Roughly speaking, I understand “art” to be something created through human interaction with the world. Whether perceptually noticed or purposively constructed, that which we experience in what we might call “aesthetic ranges” are always results of interactivity and, as far as we know, only occur for human organisms.
Previously, I lamented the inevitable distance that occurs in living organisms between originary experience in and with an environment and the organism’s perceptual experience of it. No matter how miniscule, there is always a gap between our encountering (for instance, of scent and our recognition of smelling; or of light toward eye and our “seeing” of colors; touching flame and reacting retracting) and our awareness of the encounter. Neurons and nerves pass time in their messaging. By the time we’re aware, our present is past.
But awareness and perception, cognition and sensation are themselves happening presently, occurring in a process continuously and simultaneously to ongoing encountering. In other words, it is always the present, and we are always present, doing many different things. Being presently and what we’re aware of presently are widely variant items, but always both and all, simultaneous with (indeed identical to); the present.
The present is the only reality occurring.
Who and what, where and how are all only ever present concerns. When is always already answered: NOW.
If the human organism has adapted and developed the creation and usage of sign-systems to more efficiently navigate processes of survival, I want to look a little bit into what the purposive involvement in, engagement with, those sign-usage capabilities might accomplish for us.
If our survival process, as I remarked before, is one of perceiving and predicting our individual organism’s likelihood and opportunities for existing in any given environment (context, situation), then our perceptive processes are amazingly collaborative toward quickly organizing and evaluating a chaos of inputs and outputs into maneuverable assessments and survivable actions.
Language is our principle medium of signs, used by humans to select, describe and choose what is going on at any moment both inside of us and around us. Something like water is for jellyfish, perhaps, the medium that both constructs their world and enables them.
But language become, becomes its own experience to become again and again. In other words, the processing of perception, awareness, consciousness, is also experience in itself.
This is where it struck me that sign-mediums are a kind of gifting again and again of present experiences. As we interact with mediums, forming and formulating them into semiotic artifacts (whether spoken phrases, bodily movements, plastic figures or oil-smeared canvases) we are both utilizing those media to organize and process (become aware of and perceive) select elements of our encounter/experience, but also concocting new experiences as well as future presents. Artifacts delineating our presents will be perceived, signed, comprehended again and again newly, each moment various and ever-present.
In other words, inhabiting our mediums purposively, experimentally, exploratorily, reflectively, creatively, we are both organizing, discovering and determining our own present(s) while simultaneously being new presents and gifting present experiences to become (for ourselves and others via artifacts, writings, sounds and movements).
This seems simple to me and I’m sure the wriggly seams of it, the liminal, necessarily RELATIONAL actualities of it have been sussed out much more eloquently and adequately (made present, re-presented) than this cursory blurt of mine, but it has flooded me recently like an a-ha (fresh awareness of the present?) in answering questions about “wrestling with everything inhabiting my medium.”
So thanks to all of you – writers and artists, filmmakers and philosophers – for plumbing the mediums that give you your present(s) again and again, and then offering them onward to us – a community continually re-gifting our present(s) by consciously inhabiting what our media inhabit. The What Where How Who it moves us within and between.
Quick to give up, or in, to description. Sidelong glances, or enough periphery, and it’s known – they are there. Are here. Which is firstly what needs be established. Shaggy in-turned male and self-consciously-nondescript-as-a-waged-war-within-herself – are here – whether explicitly denoted or not, for that is not what this story’s about. And all of their children – as if we’re in shadows – near presences felt.
If the man were currently reading (he is reading now), and is sitting at his desk, surrounded by more words, words bound up to burst and licking the chops of their leafy lips, prepared to murmur and shout. It seems to him.
And she would be (read “is”) pushing a broken body into limited stress-inducing motions purposed to loosen and tighten. Laying on a mat on a floor watching women on a screen count and stretch and breathe, mimicking them with her own limbs and torso. Accentuating her “core,” strengthening her “self” for this losing battle.
The children are learning and eating, playing and working – whatever it is youth do to fend for themselves and their futures – their shadow-dance with age.
Unable to say it as is – the is too complete and far from attainable – in segments and particles, or a falsified whole from great distance. Oh nature. Oh being. Because of the facts, we have to just enter, and being recursive it matters only slightly where or when – inception/conclusion are unrecognizable to a decentralized everywhere, connective and mobile.
Some are known by their doings, some by their fathers’ or mums’; others according to their works or the times. Some hardly known of at all. To speak of them is to personally encounter – as if face-to-face – an intersubjectivity of optimal expressivity.
Or not. Language gets carried away. When we search for a meaning or some explanation is it not because we already believe it is there? Something already imagined? What remains is a tying together in idealized systems like logic – building a case or crafting a theory, replete with supporting cast of regulatory theorems. Which demonstrates little but our ability to make science out of anything. Exercise in closing the systems. While all remain open.
The rugged male shifts from his papers, given possibilities, which it turns out rhymes everything. She teases her hair nonchalantly (she hopes) and attempts to forget her over-calculations by delving into them – representing them – externalizing image and textures. Viewed askance not head-on, but in outlines and shades or peered at and through, as we’d envision a form from behind. Anything to remove the scrutiny of mere appearance – incorporate more and defraggle illusions of skin.
She scribbles it onto used papers, ready surfaces already marred, turning scarrings and blots into figures and wounds; while he accentuates the peculiar, alarmed by specifics and seeking connective similitude. If a thought comes queer, he tattoos it with ink until it sounds available.
Both, in a way, finding commerce, a transaction with others engaging/avoiding themselves. Feeling so like and unlike. A pestilence of the species, er, human condition – overwhelming similarities of form with infinite intricacies of difference. Everything related – never one without another – a closed system of incalculable possibilities. They labor in.
Male smells sour in just a few days, not accustomed to shouldering public, perhaps what allows for his mess. Adapting to the threat of her attention, though in the absence of comprehension. She allows him his comforts till they confront and offend. Peaceable enough – this arrangement – and duly provocative: they enhance and combine, stimulate and remind one another in a struggling intimacy – they love. Not without precedents or fear, but they love.
And in their sleep, the gears will turn.
He writes off stuck places – the uncanny processes of dreams.
The children behave like loosely arranged magnets, at times slamming close, or sullenly repelled. Usually vibrating, tensely, between. The volatility of past and a future reacts in young bodies as now.
Viewed collectively – it’s an inter-&-co-dependent mechanism, sketchy and atomically diagrammed – similarly potent (at least potentially) in its splittings and pressures.
I thought about the East like sunrise, or, the bright shadow of sun as it sets on the sea. Opening out, up, growing wider from a perceptive center.
I thought of my own like a spider rushing to complete its web and attachments to structures while the prey already wriggles in its core. Spinning quickly, creating patterns, finding foundations so one might approach, carefully, and engage.
And of the wise, “responding with the submissiveness of a mirror to a completely unthinkable array of things where there’s no space or time” (Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Xenia). “And which I can’t accept” (he adds immediately afterwords).
My wife like a field of slender grasses made out of senses waving in rain. It touches everywhere and then is guided and drawn into the veins and roots in a natural process.
An ecstatic: the moon hovering above, without details, yet influencing tides.
Fundamentalists jackhammering surfaces to shape; drilling from the riggings a far cylindrical bore.
The verbavore – translating, translating, translating…signs, digits, numbers.
Intuitionists: winds situationally directed by unseen prompts or hidden obstacles.
Perhaps the thing itself – sensual and complex machine – absorbing, recording, repeating and combining – crafting temperaments at the switchboard?