Conduct and observance



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Wednesday, April 4, 2007



So here I am, sitting at my computer. There is a direct sensation within the body; there is the sense of breathing; there is this truth of being that rises up from the solar plexus and connects to some of the centers in the upper part of the body. Of course this is just one of many important connections that can take place. This is the particular connection that is taking place now, for reasons that it understands better than I understand it. My role here is as an observer of this phenomenon, not the orchestrator of it.

There is a fundamental failure in me to understand that my role in most areas is one of observer. I have been educated over the course of a lifetime to believe not only that I can animate and orchestrate, that I should aspire to being an orchestrator, and that in fact the only meaningful thing to do in life is to orchestrate.

We are all educated that way. Civilization and society are all about the exercise of control. It's rather laughable, when you think about it, to realize that nobody controls anything, least of all themselves, and that almost every enterprise man engages in careens off into unexpected directions, to create unexpected disasters, which call for further unexpected solutions.

Everything is unexpected, including the unexpected itself.

So here I sit, once again, observing myself as I comment on observing myself. The act may seem to be redundantly reflexive, but if we inhabit ourselves in a place that is a bit quieter, perhaps in a place that is balanced between the connection of several centers, which ever ones they may be, there is nothing redundant about it. It is not an exercise in philosophy; it is an exercise in organic satisfaction as we receive the impressions of our lives. I do not do this all day long, or even a part of it, but I do do it a little bit every day. Every time I am fed in this way I realize that attending to the inner work of the centers has a much greater value than the things that I do with materials, with money, and so on.

Some years ago I realized that in its highest form, art consists solely of perceiving. A man who has a real relationship within himself, who simply perceives his environment, his circumstances, his being, is a work of art in itself that is so supremely consummated it can never be expressed and in fact cannot even be communicated. Of course we try to -- here I am, offering these clumsy words -- but in the end, this particular understanding of art is too radical to deconstruct, no matter what tools one brings to it.

In some ways music brings us closest to this, because it begins without words, and the structure of its vocabulary speaks to our emotional part, reaching down into us to awaken organs we have forgotten we possess. Much has been made recently in the sciences about the connection between music and language. One of the books I read about this was called "The Singing Neanderthals,"or something along those lines. The book made some good points, but it was written by an academic and ultimately turned out to be stultifyingly boring. It was surprising to me to see something as beautiful as a connection between language and music reduced to a list of facts. Too much of science is used to sterilize life in this manner. Maybe that's why religious people are in such a strong reaction to it a lot of the time.

To understand without words -- that is an idea that music leads us to. Ellen Dissanyake, who wrote the book "Homo Aestheticus," is another academic (a scholar of aesthetic criticism) that spoke about this question of words in a different way. She is also highly technical but has a livelier matter to her work. She argues that the written word has actually gone further towards destroying what art really means than just about any other instrument man wields. One would have to read her book to understand just what she's getting at, and I suggest you do so if you want to really understand something new about what art means to man. I think the point here is that although we worship words as our gods, they have seduced us and have become our very devils.

On my last CD, I included a song entitled "Words are the Enemy of Truth." The inherent irony here is pleasing to me.

Words are created by our breath, but cannot touch it. Words can describe what we see, but they are blind. One of the songs on my next CD -- a song I have not even begun to write yet -- will be called "The Color Blue, to a Blind Man."

My whole life blue has been my favorite color, but I don't know what the color blue is. My life is "blue," and I am blind to just what that means. It is only by searching for a new connection within my sensory organs, beginning with the inner organs, that I can receive anything that might lead me towards an understanding of what this favorite thing, which I do not know the real color of, is.

Oops. There I go again, indulging in my penchant for poetic imagery and metaphor and so on.


Perhaps because it's a rainy day, and the water invites a melancholic fluidity.

Or perhaps it's because I, like all the rest of you, am a dreamer.

Until tomorrow,

may your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.


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