The King’s Way: Science, Multiplicity and Nature as an Artwork

I’ve been trying to say something useful about Goethe this week, which is a tough thing to do with a writer who was used for nationalist purposes ever since his youth in pre-Napoleonic Germany. When my father left Germany in 1952, his father gave him the collected works of Goethe as a portable homeland, so he would remember who he was. He gave it to a young German woman he met on the boat across the Atlantic, as he didn’t want anything more to do with all that. She gave it back to him forty years later — seemingly, still unread. Within 24 hours, he gave it to me. He didn’t want it. I put it on a shelf. Maybe I’d read it someday, I thought.

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Goethe’s Forest Hut, Ilmenau

One of the major tourist shrines of the romantic age, right up there with Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Burg Frankenstein and the Castle of Chillon.

For most of my life, I thought little of Goethe. There were translations of his poetry, of course, but they were silly romantic things that he wrote in Strasbourg, which were translated by ultra-conservative American poets in the 1970s: oddities, more than anything. But then I went on The Road in 2008. The Road? It’s best you saw for yourself. I’m not talking Kerouac here. Let me show you a section of the road outside of Marienstern Cloister in Saxony. When the Road was first constructed (grew up out of a donkey path, is more like it), it was the only thing of its kind, so it was just called “Die Strasse”, or the road. It stretched from Santiago de Compostela to Minsk.

P1150250_2The Road

The trees are to give shade to foot travellers, and to give fruit at the same time. You could increase the efficiency of communication several fold by this simple ruse.

As it passed through Germany, The Road was also known as The King’s Way, the via regia in Latin. In one sense, the term refers to “the road that the king maintains for the sake of communication, war and economy (mostly the latter,)” but it also means “the right of the king to cross country at his own will,” and “the king’s right to increase the productivity of his kingdom (his self) through artful intervention”. What the road crossed was something ancient, from which the king’s right to rule was derived: the German forest. Here’s a little glimpse of it:

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The German Forest from the Window of Goethe’s Forest Hut

Goethe had a habit of deriving inspiration by plunking himself in the middle of physical space. We might refer to this as “a nice view from a writer’s retreat,” but if we do we might remember that Goethe invented the idea, and he did so for something other than individual purposes.

The idea of The King’s Way and the right of kings comes from the old aristocratic world. The term “aristocratic” is much maligned these days, largely because of abuses which the Enlightenment sought to correct with revolution and the championing of important notions of human liberty and universal human rights and dignity. Those are important things. In Germany, though, one of the major Enlightenment figures was Goethe. He did not believe in revolution. He believed in translation. He saw the aristocratic world fading away. He worshipped Napoleon for a time, but he also witnessed the Rape of Weimar in 1806 after the defeat of the Prussians above Jena. He sought a better way. What actually happened was this:

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The Wind Knoll, Napoleon’s Battlefield in Cospeda, above Jena

The pillar is said to be the point at which Napoleon directed the battle (it isn’t.) The bench is for admiring the view. The tracks are because for nearly fifty years the Russian Army used this site as a tank practice ground, reenacting Napoleon’s battle to hone their mechanized warfare tactics.

Goethe was one of the few men in history to receive an education exceeding that of princes, with the express goal of running a princedom for a prince (or, in his case a duchy for a duke.) At the same time, he was an early romantic writer, whose work was seized upon by early German nationalists as proof of an individual German spirit that could justify the formation of a German state and in the absence of any German identity form one around itself. The idea was to prevent the adventures of any future Napoleons. This abuse was murder on Goethe’s writing and on his soul (his great play Faust, about a Doctor of Philosophy who makes a pact with the devil to receive all the knowledge in the world in exchange for his soul), but the tension between Goethe’s life as one of the last courtiers, as one of the first modern men, and as the cynically-applied cipher for the country of Germany itself (a fate he shared with Luther, but that’s a different story) led him to try to resolve the tensions in a form of science that carried the old aristocratic world forward into the technological present. One of the ways in which he did this was this:

P1150052Goethe’s Garden House, Weimar

And some fine East German Communist re-purposed water line bridge work, too.

From an aristocratic perspective, Secretary of State Goethe has a perk, a kind of country estate in a park he constructed out of a collection of water meadows on the Ilm River. From a modern perspective, though, Goethe installed himself within the park as an embodiment of the spirit of the state, right in the middle of a refined version of this:

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The View from Goethe’s Forest Hut above Ilmenau

Time is not clockwork in this world view, and space is not measured by civic plans. Rather, civic plans are measured by their relationship to space. Welcome to Goethe’s invention of the modern age through the recreation of the pre-Medieval one.

Goethe had a fine townhouse up the hill above his garden house, yet it is the garden house (and its extension of the aristocratic hunting lodge-poet’s forest hut connection into civic space) which he wanted to be remembered by, along with his scientific articles on light (which I discussed yesterday and the day before). Why? Well, because of this …

P1150041Dawn on the Ilm River, Weimar

… and this path from that water to his garden house …

P1150040Park on the Ilm, Weimar

Well, before we answer flippantly, that Goethe was just another garden variety romantic, remember that he loathed the romantics, and before we answer flippantly as well that Goethe was just another garden variety royalist, remember that we are in East Germany, and the hard-headed East German government chose to preserve this point of privilege, and, I promise you, they were pretty bloody-minded about stuff like that. It was preserved in the most modern state in the world (Yes, East Germany. It was a jail, but very modern as well.), in the Republic of Farmers and Workers, because it was the king’s way. Germany is kind of complicated.

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The Green Man, Königsbrück

The pre-modern German forest man who became a symbol of 19th Century German Nationalism. In other words, this is Goethe Version 1.0.

Goethe’s attempt to recast the modern world on the same foundation in the forest that gave birth to the old aristocratic one speaks of a choice: one is either of a place, in the full depths of its time, and extends all of its past forward into the future, or one is not. Like Goethe’s Faustone must choose (In Goethe’s sense, one must choose the most complete path over the one that sets completeness aside for expediency.) It is not, however, a choice between the Green Man …

P1130704_2 The Green Man, Schönefeld

… and the Green Man …

P1130702_2The Green Man, Schönefeld

… and the Green Man …

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Bismarck.

Leafy moustache and all.

Those are symbols only. Goethe wanted modern men to be the Green Man. Even the East Germans didn’t give up that idea.

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Proletarian Picnic Tables in the Aristocratic Pleasure Garden of Schönefeld

These are strange choices to Western imaginations (and, believe me, they unsettled me completely when I confronted them in No Man’s Land in the Fulda Gap on my way east and then again and again every day I went further into the country), but that’s only because two World Wars were fought to obliterate them (after the cynical ways in which they were abused by German military and political elites), and did, to all peoples except the Germans. The rest of the world shed German nationalism by turning away from Himmler’s SS. The Germans shed it by turning to the king’s way.

goethehausCrowds at Goethe’s Town House, Weimar

Goethe served wine all night to French occupying troops here in 1806, to keep them from burning his books and furniture to roast stolen chickens. Now people queue for this most important of German shrines.

The king’s way is, in a sense, the old aristocratic method of governance, through poetry. Each of the nearly 2000 German-speaking princedoms that made up the Holy Roman Empire in Middle Europe was governed on the principle of a poem. It was this which the poet Goethe tried to bring forward, in his transference of aristocratic privilege to democratic rights and responsibilities (such as the Park on the Ilm) an in his science. There is no reason on earth that science must be one monolithic project, based upon one approach, and no reason why it must be pursued according to one principle of procedure and logic. What Goethe proposed was that it be pursued in the multiplicity we know today from poetry (where the principle survived and from which the aristocracy learned it in the first place,) an energy in which each scientist was pursuing a different but parallel method, which fit together not because they broke with tradition but because they extended it and used tradition, not individual perception, as the touchstones for authenticity. This is why Weimar is now the heart of German Classicism, and why Goethe’s Weimar, a creative city of intellectuals and writers who shaped modern German consciousness, is the foundation stone of the German Empire of 1871, the Weimar Republic (note the name) of 1919, the postwar German Association of Communities (West Germany) and the post 1989 country of Germany. In Weimar, that looks like this:

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The Roman Villa, Park on the Ilm

In Weimar, anyone can walk through a painting made out of living things on a living earth, walk deep into the past, and meet it, living in his or her own present.

This aristocratic vision brought forward into the new industrial, bourgeoise age is one of the faces of German communism. To most East Germans, it worked itself out more like this:

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East German Garden House, Jena

It was in the crucible of these houses that East Germans eventually brought down their totalitarian state. Along the way, they produced most of the fruit and vegetables in the country, something which the government was less interested in pursuing.

Across the street from this garden house, is this:

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Goethe’s Poem The Erl King Set to Stone (Music by Schubert)

In Germany, Nature is an art form. There is no such thing as wilderness, or wild life, but there is a continuum that extends back to the primeval forest that was the crucible of the Germans as a people, to Wodin, the pre-Christian god of the North (for some), to the Celts (for others) and through Christianization to the Garden of Eden, which is the intersection of eternity and time. In other words, as the Germans show by having given themselves to it entirely, the entire concept of Nature is an art form. So too is the science they built upon it. Goethe knew that better than most. This is not, by the way, something you can take a democratic vote on. What you can vote on is stuff like this:

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The Jena Green House Cooperative, in its Post-Communist Days

But the barbed wire remains. One has to take these things down piece by piece. There’s not enough energy to do it all at once. In its prime, this greenhouse provided hothouse plants for the garden plots of Jena, in an atmosphere much like a rectal exam. You can vote on rectal exams. Sometimes the way to vote is to build a garden house.

Why is a man of the grasslands of Western Canada writing about Goethe? Not because I want to, I can tell you that, what with my family background and all.  Rather, because on the Road my identity was burned away and reforged. Because when I came back, I was a new person, if you could say I came back at all. Because Nature and Wilderness are used as the foundation stones of all of Western Canadian culture. Our science and our politics and our civics and pretty much everything else are predicated on the eternal independent viability and life-giving force of this thing called “Nature” and “Wilderness” and “The Wild”, but that’s nothing more than a time-photograph of colonization of a landscape created by and cared for by peoples, such as the Syilx of my valley, who treated it much as the Germans treat theirs. The “wilderness” that Canadian settlers found here was not wilderness at all, but an artistically created space. Rather than drawing on the energy of the natural world, for the last 150 years they have been drawing down on the human capital of just such a project as Goethe supported, and it doesn’t work. It has led only to environmental poverty. There is almost nothing left, and the remaining capacity of the earth to support the people of this place has been reduced to a few simple elements, corresponding to the natural laws of non-Goethean science, without space for humans, while the real solutions are invisible. There are few lenses that allow us all to get outside of this world view, but Goethe offers one. That he offers a form of science that, although created 200 years ago, is still more cutting edge than the cutting edge, is a bonus. All the nationalist rot that accompanies Goethe is just the stuff that drove him half mad. But that’s a different story.

Tomorrow: political realities and ethics.

 

Pollination Dance

When one insect …

P1380650 … crawls, buzzed on nectar …

P1380652…out of a mariposa lily and flies off to the next flower …

P1380653Zebra Wasp Takes Wing

… another insect that was over on the next lily …

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Sweat Bee Gathering Pollen

… is not far behind. And when she’s gone, if you go over to the lily just up the hill…

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… and the one just to the left of that …

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Crab Spider, Waiting for a Nectar Lover

… you may find you’re not the only one waiting. Not to worry, there are other flowers, with other insects, all flitting between the same 200 flowers (except maybe that one with the spider… best to take a pass on that)…P1380694

 

Tiny Grey Bee (about 1 cm. long)

Of course, some bees are not grey, or neon green, or yellow. Some are as black as ants.

blackbee … and some flowers are, for the moment, without visitors.

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There are just a few days for this every year. Out of them is made the next year. That’s the kind of planet this is. Everything else follows.

 

 

Temporal Photography … With Cool Insects!

I was reading Prefix, a classy Canadian photo magazine, and there it was: a discussion of photography that wasn’t locked in time, but which presented lengthy images of particular views, rather than ones at 1/125th of a second. Wow, I thought. I could try that! So I lugged the forty-year-old tripod out into the garden, dealt with the legs falling apart and the clamps dislodging and falling apart to little bits of mysterious plastic (one is still not working, sigh) and set it up as best I could, given that it’s now a bit of a cripple, and… well, magic happened. I’m hooked. I love this kind of photography. We could set stuff like this up on a wall, and have it go for hours and hours. We could loop it, and it would go for days. I think it’s endlessly beautiful and fascinating. I’d love to see a gallery full of these things! I’ve put the shortest of my experiments below … see how many insects you can count, from miniature bees to spiders, to wasps and hornets, and other things that zip and hum. I recommend watching this with your sound turned down. There’s a lot of noise on the street, and your hidden gardener trimming his hedge… a bit hopelessly noisy. It’s better without the sound, I think. Have a look.

So, what do you think? A great way to document which insects are hanging around (that wasp was spooky!), or something more than that?

This is the Best Day

The future starts today. The Tsilhqot’in people have been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as having title to their own land. It has been a struggle lasting over 140 years. For those of you who might not know the background, the northern part of Oregon, the former British colony of British Columbia, more lately the westernmost province of Canada, never settled treaties with one of the most complex assemblages of indigenous peoples on the planet. Instead, it just took their earth and made it into a new thing: land. Now it has given an important piece of it back and, better yet, accepted the Tsilhqot’in, the ancient trading people who (back when Egypt was just beginning to organize itself) brought obsidian, ochre and flint to most of the North West and into the Great Plains, as a fellow level of governance. Our roads still follow the ancient trading trails, and, finally, we can build a country together. Here’s the news in full:

http://aptn.ca/news/2014/06/26/supreme-court-hands-tsilhqotin-major-victory-historic-ruling/

I gave my heart to this country years back, when Canada was moving into its cities. Out in the Chilcotin (as the region shows up on maps), the stars are different, wild, untamed and almost audible, and the lakes, well, they look like this:charlotte3

Charlotte Lake

This is the Illahie, the homeland. Whatever British Columbia, the government, or Vancouver, the city, is going on about, well, today, that all changed. 

I sing my joy to the skies.

 

Don’t Think So Much. Stay Awhile Instead!

As a writer, I’m pretty used to changing points of view. For instance, we could have another look at that line by reading, “The guy with the grey hair and the green eyes is pretty used to changing points of view.” As a poet, I’m even used to going further and switching it up even more, to read a difference between that and “The man with the grey hair and the green eyes is accustomed to changing points of view,” but the earth teaches something else. As that green-eyed guy we met above might have said twenty years ago when his hair was blonde, “Oh, look at the beautiful red hill.” Look:

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Painted Hills, John Day River Valley, Oregon

As the grey-haired guy might say, “That’s not a hill.” He’s right. It’s a human point of view that sees it as a hill. He might say (if he was feeling long-winded),”By gosh, it’s an old seabed melted by old seawater 100 kilometres underground as the pressure of the weight of the continent thrusting above it lowers the temperature of the evaporation of water but not its energy exchange characteristics; under pressure the seabed vents to the surface in such fine particles that it resists all water absorption and can’t support life and proves remarkably impervious to erosion. In other words, this is what clams look like 100 million years (or so) after they were clams.” We might. It would be pretty cool (and awfully long-winded, which would kind of offend our poet friend, that young guy with the kick in his step.) We might say, “This is the red blood of the earth.” We would be right. If we were the earth, though, we wouldn’t say a thing. We would be our energy and presence, without a narrative. The narrative is a human point of view. Outside the narrative is energy. You’ll never get there (the trying is instructive, though, plus fun), but you can get close. You can get to this, which is the way that energy registers in the human… (heart, mind, spirit, soul, it’s not overly important what you call it.) To get there, don’t look, exactly. Feel this:

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Be it. And then don’t drive away back to your ‘life” unchanged. This is your life. And if you don’t know where to go then, good. You’re ready to sit down and talk to strangers.

Frankenstein, Humans, Art and God

There is a seed in the pile of broken glass below.

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To put it another way, humans see. The earth seeds. They are the same thing. See?

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Making Seed: Male Sumac Flowers in Full Glory

Only in human sight do they look like spiritual energies, like this.

The spirit above is a human signature. When it is absent, humans say they are in the presence of the dead. Still, there is the seed produced by the action of bees on these flowers, and then on the female flowers on sumacs down the path and around the corner and the other corner a ways. That is a different kind of tracking from a human one, but not one that a human cannot follow. How it is followed, ah, that’s the rub.

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Female Staghorn Sumac?

No, It’s the Big Bang

Humans often seed the earth with human-ness. There’s a human mouth in that pile of art studio raw material I showed you above. This human mouth was shaped out of sand, filled once with sweet Rhenisch (from the Pfalz) or Rhenish (from the Rhine Gorge) wine, and then broken down into raw material. Not into sand, though:

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What it was broken down into is human raw material. This is what “seed” looks like in human language. This is ‘seed human’.  From it will be made a human social product called art, which is a way of honouring human history, just not in Herodotus’s long-winded stories of the self. It honours it in the unfolding presence and interactions of objects and a certain kind of energy that is commonly called “wildness” today (more on that below). This is one way in which humans see the earth in themselves. It’s like this show at her Headbones Gallery that artist Julie Oakes has made out of the glass I showed you above:

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Julie Oakes’ Blue Toronado http://www.julieoakes.com/Awestruck_Calendar_of_Ecology/Blue_Tornado/blue_tornado.htm

A complex scripting of beauty and violence: the same, separating, coming together, and exploding in blueness. This is the way to make human self images into piles of broken glass and then to guide them by touch into new forms. The “touch” is inferred, but no less felt for that. Contemporary humans would say that all this happens through the visual cortex. Ancient humans, the ones who started the art processes that Oakes is keeping alive, would point to non-visual forms of perception.This, too, is part of the tension within these pieces. Much is being honoured here. Breakage is part of the honouring.

Another way in which humans see the earth within themselves is in the echoes of water and sky within the ruins of industrial and social process (below). There’s no water in the following image, and no sky, but lots of human-ness, in many forms: industrial processes, trade, fullness, emptiness, bling, breakage, beauty, violence, and so much more. It’s a powder keg of undefined human form and connection.

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This pile (and its re-creation into new tracks) is how humans talk. They make paths through their perceptions and memories of earth and sky and water. They do this by tracing their interactions with each other and examining the spoor of their own feelings and cognitive and biological attention as rigorously as they would the tracks of a leopard and a springbok. Then they make maps of what they “see” (to accent the spiritual component within the “modern” visual process). Like this:

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Katie Brennan Gives Us 32 Views of the Bow River (Or Is It Just One?)

http://oook.ca/2012/02/this-oookian-makes-art-too-katie-brennan-at-headbones-gallery-opens-tomorrow/

It’s not a map. It’s not a quilt. It’s not a human. It’s not the earth. It’s not a deconstruction, because it’s also a reconstruction. One could go on, playing the old Monk’s game that by name what God is not, in the end the un-nameable God will be present by default.

In the end, reductions like Brennan’s come to this: maps of (or moments of attention to) perception and intuition are, really, humans. They’re not biological humans, but they’re humans nonetheless. In other words, the image below is Frankenstein (who was cobbled together from corpses and blasted with electricity so that he’d get up and walk and talk [in Frankie's case, with bolts in his neck.])

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Frankenstein 2014!

In this case, the ‘electricity’ is human. To make art that isn’t just a mirror, or isn’t a substitute human, an Adam or an Eve or a Book of Noah, that’s a most difficult thing, and usually it’s just not going to be art, because art is that human-ness.That pile of blue glass above, for instance, is the dead from which new life springs. It’s not a pile of human ancestors, such as exist within each word we speak (for more of this, do check out www.earthwords.net) but human meta-ancestors, those artificial humans — those Frankensteins — that other humans have made before, such as this:

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Frankenstein, Downtown Vernon

Looking for friends, he is. I mean, beyond his Sancho Panza, that bungie cord to the left.

And yet, if you remember, there is that seed.

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And, well, this:

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Headbones Gallery Parking Lot Installation, Swan Lake

 The cart that was full, which is now empty, the cart that is in the shadow while the blue, perhaps it’s former load, is in the light, the ruined Eden surrounding it, the blank canvas of gravel before it, and the shock of all that blue. “Painting” would reduce this.

Another human! Just a bigger one, that you can walk around on and in and through (you can even pull up your artificial human, your Honda, let’s say, and leave it there, so dead without you, while you huffed up the steps to the gallery, sensing yourself getting ever further from it, feeling the line of energy that binds you). The one thing, though, that you can’t do, ever, ever ever ever, is walk out of that artificial human. Here, for example:

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Frankenstein 2014 (aka Yellow Dock Seeds), Bella Vista

(Yellow for the root, not these pink and mint beauties)  This invasive weed is taking over swatches of old Syilx “medicine” hillsides, where the activities of humans (trail making that cuts into the soil atmosphere of a syncline slope) make more room for human followers (weeds) than the plants that humans followed (medicines, or traditional ‘wild’ crops). Note: not a bit of nature in sight.

Here, too:

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Frankenstein Allium, the Vernon Queen

She’s a fun type, for sure. What a party girl Frankenstein, she is! Note the beige artificial humans in the background and the herd of metal frankensteins resting ‘dead’ in front of them, plus the carefully channelled and regulated track for moving these frankensteins from place to place.

The trees and flower in the above image are called nature. They represent a non-human life drive, that makes biological humans less ill-at-ease within their maps of the dead and artfully made, and provide as well the potential of a continuously available source of energy outside of the social. That’s comforting, and humans, being mortal creatures, need a bit of comfort, now and then, in the face of oblivion. Mind you, those “plants” are, of course, socially planted, as manipulations of human states of mind. See: http://earthwords.net/2014/04/23/grow/

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Three Points of the Energy of Growth …placed there to mine it.

(From earthwords.net)

That’s art. This artwork, this Frankenstein, is ‘nature’. Or, to put it another way, in the industrial era, Nature became Frankenstein. Like that blue glass, transformed by fire from sand and gold, there’s no way back. You have to go forward, eh.

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Frankenstein, the Grass Version, The Rise

This Frankenstein (Nature) has a crown, as befits a goddess.

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This is Not a Grassy Field

This is alien grass sewn to prevent erosion, after creating house building lots (for the visual view) by moving vast amounts of old glacial till around with a bulldozer. This is pretty much a one species environment, fulfilling its intended goal, with the illusion of being nature, because nature is the point of views. These are pure signs of the presence of Frankenstein. 

Nature (Frankenstein seen through the looking glass) is very big, but she’s not the earth.

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Deer and Geese at Daisy, Washington

This Nature. She is the intersection of impounded waters of Lake Roosevelt, behind the Grand Coulee Dam, with the old Inchelium world the reservoir (in the parlance of Nature, “lake”) replaced. Whatever the earth is, she is an energy outside of this. 

Nature is a created artifact. (That’s not the same as saying that the energies that, in the Western tradition, flow through Nature are not vital. They are.) This, for example:

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“Nature”, as Humans Call It, Making Her Move

In this world of interlocked artificial humans, Nature is much like a mosquito, that you want to swat, to get it off of yourself, or a spider crawling down the neck of your shirt, eeeeyewwwweeeeeeee! It takes some acculturation to see this wild lettuce as both art and child, to be nurtured, but there she is. (Note as well the discarded bouquet of flowers. Seemingly, this space of “nature” viewed as garbage was deemed the appropriate receptacle for some dead “nature” after it served its purpose as a human social gesture.

It’s quite a thing to be human, to have consciousness, of a sort, and to have to deduce the living earth from tracks of your own body and mind. It’s not the earth that humans see, or work with, but the effects of their working with the earth, and somehow, humbly, or with flaming pride (or, as usual, some muddle in between) humans sometimes task themselves with bridging that gap and becoming all facets of that moment at once: human and earth together. It is one solution, to be the moment of these interactions all at once, but it is, of course, not sustainable (Note: Heaven, as humanly conceived, is the deferred state of final attainment of this unity.) Humans call that art. It is a way —a path. It is not a destination, because you cannot stay there.

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The Art of the Syilx, the People of this Place, Was to Make Rich Tapestries of Life

This “life” bridged human and non-human energies. It was not called Nature.

At other times, humans call art the use of the materials of the earth to intentionally create physical maps of human social and cognitive states, like this:

mbhg

http://www.headbonesgallery.com

You could call this the tattooing of the spirit or the dancing of the leaf within the mind, but then you’d be talking like a poet, one who walks between worlds carrying material back and forth and breathing with the earth, and that’s a different way of paying attention.

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The Poem Formerly Known as Harold Rhenisch Speaks

Ah, even for the poet on the edge of the human and the flame, there is a tantalizing sense of wildness that is called the earth, even within human speech. You could just as well call it life. Dylan Thomas did. He called it “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”

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Yes, That’s Dylan Thomas Gathering Pollen on His Fused and Exploding “Poem”

Forget Freud! This is a female structure.

Whatever humans are channelling in their tracking and art making and travelling between worlds is that force. Contemporary humans often call it “wildness” or “presence,” if they don’t just give up and call it “nature”. These are just words. There’s an energy there, of course, despite that. It’s a bit of a maze, which is one reason we have art, to guide us through it in pre-verbal ways (or, in poetic terms, in ways in which the words are spirit). To define that wildness against the background of human activity, however, as is common contemporary practice, is a sure guarantee that one is not talking about wildness. At that point, one is talking about relationships and interrelationships of human power. One is talking about this:

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A Linear Garden of Eden Designed for Viewing at Speed by Car

If you walk this trail it just looks so completely impoverished. It is not meant for viewing at biological speed. To do so is like standing in front of your big-screen TV with your face 2 inches from the glass.

At that distance Angelina Jolie is going to cease to be an illusion and start to be a grid, like a bee’s eye.

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Angelina Jolie, Up Close

Closer:

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Angelina Jolie as a Pile of Yellow Glass

Art as speed, written in mathematical vectors across the living Syilx earth, is also the face of art. Here, once again:

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Vrroomm!

Notice the crushed bedrock (from below the floors of ancient seas) used to decorate the sidewalk (and to keep down weeds… um, yeah, sure.)

This kind of art-making uses the same basic materials as Julie Oakes’ pile of blue glass, but rearranges them towards a different line of energy and power, one which negates the past and creates a present out of the intersection of civic regulations, Frankenstein technology, and human biological perception. (In comparison, Oakes’ pile allows for outcomes that dip into the past and into the future… each a new organization. It is a giving away, as opposed to a capitalization.) Frankensteins themselves would find this roadway artwork looking much like Oakes’ pile of blue glass does to humans: the broken shards of Frankensteins, to be built into post-Frankensteinian dreams. This, maybe…

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A Home for Frankensteins? Or Just Another Frankenstein?

High country water funnelled through petroleum tubes and called “life”. Such art installations are the purpose of the road above. It is meant to convince humans to feel safe within them. It appears to work very well.

Humans are spiritual creatures. That they see themselves as practical ones is sheer hubris: a transcending of ethical and spiritual norms that leads to the state of tragedy. As an illustration of where that can lead to, here’s Satan in his moment of hubris:

800px-Paradise_Lost_12Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling from Unity to Earth (Doré’s Paradiso)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris#mediaviewer/File:Paradise_Lost_12.jpg

There are many ancient guides to hubris, most of them spiritual. They come from the ability of humans to set up a very special type of artificial human called a god, to which humans then give a large part of their cognitive ability. In other words, these guides come from a time in which humans allowed for their consciousnesses to exist outside of their biological bodies, and were comfortable with that. I should say “are”, because these guys still operate like that, although in a recognizably cynical contemporary way:

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ISIS at Work in Iraq

The whole artifice of rationality was meant to be a work around against distortions such as the one above. Well, it’s a world in which humans don’t always have the above form of comfort. Societies still resisting the transformation of rationality into irrationality, as evidenced in the image above, have the university tradition and its work at deconstructing human biological motives in favour of cognitive distances, on the one hand, along with industry, which mines the earth for energy, so that humans don’t have to be mined for it (a treacherous distinction) and, on the other hand, art, poetry, and other forms of attention to tracks laid down in pure energy, and their interactions with matter. The latter attempt to manipulate the social processes within the blue glass heaps of the other two approaches. Poets and artists have been comfortable in their skins, as representing those parts of tradition that stand apart from or against exploitation, violence and power. Hardly so. The question is not how to stand apart from artificial humans but what kind of artificial humans one is going to make. The faculties of attention one uses in work at human-making goes into the humans one makes. A combined stop sign and street sign, perhaps, for organizing and regulating traffic?

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(Note the shadow.)

Or an early Christian cross?

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Or what? There’s no use asking “What is art?” The question is absurd. It asks “what is the abstract generalization I have made by observing human-making” by viewing particular instances of human-making. It’s like saying, “I will measure my actions by a particular class of artificial human called “reason”, in place of the old one called “God”, by creating a class of actions which are not “reasonable” but are biological, and then comparing the “reasonable” ones with the “unreasonable” ones. Well, you can have a nice philosophical debate with yourself that way, but in the end, there is, still, a seed.

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It catches something unseen, called ‘wind’. While some people put it to use (or dis-use), some people keep it alive and blowing. A society that does not keep this dynamic alive will die. Rationality (or irrationality) is no defence against that.

Abandoning Wildness

Mourning Cloak drinking at the mud hole (leaking pipe)…P1370725 Western Swallowtail in the vetch (feral forage crop). P1370738 Old one at the watering hole (irrigation leakage and trail flood.)P1370759

 

Things have come to the point that the wild ones appear to be surviving on our mistakes alone. Isn’t it time to give up on the idea of wildness?

After You Leave the Nest, What Then? Build a New Nest!

So, you get kicked out of the nest, right? Luckily, there are cherry trees. You can hide.

V0000290Robin Fledgling Without a Nest to Go To

You can wait there for the world to make sense.  Then you can eat it.

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Cherries Growing from a Pit a Walker Spat Out 20 Years Ago

Fortunately, this all happens at the same time. Meanwhile, though, it’s scary out there.

V0000297When you have no nest, a cherry tree is a nest. Simple. Profound. It used to be that cherry trees were nests for our fledgling children. Not any more, but it wouldn’t be so hard to start the tradition again.