I was in a suburb of Oxford last week, close to town where lots of very
clever academics (dons) live. There was a madman, he was running around
shouting about something inaudible. He ran into a 'betting shop' and they
threw him out. My mind wandered as to what a madman would place a 'bet' on
that day. Then, as if to provoke me... a programme started on the Radio on
the history of a song 'Amazing Grace' an ''anthem for Americans in time of
grief, '' they said. Well, it seemed to make me think of Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. so when I got home I went to the first web domain that seemed to
hold information I could relate to about that man. Fine words. "Darkness
cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out
hate; only love can do that."
I also saw one of my old tutors in Oxford last week. He was walking up a
hill he's walked every day for thirty five years now. You know how it is,
he does not look a day older. i TELL YOU he does not look a day older!
This is so hard. I was reminded also of an exhibition of young graduates a
few years ago at Oxford in which most had chosen to place images of self
and world into video screens embedded into walks. It was a full scale
retreat from the 'sensational world'. It was in content also a full scale
retreat from self interfacing with world so may layers had they put
between the subject and me, THEM. It had an air of tragedy.
If you were to study the Fine Arts and their history...Hey! Isn't a young
man called William from a House of (in) Windsor doing exactly that at St
Andrew's this year;-) you might find history forward thrown hither and
yon. For exemplar ;-) I wrote a piece not long ago and elsewhere on the
essential 'flatness' of a Durer etching, and all the aficionados of that
list serve's etiquette wanted to do was ask me 'what recursion' meant and
tell me how to put French accents into words, like two little dots above
the U in Durer except that's German. The piece I wrote had a different
meaning, the compression of space in our world was becoming/being
pre-figured in the etching by this visionary artist...but no
questioning...just the usual...complex self aggrandisement that goes with
most scientific culture...I digress.
I leap to Steinberg on Rauchenburg, where the former explains the latter's
ability to absorb and then reflect (reflect being an extra active verb
here) "the complexity of the world by comparing the artist's mind to the
cluttered surface of his 'combine' paintings upon which ANYTHING may be
placed or presented..."- They are like...a dump reservoir, switching
centre, abundant with concrete references freely associated as in a
internal dialogue, the outward symbol of the mind as a running transformer
of the external world, constantly ingesting incoming processed data to be
mapped in an over charged field."
A great and beloved poet of Islam, Rumi said in a poem that it was, not
possible to become less by dying, and that through dying life always
becomes higher. St John of the Cross sits next to my desk... from his dark
and merciless rounds of suffering and from his cave and sanctuary of pen
and transforming paper he wrote
To come to the pleasure you have not,
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not,
To come to the knowledge you have not,
You must go in a way which you know not
Four "nots", each same and different, marking cornered limits of the
greatest canvas for rich picture painting. Strange. Confusing. Painful.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot
drive out hate; only love can do that."
Unknown performance artist, alleged by a passer by to have been an old
drunken Irishman. Maybe instead we might believe he was a visionary who
wanted to place a bet at the very longest odds to raise himself out of
poverty, ... and the bet? That light WILL come drive out darkness and love
will drive out hate.
I heard a voice in the distance saying....:"Get the ***** out of my gambling
shop! We don't give odds on that kind of thing."...and the stock of stocks
tumbled and stumbled into the next time...
We are off now to see old Francis;-) I think I will see rainbows over the
wooded river valley below the house. They have had a terrible storm and many
of the old trees have gone.
"The steadfast rainbow in the fast moving, fast hurrying hail mist. What a
congregation of images and feelings, of fantastic permanence amidst the
rapid change of tempest-quietness daughter of storm."
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