The Lesson of the 17th Century

The 1600s gave us two powerful technologies. The first was a refinement of book technology, which replaced the human body with a manufactured and portable form. We’re all, I think, rather familiar with that. The other was this:
cherub

Ceiling, Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

In terms of book culture, this ceiling is decorative and symbolic. In terms of its time, however, it represents the highest achievement of the same power that led to book production but which became manifest within a completely different language. It too is the book of the world and the book of God’s Creation, and reveals, as did the new technologies of science, the hidden world and its forces, expressed through a language of poetry, not as a textual artifact but as a means of being in the world and reading it. What we are left with are textual interpretations of such readings, but not exclusively. This knowledge can still be regained.

The Green Man Goes Red

My old friend the Green Man is the primary human ancestor in the forests of central Europe. We are family.

 

The Green Man, Schönefeld, Saxony

I found his cousin in Prague, not the Green Man but the Red Man:

redman

 

The Red Man of Prague

 

Note that his leaves cup his face rather than rise from it, and how he is so much more a fruit or a blossom than the ancestral human, the tree. Fascinating! (Before photography, this was photography, Before evolution, this was evolution.)

Street Art Masterpieces

This has been a week for talk about food security. As I leave for some of the travels that come upon me from time to time and find their way back into the Okanagan Okanogan, I would like to leave you with a thought: artistic security is as valuable as food security. In a society based on exchanging labour for monetary capital, artistic work gains monetary value and can be traded, shipped, packaged and displayed in special vaults and stock market trading floors called art galleries. Despite the suggestion that art is a specialized project, to be produced by specialists and appreciated by the educated, I offer you the street art of Vernon.

P1550286 Note the intricate line work in the lower middle span of the image, an the exquisite sphere around the iron sewer grate. First class. The concept has many variations. Here’s one where the concrete has been jackhammered away to reveal the glacial river gravel it is made from.P1550287

Note the exquisitely placed cigarette butt. Another great motif is the leaf drift. Motion and stillness, organic line and industrial line meet and merge.P1550306

The energy can get quite intense.

P1550308 And quite spare.P1550311

Note how two triangles and a rectangle just barely manage to balance one dark snowplow gouge starting to grow some good weeds. This is not just art made by the earth. Humans can take part in this art as well, as hundreds of their footsteps have done below.

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A society can exist without an art gallery, but it cannot exist without the eyes to find art in every moment. Note that the art I have showed you here exists outside the capitalization of artistic labour and, in fact, outside of labour itself. This might make it nearly invisible to contemporary culture. It is no less valuable for that.

Planet of Fire

This is no ordinary planet we live on. I think it’s best to walk outside and take a look …P1550050

 

There are many flames, new and old, in this photograph of Middleton Mountain in Coldstream: the spill of lava across the cap of the mountain, too hard for the glaciers to take it away completely, and which drops water onto the fir tree near the mountain’s crest, the rising sun itself, the autumn aspens in their yellow and gold and the choke cherries in autumn red, the dried wisps of the rest of the summer’s trees and grasses, burnt away, the sun caught within the dead chloroplasts of the grasses, bouncing back and forth and amplified, the sky on flame with light and turning blue from agitation, and that fir tree, which is water drawn into the sky by heat and the tree riding along with it and rusting into green flame. Under it all is the rock, cold now, but still directing water and light in the channels of its old flows, which came from the sea bed diving deep under the land and giving off pressurized steam that dissolved the rock and sent it up in flame into the sky.

Teleportation, Anti-Gravity and Art

Defying gravity?P1540796

It’s a trick of light.

bright If the sun had moved its substance to earth physically, there would be no water and no life.

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Reforming itself in a new form, that’s the trick.

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The process of the sun transferring itself is not finished.

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At the moment, it is both here, and there. Look at it caught in this old, exploded star that my ancestors call, variably, water and Wasser and wetter and wody.

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It is the sun, defying gravity and moving itself across space by turning itself into energy, and then, through the lens of the earth, turning itself back.

arc

Art matters.

 

The Art That Insects Make

In the summer, light strikes the leaves of the dogwoods unevenly, as they flit about in their environment of light and shadow filtering through other leaves that move and shift with sun and wind and the turning of the earth through its days. Look at the result!P1540244Amazing!

P1540242There’s more to this story than just sun and light, and I’ll get to that in a sec, but for the moment look at how small patches of some of these leaves are delayed from maturing and shutting down photosynthesis in preparation for fall.
P1540241Frozen in time, that’s the thing.

P1540239Now, here’s the other player in these beautiful game. See the aphids on the underside of the leaves below, below the fruiting cluster?P1540233They are very responsive to light and growth and settle in the choicest spots, and then, as they divert the sap flow through their own digestive systems, they change everything. In effect, they become part of the plant, and the plant’s living processes are blocked and re-routed by the intervention of the insects and the whole year’s worth of redirected minerals.P1540227Aphids, light, shadow and the mysteries of an earth continually in motion.P1540224The scientist in me thinks this process could be put to use. The farmer in me knows it can. The poet in me is in love with the earth. The artist in me is just plained thrilled to see his body alive in the earth like this, down to the tiniest thing.

 

What Trees are For

Trees exist to bring light into darkness, to immerse it in liquid and draw it down into the darkness of the earth.

P1530099Following the light through all the faces of a tree is not possible.

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But finding the main flow is. Has rock ever looked so mysterious?

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Has the sun? After a year of pouring into the leaves, even it gets into the act.

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That’s not to say, though, that darkness serves only the earth’s purposes. Birds, those daughters of the wind, need it as well, and that, too, is part of what trees are for.

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Bridging earth and sky, trees are vertical rivers. Sometimes, birds make eddies.

P1540060Ripeness is not just fruitfulness, not when it comes to trees.

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Sometimes it is.

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But that doesn’t obscure the point that ripefulness is more.

tree

Sometimes it just means being there and being there. After all, the roots that reach into the soil are just the roots that reach in the air. The tree balances in between, these creatures of the air that don’t think to leave, and don’t need to.

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They teach us that we don’t need to, either. We might be trees that have pulled up our roots, but we’re still trees. Why fight it? Revel in it!

P1510009 Reach down to touch the soil.

P1500741Reach up to touch the light.

P1500785 And rejoice that you can do it again, and again, and again, and build a life out of this balance.P1540160

 

Beautifully.

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What is Asparagus Really?

Or is that asparagus math?P1520804Pretty cool, either way!

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Music, math … these are just words.

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Art?

P1520824 No. Just a word.

P1520816But, without words, what?

P1520806That wordless point is where we’re headed. If we were headed towards words, we wouldn’t walk out in the grass…

P1520816 or find ourselves there.P1520807