Posts Tagged ‘Appalachian Spring’

The Power of a Well-Placed Idea

May 11, 2015

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.

Morning Muses

July 13, 2014
Soothed by the Morning Muses

Soothed by the Morning Muses

That man who does not believe that each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour htan he has yet profaned, has despaired of life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way. . . . The Vedas say, ‘All intelligences awke with the morning.’ Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour.

Sigh.  My last creative morning of this all-too-brief vacation.  Tomorrow morning I will report to work at 7:30.  I love my profession, but love much more the luxury of arising at daybreak and having the leisure to enter the studio to pursue art, music, literature, philosophy–whatever muse is stirring on that particular morning.  By the time I get home from school, I am already partly used up, the day is already dimming, and I am fortunate to recover any kind of splendor such as I’ve known these past few mornings.  But–such is the lot of all people, except those who are independently wealthy or retired with sufficient income to pursue daily bliss.  And sadly, some of that class do not experience this kind of splendor anyway.  So, the bottom line is, I am fortunate to know how these things feel.

This morning I let Copland fill the chambers of my heart and home as I prepared and ate breakfast.  As I put away the last of the dishes, I sensed my guitar whispering its invitation to me from the back end of the house, so I responded.  Now that I have had a good morning with music (better from Copland, of course), I turn my attention to studying Logic for my fall course.  I’m pleased to be near the end of that preparation.  And then tomorrow, summer school English with the British Romantics . . . 

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.

 

Time to Remember

July 9, 2014
No Longer Home

No Longer Home

And I wondered if a memory is something you have or something you’ve lost.

Another Woman, film by Woody Allen

A loaded feature of vacation, no matter how brief, is that slowing down of time and expansion of space for pausing and pondering.  This first day of mini-vacation has brought that immeasurable gift to me.  As I write this, I am listening to Aaran Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and memories are so thick I have to brush them away like swarming gnats to the face.  

After hours of leisure spent over the pages of Melville’s Moby Dick, I felt visited by so many ideas from so many walks of life, and my emotions could not be quelled.  I walked away from the book and settled onto a comfortable sofa to stare at the TV for awhile.  I am not sure why I inserted an old VHS tape of Woody Allen’s Another Woman, except for the fact that I have watched this film numerous times over the past couple of decades, love the story, the characters, the pregnant diaglogue, and especially the intropsection one feels when moving into the later years of life.  I can understand why a film like this bombed at the American box office–the general movie-watching public wants entertainment, not thought.  And this movie really induces thought.

I posted one of my favorite lines at the top of this entry: “And I wondered if a memory is something you have or something you’ve lost.”  With it, I have posted a watercolor I did a long time ago of my Grandma McNeely’s house, of the second story where I slept when I spent summer vacations there on her farm.  My mother slept in that room as a child.  The house has now lost all its paint.  Heavy winter snowfall has torn the porch roof away from the structure and when I last saw it, the roof was still lying on the ground in front of the house.  The entire house now lists like an antique ship in the harbor without its center of gravity.  A sad sight today, but my memory of it in days when it was still a liveable dewelling still abide with me.

Before I turn my attention away to some work that needs to be done on courses I’ll teach in the fall, I wanted to post a portion of one of my favorite Walt Whitman poems, “.Eidólons”

I met a seer,

Passing the hues and objects of the world,

The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,

To glean eidólons.

Put in the chants said he,

No more the puzzling hour nor day, nor segments, parts, put in,

Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,

That of eidólons.

Ever the dim beginning,

Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,

Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again),

Eidólons!  Eidólons!

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.