culture and anticulture

"Ethics and aesthetics are one" Ludwig Wittgenstein

28. Looking at a Painting in the Postmodern World

(For context see Post 1)

 

The means of appreciating painting, sculpture and architecture are quite varied. That of the middle-class museum goer’s drift through a typical exhibit, often wearing headphones to guide them, is perhaps the most crass and Philistine. It is the norm today and is a distraction from the real task of contemplation.

What is a painting?  In the simplest sense it is a planar circumscribed space, a region surfaced with colors and shapes, usually with a conventional periphery to emphasize its discreteness (framing).  In the most literal sense that is all.

 

 

 

 

 

(“This is not a pipe”)

 

La Trahison des Images (The Treachery of Images) –   Rene Magritte

 

 

This simple reality is not altered by its history, symbolic and ideological interpretations, market value, snob appeal and the like.  A painting is a separate object in the visual world, like any other.  Yet a true painting is also a very unusual kind of object, a sort of focal point of aesthetic power.

We have already addressed the reality of aesthetic forces and how to invite them into the soul.  In part, something akin to surrendering to the effects of music is called for.  Music has the capacity to affect us in an almost unmediated manner, to allow us to merge with the experience of tone, harmony and rhythm. Looking, though, is very different. There is a kind of gap between us and the outer, visual world that is, at first, much harder to bridge.  To begin with, a painting is far from us.

A first step in bridging this gap is to stop the standard museum goer’s practice.  Avoid audio tours above all.  Pick out a painting to contemplate for a sustained period, comfortably seated if possible.  Consuming large numbers of paintings, like so many confections, is destructive to aesthetic pleasure.

 

Looking requires time, lots of time.  You take your ordinary self with you to this event, and it must be put aside somehow.  This can be done by gazing with intense attention for a while, alternating with looking away or, better yet, closing your eyes. If you are around others, you must jettison the self-consciousness which is lethal to the free play, the improvisation this looking must be, in order to be fruitful.  Rumination must also be suppressed or minimized.

This sought-for state of unprejudiced receptivity, of “negative capability” (as Keats called it) is a kind of self-hypnosis to free you from the banality of ordinary consciousness.  This heightened, elusive state (‘something evermore about to be”- Wordsworth), even if momentary or intermittent, is essential to the deep apprehension of aesthetic power.

Such a state lends a hyper-real intensity to the image looked at – (much easier to do with a well-composed picture than a mediocre one).

Having achieved this cleansing of attention, individual details can be contemplated.  Now ensues the true “analysis” of a painting – it involves focusing on a region of color or shape and bringing simple, corresponding thoughts to bear.  This is best illustrated by examples.

 

 

 

 

Annunciation     Botticelli

 

 

Overall, there is a quiet, transcendent harmony.  On sustained contemplation, the central feature of this image is the relationship of the outstretched hands of the two figures.  The arms are aligned, yet not rigidly so, and the hands, with infinite grace, convey a shaping quality across the gap between them; full of mysterious yet palpable force, as if the hands were radiating power akin to the like poles of a magnetic field.  [The impression can be enhanced by imaginatively or literally placing your limbs in a corresponding position.]

 

Looking at the figures, the winged angelic form is clothed in a complex array of cloud and wavelike billows, mobile and expansive, as if stirred by the wind.

 

The Madonna’s torso is of a more vivid red, with torsional vertical streams of color emerging from the black inwardness of another dimension, created by the lining of her cape.

 

The crouching figure of the angel is charged with a sense of coiled, constrained motion; the Madonna with a restraining quietude.

 

The gaze of each figure is into an indeterminate, spiritual infinity; their faces deeply moved, yet objective and enigmatic as well.

 

The bright stripes and squares of the floor give a degree of levity (lightness) to bring this scene into the full light of day.

 

The view through the window relates this intense, local encounter to the vast space of the earth and sky, uniting the intimate with the universal.

 

 

 

 

 

27. Thinking/Feeling/Willing Exercise

(For context see Post 1)

Posts 18, 19 and 20 described means to strengthen the powers of the soul, each with a different emphasis. (18 Thinking, 19 Observation or Feeling, 20 Willing)  This entry describes the training of all three faculties together.

The exercise requires several new efforts:

To generate an image independent of physical reality

To change that image gradually: to alter one form into another

To experience polarity and the intermediate states between them ( to “feel” it )

Imagine an unbounded plane, uniform in all directions. Try to feel the freedom and dizziness of such a plane, like being on a vast prairie under an infinite sky.

Gradually imagine the infinite extension of the plane uniformly shrink to distinct limits (edges).  Feel the supporting yet open gesture of a plate-like surface and the limits it imposes on movement. (Akin to being on the broad top of a mesa)

Now, “roll-up” the edges of the “plate” into a bowl-shaped depression.  Feel the enclosing protection of the walls as well as the restraint, the unfreedom it imposes.

Continue this process, stopping to notice the increasing sense of protection and the declining degree of freedom, as the form progresses from cup-like to vase-shaped to enclosed sphere.

The sphere represents a maximum of protection with corresponding isolation and unfreedom.
Finally, intensify this form to negative infinity–that is to a vanishing point of maximum apartness, and individuality.

Do this in reverse to finish the exercise.

In a similar fashion any polarity can be contemplated inwardly.  Light and dark, red and blue, center and periphery, for example.  In each case, imagine vividly the form, color or tone, then will its transformation into the polar opposite, ‘feeling-knowing’ the stages along the way.  The idea is to mentally picture movement  along a continuum, with an imaginative, feeling intuition.

26. Aesthetic Objectivity and the Organ of Consciousness

(For context see post 1)

 

“What is art” is a perennial question with innumerable answers. We all know the maxim ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.  Taste in art is most often thought to be a personal, subjective matter.  Then there is the world of art criticism and art theory, which have objective elements, but they rarely touch upon the reality of immediate aesthetic experience.  (See Post 3 – Aesthetic Forces are Real.)  How can one speak of objectivity in the arts, of aesthetic truth?  The claim that aesthetic forces are real seems to be contradicted by the predominant culture of our time. Are aesthetic forces woven into the fabric of reality and part of the human constitution?

One way to understand this is through the lens of neuroscience and evolutionary biology.  Any understanding of consciousness must take note of the findings of these domains of science.  The brain is the organ of consciousness (i.e.-no brain, no earthly awareness).  It is the most complicated object we know of in the universe* and it has a vast evolutionary history from older, simpler forms.
*(There are trillions of synapses in the brain – possibly more than the number of stars in the universe and many times the binary switches in all the computers in the world.)

 
There is clear evidence that aesthetic responses correlate with changes in the prefrontal region of the cerebral cortex (the uppermost and most recently evolved part of the brain) and that these responses are not arbitrary.  An entire discipline, neuroaesthetics, is devoted to the study of this relationship.

 

Aesthetic responses vary across a vast spectrum; from repulsion to ecstasy, harmony to dissonance.  Remember that the central nervous system of humans is the most complex, integrated object in the universe, and this will help in understanding the richness and subtlety of our reactions.  This organ in all its complexity not only creates language and culture but is, in turn, constantly influenced and molded by its own creations – whether a Greek temple or a personal computer.

The brain does not secrete consciousness like a gland – a widespread, but deeply un-philosophical prejudice (only a gross dogmatic materialism maintains such a view).  The brain is not consciousness and the changes in it are not the causes of our reactions: they are correlative.  What is most important is to realize that our responses to color, tone, form, words, and rhythm are not merely subjective or cultural, but have lawful, universal elements.  Aesthetic forces are deeply woven into the very fabric of our being.  For example, images embodying the proportions of the Golden Ratio and Fibonnaci Series are inherently satisfying to the human soul.  These proportions are found everywhere in nature and in great art.

 

 

 

 

Golden Ratio superimposed on the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fibonacci spirals in nature

 

 

 

 

The intensity of the aesthetic response can vary due to age, character, temperament, and biography, but its power and specificity can be greatly augmented by exercising the aesthetic faculty, as described in earlier posts.

25. The Industrialization of Human Folly

(For context see post 1)

Human error and foolishness are universal and have always been with us.  The capacity for self-deception and self-indulgence lives in everyone.  This is what the swindler, the rogue, the demagogue, the sellers of snake-oil of all kinds rely upon.  In the last hundred years, however, a great change has come about in the understanding of how to deceive and manipulate people.  Consciously apprehended propaganda and advertising are largely a product of the 20th century.  Among the key personalities in developing and employing these techniques are Freud,  his son-in-law, Edward Bernays (“Propaganda”), Gustave Le Bon (“The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”), Goebbels, Hitler, Trotsky, Stalin, Lenin, etc.

Brain science has progressed greatly in the last two decades.  Specifically, research regarding the neurotransmitter, dopamine, discloses that its release in the limbic region of the brain is the physical basis of addiction, as well as the motivation engineered through advertising and propaganda.  The same neural forces that are the foundation for addictive behavior are those that underlie the desire for everything from fast food to SUVs.  They also drive the craving for social media and web-surfing. These drives are extremely potent.  Dopamine signaling in the limbic region is associated with anticipation of pleasurable fulfillment, which drives behavior, even in the absence of that satisfaction.  And, like any other addiction, the screen and gadget addiction is compulsive, in part because withdrawal from it is so painful.

The insights from psychiatry, social psychology and brain science have provided massively powerful tools to exploiters and manipulators of all kinds. There is now a science of temptation. Coupled with electronic media, it has been employed to mutate human consciousness and behavior in a way never before possible. This has been essentially an industrial enterprise: highly organized, technical, complex and capital (rather than labor) intensive.  Rather than meeting basic human demands, the possibilities for production are first developed, then the products created and marketed.  There is not a fundamental human appetite for electronic gadgets and the software anti-world.  The mass demand for such things comes from a hijacking of human instincts for novelty, anticipation and creativity.  The current production-driven anti-culture is a husk of real culture from which, more and more, there is little escape.  Greed and forward inertia are turning human activity on the earth into a vast, chaotic, meaningless machine. It will not have a happy outcome.  If the current runaway train of production is not halted, a caricature of the Terminator film-future may be upon us, with robot consumers replacing the already programmed organic (human) ones.

In some ways this will be a self-correcting process.  The current dopamine-driven American (i.e. world dominating) caricature of human society has no future.  It is unsupportable even in the near term (resource depletion, environmental degradation, collapse in morale).  It is the old problem–reform through forethought or catastrophic, involuntary correction.

Currently there is no choice for “society”, as the mass of people are stupefied and impotent. This is partly by design through schooling, to create a shallow orientation towards ultimately meaningless consumption.  Individuals are largely powerless against the world-dominant technical determinants of production and consumption.
I am convinced that the remedy for this is living, direct renewal of human social contact and the revival of language through conversation, at least among a small portion of the population.  (See Post 23-Conversation)

Discarded cell phones

24. You Don’t Even Live Once…

23. Conversation

(For context see post 1)

No sooner had the snake beheld this venerable image than the king began to speak and asked:
“Whence comest thou?”
“From the crevices where the gold dwells.”
“What is more glorious than gold?” asked the king. “Light,” answered the snake.
“What is more refreshing than light?” asked the former.
“Conversation,” replied the latter.

Goethe’s ‘Fairy Tale’

 

The word conversation is used by the guardians of anti-culture in the U.S. almost constantly.  For example, having a “national conversation about poverty”, “the conversation continues online” and other horribly empty phrases.   This poor word has taken a terrible beating in recent times, its meaning almost inverted by the force of repeated abuse.  Similarly, the phrase “we need to talk” usually means “shut up and listen to me.”

At least in America, real conversation is not dying, but dead.  I mean unprejudiced, broad-minded, tolerant, fruitful exchange between people, face to face; exchanging, not only words, but gestures, tones of voice, intimations. There is no substitute for this direct contact, as shown by many failed attempts to replicate the effects of real human contact, using computers or video and voice links.  Real conversation must involve, especially at present, a gradual negotiation over the meaning of words and ideas.  It must be free of both hostility and appeals to authority (I’m older than you, I have a degree in this, etc.)  Conversation is a mutual, improvisational art, whose real goal is truth and depth of understanding.  It is NOT debate or argument, not verbal fencing with thrust and parry, victory and defeat. Though it need not lead to any agreement, some sense of mutual understanding will be the result, even between enemies.

Conversation does not demand urbane sophistication, the right refined words or good grammar.  It always demands some feeling for subtlety and nuance.  Nothing is absolutely clear-cut when words are exchanged; everything arises in a living context.  True conversation is a fabric of words, gestures, feeling and thoughts.

Let us use the word ‘justice’ to exemplify the demand true conversation makes on us to mutually work toward understanding one another’s use of words.  In our culture, justice usually refers to fairness and just desserts.  It also can mean retribution. (Remember the Old Testament formula “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.)  Or it can refer to the orderly working of the law and its mechanisms. The highest virtue of the ancient Greeks was ‘justice’, but that fundamentally referred to a wholesome earthly and cosmic proportionality, and a hierarchy of worth; of things in their true place and value.  Bandying the word ‘justice’, without a mutual sense of how it is being used, is not conversation–it is argument and debate, with the purpose of winning and not understanding.  Such contention contributes to the vast mass of bullshit we are suffocating under.

By understanding a word I do not mean the result of rigid definition, but a feeling for its use and the concept it refers to.  Concepts are like cloud forms, with a vague periphery and a dense central meaning.  True conversation has, as one of its features, the ability to tease out these central meanings, entertain them and, in a sense, get ‘inside’ them. The poet, John Keats, spoke of the ability to entertain something in the mind, to deeply experience it, without being controlled and seduced.  He called this capacity ‘negative capability’ and it is indispensable for lively, creative exchanges.

Symptomatic of real conversation, is that it enlivens and refreshes its participants. It also exemplifies the old maxim ‘I can’t, we can’.  Conversation ‘midwifes’ new conceptions, images and impulses, which would otherwise be stillborn.

 

The Supper at Emmaus      Caravaggio

 

 

22. Art and Architecture of Evil Part II

(For context see Post 1)

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris

Deafening visual noise, frenetic optical clubbing, vertiginous.  Actually lowers the seizure threshold in epileptics.

These places make people look like fake cut-outs in a computer assisted design print-out.  Harsh, meaningless, glaring light.  No human scaling or ornamentation, no way to be an individual soul-spirit among genuine individuals.

Hopeless vistas of sameness.  Fake fabric carpeting probably pathetically stained here and there, yet unable to age.  We all have experienced the strange, artificial odors and oddly muffled sounds of these places.  They are everywhere and everywhere the same, all dolorous and life-sucking. Imagine living in this setting.  This is metastatic architectural cancer.

Ceiling, Grand Central Station, New York

Grand Central Station, New York

Ignoring the giant flag, not a great place, but scaled for humans by the horizontal ticket booths, with a touch of real grandeur in the gallery, columns, vaulted arches and windows.  The materials and colors are more natural and more suited to the human eye. The noise and bustle of such a place is much more consistent with the purposeful movement of travel.  The ceiling has real charm in evoking the night sky.

Computer Horse

Harsh, insensitive; from another dimension–again, imagine existing in a world of such false color and form. It steals the living form and corrupts and degrades it.  Repellent, harsh and aggressive.  Unlike any real horse.

St. George and the Dragon      Raphael

The forces of gravity and levity are expressed in color, light and darkness. This density is most remarkably evoked in the obscure browns of the serpent; the levity and vitality in the white of the horse and the metallic gleam of the dark armor. The timelessly arrested motion of the three central figures, delicacy of the foliage, and purity of the sky radiate an elegant serenity to what, by convention, should be a violent image.

Nazi architecture ;  Volkshalle  (Monsterbau)

This building model for a dome seating 180,000 people is completely derivative and would have been utterly soul-crushing if actually built.  It is also faintly ridiculous and just doesn’t “get” the architectural idiom it has ripped off.

St. Mark’s Cathedral, Venice

Overall, with a strict symmetry, the cathedral’s ornamentation makes it beautifully complex.  It is on a grand scale vertically, but horizontal layers, interwoven with pillars and arches, scale it for people standing in the square.  The domes have a mysterious and elegant lightness to them.

Nazi Sculpture

Utterly derivative–it owes everything to classical Greece.  It is stiff, artificial, repellent and absurd.

Ancient Greek Sculpture  Figure of Zeus

Effortlessly graceful; in dynamic equilibrium between weight and lightness, left and right, movement and repose.

21. The Art and Architecture of Evil – Part I

(For context see post I)

The poet Goethe observed that genuine art is an extension and elaboration of nature, and is true to her and to her methods.  What did he mean by this?  It is that art finds and uses the forms and activities of nature that are the carriers of harmony and disharmony, of beauty and ugliness.  Think of plant and animal forms, and forces that shape landscapes, waves and clouds.  Genuine art uses this store of shapes, colors, tones and forces in the service of new creation.  It shapes and molds, it magically conjures new gestures, new patterns, new being, but does not impose anything remote or artificial, maintaining a continuity with nature.   True art, apart from being realist, abstract or other categories, makes visible or audible that which otherwise would be pure spirit, without image. This is the case with nature itself, in which all things perceptible are images of unseen forces.

Anti-art is its opposite.  It forces together that which should remain apart and tears apart that which naturally belongs together.  (See Post 7- Aesthetics and Evil)

As usual, the confusion over words like art, freedom, love, good and evil, etc., comes from a distortion of the evolved and historical uses of a word for its central purposes.  Hence, the following will characterize art in the way that I use it.  These are not to be taken as rigid definitions.

Art

Builds on archetypal gestures – tones, forms, lines, color etc.  Seeks to bring itself into relation with the aesthetic reality of each element – to be woven into a novel, living whole.  Invites what we have called “knowing feeling”.  Appeals to real aesthetic forces.  (See Post 3 – Aesthetic Forces are Real, and Post 19 – Observation Exercise)

Anti-Art

Indifferent to the fundamental nature of its materials-takes them by force.  Aesthetic forces are secondary, enslaved to serve abstract ideas (ideology or theology) or an ulterior purpose, such as marketing

Art

Relies on grace and proportion.   Has no intellectual, ideological purpose that dominates its composition.  Novel.  Improvisation – spontaneity – utterly unique.

Prelude, Cello Suite no. 1      J.  S.  Bach

Junker Ramp and his Sweetheart      Frans Hals

Anti-Art

Relies on massive effects    Ideological, purpose-driven, conceptual.  Repetitive.  Derivative.  Rule-bound.

Peter Max

Art

Intensive – supra real, lifts one out of the mundane.  Subtle.  Fundamentally done for its own sake.  Relies on appropriate proportion.  Primarily produced by individual effort.  Sincere, with an element of depth.

Chartres Cathedral

Anti-Art

Life-sapping, banal. Crass, obvious.  Done for reasons other than creativity.  Relies on mass, shock, habitual responses.  Primarily mass-produced.  Insincere, shallow.

Some forms of evil art:

Propaganda art-political advertising.  (Ideological, coercive)

Commercial art-seeks economic gain through manipulation of desire

Conceptual art-performance art-intellectualized, fake sophistication

Computer art – absolutely remote from nature

20. Willing- an exercise in self-discipline: Against Rumination

(Also see Post 18-Thinking, Post 19-Feeling)

(For context see Post 1)

Any willed, repetitive exercise leads to new patterns and strengths in life.  The only reliable way
to overcome bad, well established habits is by displacing and suppressing them with contrary good habits, the central purpose of any exercise.

One of the most terrible and widespread afflictions of modern and postmodern humanity is rumination.  Rumination is the endless inner production of word-stuff: sentences, sentence fragments and words.  It has been called arguing with yourself until you win.  It is a kind of inner noise.  Much of what people say aloud is actually externalized rumination.

Rumination-like inner vocalization can be quite useful when properly used.  For example, writing and using a shopping list, or following a map and written directions.  However, rumination is NOT a source of fundamental truth or insight.

Rumination is largely a learned behavior and trained into us – in order to make us neurotically suggestible and vulnerable to advertising and propaganda.  It promotes many bouts of unjustified shame, guilt, fear and resentment; as well as false optimism.  “I’m no good.   It’s their fault.  I can’t.  I must.  I should.  I shouldn’t.  It’s all good.  Shit happens.”  It is the bedrock of rationalization.

We have much to suggest states of mind that are free of rumination.  Think of the images of the Buddha or of unspoiled Native Americans.  The smiling repose of the former and the suffering-imbued silent faces of the latter never suggest rumination to us.

Imagine a Plains Indian with eagle feather headdress and a lance, mounted on an Appaloosa pony, silent and impassive–AND ruminating.  “Running Bear is flirting with my old lady, he ought to stop.  Hell, he’s bigger than me.  Maybe he’ll lay off.  Sure he will.  No he won’t. Will. Won’t. Yes. No.”  Blah blah blah, on and on.  We know this is not the case, which is precisely why we admire and venerate such figures.  Nobility, dignity and inner strength are the antithesis of neurotic self-talk.

Anti-rumination exercise: an exertion in changing the direction of our will.

Conditions of exercise:

Find a calm place with a minimum of distracting noise.

1. Plan on 5 inner minutes of trying – no clock!

2. Get comfortable, close your eyes.

3. Falling asleep is okay.

4. If distracted, re-direct your attention back to the exercise.

5. Failure or success is not important; only try or not.

The exercise:

Repeat over and over again the phrase, “Be gladly silent”.  This should not be an inner command (like, “Shut up!”, “Quiet!”) but a gentle redirection, with a minimum of meaning.  It can even be absurd, free of any reference.

The key principles of this exercise are tenacity and simplicity.  Think of a dog with a bone (tenacity) and childlike, innocent simplicity.  This exercise is hard, to begin with, but becomes easier over time.  Eventually the phrase, “Be gladly silent” can be dropped and calm inwardly- asserted silence can take its place.

Don’t get discouraged.

Keep a light touch.

19. Observation exercise: An aid to objective sympathy and the elevation of the life of feeling.

(Also see Post 3 Aesthetic Forces are Real)

(For context see Post 1)

’THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.’

Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of early Childhood  –   Wordsworth
My experience of moving from childhood to adulthood is exactly portrayed by Wordsworth.  Until the age of eight or so, despite much turmoil and pain, I sensed the natural world as full of enchantment and power.  Everything in nature seemed to speak to me of a lurking, esoteric significance, all seemed suffused with personality – in clouds, flowers, waves and trees.  By adolescence this had faded and I sorely felt its loss. Later, in college, medical school and residency, I felt this dullness even more and named it with an equally dull phrase: “my imagination has been flattened with a frying pan.”

Later, when I had time and ready access to the natural world out my rural backdoor, I worked at finding my way back to that childhood capacity, clumsily but persistently.  I had some success and many failures.  I would have brief access to that world, often for no apparent reason. Then I came across some of Leonardo da Vinci’s notes on observing common but neglected phenomena, such as forms in flowing water and cracks in walls and the impressions they gave rise to.  This was a powerful stimulus for me.

I finally made real headway when I sat on the shore of a fast flowing creek, just downstream of a small dam.  I resolved to stay and stare at the water-forms for as long as it took to really feel their power and gesture, with what I later came to call objective sympathy (feeling-knowing).  After hours of trial and error and fruitless staring and looking away, I hit on a useful approach, a kind of trick, if you will.  Later I used the same method in prolonged contemplation of a van Gogh in a New York museum, and then on many occasions over the years.  This method is the primary subject of this post.  If worked with, it will transiently re-enchant the world, in Wordsworth’s sense and re-clothe it in “celestial light”.  What is evoked will be brief at first, but will gradually prolong and intensify and become much easier with practice.  The associated impressions will bear the mark of objective universality.

Conditions of the Exercise:

Essentially none, other than the willingness to improvise.

The Exercise:

Imagine you are in conversation with a friend, when a sudden loud noise to your left distracts you.  In an instant you turn your head and all your attention toward it.  In that moment, you are all attention, not thinking, yet not vaguely staring either. You are intensely alert and receptive. This heightened awareness passes in a moment, over to a judgment: e.g., “That was a firecracker”.  The exercise consists in picking an image, a sound, a color, etc. on which to fasten this kind of receptive, unprejudiced, unthinking alertness; and having done so, prolong this intensely directed observation for as long as possible.

Wait and see what happens.  This searchlight-like focus will intensify the impression of what is observed, heightening its reality.

The exercise requires no special setting.  It may fruitfully be attempted from time to time in the course of the day.

Thoughtful reflection will enhance the experience and allow you to retain it.  The exercise will develop the capacity to receive feelings which go beyond the purely personal into the realm of objective sympathy (feeling-knowing).

‘Don’t underestimate this idea of mine, which calls to mind that it would not be too much of an effort to pause sometimes to look into these stains on walls, the ashes from the fire, the clouds, the  mud, or other similar places.  If these are well contemplated, you will find fantastic inventions that awaken the genius of the painter to new inventions, such as compositions of battles, animals, and men, as well as diverse composition of landscapes, and monstrous things, as devils and the like.  These will do you well because they will awaken genius with this jumble of things.’                                                Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

Water forms     da Vinci