Neti, neti LO24135

From: Leo Minnigh (
Date: 03/08/00

Replying to LO24114 --

Dear LO'ers,

Rhythm, again and again
When the rain beats the rain.
When the brain meets the brain I hear a soft sound in my rainy brain A
sound that goes around and around as echoes of circular waves from a drop
of rain in a puddle Expanding thoughts and contracting memories No way to
stop that drop It falls and flies from the clouds in the sky Towards the
earth and bounced on the puddle surface of my brain Clouds that surf on
waves of winding winds Spirals of rising air A strange traffic in the
atmosphere Circles penetrated by falling drops Drops of tailed spheres of
water moist A strange atmospheric traffic in my cranium Spirals and drops
Rising and dropping Feelings of thoughts When the brain meets the body The
rich picture of an empty universe A unique verse A melodyous sound of
unknown notes Fibrillating strings of a lyrelike harp
softly touched by invisible fingers
Expanding thoughts and contracting memories Reflections of actions Replies
to sender Re: neti neti Behind the echo is a sender Receiving reflections
of thoughts Flying in the universal ether of history

I looked at a tiny painting, only slightly larger than a postcard. Green
and brown colours. Thick oil on canvas. This small picture somewhere
between lots of other art works in the pre-auction days of Christie's in
Amsterdam. It was a dark and old farmhouse under huge trees. Nothing
special, but the artist was Piet Mondriaan.
What happened with Mondriaan? Why did he changed his style so dramatically
during his life. I only can guess. Let me share with you this guess.
Mondriaan as a young painter has produced an enormous collection of works
that where inspired by the countryside and nature: farmhouses, windmills,
orchards and stilllifes of flowers, usually a single flower. Rich
pictures, so to say. Detail, but a lot of space left for imagination. He
used also natural colours. So, Mondriaan was a naturalist. During a very
short period in his life a dramatic change happened. The transition from
the naturalist Mondriaan to the hyper modern and abstract Mondriaan is
saved in only a few paintings. One can see that he changes first his
colours, later on he deformes natural forms and lines into rectangular
patterns and straight lines. The colours change to the primary ones: blue,
red and yellow with additional black and white. So the mature Mondriaan
painted not anymore in curved lines, no diagonals, no secondary colours
like orange, green, purple and brown. It is one of the seldomly documented
Probably, Mondriaan thought also in rich pictures. First he tried to paint
these rich pictures on canvas; he projected his rich inner pictures in his
paintings directly. Probably hoping that these paintings will cause a
simmilar rich picture in the head of the observer. That is the main task
and challenge of the artist: sending his emotions VIA his work towards and
inside the observer. Maybe Mondriaan realised that a photograph of his
rich inner thoughts will never cause the right effect with the observer.
Presenting literary one's inside richness to another was not the way. The
mixing of forms and colours should be in one's head, not in the painting.
And possibly this insight brought Mondriaan to an extreme filtering of his
own rich pictures: only straight and rectangular lines and only primary
colours. Let the observer do the work, he should build and mix his own
picture. The art of reduction. The art of empty spaces and the art of
deletion. That is art, the art of rich pictures in observer's mind. This
filtering was not that extreme that a completely empty picture was
created. No, Mondriaan realised that complete emptyness will not work. He
realised that the ultimate characteristics of his personal inner richness
(wich has to be transferred to the observer) were the rhythms. Rhythm of
lines, rhythm of planes, rhythm of colours. That was his emergence. The
title of his latest paintings refers to this rhythm: Broadway Boogie
Woogie (see e.g.
He was very keen in these rhythms. One can see often in his paintings
slight corrections of line positions. Apparantly he was very sensitive and
critical to this aspect.

Dear Andrew,
With great sensitivity you created an ocean, a Mondrianesque ocean as you
called it. A living ocean with a lot of rhythm. Rhythm in black and white
- no colours - and a rhythm of horizontal and vertical line elements - no
diagonals and curvatures. A feel the rhythm. The rhythm of Morse signals
of ships in this liquid desert and somewhere I feel the presence of
Melville's white wale Moby Dick. Mobile Dick. So much white and scarce
black on the paper print I made of your message and still, so much rhythm.
The rhythm of ocean waves approaching a coast line. The smooth and calm
ocean on the right side, the coast on the left.
The mixing in my head started. Possibly Andrew started his 'painting' as a
playfull experiment, with superficial feelings - not so much emotions. At
least some of us may think in that way. But Andrew is a professional.
Maybe he started in the way you might have thought. But I am sure that
when started, he generated and felt the rhythm of his own emotions and he
was able to translate these into his Mondrianesque ocean. And I am fairly
sure that he even has corrected some of his beginnings - slightly
repositioning some of the signs. You may try yourself 'painting' in ASCII
for instance a wood of Aspen trees. And you will experience that it is far
from simple.

Why do I explain my brain activity? Why do I use so much words,
emotionless words to describe emotions?
I like to end with a private mail that I sent to Andrew. It was a response
- the echo of emotions - to his contribution "Shining leaf, shining forth

Dying leaves of the Aspen tree Still fragilely fixed to the dark coloured
branches The tree became old, lost its colour No, it didn't lost it, the
colour was temporarely stored in the hidden tresory, somewhere, deep

Dying leaves of the Aspen tree; I walked through the Aspen wood and closed
my eyes Colour disappeared, leaving a bright darkness inside me

Dying leaves of the Aspen tree Which I don't see, but I do hear A faint
breeze sets the dying leaves in fibrillating oscillation; I hear the
trembling sound of a soft rain shower, as if it was rain in the spring No
individual drops, just the liquid rustle of dying leaves of Aspen trees

Does emotion ever find its end? Is it fading and dying slowly, or is it
hidden in a tresory, deep inside me? patiently waiting for its revelation

Does emotion ever finds it end? What a pointless question is this

No points, just becoming signs, or temporary breaks
A blind and soft shower Living sound, sound of life of dying leaves of the
Aspen tree With no beginning and no end, an endless wave of bright
darkness or light silence, or shining hollow-, breathing wholeness

No final points.................

Dearest Andrew,

How could one articulate emotion with dead characters. We are so limited
in our capabilities. How could one describe the strange, weightless
feelings that search their escape route from inside. Sometimes as the fly
that bounces with passion against the window glass, sometimes - fatigued
from this passion - restlessly resting in the tresory of the body.
How can I describe the feelings inside me that your letters bring alive?
Writing in another language, consulting the dictionary, looking for words
that I possibly could use. Trying to bring rhythm and melody in my words.
How can I look with transparant eyes, as if I look directly with some
strange inner sensor? These actions of consulting the dictionary influence
the motions of my emotions. They dim. If I stop writing, they spring

Why do I spend so much words like the dead leaves that cover the earth as
a soft turban on the head of a person with closed eyes.My words that cover
your words under a warm eiderdown.

I am glad that emotions can't be covered. They live their secret life, and
will do forever.

Words falling
lie on one another;
feeling meets feeling

Words falling
lie on one another;
feeling meets feeling

Words falling
lie on one another;
feeling meets feeling

Can you 'hear' the richness? Is there an oxygen tube between us. You
breath, I inhale? A tube with a soul that echoes between us.

Thank you Andrew, for sharing your feelings. Or were they mine? Visa
versa. The source of the echo surrounds us.

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
        Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.