oscillates the poetic pendulum

Between Voice and Thought, between Thought and Voice, between Presence and Absence, oscillates the poetic pendulum.

“I introduce here a slight observation which I shall call ‘philosophical,’ meaning simply that we could do without it.

Our poetic pendulum travels from our sensation toward some idea or some sentiment, and returns toward some memory of the sensation and toward the potential act which could reproduce the sensation. Now, whatever is sensation is essentially present. There is no other definition of the present except sensation itself, which includes, perhaps, the impulse to action that would modify that sensation. On the other hand, whatever is properly thought, image, sentiment, is always, in someway, a production of absent things. Memory is the substance of all thought. Anticipation and its gropings, desire, planning, the projection of our hopes, of our fears, are the main interior activity of our being.

Thought is, in short, the activity which causes what does not exist to come alive in us, lending to it, whether we will or no, our present powers, making us take the part for the whole, the image for reality, and giving us the illusion of seeing, acting, suffering, and possessing independently of our dear old body”

~ The Art of  Poetry, Paul Valéry



Opening the box

From Sol LeWitt: 100 Views

“Everyone gets into their own box and enunciates principles,” LeWitt said in an interview in 2003. “You have your own constraints and your own structure … and then you realize that what you’re saying is ‘I can do this, but I can’t do that.’ And then at some point you say, ‘Well, why not?’ … ‘Every wall is a door.’ “

I read that quote and found myself asking: “What does it mean; how is every wall like a door?”  Considering the image accompanying the quote, I roused this answer:  Art is an expression of life, and my valuation of each (art & life) represents an experience, a perception that I place into the world.  This process of perceiving is a form of interrelatedness, an alchemic intimacy that transforms “this is” into “this is that to me.

What I love about this idea is that what is mine, my perceptions, my experience, is all mine.  I feel empowered.  What I create and place into the world, be that art, an opinion, a kind word, a judgment, each decision is mine to shape.  And the more aware I am of the subtleties, the better able I am to influence my own processes.

I find that when I recognize my own reflection in each stream of consciousness, I can relax into the process and enjoy the flow.  It’s buoyant, and the water’s warm.

It also gets easier with practice.




“It seemed like a wall at first, then like a room, and, eventually, a magnificent architecture of ideas.”

Doing the Unknown

“Doing the unknown”… the idea on the table is Art as Transformational Learning and it’s where my thoughts are this morning.  I want to go on walkabout (locally) and explore the idea in greater detail.

My lazy-day complaint is “I wish it were warmer outside.”  Fortunately, I’m a hearty and resourceful soul; I am well prepared.  I have at Winter Ready layers of cotton and silk, Smart-Wool wool socks, a warm & festive purple velvet hat, gloves, and a coat.  And, of course, a camera.  Today, that’s my mode, my vehicle for exploration.

But what is transformational learning?  It’s a good question and I can sum it up like this:

Transformational learning is: “the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning perspectives, habits of mind, mind-sets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide actions.”  -Mezirow, 2000

How am I/How could you use photography to explore Doing the Unknown (that’s where our transformational learning occurs) just outside the front door, perhaps?  I walk a little further than that and I also have a theme; I notice what I find related to that theme, and then I photograph what I notice.

As neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux discovered, emotion has a privileged position of influence: “our emotional centers get first crack at incoming information, and have the connections to influence the entire brain, including its centers for thought.”  In other words, what I discover while on walkabout is linked to my existing neural response systems, those taken-for-granted frames of reference already mentioned.  That reference system is like a box.  Opening that box is a simple matter, one of exploration.  So…

Let’s go!