Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Wall, Part 2

* * * New Age Stuff Alert * * *

The cotton on the loom still has iffy tension and I've done an emergency fix for the missing warp, but I wanted to see how the latest drafts look "in person", so I'm weaving on. Yesterday was a repeat of the nightmare in February when I knew I was too crock, but soldiered on and ended up with a dud piece. The difference is, this time I still have time to experiment, and I don't want to fix the warp in case I make more mistakes; I just want to see my drafts come to life, and I'm OK knowing this piece isn't going anywhere except on my studio wall. I'm taking a detour.

I heard the Kim Hill/Dr Jill Bolte Taylor interview the first time on the Saturday I was weaving my cotton piece, the day I was supposed to deliver my Santa Fe lot to Pat. Yesterday I was downstairs for five hours, and didn't manage to finish 780 picks, which in this set up should have taken a couple of hours. But I decided on the color scheme of The Wall project, and I listened again to the Kim Hill interview, (also available as download from here; scroll down to July 5), and them moved on to her talks with Oprah.

While her Kim Hill interview, and much of her TED video, focused on Dr JBT's stroke and recovery, her talks with Oprah covered a little more about her euphoria. Several times she described it as a disappearance of the boarder between herself and the universe, that she felt big, and I sensed, she felt omnipresent. And the two women agreed the "ego" disappeared. I'm guessing by "ego" they mean individuality rather than self-importance, though I'm can't be sure. Nancy has been following the Eckhart Tolle thing, I mean to but haven't, so I can only guess what they mean when they refer to the Tolle contents, and I might have gotten things out of context. Nevertheless, I discovered my own emotional (?) dichotomy.

My paternal grandfather was big on Zen, and though he died when I was three, early on part of me knew we're all specks of dust in the Big Universe. Or maybe this is just part of growing up in Japan, but part of me always found solace in my insignificance, that my stupidity and naughtiness would soon be forgotten. I still have this burning desire to leave nothing when I go, and be forgotten as if I never existed. Dad, on the other hand, has been big on personal responsibility, not just in ethics, but also in efforts/achievements, and I've operated all my life based on his beliefs.

So my dilemma is this: in the last decade or so, as a person I've been spending an awfully lot of time, energy and frankly, money, to learn about stopping the chatter and trying to be one with the Universe in a more proactive (!) way. I haven't succeeded, and I'm not sure if I've even made progress, but I've enjoyed the process. And I believe this is a good direction, and a direction I'd like to keep going in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, I feel guilty whenever I'm not striving for something, and I can't find a way to reconcile this individual strife/creativity with my membership in the Universe. Pertaining to weaving, if I allow my ego/individuality to disappear and I become "blended", a) I fear my weaving will be murky, lukewarm and boring, and b) I'd feel terribly irresponsible, ergo amoral. Which reminded me, I never got Julia Cameron's "artists as agents of the Creator" thing, either.

Besides, if I do ever weave that mind-blowing cloth for which I will forever be remembered (yeah, get it?), I kind of want to take the credit for it, not just hand it over to the Universe.

The term "exponential" comes to mind; my problem is manifold. I think it's time for another giant mug of hot-honey-and-ginger.

8 comments:

  1. I love the "New Age Stuff Alert"! Like you, I feel like it's not okay for me to be living without striving to achieve or become something. But I see myself in the process of letting that go -- and it IS a process, a journey, probably not a destination.

    I still want to leave something of myself when I go, which, I think, is what drives some, if not most, of my art making. Like maybe I'll leave a mark somewhere that someone after me will refer to. Deep down I suspect that if I could let go of this ego thing, my art would be more authentic. Like I said, it's a process, and I know I'm on this part of the path right now.

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  2. Whenever I have done something extraordinarily well, or at least far better than I felt possible (and I'm not talking just weaving here), I've had the sense I was simply the channel for it to happen. This is what was happening in a very small way in the third art piece--it had never happened at any level in weaving before and it was part of the reason I was frightened as I wove. But this never happens at all to me unless there has been a lot of practice and focus before hand. I think this happens at much higher levels to the really great artists and craftsmen when they feel, if only for a moment, that a greater power of some kind is moving their hands. All I know is that you cannot will this to happen. All you can do is cultivate and love the doing.

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  3. P.S. And this kind of experience is not "new age" at all. It is universal.

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  4. Connie, from my (lack of) experience, "if I could let go of this ego thing, my art would be more authentic," sounds counterintuitive, but I think that's exactly what the books are saying. Must try harder, or not try so hard?!?!?

    Peg, nah, I've never had such an experience - not with weaving, not with a whole heck of a lot else, I think. Re. weaving, I find it so hard that I am never really relaxed when I'm weaving, perhaps. I don't know. Sometimes I think I'm just so uptight or se;f-absorbed or something that I can't let go and ... go with the flow. Sometimes I know I don't know how to enjoy life at all. Bummer!

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  5. Self-absorption may be at the root of your problem. It's a terrible and dark place to be. We all go through periods of self-absorption---probably a necessary evil for us humans. Recognition of it is probably the first step along the kind of path that Connie is describing.
    Have the weavings you sent to Santa Fe been returned to you? How are you going to use them to help you find your way?

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  6. With something as complicated (for me) as weaving, I don't know how not to be self-absorbed... No, my stuff is coming back with Pat in about three weeks; in fact, Pat might have found homes for a couple of them, fingers crossed.

    "How are you going to use them to help you find your way?" Wrap them up and put them away for now. I'm not sure how I'm going to move on from here at the mo. My brain needs some oxygen...

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  7. Try hard to not try so hard!!

    I think it's not so much self absorption that I was referring to above, as perhaps making art for the wrong reason. I've talked about that on my blog -- making art specifically to sell, rather than for the pleasure of exploring something new with materials I love. That's where the authenticity thing -- or possible absence of it -- comes in for me.

    It's far easier for me to focus on making something with the intention of selling it, and thereby putting a box around my creativity, than it is to stand in the question, let the materials guide me, follow my interest and passion. The latter is obviously where my authenticity lies, but it's being painful and difficult for me to walk this path. Not impossible, though.

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  8. I think anything I make to exhibit, I don't worry about selling, so by your definition they'd be pretty authentic, I guess. I have a much easier time making these, because it's just about me, and I do it to please myself.

    Beyond that, I've had too many words and concepts swirling around in my head that ... I decided to fix the tension problem of the gold warp!

    I guess there's more mental meanderings coming later, but not just yet.

    Ummm, Connie, what do you mean by authenticity?

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