Tuesday, August 11, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos: Darker Than Any Mystery - Part 8, Third Movement

I want to quickly clarify something here.  This blog is not about politics, nor will it ever be.  However, to keep the sense of the little tale I'm telling I need to make a quasi-political statement.  This is from little jeffy's world - it's there that politics sometimes rears its muddled head, and little jeffy has to deal with it on some level.  Comes with the territory of the common, mundane world.  I'll keep it as simple as possible:

As I mentioned earlier, I believe we have a unique opportunity in this time of personal, societal and cultural unmooring to remake ourselves.  This is always available to us on the personal level, but on the societal and cultural level it's a much tougher lift, so this opportunity is important.  To put it bluntly, the biggest impediment to achieving this in the political arena is Donald Trump and his gang.  If he is re-elected it will be a huge setback and a much, much tougher row to hoe, which would be a real shame.

That's it, that's my orientation.  Back to my tale...

You might now be guessing what that lunch conversation turned into.  My three comrades spun off into a 45 minute mutually supporting tirade that could have come right out of the Fox News playbook - Black Lives Matter being a Marxist trained organization; COVID as a Chinese conspiracy, mask wearing a fraudulent fix; Joe Biden going senile; rioters at demonstrations as leftist provocateurs organized by radical socialists.  On and on and on it went like a feed-back loop building to a crescendo.  I was stunned into silence as they peppered me with one conspiracy theory after another.

I'd heard all of this before of course, but it surprised me and I was unprepared.  Besides, if I had answered back it would have provoked them more, and I just wanted lunch to end!  So I held my tongue and breathed a sigh of relief when we returned to work.

I was troubled by the incident, and it followed me into the next day.  Upon analyzing my reaction I could see it was not the arguments that bothered me, not even the fervor and the gloating.  It was the emotions that lay just underneath the surface of the tirade - anger, resentment, hatred.  And underneath all of that, a real, palpable fear.  And these were guys I had considered decent fellows.

Little jeffy was shook up.  His faith , his yearning for the possibilities in front of us to remake ourselves had taken a blow.  With all that anger and resentment and fear dominating so many, what chance was there?  And of course, his concerns for the common, mundane world followed him into the studio, and he couldn't shake it.  Big Jeff observed his rattled studio assistant and could only shake his head.  The trials and tribulations of the common, mundane world do not directly affect him - he's too busy probing the mystery dimensions and working his magic; and besides, he at most holds opinions very, very lightly.  But little jeffy's agitation was getting to be distracting, even to the point that The Unborn was kicking a little harder in the womb, probably sensing the agitation himself.  That would just not do!

So in my mode as Big Jeff I took action.  I went to the singing bowl altar, ritually acknowledging the three holons and the holarchy.  When done I took an extra step, one I save for only the most important occasions.  I asked for help.  I didn't direct this request anywhere in particular; no deity, no beloved saint, no angels or Earth spirits.  I guess you might say, since my Significant Other is the Kosmos, I directed it to the Kosmos.  Knowing that little jeffy's faith was teetering, was on the line and under assault, I simply asked for a message, or better yet a sign to help restore his battered faith.  I struck the bowl and sent the request out into the Kosmos.

Later that day I was thinking intently about signs from the Kosmos, wondering what form they might take - an inner voice, what Teresa of Avila called locutions?  A random but relevant message from someone I know, or someone I  don't know?  A dream perhaps?  I was thinking "Signs, signs, signs, what would a sign actually look like?"  And then a film I had once seen popped into my mind, "Signs" by M. Night Shyamalon, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix.  It had been awhile since I'd seen it and details of the story eluded me, but I remembered that the signs the title alluded to were crop circles that Mel Gibson, playing a farmer/ex-minister, found in his fields and which portended an alien invasion.  I got a chuckle out of that - no crop fields in my world, so I could cross that one off of my list! Nonetheless the film kept popping into my consciousness, the title so intriguing under the circumstances.  Ultimately I decided I would have to adopt beginner's mind and remain open for anything, without preconceptions.  

By evening I had forgotten the whole thing, busy cooking for the week's lunches and catching snippets of news on TV.  It was a warm, pleasant evening and as dark approached I strolled out to my favorite spot in the local park to  watch the sunset.  When I returned I  decided to flip through the 7 or 8 movie channels I have on the TV, looking for something entertaining to help wind down the day.  The very first channel I flipped  to was showing "Signs", starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix!!!

I kid you not.  Believe me, I could not have made this up.  The little jeffy in me was flabbergasted.  "This is impossible!  What are the odds?!  How could this just be a coincidence?!"  The Big Jeff in me simply smiled.  "Of course".  

It was just 5 minutes into the film, and as I find M. Night Shyamalon films mysteriously eerie and filled with surprises I settled in to watch, looking forward to re-acquainting myself with the story. 

 (As an aside, I imagine most of you have seen this film; it was quite popular.  I'm going to recount some of the action to refresh your memory, but if you haven't seen it I hope I don't ruin it for you.  In any case it's worth seeing either again or for the first time.)

In the beginning we get a flashback to a time when the Mel Gibson character was a minister.  His wife is killed in a horrendous accident while jogging, pinned to a tree by a pick-up truck driven by a neighbor who had fallen asleep at the wheel.  The minister is able to get to her before she dies, and her last words to him seem to be nothing but gibberish.  

As the film proceeds we return to the present.  The minister has dropped his vestment and collar, having lost all faith in his religion and quitting his ministry after the senselessly random and brutal death of his wife.  He has returned to his farming, and this is when the crop circles begin appearing in his fields, the signs portending an alien invasion.  As I watched I noticed something I don't remember taking strong note of at first viewing - a running theme throughout the story is the issue of faith.  We hear it in the conversations the minister has with his brother and two children as the ominous events unfold.  You get a real sense of how bitter and disenchanted he is, how the universe seems to him senseless and barren.  He's in a black void, as if floating on a vast ocean with no land on the horizon in any direction.

I mentioned the crop circles.  Certainly they were one of the signs referred to in the title; menacing signs, we find out, as the aliens begin to appear and threaten the family.  But other signs show up, signs that are not at all obvious as they appear in the narrative.  Simple things, so simple we barely take notice of them as we watch - the young daughter leaving half empty water glasses all over the house; the young son suffering asthma attacks as the fear builds; the brother's trophy baseball bat hung above the fireplace mantel. These all become highly significant as the alien threat builds.  And of course, it turns out the gibberish spoken by the dying wife seconds before her death was not gibberish at all, but prophetic advice.

On the surface this is a science-fiction movie about an alien invasion, but the real message is about signs, and about faith.  The subtle signs save the family, and the minister wins back his faith, is redeemed by the signs.  And guess what?  Little jeffy had gotten his sign - the movie, with its themes of signs and faith, appearing in my mind that afternoon and then at exactly the time I would turn on the TV that evening.  It was the Kosmos responding almost immediately to my request in the most unexpected way possible, against astronomical odds.  Little jeffy got his "Signs", and got his faith back.




   

Friday, August 7, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery, Part 8: Ya Gotta Have... 2nd Movement

2nd Movement

Over a long period of time I've noticed an interesting aspect of my art practice that has progressively seeped into the day-to-day work in the studio.  To put it simply, ritual has come to increasingly define how I approach even the simplest of activities.  This hasn't come about by conscious intention; rather, it seems to have gradually grown into the fabric of my activities without my noticing, until one day it dawned on me what had happened.

To illustrate what I mean by this I'll need to reintroduce a couple of characters I've labeled as holons, the ones that help to make up the holarchy that binds together my particular self-sense.  As you may remember, the world of my art practice, the creative alchemical world, is the world of Big Jeff.  He's the intuitive magician who somehow reaches into mysterious realms and pulls out dazzling and completely unexpected objects of wonder.  Little jeffy, inhabitant of the common, mundane world, has no idea how he does it, but the little guy is along for the ride.  You might call him the studio assistant.  He has the physical skills, the rational problem solving strengths, the sheer determination and willpower to get Big Jeff to the studio every day.  He also sweeps the floors.

In my particular practice these two characters work hand-in-hand; it's a nice symbiotic relationship.  Much of the work they do in the actual production of artworks is, as it turns out, rather mundane and tedious.  For instance, while working with spools of thread on painted board there is a tendency for the threads to slide uncontrollably down the side when placed at a steep angle to the edge.  To solve this problem the first solution was to rough the edges of the board with 40 grit sandpaper, creating a tooth to hold the threads in place.  This worked to some degree, but was ultimately inadequate and so a new solution had to be found.  What was finally arrived at was the use of a very small, thin-bladed wood saw to cut tiny slits into the edges of the board, slits no more than 1/16 of an inch apart.  The threads slip into the slits, holding them in place.

As you might imagine this can be very monotonous work.  At 16 cuts per inch the average artwork of 200 inch circumference requires 3200 tiny cuts.  Very carefully placed.  Guess who does that work?  Of course, that's little jeffy's job, the studio assistant.  Little jeffy was not happy with that job in the beginning - tedious, repetitive work requiring intense concentration.  To make matters worse, little jeffy's mind tends to wander as he worries about common mundane things like paying the rent, or what groceries to buy, or whether lentil soup is best with or without tomato sauce.   In other words, the common, mundane world tends to follow him around, even in the studio.

But little jeffy is the problem solver, and solve it he did.  The solution came in the form of an audio CD called 'Shamanic Drumming', which consists of two tracks, the first a recording of one drummer on an indigenous drum of some sort pounding out a steady, flat rhythm - dum dum dum dum dum dum - for 30 minutes, much like one would hear in a shamanic ritual performed by an indigenous tribe.  The second track is two drums, same flat rhythm at a similar speed of about 120 beats per minute, which apparently is the range used by indigenous tribes around the globe.  The idea is to induce a kind of concentrated trance.  Little jeffy turns on the CD, takes to his little saw and cuts the tiny slits in pace with the drumming, about one cut per 2 beats.  In a few minutes he's in a trance, and Voila!  We have a ritual.

Big Jeff has his own rituals, though they are oriented toward aiding him in reaching dimensions of mystery where he plays his creative alchemy.  One of the rituals I've developed for him consists of a small altar just inside the door of my working studio.  Central to the altar is a Tibetan singing bowl, one with a rich sound  and long period of resonance.  Next to it is a hand-wrought wooden handle wrapped at the end with fabric, for the purpose of striking the bowl.  Arranged in front of the bowl are three images on postcards of artworks of mine, each image representing for me one of the three holons that make up the holarchy of my self-sense - little jeffy; Big Jeff; The Unborn.  When I've settled into my studio for a day of work, before any creative activity begins, I perform a benediction of sorts - I first place a hand on the image representing little jeffy, acknowledge his place in the holarchy and the value he brings, then I strike the bowl, focusing intently on the reverberating sound as it slowly fades.  Then I follow suit with Big Jeff, and follow that with The Unborn.  Finally I strike the bowl and stretch both hands over all of the images, acknowledging the holarchy of my self-sense and its structure that holds it all together.  All of this is a very centering, very calming ritualistic start to my creative day.

I recently found a new use for my singing bowl altar, and here is where my tale begins:

Lately, in my guise as little jeffy, I have been going through a tough period in the common, mundane world - several rejections for possible exhibitions; a big art installation job vanishing with no explanation; a colleague getting extremely upset with me over an imagined insult; and on, and on, and on.  One of those periods we all go through from time to time when it seems the universe is piling it on.  Mostly we just tough it out and things pass, but one incident got to me, the proverbial straw on the camel's back.

I was working on an art installation job in a new apartment complex with 3 other fellows.  I've worked with these guys in the past and we've gotten along fine together.  I don't know them real well but I've considered them decent folk and good workers, which I respect, though they are not the types I would likely befriend outside work.  As is usual out in the field we went to lunch together, and while sitting at the restaurant the talk turned to politics and recent events.  And that's when the camel's back broke.  But that will have to wait till next time.

To be continued...

Monday, August 3, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery, Part 8: Ya Gotta Have... First Movement


First Movement

When the COVID lock-down descended upon us I had a curious reaction bubble up into my consciousness - it occurred to me that this was an excellent opportunity for introspection, and I welcomed it.  Suddenly there was nowhere I had to be, nothing I had to do, and for an indefinite period of time.  So I simply watched as automobile traffic went away, heavily polluted cites world wide became sparkling gems in the clearing air, and the biggest hole ever in the ozone layer completely vanished within thirty days.  I simply watched all of this, and as I turned inward I found myself in a profound state of prolonged relaxation.

Eventually it dawned on me that another opportunity was being presented to all of us.  We had entered, as it came to be said, the 'new normal', which really meant 'normal' had been completely jettisoned.  Many of our notions of what defined our lives went out the window.  Solid pillars that had propped up our habitual day-to-day functions and expectations now lay around in crumbled heaps at our feet.  And I welcomed it.  This was an opportunity being presented to us, an opportunity to look at everything with fresh eyes, unmuddied by both conscious and subconscious assumptions and habits.

This new situation had an eerily familiar feel for me.  You might remember my writing in a previous posting of the existential crisis I passed through when my own personal self-construction collapsed like so many propped up domino pieces.  It wasn't pleasant.  In fact, it was downright painful, and it left me in a rather terrifying void, unanchored and with nothing visible on the horizon.  It could be said that this current COVID crisis is a macro-cosmic reflection of that personal micro-cosmic situation I found myself in years ago.  And you might remember that something astonishing and completely unexpected rushed into this void I had been thrust into, something which over time has remade me.  This suggests to me that there is an opportunity here and now for something equally astonishing to fill our mutual void which has been presented to us on the macro level of society and culture by the COVID crisis.  We can remake ourselves in ways big and small.

But ya gotta have faith...

I have a tale to tell, and I want to anticipate it by making a distinction between two commonly used terms: belief and faith.  In my dictionary at home there is essentially no distinction made; the terms are, generally speaking, interchangeable. But I do want to clarify a distinction in my own mind because I think it's important, and because it is a more subtle approach than the typical use of those terms.  You can take it or leave it, of course. 

I see belief as the acceptance of a truth without proof or direct experience.  This truth usually comes from an exterior source, say our parents, or an authority figure outside the family.  It can be based on religious texts such as the Bible or Koran; Buddhism's Four Noble Truths; the Sutras of Patanjali.  These truths, greater or lesser, are simply accepted, simply believed without question.  I used to see here and there a bumper sticker that read "The Bible says so, I believe it, and that's that!"  Pretty much sums up what I mean by belief.

Faith is a little different in my book.  I was surprised several years ago, while exploring the ins and outs of Buddhism through various readings, to find more than one source stating that a fundamental tenet of Buddhism was the necessity of faith.  At that time I equated faith with belief, and was intrigued to see this emphasis on faith/belief, especially since I didn't interpret Buddhism as being an especially dogmatic orientation - it has always seemed to me more open-ended, less rigid, less insistent on belief than most of the major religious doctrines around the world.  And so I asked "What does a Buddhist have faith in?"  An answer might be Enlightenment, or Buddha Nature, or simply the end of suffering.  But these are rather vague, ambiguously fuzzy terms to those of us who have not achieved these states, whatever they be.  Which is to say, fuzzy to most of us.  Including most Buddhists.

So what does Buddhist philosophy mean by faith?  They don't say belief;  in fact, the Buddha himself flatly stated one should believe nothing - as the saying goes, if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him.  Here's where I think faith is different from belief.  Belief is a statement.  Belief is solid.  Belief is defining.  Faith, on the other hand, is a feeling.  Faith is a quality.  Faith is a yearning.  You don't believe in Buddha Nature, you don't even really know exactly what it is.  But you yearn for it, you desire it, you have eros for it.  You can't state it, you can't define it, you can't picture it.  But you want it.  Faith is, quite simply, yearning itself.

And that is what I mean when I suggest that there's an opportunity for us amid this COVID crisis to remake ourselves, and to do that you gotta have faith, you gotta have a yearning.  Ya gotta want it.  It's in that context that I will spin for you my little tale...but not now.  Still some groundwork to lay out.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 13, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker than any Mystery, Part 7 continued: Three, Then Three Again...Then Again, Three



Third Movement

In my previous posting I identified, within the general field of my psyche, two groupings, each with three elements within my experience; identified them by simply witnessing them and recognizing distinctions.  The first grouping is composed of the three worlds I inhabit - the common, mundane world; the world of Alchemical Creativity; the world of Mysterious Rapture.  I've discussed each of these as well as I can within my limited abilities, and in fact it's by going through the process of clarifying them in this blog that the distinctions of each have been made clearer to me, as I hope they have for the reader.  I've also described the three aspects of my psyche (as well as I am able) that inhabit each world, that speak its language - little jeffy; Big Jeff; and what I labeled in the previous posting as The Unnamed.  Since that last posting I've come up with a tentative, perhaps temporary new name for this third inhabitant of the world of Mysterious Rapture - The Unborn.  The Unborn has been conceived, is an embryo in utero kicking its feet so to speak, therefore can be identified even if still in a quasi-formless state.

Reflecting upon the experience of these three separate aspects of myself inhabiting three separate worlds, it occurred to me a potential problem arises.  Is my psyche fracturing, splitting off into three aspects that can never merge, as in parallel lines?  Three worlds in three separate locations, three separate dimensions?  That is certainly how it feels at times, especially when there is a language barrier involved, which might suggest the potential for a disassociating, for a pathological splitting off of the personality into independent entities.   Yet I don't feel fractured; on the contrary, I feel more whole than I ever have.  Let's look at this a little more closely.

These aspects of my personality have a common characteristic in that each world/inhabitant is a whole that stands alone in some sense - little jeffy has his world of work and play, joys and anxieties, problems and problem solving, which to him is complete, is a whole.  Big Jeff has his own whole world of intuition, of a kind of magical alchemy, which little jeffy can't penetrate - he doesn't speak the language.  Yet Big Jeff can include little jeffy's world in his awareness; in fact he uses little jeffy's reasoning powers and physical skills to work the Creative Alchemical world in ways impossible for the little guy to manage on his own.  He not only includes little jeffy, he transcends him. 

You might recognize that concept, transcend and include.  One whole (little jeffy and his mundane world) is transcended by a higher whole (Big Jeff and his Alchemical Creative world) while still being included  within the higher whole.  It happens in nature all the time, in fact can be seen from one perspective as the very structure of nature.  A simple example can be seen in some of the basic elements within nature. Sub-atomic particles like electrons and protons are in some sense wholes that can and do exist independently of each other.  If you fuse one electron to one proton a new whole emerges - an atom, hydrogen, which is now a more complex entity, a whole that transcends the independent particles but includes them in its wholeness, in fact could not exist without them.  Take another step, say fuse a two hydrogen atoms to an oxygen atom.  Voila, you now have a molecule, water, that is more complex than each of the atoms, transcends the atoms yet includes them in its own wholeness - and of course could not exist without them.

This type of hierarchical structure was identified in the 20th Century by a fellow named Arthur Koestler.  He labeled each of the wholes at any level as holons, and the hierarchical structural relationship between them as a holarchy - wholes within higher holes within still higher wholes, something like nested Russian dolls.  This relationship between individual holons, this structure we can now label a holarchy, is the binding force that holds them together, that prevents fracturing.  In my case the three worlds/inhabitants of my psyche are members of the holarchy that is the entirety of my Individual Self (with a very big S!).  Big Jeff is a higher holon than little jeffy, but could not exist without him (who would pay the rent?).  The Unborn is an even higher holon - Big Jeff does not yet speak the language of its world, can't penetrate that world.  However, it's my sense that, at least in my case, The Unborn would never have been conceived without Big Jeff's explorations of the deeper intuitions in the Alchemical Creative world.  And certainly The Unborn cannot come to birth (if it ever will) without little jeffy's frantic efforts to keep everyone's shit together in the common, mundane world.

To take it even further, this Individual Self holarchy is itself a holon!  And that holon, that Individual Self,  is within another holarchy, maybe even a few.  Let's explore one. The Individual Self holon can exist within a group of friends who meet together for deep conversation, say a book club or a philosophical discussion group.  In the course of the conversation some ideas appear that none of the individual holons attending had come up with on their own, ideas that are more complex, that transcend the ideas each of the individuals might have generated on their own.  These new ideas live within a new holon - call it a We holon.  There you have it, a holarchy!  The We holon transcends and includes the various Individual Self holons.  And of course that We holon is transcended and included by a still higher holon - say, the holon peopled by all the book clubs in the world reading that same particular book, each contributing through some kind of telepathic communication or morphic resonance to a still higher understanding.

There's a story perhaps founded in a time and a place far away, say pre-literate China.  In this story, an ancient king calls on his wisest sage to answer a question that has been vexing him.  The king asks his sage  "Wise sage, what is holding the earth up in  the sky?"  The sage answers "Dear king, the earth is resting on the back of a great lion."  The king, perplexed, then asks 'Oh wise sage, what is the lion standing on?"  The sage ponders for a moment, then answers "The lion is standing on the back of  an elephant." Still perplexed, the king asks "OK wise sage, then what is the elephant standing on?", to which the sage responds, "On the back of an enormous turtle."  Now the king is getting frustrated, and furrowing his brow, he questions the wise sage one more time "Well then, what is the turtle standing on?", and the sage, contemplating deeply, replies "Your majesty, it's turtles all the way down!"

And so it is, holons all the way down...and BTW, all the way up as well.

To be continued...




Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery, Part 7: Three, Then Three Again...

First Movement

I wrote in my previous posting here of living in the two worlds.  I imagine one might think it strange to live in two worlds running in parallel motion but never merging - on the one hand normal, even mundane life, much like everyone else in this time and place with its worries and concerns both petty and profound, its joys and delights, its dark confusions interspersed with moments of sparkling clarity. On the other hand right alongside all of that, the mysterious and indescribable transformation going on in my private interior, ignited by the awakening of mysterious energies in the body.  This second world is seemingly a personal process that does not lend itself to interpersonal dialogue, to webs of interlocution.  I do attempt a direct approach of communication from time to time concerning this world, this blog itself being one vehicle of that effort; one that, unfortunately, leaves many scratching their heads wondering what I'm talking about.  And of course the experience leaks into my artwork, though I doubt many see it.  So it can indeed be strange living in the two worlds.

Yet, even stranger is that it's all further complicated by a distinct third world I live in, the world of creative process.  This is also in many ways a private world, a personal interior process.  But unlike the interior world of energetic transformation, this is one that interacts with and is highly influenced by the environment I live in, the environment composed not so much by its physical surroundings, the physiosphere and biosphere, as by that invisible aspect of the Kosmos sometimes referred to as the noosphere, the sphere of thought and culture, of interpersonal interaction - what I call webs of interlocution.

Because the noosphere is invisible, is non-quantifiable, its effects on the creative process are a little tough to pin down.  Let me try to paint a picture of how it works.  I read (a lot).  I engage in interesting, deep conversations (a lot).  I observe intelligent news on TV and radio, following discussions around politics and social analysis.  I absorb culture through the many art forms, be they musical, poetical, visual.  All of this then seems to hover around me in the back of my consciousness, dancing in a vibrant cloud.  When I go to my studio to work, to put my hands on the material world with the intent of creating something worth bringing into existence, the cloud (or web, if you will) follows me, hovers around me.  It's out of this background cloud that I somehow - sometimes consciously, often subconsciously - pull out formative ideas and intuitions.  Then I leave it to my hands, give them a shove and off I go on an alchemical exploration, destination unnamed but surely felt.

So there it is, three worlds that I inhabit - The mundane, common day-to-day world; the world of creative alchemy; the world of Mysterious Rapture.  One moment I'm in the grocery store, worried about contracting corona virus and wondering if my favorite lentil soup recipe is better with or without the indicated tomato sauce.  An hour later I'm in my studio playing sorcerer's apprentice with thread, traveling a magical mystery tour.  Later that evening I'm on my back on the floor at home being ravaged by God.

What's a fella to make of all this????

Second Movement

It occurred to me that the key to answering this question might lie in finding out who this fella is.  Does the same fella inhabit each of the three worlds?  Or, does it take different fellas to speak the language of each world?  As you might imagine, the answer is a bit ambiguous.

Let's take the first world, the world of day-to-day, functional, mostly mundane life - the world we all inhabit in common.  This is the world of survival, of relationships, of doing.  This is also the world of our conditioning, our habits, our reactions, often in relation to our five senses.  Importantly, it is also the world of our emotions, feelings, sentiments, likes and dislikes. It's a very, very big world stretching far and wide - but not very deep.

So who's the fella (or gal) that inhabits that world, that speaks its language?  Basically, it's our personality - the sum of our conditioning, our experiences, our reactions; the persona or mask we put on every day to interact with that world (BTW, some would call this the ego, but that word is so muddled by its myriad and ill-defined uses that I tend to avoid it.  I don't think I've used the term even once on this blog site...until now).

For many, if not most, this is the only fella/gal they are or ever will be aware of.  This was certainly the case for me for most of my life.  When referring to this personality fella/gal some use the term self (lower case), as opposed to a posited Self (upper case).   In that spirit here I'll use the term 'little jeffy' to identify my personality working in that first world.  One of the hallmarks of little jeffy is that he evolves over time, he develops.  From zygote to embryo to infant to child to teenager to adult, always developing, always changing.  If lucky, this development continues to the death bed, though it appears most get stuck at middle age, or even sooner.

But does little jeffy speak the language of the alchemical creative world?  Certainly art school could and did verse him in the shallow aspects of that language, the cliches that riddle the art world.  But there is a deeper, more complex aspect to the process of alchemical creativity that little jeffy cannot even possibly understand and articulate.  Disappointingly, art school was not capable of delivering this depth language, nor was it capable of understanding it at all.  It's only by diving into the vast chasm of the psyche in search of the basis of creativity and meaning that one can acquire that language.  There one discovers a bigger Self - I'll just call him'"Big Jeff' for now.  Big Jeff is the one who reaches into that hovering cloud vibrating with webs of interlocution and plucks out the formative ideas and intuitions, presenting them to the hands and setting them off on the alchemical journey.

To little jeffy, this all feels like a dream.  He doesn't speak the language.  However, he's grown wise enough to go along for the ride.  At times when an artwork is finished he simply steps back and asks, "Where the fuck did that come from??"  But little jeffy also knows enough to get out of the way when needed, to empty himself out of the process; or, as they say, to let go.  This is Big Jeff's world, this is his language, this is where the alchemy happens.  Besides, little jeffy has a buddy now.  Big Jeff may not always be there for him, he may disappear for months at a time, though his absences have become shorter and less frequent as the two get more comfortable with each other.  For his part, Big Jeff knows he can't do anything at all without the little guy; after all, little jeffy pays the rent, drives him to the studio, negotiates all the wacky complexities of this 21st century world.  And, he makes a killer lentil soup!

Which now leaves the question of who exactly is that fella operating in the world of Mysterious Rapture, the one who is regularly ravished by God?  It seems this fella has no name, at least none that I can identify.  Perhaps that is because, for now even after nearly twelve years, I simply haven't become fluent in the language of that world.  Without a doubt little jeffy is along for the ride - regular 20 minute whole body orgasms are quite enough to keep him smiling.  Big Jeff is there as well, though rather than smiling he is simply astonished.  And intuition being his strong suit, Big Jeff also has the sense that this third fella is still in utero, still an embryo slowly developing toward a new birth.  At which point, perhaps a christening will be in order?

To be continued...