Sunday, April 8, 2012


Noel Coypel,The Resurrection of Christ, 1700

J.H.Draper, Mourning for Icarus

Dearest Readers,

It’s Easter Sunday, and I’m thinking about the vertical, both up and down. This day is a celebration of rising straight up, outside the flat line of time, entropy and gravity. The premise of this day offers the craving body the possibility of avoiding dissolution and surface transportation, with all the annoyances of driving around an obstacle, instead of simply rising above it.

There is a vertical landscape above our normal horizontal plane of length and width that for me aligns the spirit with earth and sky. It’s the third dimension that rises from the ribbon of two-D, and offers a bird’s eye view of our journeys from here to there. This up and down line of being makes life interesting. When bent, this dimension gives us mass and shape, volume and heft. Thoughts too seem to hatch out of the fullness. In recent blogs I’ve talked about my desire to fly, which represents a curiosity about the spiritual self. I’ve drawn wings as tools for transformation, and ladders emerging from holes.

This isn’t an Icarus thing of hubris and descent. I’m creating contraptions on canvas for accepting eventual death.

Author Rebecca Solnit talks about taking a leap in her 2005 book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost–meditations on journeying outside our comfort zones. Yves Klein, the French conceptual artist took such a leap from a wall on a quiet Parisian street in October 1960. All that we have of the performance entitled Leap into the Void is a photograph* taken as his body arced upward, arms outstretched defying the pull of earth. I love the possibility that Klein and his dematerialized self made it up into the sky. The bicyclist pedaling by in the picture does not even notice Klein’s escape.

Solnit also explores falling, the literal downside of ascension. The 1958 movie Vertigo is about the fear of falling. Alfred Hitchcock creates a dark psychological landscape with a tower, twisting stairs and windows high above the city streets that beckon the characters over the edge.

Physicists have tackled the subject of gravity too. It’s a force field that is everywhere around us, keeping our bodies planted on the ground, drawing matter to the center. It can bend time and space. Black holes have so much of it that all light that gets too close is pulled inside. The Big Bang theory postulates that for a few seconds at the beginning of our universe, gravity reversed itself and exploded outward pushing particles rapidly through space. Then gravity reverted back to its old attractive self, leaving the universe still in expansionist mode.
Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, 2005

Whatever the scientific theories, I know I am an earth-bound groundling on this planet for a short moment in time. As I walk on the surface, I mostly look down, scanning the ground over the top of my progressive bifocals to guide my footsteps around objects in my way. I’m often lost in tunnel vision, and thoughts of social relationships or obligations. I notice the ground a lot. Lately I've been practicing dropping the personal story lines through the tool of meditation. Sometimes I experience a crack of understanding. Sometimes not. I’ve learned that it’s not easy to fly, or to let go of the handlebars and stretch out into space.

I leave you, dear readers with two of my drawings that play with verticality. One is a fanciful Flying Asparagus from 1992, the other an Attenuated Nude from 2009.

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