Re-Visiting Watercolor Subjects from Former Days

"Poly Theater Blues Revue" (watercolor from 2007)

The small are always dependent on the great; they are “small” precisely because they think they are independent. The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.

Martin Heidegger

For nearly six weeks now, I have found myself treading water as I’ve tried to come to grips with great ideas from great creators from our past and present.  I have been dying for time to stop and post something of significance in my blog, but it seems that deadlines continue to pop up before me like those annoying barricades at night that post sentry alongside construction zones.  This weekend has found me swimming in grading, as my six week grading period at the high school comes to an end and my first unit at the university also draws to a close.  Stacks and stacks of papers, numbers, data–all those things I enjoy the least in the educational arena.

I am posting a 2007 watercolor that I have recently re-imaged and produced in an 8 x 10″ print to sell in an 11 x 14″ frame.  I’ve found some success with it, and am encouraged to re-visit some blues guitar themes in my work that I laid aside unintentionally several years ago.  Perhaps in a few days I will be able to lift my head out of this grading thicket and get back to what I enjoy the most.

Martin Heidegger spun quite a web of metaphors with his “Woodpaths” analogies, ideas first published around 1951.  He spoke of how we enter the woods along a number of paths, oftentimes encountering thickets and occasionally that clearing, or cul-de-sac.  I’m not sure I’ve grasped the meaning he’s intended, but I feel that for several weeks I have been hacking my way through the timbers trying to find a clearing in which I may be able once again to do what I enjoy most–create, either in painting, thinking or writing.  But the creativity I am missing now more than ever, and I’m trying my best to get back into that mode.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

In 1951 Martin Heidegger, originally a student in theology, (1889-1976) publishes a collection of essays on “Woodpaths” (Holzwege). In the essays he clarifies the nature of the forest and how we gain knowledge and understanding of the forest by following paths and structures that are determined by the forest itself (and not by planners constructing paths for leisure, walks and a like). Heidegger has a point about the paths in the wood that is quite intriguing in a discussion concerning the meaning of nature in Western culture, science and philosophy. He writes: “Wood” is an old name for forest. In the wood are paths that mostly wind along until they end quite suddenly in an impenetrable thicket. They are called “woodpaths”. Each goes its peculiar way, but in the same forest. Often it seems as though one were identical to another. Yet it only seems so. Woodcutters and foresters are familiar with these paths. They know what it means to be on a “woodpath” (Heidegger 1950/1993:34). In the text Heidegger makes the term “Holz” (wood) synonymous to “Wald” (forest), where the materialistic and specific become equal to the general. We shall return to the hybrid meaning of language and etymology in the intriguing work of Heidegger when it comes to actual dwelling and building.

According to Heidegger the apparent dead-ends and cul-de-sacs (or “Holzwege”) of the forest tell us something about processes and procedures of thought and existence. The woodpath is the way we, in our everyday existence, appropriate events and situations that are out of our immediate control. According to Heidegger this counts as well for processes and procedures of more systemic character like for instance the rehearsal and performance of a symphony orchestra, or the practices of the scientist in the laboratory.  We create meaning in retracing our actions and reflections on the path, and understanding comes through familiarity, practice and process.

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