Son of a…

Something interesting happened last weekend while visiting friends. I saw a carving I had made nearly a quarter of a century ago, called Maryam’s monk, that prompted me to look at time – not only in terms of chronology but also as Kairos, which roughly corresponds to the difference between a minute and a moment.

Entranced as I was, I felt like never before the significance of a quote from Cervantes that I included in a recent post. Cada uno es hijo de sus obras. Roughly translated, Each of us is the son (or daughter) of his (or her) works. (Read how this was uttered by Sancho Panza in Don Quijote, Part 1, Chapter 47). Looking at the carving, which I’m now calling Maryam’s Monk (see photo below), I suddenly recalled in that moment how it was made and who I’d become since.

It's Kairos Time

It’s Kairos Time

To be continued.

Maryam’s Monk

Maryam's Monk

Maryam’s Monk

(Find him here too – under Wood!)

When Is It Kaput?

In the early 1980s I attended a lecture given by an artist/philosopher who aimed to explain the act of art creation. From his phenomenological perspective – and strengthened by his beautiful German accent – he emphasized that the very first line, smudge, mark, or expressive movement is a mistake. This is then followed by a second expressive attempt to correct that first mistake, an act which results in an even bigger mistake, of course, and, naturally, an even more compelling invitation to mend it. See a pattern? Each subsequent, additional, inductive, and deductive effort to repair the opus merely adds to the accumulation of purposelessness and further hollows out any remaining significance! Finally, the artist discovers that nothing can fix it; no more tinkering, no more cobbling, no more troubleshooting. The piece is irreparable. The piece is finished! “It’s Kaput!”

For years I internalized this rather lopsided approach and applied it to practically every aspect of my being. Yes, it was like playing Russian roulette with my life.  When it came to art, I approached the blank paper, the block of wood, the lump of clay like a Quixotic adventure. I entered it and allowed myself to get carried away. When the muse was there, we collaborated swimmingly; when it wasn’t, I’d try again later. Nowadays, I realize that there aren’t enough hours in the day and that some things really do start off as half-baked ideas, require planning, rely on infrastructural support, and so forth, long before execution.

I still love indulging in let’s just see what happens. It challenges me to go with the flow and know when to quit. Is there such an alternative as quitting while you’re ahead?