a detail of an unnamed painting

a detail of an unnamed painting

Skip is in NYC and spent some time at MOMA and The Guggenheim. He sent a cascade of photographs of the great paintings he encountered. I thanked him for the uplift, the reminder of what is enduring and true in this time of post-truth-politics. He wrote, “Trying to fill my head with art and beauty and not full of fears and lies.”

My dear friend came to visit. We have generally stood on opposite sides of the political aisle though have always been able to discuss our differing points of view. We’ve always been capable, at least for a moment, to stand in each other’s shoes and identify common ground. During this latest visit, the other’s shoes were nowhere to be found. I told him that our conversations were like the particle-wave duality: he is looking at the political world and seeing a particle and I am looking at the same world but can only see a wave. Common ground was nowhere to be found. We learned that our friendship is much greater and more enduring than our politics. We went to a play, filled our heads with art that inspired intense conversation. It turns out that there was plenty of common ground available when peering at our world through a rich art-lens. Perhaps our leaders need a better grasp of the power and purpose of art.

I'm experimenting with my meditation drawings. A detail from a work-in-progress

I’m experimenting with my meditation drawings. A detail from a work-in-progress

Kerri asked me if I wanted to see something beautiful and I said, “YES!” She was standing in the kitchen looking out the window through binoculars. “It’s the fox,” she said, handing me the binoculars. About a hundred yards away, nestled into a pile of leaves, the fox was soaking in the sun. While this world seems so out of joint, teeming with discord, I found great solace on this cold winter day watching a fox curl up for a nap in a rare sliver of sun. It filled my heart with beauty and the comfort of an enduring cycle.

I’ve always appreciated the work of Neil Postman. His writing was a North Star for me when I was sailing the choppy waters of education and corporate dysfunction. Today I think he was a prophet. A few months ago I reread portions of his book, Amusing Ourselves To Death, published in 1984. This morning, after reading the news, I shook my head and read again the Forward of his book:

“…Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

another detail

another detail

As I find myself drowning in a sea of irrelevance (post truth, alternative fact, crowd size infatuations), I am, like Skip, reaching into the one place where I have always found unshakable truth. When so many are working so hard to fill our minds with fear and fable, a walk through a museum can be salve for the soul. Time in the studio can be a re-grounding in truth, reorienting to the solid realities beyond those smoky deceptions fed to us as fact. It seems to me that intentionally filling our heads and hearts with beauty (not to escape but to feed on substance rather than ingesting so much sugar) is healthy and necessary in an effort not to become like the thing we resist.

Skip and I are not the only ones. George Orwell’s 1984 is selling like hot cakes. Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World deserves a serious look. When truth is hard to find amidst the ranting fiction, sometimes we must turn to fiction (art) to find the enduring truths.

art prints/bags/cards/pillows/cool stuff

Kerri told me that the orchestration in this piece, Bridge, is perfect for this post: Orwellian, a bridge between truth and untruth.

BRIDGE on ITunes: Kerri Sherwood track 15 on AS IT IS






2 Responses

  1. I loved this, David. I reposted it on Facebook. Thank you.


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