about, knowing “that everything that exists is holy”; however, I am looking and I am hopeful that I am headed in that direction. There is something of me that knows that what Gebser, Berry and Blake point to, although it is immeasurable, it is of a “greater truth”At times I regress to this more fragmented and incomplete way of conventional perception but ultimately I feel that I have been touched by a more whole way of envisioning that will illuminate my way.
When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.—Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death