Open Hand LO22730
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 06:44:50 EDT

Dear learners,

It would be a strange LO indeed that did not strive to understand. Artists
strive to understand just as chemists and accountants strive to
understand. I heard on the radio yesterday that a swedish artist has a
Yucca plant that makes better investment choices than the average stock
exchange analyst, so even Yucca plants strive to understand with a modicum
of success.

So, I was thinking to myself-How have other cultures thought of
understanding the facets that constitute human creativity, drawing,
painting, poetry, literature and so on. (Isn't there something called
'creative accountancy'?) and how to share that with you this morning?

I have appended two from the eastern traditions, one Confucian the other
more Taoist in nature.

'...the art of music, or that part of it that may be understood, is that
when it begins, it is tentative but as it continues along, it settles
down, it brightens up, it opens out; and in so doing it comes to an end.'

That also made me think of a working day at the office...

Einstein said some very similar things to that which is contained in the
text below which comes via Alan Watts.

"All matter is formed of accumulated force. Thus even the undulations of
hilltops and every rock and tree are possessed by a life force inherent in
them. They are multifarious, yet orderly, perhaps they exist in small
numbers, but they are never dried and dead. Each has its own shape, and
together they have a related unity. All things differ in shape and manner,
yet all are governed by this life force and possess the beauty of life.
This is called shih, force of movement. When people, speaking of the 'six
techniques' lay down the first lifelike tone and atmosphere they mean
exactly this. When we speak of the force of the brush pi-shih, we mean
that the life movement of the brush brings out the body posture of the
different objects. Only so can the work be called a painting. When one
prepares to put ink on paper, one should feel in one's wrist a power like
the universe creating life. It flows out from one generously and freely,
without obstruction and without deliberation. One puts a dot here and a
dash there and the objects take form; anything is possible for one to pick
up and carry along. This is the creative moment when hand and mind, brush
and ink co-operate. Seize it; capture it at once before it vanishes, for
speed is essential to catch that force of movement. Some say 'take ten
days to paint a stream, five to paint a rock', but the artist really means
that it cannot be forced or done under pressure by a fixed date. When the
inspiration comes it cannot be stopped, so insistently is the demand for
expression. -This is an example of achieving force of movement by speedy
execution. The forms of hills and forests come from the life force
sheng-ch'i of the universe, and the ink marks and tracings of the brush
come from the spiritual force of the artist's hand and mind, So where the
life force is, the force of the movement is also. The life force makes the
force of the movement, and the force of the movement carries the
life-movement. The force of the movement shih can be seen, but the life
force ch'i itself cannot. Therefore it is necessary to have a force of
movement to bring out the life of things. When life force circulates, the
force of movement goes in harmony with it. So this life force and force of
movement come from the same source. Let it pour out and it will flow
naturally and in graceful movements. There is no need to work carefully
and yet it all fits in beautifully. -Just pour it out. The insight of a
moment may thus be committed to eternity, and the artist need not be
ashamed of his work. An artist who builds up his structures cannot know
such a pleasure. Like an arrow from a bowstring it cannot be stopped; it
is unfathomable, like rumbling thunder coming from the earth. It cannot be
repeated by doubled effort, it simply eludes it. For the effort to
recapture that is borne of man and not heaven. Only those with a natural
expansive spirit know such moments. They can shut out the mental effort
and let themselves go soaring in freedom to wherever the spirit may carry
them. There is a co-operation of natural skill and natural gift."

Shen Tsung-ch'ien fl 1781

Anyone who wanted to experience the joy that can come from 'emergent
creativity' in this way might easily slip into this exercise with brush,
pen and paper. If you did do so alongside a young child you would have an
excellent painting master beside you. Cartier Bresson the photographer
said that art was to 'align head, eye and heart.' Easy as that! Which is
why Picasso so loved children's art and emulates in in many ways. And why
childrens art is, to my mind both faultless and priceless.

So fellow poets, if you do get creative this weekend with the family,
heck, Rick, what say you ask the LO artists to post them to you and ring
up the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and get an exhibition organised for the

If you get really stuck you might like to be encouraged to know that one
very celebrated chinese painters used to dunk his head in the ink and
paint with his hair! Then, when he ' quietened down' he'd get all lyrical
and make the landscape complete.

Best wishes,

Andrew Campbell


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