Posts Tagged ‘Martin Heidegger’

Stuck in a Rut? Never.

June 14, 2018

blog

Watercoloring with a Glad Heart

. . . it is more salutary for thinking to wander into the strange than to establish itself in the obvious.

Martin Heidegger, “Logos (Heraclitus, Fragment B 50)”

For days now, my mind has been driven in various directions, all of them fascinating. After a splendid weekend of viewing mountains and sketching them in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, I decided to devote some serious scrutiny to color theory and composition applied to plein air painting. For any of you watercolorists who haven’t yet checked out the magazine The Art of Watercolour: The Art Magazine for Watercolourists, I cannot say enough for this amazing publication. I haven’t purchased every issue that has come out, but I have perused every single one from the past three years closely, and have really enjoyed the work of David Parfitt in this current edition. His work has made me revisit my paintings of the Texas Laguna Madre from 2015-16, and I am now inspired to try some different techniques on that subject. Today I am experimenting with some color combinations I haven’t tried before, as I resume a watercolor sketch that I began in Cloudcroft last weekend.

I posted the Heidegger quote above because I spent a couple of hours yesterday morning while seated outdoors in the cool morning breeze that I’ve been enjoying recently during my stay here in west Texas. His translation and exposition of this Heraclitus fragment has forced me to push my thinking down different channels than before, and I also find that kind of experience exhilarating. I have never wished to find myself in a rut. Life is too short to waste on boredom. A good friend and mentor has recently said some things to me that has inspired me to re-open a manuscript I began, chronicling my artist-in-residency experience while on the Texas Laguna Madre in 2015. After six chapters totaling over forty pages of text, I stalled on that project. But now I have resumed editing and have begun pushing out new chapters, and am enjoying my revisit of those memories.

The online summer school class for the university is also providing daily stimulation and opening new portals for discovery. We recently wrapped up discussions on John Donne’s “Meditation 17” and a portion of Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason.” And if I didn’t find stimulation enough from this new Humanities class barely underway, I was yesterday offered another course for this fall at Texas Wesleyan University, in addition to my two sections of Logic. For the first time, I’ll teach an online course on “Classical Judaism.” I am thrilled to the bone about this one. I have never had opportunity to devote an entire semester to Judaism. I’ve taught courses in the Hebrew Bible before, and have always welcomed the chance to dust off that language and work on some translations and commentary. I’ve also taught World Religions and enjoyed including that unit on Judaism. And I’ve had the opportunity of bringing the contributions of Jewish scholars into courses I’ve taught in Philosophy and Ethics. But I’ve never before been offered this opportunity to focus exclusively on Classical Judaism for a semester. So . . . I have another exciting channel to navigate this summer. Thanks to Amazon, my textbook will arrive by mail on Saturday and I can begin to flesh out this course of study for the fall.

Throughout my life I have been chided (in good humor) about my chronic mental distractedness. All I can say in response is this: I have no sympathy for anyone who complains of boredom. I do not understand how one can fall into boredom. I refuse to allow boredom to enter the mental portals of my life. There is too much to explore, and not enough time.

tree

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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The Silence of the Canyon Evening

March 14, 2018

palo duro

Palo Duro Canyon

Meanwhile, there rages round the earth an unbridled yet clever talking, writing, and broadcasting of spoken words. 

Martin Heidegger, ” . . . Poetically Man Dwells . . .”

Spring Break brings me abundant blessing on many fronts. The most obvious is the chance to escape the clangor of city and suburban life. Since last weekend, I have forsaken 24/7 news and Internet searching. I packed only one book (I’ve always had this penchant for loading dozens of volumes–stupid!) and my journal, and I significantly downsized my art supplies–only three brushes along with portable plein air watercolor kit. I chose to bring my wooden pochade box because it mounts to the camera stand, and when opened, will hold the small kit.

Last evening in the quiet of Palo Duro Canyon, I set up about an hour before sundown and the place had already turned windy and chilly. The stillness and sanctuary of this enormous fissure in the earth was so soothing as I worked about 45 minutes to lay down the 5 x 7″ sketch above.

It is so soothing and fulfilling, being out here with all this natural space and quiet.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

Entering the Canyon

March 13, 2018

Tripp at easel

To be old means: to stop in time at

that place where the unique

thought of a thought train has

swung into its joint.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker As Poet”

Spring Break has arrived. And after a few days of rest and catching up on postponed details, I managed to find myself at Caprock Canyons State Park. For me, it was the fullness of time. For about a week now, I’ve been reading a collection of seven Heidegger essays under the title Poetry, Language, Thought.

heidegger

The section posted above comes from his opening poem, one that caught my eye last summer while vacationing in Colorado. Just as much time has been spent on these poetic verses than on his extended essays. The reason I like the line posted above is because I feel that thought has slowed down for me during these senior years, now especially since I only teach two days a week at the college, and am covering courses I’ve taught for decades. Finally, I am afforded quality time to savor ideas and synthesize topics, with no pressing deadline, and without a log of five subjects swarming around my head like angry hornets. As a result, quite a few train cars have naturally swung into joint, aligning with idea trains that I’ve assembled throughout my life.

plein air

In his seminal essay “The Origin of the Work of Art,” Heidegger discusses the process of art being created as a result of an arena of conflict between earth and world–earth representing the raw material that is there, and world representing everything we humans bring to the earth as we enter this arena of conflict. The result is that art emerges in this nexus of conflict, with the earth refusing to yield willingly, and our world continually finding ways to work the elements of the earth. I experienced this exhilarating feeling last evening as I stood at Caprock, surveying the horizon and attempting to capture some of it on paper.

The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(Wordsworth, “My Heart Leaps Up”)
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
(Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”)
For years, I have read Wordsworth with deep-seated joy. But as I worked yesterday evening on this plein air watercolor sketch, I realized that I do not share the sentiments of the words above that were playing through my soul. Yes, my childhood has fathered my present condition, but no, I cannot say that I no longer feel the soothing richness I knew as a child playing outdoors alone at age four, with the wind caressing my hair, the sand blowing and sticking to my arms, and the sounds of the breeze rushing through the canyon. I am just as much stirred by these natural delights as I was as a child, and pray that the feelings never ebb.
Thank you for reading.
I make art in order to discover.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Pondering the Source in Silence

December 21, 2017

heart

Safely Ensconced in a Hotel Far Away . . .

Existence beyond number

Wells up in my heart. 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Good day to all of you friends who read my blog. Since my last post I have been knocked down by a sinus infection and encroaching flu symptoms. Thankfully, the flu never fully materialized, though a good number of my dear friends were stricken by it. Nevertheless, I have spent hours of days and nights sleeping, and, during my waking hours, sitting in a fog. For weeks I have run nonstop from engagement to engagement, as the art business and holidays joined forces in a flurry of activities. Once those were finished, much Christmas shopping remained to be completed, plus the mailing of packages, as well as the tying up of loose ends to facilitate holiday travel and visitation. And then the dreaded fatigue and sinus infection. I’ve lost track of the past several days except for occasional errands. But today I feel good enough to read and pull together a few thoughts that have been percolating during this down time.

I regret repeating myself in posts, but some of you don’t really know my past, so I feel the urge to put this out: as a student in public schools, I was not driven academically, but extremely bored except for my art endeavors. I will forever be thankful that my art abilities landed me a scholarship to the university, and in that acid bath of academics, I finally woke to a world of ideas, and could not consume knowledge fast enough. I pushed through the undergraduate and graduate levels till I graduated with my doctorate and then taught in public schools for 28 years. All of this now seems a blur. At age 63, I have not slowed or cooled in my enthusiasm for learning, but have always had to admit that my academic foundation was not very strong once I entered the university, and I have always felt “behind.” Though in addition to my 28 years of high school teaching I’ve tacked on 31 years of college teaching concurrently, I still don’t feel academically “endowed.” I’m a mule. A plodder. Slow and ponderous. But I love thinking. I love reading for the sake of pushing back the boundaries of experience, and in the making of art, I am always questioning what it is exactly I am trying to express in these pursuits.

And so, during my recent illness, I have returned to reading Martin Heidegger. To those who know, that triggers a belly laugh. Heidegger is extremely difficult to penetrate. But I’ve been fascinated with his ideas for years, and have labored many, many hours, poring over his obdurate texts and extracting what I could of value. His translations and discussions of Presocratic texts I think are the best, and I’m always intrigued by his essays, particularly “The Origin of the Work of Art.”

For a number of days now, I have been wrestling with his essay “What are Poets For?” And early this morning, finally feeling well and sitting in a window seat of my hotel room (pictured above–I love the timer on my camera phone that facilitates selfies!), I came across his response to some of the poetic writings of Rilke:

The inner and invisible domain of the heart is not only more inward than the interior that belongs to calculating representation, and therefore more invisible; it also extends further than does the realm of merely producible objects. Only in the invisible innermost of the heart is man inclined toward what there is for him to love: the forefathers, the dead, the children, those who are to come. All this belongs in the widest orbit, which now proves to be the sphere of the presence of the whole integral draft.

Since the days of my university “awakening”, I knew that I was a slower intellect than my peers, but I also have known since those days that I am more of a romantic than a classicist (I am stereotyping those words, I know). To put it another way, I have more passion than precision. And throughout my years of study, I have sought ways to express what I’ve learned–in the pastoral ministry for a decade, in the classroom for three decades, and in my art for the past couple of decades. Throughout this life, I have tried to find connections between my head and heart, my knowledge and passion, my academics and my art.

And now, in this Heidegger essay, I am embarking on a rich discussion of the “heart” the real center of it all. And I’m happy that my head is clearing up from all the medication and my body is responding better to my commands. Christmas arrives in four days, and believe me, this year it definitely overtook me quickly. I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to blog again before that special Day, but at least I had this opportunity today to pause and send all of you the best of what I’m thinking and feeling. I’ll be going on the road soon.

Thanks always for reading, and I wish you love throughout this holiday season and beyond . . . .

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waiting for the Morning Light . . .

August 11, 2017

20170811_055217

When the early morning light quietly 

grows above the mountains . . . . 

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

I set the alarm for 5 a.m. and rose to a 48-degree morning in South Fork, Colorado. My lovely stay here is drawing near a close, and I am still probing this engaging poem of Heidegger’s written from his days in the Black Forest. Following a long black night’s slumber, I felt kissed by the dawn, and rose gladly to dress, put on coffee to brew, and step outside onto the cabin deck while the darkness was just beginning to withdraw.

The world’s darkening never reaches

to the light of Being.

For the first time, my attention froze on those words. Looking up at the lit sky behind the mountains, I noticed that nature’s shapes below were beginning to emerge and take on color and identity. And I meditated on this–the light gives shape to the forms below; the forms do not reach up to the light.

Reaching for my Greek New Testament, I turned to John’s Prologue (John 1:1-18) and began reading that text that I had learned to translate since my graduate school days decades ago:

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness is unable to extinguish it (John 1:5). What a thought–it is the nature of light to invade darkness, push back the darkness. The darkness does not come to the light, nor does it overpower the light. My mind raced in a dozen directions, from the wisdom shed by European thinkers during the 18th-century Enlightenment to some of my own personal, biographical memories. Light overcomes darkness. As I sat on the darkened porch, watching the Colorado landscape take shape beneath the light of the dawn, I decided to set up my plein air easel and get ready to resume the watercolor that I had sketched out the evening before. As my eye trained on the boulder and fir tree below my deck, I delighted in the rose colors appearing on the rock as the sun rose in the east. The fir tree seemed suddenly to dance in the yellow-green glory of the light cast from the sun, and I excitedly reached for my brush.

But alas, the rosy sun suddenly dissolved into a gray overcast, and the rock and tree returned to their neutral tints. I shall patiently wait for the sun to return. I want this watercolor to depict a bright landscape, not an overcast one.

Returning to The Gospel of John and laying it alongside Heidegger’s poem, I continued with delight to draw out parallels between the texts, and by the time I stopped, I had scribbled out 5 1/2 pages in my journal, sketchy thoughts waiting to be fleshed out as the day progresses.

Thank you for reading. This has been a soul-stirring morning in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts in the Pre-Dawn

August 9, 2017

pre dawn

South Fork, Colorado at 5:40 a.m.

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains . . . . 

(Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”)

Rising to the sound of the South Fork of the Rio Grande flowing past my cabin window this morning, I felt the rush of gratitude again for life and beauty. Once the coffee was brewed I sat with my open journal and poured out my heart upon the pages. The pen could not move fast enough.

I love the Heidegger poem, a fragment of which I’ve posted above. I realize he left the ellipsis so he could complete his sentence with four stanzas of completed ideas, but I now wish to complete the thought with my own words.

. . . I acknowledge that the Word is already in play. (Tripp)

Heidegger argued that the Greek term logos, which we translate “word” means “to gather together.” Heidegger believed the Greeks understood the word as a cohesive, gathering force. I’ve been playing with that idea for several months now during these retirement wanderings, and have grown fond of the idea.

My simple thought for the morning is this–upon waking in the pre-dawn and looking out on the beauty of the Colorado morning, I realized that though the hour was early, the Word was already organizing my thoughts, my day, my life.

Hope that doesn’t sound too esoteric. I am filled with good notions this morning.

Thanks for reading. I have a date with rainbow trout . . .

Warm Thoughts in the Cold Dawn

August 8, 2017

COLD COLORADO

It is language that tells us about the nature of a thing, provided that we respect language’s own nature. In the meantime, to be sure, there rages round the earth an unbridled yet clever talking, writing, and broadcasting of spoken words.  Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man. Perhaps it is before all else man’s subversion of this relation of dominance that drives his nature into alienation. That we retain a concern for care in speaking is all to the good, but it is of no help to us as long as language still serves us even then only as a means of expression.”

Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking”

This morning, a romantic notion drove me out to the deck of this Colorado cabin to watch the dawn break, read from Heidegger and record in my journal. But once I came across the passage posted above, the 46-degree dawn convinced me to withdraw into the warmth of my kitchen, pour a second cup, shake off the chill and focus on what I believe to be a genuine oracle.

Since the second week in June, I have been mostly on the road, traveling Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and now Colorado. I have never stayed longer than two weeks in any residence. In the Heidegger essay “Building Dwelling Thinking”, he discusses the nature of dwelling, what constitutes an architectural dwelling, how the dwelling shapes the one inside, and more profoundly the nature of language as the “house of being.” Language shapes us rather than vice versa.

During the Summer of ’17, my mind has not stopped questioning, probing the power of language and how it shapes us, the role it plays in carving out our character. In my journal I continually write, “What exactly am I?” “What word organizes my character?” “What kind of a human being am I, precisely”? Continually, I have probed language, seeking to divine the kinds of words necessary to help me understand what this is all about. I absolutely love living the retired life, but now that there is not a job to demand where I am to be and when, I am intrigued at this notion of living life and enjoying this precious Gift.

I took editorial liberties with the quote posted above, choosing to render in bold the sentence that seized my imagination, and striking out the one word I believe no longer describes today’s public discourse. For those of you who know me, I disdain most of the language that shapes today’s popular media, both televised and social. My blog is posted on a number of outlets, including Twitter, but I refuse to send 140-character tweets because one person has given that outlet its current identity, and I choose not to be identified among those participants.

I take language seriously, and I take character seriously. My precious friend Wayne White, also a blogger, shares my sentiment about the blog: we wish that readers would feel positive and whole when they read us, not visceral and angry.

So, as I close, I invite you to consider the following:

Sneering does not require depth of character or skill.

Being angry does not make you special or unique.

Cheap talk, especially insults, does not build a more meaningful life.

What exactly are you? What kind of footprint are you leaving day-by-day, as you travel this life? What do you really wish to be? What words shape you?

Thanks for reading.

 

The Silence of the Rock

August 5, 2017

HEIDEGGER

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains . . . .

            The world’s darkening never reaches

                        to the light of Being.

            We are too late for the gods and too

                        early for Being. Being’s poem

                        just begun, is man.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

Every morning my soul floods with enchantment at the sight of Colorado light slowly giving shape to mountains towering above me. I snapped the picture above with my phone while walking outside. South Fork stands at an altitude of 8180 feet, and I don’t know how many additional feet overshadow me every morning as I look up in silence at these massive cliffs. Last year I tried multiple times to paint them; so far this year I only look at them in wonder, feeling something special easing into my essence.

The whispering of the South Fork of the Rio Grande below my cabin contrasts with the brooding silence of the cliffs above me. In all my years of teaching, I never felt that I was able to capture in words the dual perspectives of Heraclitus (everything moves) and Parmenides (there is only stasis). For most of my adult life I have felt these two worldviews flowing through me–change versus permanence. Long before the book was released A River Runs Through It, I have pondered these two views that Plato and many successors struggled to fuse into a harmonious world view. And now, once again in Colorado, I feel more centered in life, experiencing this flowing stream against the eternal rock.

Save for some postings on Facebook, I have shunned Internet traffic, certain that if I pulled up any news pages they would be parsing the latest tweets springing from a small mind. Life is much too large and expansive to waste time over shallow words.

My reading while in the mountains has been sparse, replaced with more time walking outside, fly fishing in the stream and relaxing with precious friends. Last night before a fire, I returned to reading Heidegger and felt moved to scribble several more pages in my journal, which then led to a blog entry. Rising this morning at 5:30, I am now enjoying another fire in the fireplace (49 degrees and wet outside) and feel compelled to explore further the writings of Heidegger. I feel at this point to say that I am fully aware of this thinker’s moral failures, but I choose to use his ideas at their best, not their worst; bad people are still capable of truthful insights.

Martin Heidegger had a cabin built for him in 1922 in the Black Forest while he was engaged in his university career. Though providing his livelihood, he disdained city and university life, and chose to spend as much time as possible in this cabin without electricity. All of his most important published writings were born in this quiet space. I have enjoyed comparing the lifestyles of Heidegger in the Black Forest and Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, each thinker preferring the quiet and nurture of solitude. I myself have been blessed with a store in the wilderness where I am allowed to withdraw as often as possible, and now this quiet space tucked away in the Colorado Rockies. Something precious occurs every time I step away from a life of calendar appointments and withdraw into a quiet place where the clock seems to evaporate.

Thanks always for reading.

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to Get Old?

August 4, 2017

GETTING OLD.jpg

Big Meadow Lake, Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado

To be old means: to stop in time at

            that place where the unique

            thought of a thought train has

            swung into its joint.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

I felt the urge tonight to send out a word to my readers and friends. My blogging has hit some recent snags for a couple of reasons. For one, my stay in the Colorado Rockies means struggling to find a steady Internet connection. But more importantly, positive changes have entered my life and I haven’t felt the need recently to read, write, journal, blog or make art. I have been living a quiet and very fulfilling existence since I arrived in this beautiful space.

Tonight I am enjoying the fireplace in my cabin. The windows are open to let in the cold mountain air. Outside it rains. And I’m comfortable under a blanket on the sofa, reading from Heidegger and scribbling for the first time in days in my journal. Hence, this desire to put something out on the blog.

I retired on June 3 after twenty-eight years of teaching in a public school. At this stage in my life, I am getting used to every day being as a Saturday. I no longer have a sense of weekends or a Monday morning call to work. And that is a very good thing. Even better is the sudden evaporation of deadlines and appointments.

As I reclined before the fire tonight, I thought back over my life and wondered what exactly it is now that is swinging “into its joint.” Earlier in this text, Heidegger wrote: “To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.” I wondered while scribbling in my journal what exactly served as my pole star throughout my years as a teacher. I settled on the notion that I set out long ago to live an artful life, to pursue beauty and seek ways to express it in word, in painting, in music, in friendship.

Now things are changing. My life at the moment is not clanging with the noise of calendar commitments. And I’m not under some kind of deadline gun at this point. And I’m finding it to be quite an adjustment, but one that I’m savoring with gratitude.

I apologize if this is a rambling post. I just felt the need to express this spirit of good will that I feel this evening. Thanks for reading.

 

Saturday Morning, Playing in the Gallery

April 8, 2017

gallery two

gallery one

To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

The cool of a 58-degree Saturday morning was very welcoming to me as I stepped out of the hotel shortly after six and drove out to the Loop to my favorite breakfast diner. I tried to remain after breakfast to read and relax over coffee, since there were plenty of empty tables still. But alas, someone came in and occupied the booth next to me, and in a voice loud enough for the entire cafe to hear, she chatted to her partner about all the properties she was looking at in Mansfield, Arlington, Bedford, McKinney, Frisco . . . . Oh well, I had to remind myself I was not in a public library, and people come to  diners to talk about whatever they wish.

So, I opened The Gallery at Redlands shortly after 7, and have enjoyed a few hours of quiet, reflective reading and writing, inspired by Heidegger’s essay “What Are Poets For?” I love this essay, along with “The Origin of the Work of Art.” Heidegger urges that the creative person confronts the raw materials of earth with his/her “world” (all that that person has gathered into the self by experience) and that out of that confrontation emerges a work of art. I like that–art work emerges when I bring all that I am to encounter the world as I feel it presenting itself to me.

Looking up from my reading and writing, I liked the quality of the light flooding the gallery through the display window, and picking up my phone, snapped several photographs. About an hour later, my phone chimed, surprising me with this Google Photos program that arranged my photos into two panorama compositions. I have posted them above.

Two of my friends came out from the metroplex yesterday and stayed several hours with me, Z and Elaine Jary. Both are artists–Z a photographer and Elaine a watercolorist. Z took a number of photos yesterday and has promised to send some. In the event that he does, I will certainly blog them with proper credit to him.

Well, the gallery is now open for business and people are starting to fill the lobby.

Thanks for reading.