Posts Tagged ‘Martin Heidegger’

Musings in the Morning Light

January 9, 2020

selfie

. . . and the philosophical light around my window is now my joy; may I be able to keep on as I have thus far!

The poet Hölderlin writing to a friend, December 2, 1802

I feel everlasting gratitude to a friend who allows me to reside in this lovely place for an extended visit. These days of privacy are filled with hours beside the fireplace where I can read by the gray morning winter light. My makeshift studio is a mere ten paces away, and I can honestly say that, for me, days spent in watercolor activity are better than days that are not. During the intermittent spells of allowing the paintings to dry, I love to immerse myself in books and writing.

January 2020 finds me in a reflective mode, as I look back at the prior year, and then further back over my personal years and continue recording memories I believe worth holding on to. I have recently made a pleasant discovery: Alain de Botton with his lectures available on Youtube, and books I’ve been checking out of a local library. As my life is anchored by the activities of reading, writing and making art, I’m delighted to read these words from this kindred spirit:

Writing is the obvious response to the consequences of forgetting; art is the second central response.

There are a number of reasons why I have lived a life scribbling in my journals and later taking up blogging—these are records of my daily musings as I attempt to sort out and clarify what I want out of life. I cannot think of a better employment for myself than that of an educator—it was my “job” to assist students in the process of growing up, of cultivating the richest possible life. Now in retirement years, I am finally finding the time to pursue some interests that a daily job obstructed. This is probably why my blog activity has increased in frequency—this is my first semester without a contract. My normal activity lacks a classroom forum, so now I just launch my ideas into cyberspace.

Homer’s Odyssey is finally getting my attention. This was an epic I lacked interest to pursue during the years of my schooling. But now in these senior years, I am finding real treasure in these pages. The Robert Fagles translation has been a most satisfying read, and I cannot say enough about the excellent introduction authored by Bernard Knox. My heart sank when I read the sentiments of a first-century writer who thought Homer created this work after age had drained his intensity. According to this critic, this epic was “the product of Homer’s old age, of a mind in decline; it was a work that could be compared to the setting sun—the size remained, without the force.”

Sentiments such as this have always seized my attention. Throughout my earlier years, I came to terms with the reality of the ebb and flow of our creative exploits. We cannot be “on” all the time. And I have always believed that periods of creative dormancy were necessary rest and replenishment for the active soul. But now, in my senior years, I do worry about the reality of physical decline and the possibility of losing one’s edge in creativity. I feel that my own mind and imagination are more developed than ever before, but at the same time acknowledge that my powers of memory and recall are certainly not what they were. And so, I devote much of my life to re-reading and recording precious truths that have made life so meaningful.

I will never stop feeling deep gratitude that I was afforded the opportunity to learn Greek during my years of graduate study. I was taught Koinē Greek so I could translate the New Testament writings. But since those years, I have spent countless hours poring over Homeric and Presocratic texts and uncovering the most amazing ideas.

Recently, in my examinations of Homer, I have received new insights into the word “nostalgia.” The first part of this word Homer uses 245 times in his two epics. The verb nosteo and noun nostos point out the return to one’s home or country. The verb algeo and noun algos refer to pain or distress. Hence the word “nostalgia” indicates the pain of returning home. We know all too well the pangs we experience in revisiting our roots, whether it is returning home for a visit regardless of whether family members or friends are still living or not. We also know these pains when we re-open photo albums or even go back into our smart phones to review photos we have taken. We know these feelings if we re-read letters we have kept, or review diaries and journals.

Learning what I have about this word “nostalgia” has thrown a sharper spotlight on the travails of Odysseus, the “much-traveled” wanderer who has accumulated layer upon layer of experience resulting in much ambiguity as to his identity and purpose. Reading The Odyssey comes at a good time, because I’ve been working on a watercolor of a steam locomotive charging through the night, and it brings to mind many of my all-night excursions on AMTRAK from Fort Worth to St. Louis. Going back through my journals recently, I uncovered many layers of writings as I looked out the window of the moving train, surveying the back yards of impoverished neighborhoods, and backstreets of decrepit southern towns. On my headset, I was listening to acoustic, country blues guitar music accompanied by mournful voices and lyrics. And all the while, I was looking at the twinkle of Christmas lights on the shabby houses. I felt the co-mingling of warmth and sadness. Good will and poverty. I still shudder when I recall those cold, lonely nights of travel, heading home to revisit aging family members and friends.

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Work on a Commissioned Watercolor

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A man is whatever room he is in.

Japanese saying

Going back through my archive, I pulled this selfie I took in October 2016 because it was what I thought about when I sat beside the fire this morning, reading by the light coming through the windows behind me. The reason I return frequently to this photo (and I did a watercolor of it as well) is because the setting reminds me of all I’ve read of philosopher Martin Heidegger retreating to his cabin in the Black Forest to think and write his most famous works. At that time, he was a professor at the University of Berlin, but he preferred the solitude of the village of Todtnauberg and its intimate connection to nature. Every time I go back to that old store where I first sat in October 2016, I feel the connection to Heidegger in Todtnauberg, or Thoreau at Walden, or the theologian Karl Barth at his cottage in the Bergli. I am not the only one to feel that profound mental transport to other ages. I read the following recently from N. Scott Momaday:

By this time I was back into the book, caught up completely in the act of writing. I had projected myself—imagined myself—out of the room and out of time. I was there with Ko-sahn in the Oklahoma July.

In 1946, Martin Heidegger delivered his notable lecture “What Are Poets For?” Heidegger borrowed the line from a Hölderlin poem that pointed out the troublesome times Germany was facing in the nineteenth century, and Heidegger resurrected the words on the 1946 occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Rainer Maria Rilke’s death. Heidegger’s day in Germany was also a profoundly dark one, and he questioned what the role of a creator was when his/her culture faced a darkening time. I find January 2020 an extremely dark time in our world and wonder also what exactly I am to do in the face of this cultural midnight.

In the film “Pollock” there is the episode of Jackson Pollock visiting for the first time the general store in Springs, Long Island. The proprietor at the counter asks him if he’s from the city. When Pollock nods, the man responds that he doesn’t blame him for retreating to the small town. In a world where a man can invent the atom bomb the only thing one can do is retreat to a quiet place and do what you have to do. In our current darkening days I also wonder just exactly what I am to do.

January 2020 is proving to be a pensive month for me. I have a one-man-show opening in Dallas February 1, but until then, I have oceans of time around me and am glad to have the quality time and space to contemplate what to do in my next adventure.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz on websiteI 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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Re-visiting Heidegger’s Hut Memories

November 23, 2019

crockett live

Painting an Old Doorknob in the Old Store

You can have the technique and can paint the object, but that doesn’t mean you get down to the juice of it all. It’s what’s inside you, the way you translate the object–and that’s pure emotion.

Andrew Wyeth

The technique learned without a purpose is a formula which when used, knocks the life out of any ideas to which it is applied.

There are always a few who get at and feel the undercurrent, and these simply use the surface appearances selecting them and using them as tools to express the undercurrent, the real life.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

A Saturday of painting in The Gallery at Redlands has been soothing to me as I inch closer to Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow, my friends Cindy and Gary arrive for a couple of days of filming. I am so grateful for their offer to make this documentary of the projects I’ve been pursuing.

Between paintings I have also re-visited journals from my recent past. Soon, I hope to return to my favorite retreat, an old store that friends have given me access for lodging. I call it Heidegger’s Hut in memory of Martin Heidegger’s cabin retreat that he had built in 1927 in the Black Forest mountains. In that remote location, he wrote all his famous works. I have told many friends that my best work has been done in this old store, nearly three hours outside of Arlington. The doorknob shown above and below separates the store from the residence, and I spent the winter of 2016 painting it while seated next to a heater in the main store area.

Feeding off the quotes above from Wyeth and Henri, I tried to forget technique while focusing on the doorknob and figuring out exactly how I wanted to get it on the paper. I sat in the darkened storeroom with one desk lamp trained on the doorknob and a second one beside my chair, lighting the stretched paper on my lap. I spent much more time staring at my subject than actually drawing and painting. Most of my work was done between 1 a.m. and daybreak, and the sweet solitude of that winter darkness I will never forget. The time spent there was truly a gift.

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crockett

“Beyond the Door” watercolor 20.5h x 17.5w” frame size $800

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Heideggers Hut darkened

Painting of Myself in the Store, Painting the Doorknob

19h x 22w” frame size  $900

Signed & Numbered Edition 11.5h x 14.5w” $100

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Relaxing on the Veranda after Painting

Three months after the painting of the old doorknob, the owners of the store opened The Gallery at Redlands, and now I spend most of my open calendar days working out of the gallery.

The Redlands Hotel has released their menu for their Thanksgiving Eve Feast in the Queen St Grille. This special event will be Wednesday, November 27, 5-10 pm.

Rotisserie Turkey Breast    $25

Side Salad w/ choice of dressing

Dressing, Giblet Gravy

Home Style Mac & Cheese

Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Buttered White Corn

Sweet Rolls & Cranberry Sauce

 

Choice of Desserts:

Pecan Pie Cobbler

Pumpkin Cheesecake

For anyone wishing to celebrate Thanksgiving early, Palestine has this special treat waiting for you.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz reduced

 

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Building my House

August 22, 2019

Every Spirit builds itself a house; and beyond itself, a world; and beyond its world a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you: Build therefore your own world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language is the precinct (templum), that is, the house of Being. The nature of language does not exhaust itself in signifying, nor is it merely something that has the character of sign or cipher. It is because language is the house of Being, that we reach what is by constantly going through this house.

Martin Heidegger, “What are Poets For?”

After enduring 2 1/2 days with no Internet service, AT&T finally got to my home late yesterday and fixed the problem. Throughout the day, while waiting for the technician (promised between noon and 2:00, and finally arriving after 5:00), I spent an entire day at my desk re-reading journals from my past and reveling in the memories. One of the entires prompted me to find my copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon and read it once again for the pure delight the story offers.

These retirement years are given more now to carving out my own world and coloring it as I see fit. Last night, a friend whom I hadn’t seen in nearly three years surprised me with a text and later stopped by. What an experience, catching up on what we had been through (he also is retired from full-time teaching), and how we now are looking for ways to color our new expanding worlds. Both of us love painting, exploring new ideas, and yes we both have signed contracts to continue teaching, but we are no longer tied to the routine we had known for decades on end. Gratefully, we have reached this point in our lives that we can choose to shape our journeys as we wish. And as we talked late into the night, I found myself again confronted with the reality that ideas, shaped by words, create the framework of the world in which we find our identities. The night proved fascinating, as the two of us shared our visions and anticipations of what to expect from a world we find more and more affirming.

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.

Morning Coffee in the Christmas Spirit

September 19, 2018

christmasz

Printing Christmas Cards for the Stores and Galleries

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.

            To head toward a star—this only.

            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”

Yesterday’s reading stayed with me, it appears. I awoke early this morning with these words from Heidegger on my mind. Of course, mountain images stir up my Colorado memories, and then as my thoughts turned toward colder weather ahead, Christmas filled my imagination. I suddenly decided, even before breakfast, to get on my computer, dig out my boxes of Hallmark card stock and begin printing off Christmas cards. Every year I get caught by the holidays, and lack the sufficient time to print my deep inventory of Christmas images.

My greeting cards are blank inside with a text on the back. They are 5 x 7″ and come with envelope in a plastic sealed bag. I sell them for $5 each or 5 for $20. This year I have a dry cleaners that is selling my greeting cards hand-over-fist!  It is Boss Cleaners in southwest Arlington, near my home, and the proprietor has been asking if I had Christmas cards to add to my inventory. So, in reality I have Kim to thank for my getting ahead of the curve this holiday season.

While printing, folding and packaging throughout this morning, I have dialed up Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas album on YouTube, and the house has been filled with Christmas warmth, even in September. I cannot describe the calm and peace that floods my being when music such as this plays throughout the house and I look at my watercolors of Christmas subjects. And of course, the French-pressed coffee is always divine!

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.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Heidegger

September 18, 2018

heidegger

When through a rent in the rain-clouded

sky a ray of the sun suddenly glides

over the gloom of the meadows. . . .

            We never come to thoughts. They come

            to us.

            That is the proper hour of discourse.

            Discourse cheers us to companionable

                        reflection. Such reflection neither

                        parades polemical opinions nor does it

                        tolerate complaisant agreement. The sail

                        of thinking keeps trimmed hard to the

                        wind of the matter.

            From such companionship a few perhaps

                        may rise to be journeymen in the

                        craft of thinking. So that one of them,

                        unforeseen, may become a master.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

The outer trappings of this morning would appear pedestrian plain to many. I awoke at 6 instead of 7:00 and got up anyway. With my college class not beginning till 9:25, I drove on over to Texas Wesleyan, through the stacked rush-hour freeway traffic. The construction on campus created a long, circuitous pedestrian route from my Jeep to the Polytechnic United Methodist Church where, on the second floor, my department is headquartered (and the copy machine). Then it was a longer, even more serpentine route threading around “campus construction central” to access the university library. But the morning sun was a painter’s plein air delight as it washed across the campus. Birds filled the air with song, and cool breezes whispered around the corners of every building. As I walked, all I could think of was Martin Heidegger’s poetic rhapsodies of life at his mountain cabin. Arriving finally at the library with a full hour of leisure before strolling onward to class, I found a table near a window, drew out of my bag a Heidegger volume that I love to pack along with me on such occasions, and settled into the bliss of reading and journal scribbling.

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For those familiar with the work of Heidegger, his magnum opus, Being and Time, I have not successfully mined, even though I have take more than a half-dozen stabs at that obdurate text over the years. And I haven’t given up on the idea of mastering the thought of the tome. But such an endeavor would be a labor of love extending over months and perhaps years. I believe the work to be worth the effort, and that is why I still have it as one of my life’s goals.

But the fact is, my lifetime Odyssey of the Mind runs exactly counter to that of Martin Heidegger. From his days as a university student, he worked his way through theology (as did I), but his work in philosophy plunged deeply into Aristotle and medieval logic and metaphysics, and then to mathematics. Being in Time came out in 1927, landing him a prominent position at the University of Freiburg, and ultimately to the rectorship. But in the 1930’s he went through what scholars refer to as “the turn.” Moving away from the more technical machinery of philosophy, Heidegger turned to literature, poetry and the arts.

My Odyssey is the complete opposite. I was always weak (and uninterested) in logical, linear disciplines of thought, and wasn’t called on to teach courses in Logic until I was past fifty. Now, in these later years, with more time, I choose to grapple with linear thought and more difficult texts, and perhaps I will one day scale the mountain of Being and Time. But for the present, I thoroughly enjoy the more lyrical of Heidegger’s lectures, essays and creative writing pieces. And this morning, over coffee, I felt refreshed by his words in “The Thinker as Poet.”

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Martin

August 29, 2018

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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”

My morning watch was filled with the warmth of Heidegger’s poem “The Thinker as Poet.” Over the past two years, I have taken that piece with me to the Colorado mountains and read it again and again, letting the words wash over my soul. I love having the quality time for thinking that has been provided me in this life of semi-retirement. I spent the best part of today with “Z”, a Czech friend I have only known a few years, and don’t seem to spend enough time with in conversation. Today, over coffee, we had a genuine heart-to-heart about this deep-seated joy we know when ideas come in our quiet, reflective hours. Z shared with me some of his own writings of late, and I hope to God he finds a way to publish his work. The world needs more good meditations to read and ponder.

In our conversations today, we mused about how we find ourselves during our senior years organizing our ideas into clusters, and how satisfying it is when a particular idea finds its place in our scheme, when the idea finally joins the train and swings “into its joint.” This metaphor from Heidegger has been a card I’ve enjoyed playing of late.

I believe I have finally finished the commission that I began earlier this summer. I was hoping to have it complete by the beginning of school. It just took a little longer.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint because it helps me to think.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog knowing that I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave & Paul Cezanne

August 22, 2018

cezanne

Within the painter, there are two things: the eye and the mind; they must serve each other. The artist must work at developing them mutually: the eye for the vision of nature and the mind for the logic of organized sensations, which provide the means of expression.

Paul Cezanne, quoted in Emile Bernard in “Cezanne’s Opinions,” 1904

Throughout my life, Cezanne’s work washed over my consciousness in successive waves. I was introduced to his work while taking art history as a senior in high school, and recall those days of fixation on one of his Card Players paintings:

cezanne card players

Continuing my study of art history into the college years, I became more aware of his still life arrangements.

cezanne still life

But while teaching the Humanities in my early years as a teacher at Lamar High School, I twice visited the Barnes Foundation while it was traveling, first to the National Gallery in Washington D.C., and later to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. It was during that exhibition that I was smitten for the first time by the work of Cezanne, notably because of this piece:

cezanne-nudes-landscape

I was smitten because the oil colors were so rich that the painting, ninety years later, still appeared wet. I also was amazed because I recognized some kind of Arcadian presentation, unlike the natural plein air landscapes or studio nudes of the Impressionist painters of his company. I then wondered what exactly was going on in Cezanne’s imagination to frame such a presentation.

Throughout the nearly three decades of teaching art history in high school, I never gave Cezanne the attention he deserved. I was honest with my class, explaining that he had many theories going on throughout his life, and I never quite understood them, aside from the popular explanations of his attempting to find a relationship between form and color. I believe in that regard I was more honest and direct than Hemingway was in his early Paris years as an emerging writer:

. . . I could walk through the gardens and then go to the Musee du Luxembourg where the great paintings were that have now mostly been transferred to the Louvre and the Jeu de Paume. I went there nearly every day for the Cezannes and to see the Manets and the Monets and the other Impressionists that I had first come to know about in the Art Institute at Chicago. I was learning something from the painting of Cezanne that made writing simple true sentences far from enough to make the stories have the dimensions that I was trying to put in them. I was learning very much from him but I was not articulate enough to explain it to anyone. 

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I have laughed so many times over that passage! I scribbled in the margin of my book: “and you STILL are not articulate enough to explain it!” As for my teaching, I didn’t try to explain what I did not comprehend about Cezanne’s theories. And I will not attempt that this morning. Rather, I just want to share what his work and ideas have come to mean to me in my own pursuits.

Since retiring, I have taken up a number of famous artists in my leisure, grateful for the time and space now provided me to read quietly, reflectively, and not have to scurry about writing lectures and meeting three classes every day. I have taken up Motherwell, Rothko, Newman and Cezanne in these past two years, and poured countless hours into reading their interviews, biographies, criticisms, and poring over their images. Other artists will follow, I am sure, but I chose these particular individuals because they were serious, independent thinkers, not just skilled painters. And the Cezanne quote that opens this blog this morning has arrested my attention. As an artist, I have tried in recent years to focus my mind as well as my eye on the task of painting in watercolor. In studying the works of great artists, I have always been enamored with their talents, but their serious thoughts and constructions of theories have been just as fascinating to me.

While discussing three different ways of studying history in his Untimely Meditations, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche expounded his preference for the “monumentalistic” approach which concentrated on past heroes in order to confront contemporary mediocrity with the possibility of greatness. That has been my practice since finishing graduate school, to fasten my attention on great figures of the past in order to better myself. I like that the graduation exercises are called “Commencement” because I truly believe that a person’s real education commences once s/he crosses the threshold of the stage, diploma or degree in hand. And since my commencement, I have continually sought out the words of visionaries, all the time feeling that I was climbing the mount and approaching the temple to consult the Oracle.

Late in life, after his first one-man show, in 1895, at the age of fifty-six, things began to change. Awestruck young artists would make their way to Aix, as if on a pilgrimage, to seek him out and hear him speak–and if they were very lucky, see him paint. As accounts of these meetings began to leak out, so the word spread. The sayings of Cezanne circulated like the fragments of Heraclitus.

Alex Danchev, Cezanne: A Life

It was not until I read this biography this summer that I learned Cezanne was a serious scholar, rising at 4:00 a.m. and entering his studio by 5:00 to read for at least two hours before going out to paint. He was classically trained, and loved translating Greek and Latin texts. I was fascinated to read of his fixation on Virgil and Horace, and his ability to quote them in their original tongues, from memory. As a lover of Greek, I had always hoped that my hours spent translating would in some way feed my artistic eye as well. Now, I receive encouragement to continue from Cezanne.

During my senior years, not only have I fastened my attention on the words of famous artists, seeking some kind of Oracle to direct my own efforts, but I have also returned to nature to look at it with fresh eyes in an attempt to come up with a theory or method to capture what I see and place it on paper. I was delighted to read Cezanne’s encouragement to study the masters but always give priority to nature:

The Louvre is the book in which we learn to read. We should not, however, content ourselves with retaining the beautiful formulas of our illustrious predecessors. Let’s take leave of them to study beautiful nature, let’s undertake to disengage our minds from them, let’s seek to express ourselves in accordance with our personal temperaments. Time and reflection, moreover, modify vision little by little, and finally comprehension comes to us.

Paul Cezanne, letter to Emile Bernard, 1905

As he discussed his pilgrimage to Cezanne’s hometown of Aix-en-Provence and his trek to Mont Sainte Victoire, Martin Heidegger remarked: “These days in Cezanne’s home country are worth more than a whole library of philosophy books. If only one could think as directly as Cezanne painted.” While traveling to New Mexico and Colorado this summer, I managed to finish the book Cezanne: A Life, by Alex Danchev. And it was Cezanne’s influence that moved me to spend an entire day on the cabin deck in South Fork, Colorado and do nothing but study and experiment with watercolor, rendering the evergreen trees that were bathed in that splendid Rocky Mountain atmosphere.

I painted “on the motif” (Cezanne’s favorite expression about painting en plein air). And as I gazed at the evergreens in the changing light and intermittently fed the birds and chipmunks that gathered on my deck, I eventually developed some experimental steps to painting trees as I had never tried before in watercolor. Below is the page of my journal that I scribbled on August 5 at 2:34 p.m.:

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s painting 6

s painting 4

s painting 1

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20180805_114414

Because Cezanne was absorbed with blue pigments in his rendering of atmosphere, I experimented with blues that I had not used with much frequency before: Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Indanthrene Blue, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Turquoise, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Antwerp Blue and Payne’s Gray. Previously, I had only worked with blue in my skies, and a little with color mixing. But I had never worked so much with blues in and around my green palette. I was truly in a different zone, and now that I have returned to Texas, am looking forward to experimenting further with this.

I just finished my first day in Logic class, and so marks the transition into my university duties. I have three courses this semester, but two are online, so I won’t have to invest as much in travel time and lecture writing. I believe focusing on logic will be a good thing, as I work to organize my mind as well as my eye and continue in this artistic enterprise. Reading always thrills me, but so does picking up the brush.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Stuck in a Rut? Never.

June 14, 2018

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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.

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.