The Power of a Well-Placed Idea

The pressure disappeared with the first word he put on paper. He thought–while his hand moved rapidly–what a power there was in words; later, for those who heard them, but first for the one who found them; a healing power, a solution, like the breaking of a barrier. He thought, perhaps the basic secret the scientists have never discovered, the first fount of life, is that which happens when a thought takes shape in words.

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

As the soothing strains of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” play softly in the darkness, I sit with coffee and books under the warm glow of my desk lamp, grateful for the past several days of events. Last Wednesday, I was notified that I’ve been chosen as Artist in Residence for Texas A&M University Corpus Christi this summer, and that I will spend days alone on an island in the Laguna Madre to make art, explore ideas, and fly fish. Saturday morning I signed up for a four-hour fly fishing class in Fort Worth, having heard from two reliable sources that if I cannot fly cast at least fifty feet with accuracy, that I will catch nothing while down there. Arriving thirty minutes before the 8:00 class, I sat outside in the cool morning that threatened rain, and began reading one of Martin Heidegger’s pivotal essays, “The Origin of the Work of Art.” In my reading, I came across Homeric Hymn #30 “To Earth, Mother of All,” and trembled at what I read (Later, after I got home, I found out to my delight that I have the Greek text to this piece in one of my Loeb Classical Library volumes!). The editor of the Heidegger writings, David Farrell Krell, discussed how this poem, along with works by Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, fed into Heidegger’s notion that “all artwork and all thinking are . . . participations in the creative strife of world and earth: they reveal beings and let them come to radiant appearance, but only by cultivating and safeguarding their provenance, allowing all things the darkness they require and their proper growing time.”

In Heidegger’s thought, “earth” is what I like to call “nature”, that primal force that generates our activity, whereas “world” is that matrix of people and activities that we are forced to accomodate. The text above is a distillation of his philosophy that creativity occurs in that juncture of earth and world. I was fascinated to read these things, but suddenly it was 8:00 and time to go to the park for fly casting lessons. I was delighted to learn that I could actually cast up to sixty-five feet with accuracy, dropping my fly into a hula hoop placed in the grass. However, I have acquired bad habits over the past decade, and this instructor was patient in helping me erase as many of those habits as possible. My casting improved greatly. And then! We had a crash course in fly tying, and I tied my very first fly!

Since the fly fishing lesson, I have had the privilege of returning to my thoughts on Heidegger, art, and my pending experiment on the Laguna Madre. The university’s science department sent me a fabulous powerpoint of photos taken of the island, and I’ve been scrutinizing them and coming up with compositional sketches of the kinds of things I want to render in watercolor. I’m even fascinated with how the field station rises architecturally from the natural environment of the land mass. Devoting hours this weekend to writings by Frank Lloyd Wright and Tadao Ando, along with my reading of The Fountainhead (I just love that novel’s discussion of architecture and ideas!), I pulled out some antique drafting kits I had acquired a few decades ago and began playing with some ideas in my sketchbook.

Noodling with Fresh Ideas

Noodling with Fresh Ideas

Working on fresh ideas and sketches has taken my life to a different level, and just when I thought things could not possibly improve, I arrived home from school today and found that work has finally commenced on removing that giant corpse of a tree that filled my entire back yard!

Clearing the Debris at Last

Clearing the Debris at Last

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.

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4 Responses to “The Power of a Well-Placed Idea”

  1. createarteveryday Says:

    I’m glad things are going so well for you. Your post made me smile. You’re gonna be snatching those fishies up left and right! Your upcoming summer sounds idyllic. I hope you thoroughly enjoy it. Looking forward to your artwork.


  2. Xraypics Says:

    It sounds as though things are working out very well for you – what an amazing and fulfilling experience. And such a privilege. I am so pleased for you.
    Your final photograph; “Cutting it up with wild irrelevance, into spare parts for worn out elephants”. When I was just three in what was then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, not a year before my brother was born, a huge mopani tree in our back garden smashed down not two feet from where I was asleep in the corner of our house. One of my earliest memories was of that tree being cut up into pieces. The African woodsmen captured a large cane rat and roasted it over a fire; hair, skin, and all. The image of your logs lying around brought that back to me. Thankyou.


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