*Written November 22nd, 2019.
I haven’t done much writing recently, at least not for enjoyment or improvement purposes. I’ve noticed that my personal reading, writing, and thinking rekindle my passion for study, and most importantly, for living. They enliven me, bring hope, and sometimes, a touch of joy. Like the cool drops of water gliding down waxy leaves, refreshment comes by nature’s prompting. Yet one must be in the right position and posture to receive it. Can we demand refreshment or even “rights” when the source of life comes from without? Oh, how we rebel at these notions, violently swaying toward agency or submission, rallying around what would seemingly promise salvation.
The German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller sought to unit these two drives, the one being the “drive-to-form”, to shape reality to our demands, the other a “sense-drive”—the desire to experience reality itself, as it is. These two are united or transcended in a “living form” [lebende Gestalt] that is found in nature, a nature that we find ourselves snuggly within. This “living form” transcends these oppositions through what he calls the “play-drive” [Spieltrieb], which finds its purest expression in beauty.
While this may seem fanciful to some, I find deep satisfaction in it. It lightens the draughty conditions of my mind, allowing the stale air of disquiet to depart. The words of Peter come to mind, “Where shall we go? You have the Words of Life”. He had tasted this cool stream rolling off the waxy leaves—a well that will never run dry.
There is something about gazing at the beautiful—humbly receiving the “play” of form and content, the conscious and unconscious, freedom and constraint. This is why I am deeply unsettled when art is treated as a means to an end. This is preposterous since the absence of pragmatic value is precisely what makes art art—it’s deeply meaningful despite not having an economic or evolutionary value. Faith is buried beneath it like religious belief in dogma—dogma that can never be proven to be true or untrue. In a similar manner, beauty can never be proven as well. One is grasped by it although it always remains out of reach. Attempts to clutch it lead to its dissolution.
The Force of Life, its inner workings, its essence, remains out of reach like the center of a black hole—a singularity. Yet it enlivens us all, and sometimes, it grasps us. Where else shall we go? “You have the words of life”.
These Waxy Leaves (Again)
Sanguine sensations rolling gently
Curving not carving
Coloring a canvas
Masked with magnificence
With no words
The Word, is present
Yellow, red, salmon pink, and deep green
Magnifying glimpses of these mellow images
Word(s) receptive in its magnificence
Exquisite fusions of imagination
Of creature, not creating
Just capturing, not catatonic, but celestial flights
From without, found within, out of reach
Time to begin