“Awake!” – “the great sleep of certainty”
February 3, 2008
“Initiation is always the attempt to create a new imprint.” – Robert Anton Wilson.
i remember sitting in Andy & Tess’ lounge many years ago, listening as Andy shared his desire for a shed at the bottom of the garden in which to paint, pot and/or sculpt – I think he was working at Safmarine at the time, so this must have been in the late 80’s. many years passed, during which i trusted that this vision would one day come to pass. his recent call to ask me to write a short piece on his latest painting therefore thrilled me deliciously.
Poet, painter, prophet, skeptic, trickster. these and other manifesters of the shamanic spirit, both reveal and guard an ancient & sacred road. through initiation, the shaman/initiator attempts to shock the nervous system into a state of openness, at which point a new imprint/view of “reality” can be received. many earnest seekers eschew psychotropic drugs or intentional near death experiences – two classic initiatory tools – and in many cases, for good reason.
thankfully, those of us seeking to awaken from societal & media induced slumber have other means available – the painter and the painting being two of them. by using symbol, the artist enables us to subvert and escape from the tyranny of words and the hypnotic power they wield over us. this brings me back to Andy’s project: his proposed use of three related but unusually shaped canvasses struck me as a potent device. inventive questions lead to fresh ideas and solutions and the act of setting himself new challenges – for example, “how do i physically mount 3 odd-shaped canvasses on the damn easel!?” – marks it as initiatory.
dogma & fundamentalism – those dripping, rabid teeth – lurk within each one of us. how many of us mistake the map for the territory? the menu for the meal? the way we see the world and our neighbour for how it/they really “are”? as we determine to challenge our current perception of reality and begin to realise that we are all greater artists than we realise – perception as a creative act – we increasingly awaken from the great sleep of certainty.
meme: doubt = holy.
in this latest project, Andy in a very concrete sense forced his heart and mind to en-vision new shapes and spaces by using unusual canvasses. as well as us sharing what he continues to bring back from his initiatic-artistic journey, let us also become increasingly enthused by our own path towards initiation, beyond which a new world awaits – and a future us.
As the gospel of thomas suggests, the kingdom of G-d is laid out upon the earth but we see it not.
“The poet – you need him to show you new ways to see.” – Bruce Cockburn.