A Moment of Aesthetic Shock

January 24th, 2009

Speaking again of shocks, two ink & dye works by tantric artist Sohan Qadri, cataloged in Seeker: The Art of Sohan Qadri

Pranayama, 2002, p101. Click for larger version.

Comments Donald Kuspit, “The ecstatic moment of full consciousness of the metaphysical truth about existence is a moment of aesthetic shock: concretizing the metaphysical truth [of the doctrine of Sunyata], Qadri’s icons give us an aesthetic shock. ‘The Pali word samvega is often used to denote the shock or wonder that may be felt when the perception of a work of art becomes a serious experience,’ Ananda Coomaraswamy writes. The perception of a work of art becomes a serious experience when it stirs ‘the will or mind’ to ‘consideration of the Eight Emotional Themes (birth, old age, sickness, death, and suffering arising in four other ways),’ and, ‘in the resulting state of distress, then gladdens it by the recollection of the Buddha, the Eternal Law… when it is in need of such gladdening’. Thus meditation on Qadri’s icons is therapeutic. The tensions in them — between contrasting colors, lines, and rhythms as well as light and dark — evoke our inner conflicts and distress even as their aesthetic resolution gladdens us, finally raising our spirits” (p14).

Purusha, 1999, p82. Click for larger version.

“Thus aesthetic shock is two-sided: it subverts ordinary consciousness by exposing the conflicts hidden by it even as it signals the extraordinary consciousness that resolves them. Qadri’s icons are as divided against themselves — fault lines run through some of them — as they are unified. They shock us into awareness of the eternal law stated in the doctrine of Sunyata. Meditation is not some mindless act of egoistic communion with oneself, but upsets one’s sense of selfhood, however, ultimately calming and enlightening by reason of its revelation of the eternal law. But the way to Buddha-like calm is through aesthetic delight, as Qadri’s icons show” (p14-15).

The Search for the Way

January 21st, 2009

Speaking of shocks, a diagram by P.D. Ouspensky from his 1949 In Search of the Miraculous.

Ouspensky quotes G., “‘The results of the influences whose source lies outside life [i.e., esoteric influences] collect together within him, he remembers them together, feels them together. They begin to form within him a certain whole. He does not give a clear account to himself as to what, how, and why, or if he does give an account to himself, then he explains it wrongly. But the point is not in this, but in the fact that the results of these influences collect together within him and after a certain time they form within him a kind of magnetic center, which begins to attract to itself kindred influences and in this manner it grows. If the magnetic center receives sufficient nourishment, and if there is no strong resistance on the part of the other sides of a man’s personality which are the result of influences created in life [i.e., nation, climate, family, education, wealth, customs, etc.], the magnetic center begins to influence a man’s orientation, obliging him to turn round and even to move in a certain direction. When the magnetic center attains sufficient force and development, a man already understands the idea of the way and he begins to look for the way. The search for the way may take many years and lead to nothing. This depends upon conditions, upon circumstances, upon the power of the magnetic center, upon the power and the direction of inner tendencies which are not concerned with this search and which may divert a man at the very moment when the possibility of finding the way appears'” (p200).

“‘If the magnetic center works rightly and if a man really searches, or even if he does not search actively yet feels rightly, he may meet another man who knows the way and who is connected directly or through other people with a center existing outside the law of accident, from which proceed the ideas which created the magnetic center'” (p200-201).

Ouspensky’s embodiment and, below, its legend (p204).

V life
H an individual man
A influences created in life, that is, in life itself — the first kind of influences
B influences created outside life but thrown into the general vortex of life — the second kind of influences
H1 a man, connected by means of succession with the esoteric center or pretending to it
E esoteric center, standing outside the general laws of life
M magnetic center in man
C influence of man h1 on man h; in the event of his actually being connected with the esoteric center, directly or by succession, this is the third kind of influences. This influence is conscious, and under its action at the point m, that is, in the magnetic center, a man becomes free from the law of accident
H2 a man, deceiving himself or deceiving others and having no connection, either directly or by succession, with the esoteric center

Run Away to See

January 16th, 2009

A drawing by Edward Ardizzone from his 1953 Tim in Danger.

“It was a lovely day when Tim, Charlotte and Ginger were playing on the beach. The sky was blue, the sea was blue, and the white yachts were sailing in the bay.

“But something was wrong with Ginger. He would mope.

“Charlotte thought that he was remembering the time when he was a ship’s boy and was pining for a life at sea once more. She was right, for early the next morning, when Tim woke up, he found Ginger’s bed empty and a note from Ginger on it to say that he had run away” (p1-2).

Fed up / have run away to see (p3).