Blog #3E Denial of Death

Anavami Center
Blog #3E Denial of DeathIn our adventure of challenging the current paradigm we question the man-made cultural norms that dictate our lives. More than anything else, our greatest repression is the “Denial of Death”. Pulitzer Prize winner, Ernest Becker’s book by that title maintains. Human beings spend an inordinate amount of energy strategizing to ward off recognition of our mortality. Socrates said as recorded by Plato, “the practice of dying” is a phrase that describes one aspect of how we become “morally mature.” Socrates urges us all to turn inwards and face our mortality. The Greek philosopher is among many others insisting we live with death in order to clarify our motives in life. It is surely possible that denial of death is at the bottom of our materialism, consumerism, addiction and escapism.
Blog #3E Denial of Death

Axis Mundi/Intimacy

We have been using poems by Billy Collins this month as he is an artist who plays the death card as he is coming to terms with dying, the ultimate loss, with humor. Making the life/death/life issue conscious and personal is central to other realities in life and is at the core of artist’s work, be it musician, dancer, writer or one of the artists of everyday life—chef, mother, carpenter. It also defines the different between skill and artistry. As materialists, we are used to perceiving and dealing with things like replaceable commodities, so our sense of loss seems minor in daily life. However, we all must process allowing our loss to make room to live when we feel and note loss. When not consciously felt and grieved loss becomes what Stephen Busby from Findhorn says constructs ‘the un-lived life.’

Blog #3E Denial of Death

Baba Yaga’s House

Artists in particular, on the creative edge, cannot afford to deny the exchange that is required because it will stall the process. The creative process is on the edge of the unknown willingness to risk loss. This week we incorporated two earlier participant-lead refrigerator journeys, placing them in a part of the body to access in the imaginal somatic to blend into one piece through marking. We then deconstructed that piece onto a new substrate. This was to underscore how loss of the cut-up piece became material for something new. Despite the initial discomfort, everyone enjoyed the freedom of not knowing what was happening. Several of the re-worked pieces found a deeper resonance with more revealing content.

The first image above draws on two Refrigerator Field trips-one that brought me to Axis Mundi and the other to Intimacy.  These were cut-up and reconstructed. Out of the ashes arose the image that reminded me of Baba Yaga’s three-legged house. She is the archetype witch of the transformative agent of the psyche containing the wise and the terrifying tester. This alerted me that when a threshold guardian shows up there is something around the corner.

 
Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio
 

 

 

 

 

Blog #3D In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trip & Embodied Knowing

Anavami Center
Blog #3D In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trip & Embodied Knowing

Axis Mundi

#3D Blog: Aspects of the archetype of artist

The Japanese movie Hokusai’s Daughter conveys how passion and commitment go beyond all social customs and interpersonal needs. Katsushika Oi, the main character in the movie is like many artists- often on the edge of societal norms. This is not just a rebellious or revolutionary reaction but instead arises as an investigative state of being at the boundaries of what is known.

Look at the life of your favorite artists to see their sacrifices. They are visionaries, not in the sense of dramatic tragedy but often in loss that is consciously negotiated. The transfer of energy with the sacred is the meaning of sacrifice.

Blog #3D In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trip & Embodied Knowing

Intimacy

Many artists have lived their lives on an extraordinary edge. Canadian artist, Emily Carr at the turn of the century, tromped through the wilderness to paint Native Americans. Because American artist Alice Neel worked in the era of Abstract Expressionism her paintings were ignored for decades, except by other painters. This year there was a retrospective of her work in New York at the Metropolitan Museum. Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo painted from her physical pain and anguish through a folk art tradition. Japanese artist Katsushika Oi went against all customs established for women as she developed her interest in color. It is interesting to note that sociologically the framing of the sacred trade of artist varies greatly in society’s discussion of different expectations of men and women.  Just look to art history and museums of the world to see the percentage of women. Not being recognized or seen is in itself a tremendous loss for an artist.  But there is something much more valuable that is the impetus for working.

This week in circle we marked combining disparate subjects from imaginal journeys into one piece to experience the possibility of holding dichotomies is a wider embrace. We introduced death and loss, grief and sacrifice as part of this process which we will explore more next week.

The images that follow are from participants in this six-month course. They are not depictions or illustrations but, rather, experiences of the act of doing and feeling. They are a way of resourcing and exploring, as well as, embodying the experience.

 
Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio
 

 

 

 

 

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive Knowing

Anavami Center

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive Knowing I have been sitting in an ice-cold stream pounding kuzu fiber on a rock with a wooden mallet for hours in a small paper-making village outside of Nagoya, Japan. Why exactly am I doing this I wonder. It feels like a traditional apprentice initiation, but it is more than that. It is about conjunctive knowing, instructions directed through the eye movements of my taciturn teacher. It is part of an apprentice systems across time and place to embody knowledge by watching, listening, smelling and tasting, learning through the body.

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive KnowingApprenticeships in the seventies in Japan was very much like it had been for hundreds of years. They honored the tradition that someone who came seeking mentorship from the master would not necessarily be taken on, but they were to be fed as long as they stayed on the porch.  Sometimes this was all it took so that perseverance could be demonstrated to the master and acceptance found.  There was a sense of perseverance but also of discovery of self within that I developed during my time studying with various masters.  My pottery teacher would say to listen to the sound of the brush touching the bisqueware to know how thick to make the iron oxide. It took me two years in calligraphy to realize myself how important breath was. Once my tea ceremony teacher stopped in her preparation for guests and listened to the wind. We went outside and she handed me the rake for the first time. She watched me rake up all the leaves in front of the tea house and then stood there with the silent message that we would stand here until I finished. I looked around madly for any missed leaves. Finally, I reached over and slightly shook the maple tree. A few red leaves fell on the path and my teacher bowed and enter the tearoom.

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive KnowingAwareness of knowing through the body rather than the mind, has been one of the many gifts I still carry with me from my time in Japan. Gnosis is the kind of conjunctive knowing that in the Bible refers to sexual relations, knowing a woman. It is a union, not just taking in information but a knowing through the body. This same idea is how information and skill are transferred in the cultural arts of Japan and many places in the world. Sweeping the floor and making tea is becoming attuned to not only the master but the materials, the shop and sometimes hundreds of years of experience. It is also developing a telepathy between workers.

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive KnowingIn the studio we are using somatic practice and embodying imagination as our entries into knowing through the body as we develop conjunctive learning. We trust our hand to reach out for a color or marking implement and are developing awareness of conversation, even flirting with other elements in our field so that we can play together. This way of working is bringing in many surprising elements, especially for people who have worked from personality for decades. One thing that strikes us is that we often don’t immediately relate to the marking before us. Our old ways of perceiving what works artistically is not important. The gage through the last few years of this practice is more toward authenticity, what is evoked and felt in the body and what stays with you as an afterglow or even shadow. It is because we are in a greater collaboration and it can take a while to see it.

The following images are from participants in the In-Bodying the Field Six-month Seminar, relating journeys through the refrigerator through mark-making.

 
Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio
 

Blog #3B In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trips-Soul Boat

Anavami Center

Last week the In-Bodying Marking Circles we ventured through a refrigerator door for what we started calling a field-trip. It was an experience in the Imaginal Field felt and explored in the body with continued expression in marking. Each of our trips was unique, from a glass lemon-aide pitcher in grandmother’s fridge, to a trapeze artist in a circus, to the inside of a car. This week each circle had two guided field-trips initiated by participants patterned on their journeys.

 

Blog #3B In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trips

In the Wednesday Circle, Lucy’s as guide lead me personally to the lap of the hungry ghost, that Buddhist archetype of unsatisfiable desire. This was dramatically counter-balanced in the second field-trip, led by Jess, with the delightful soul energy explored on three substrates. And so, I found myself facing the last substrate working with the energy of desperate longing and buoyant tenacity and vision of soul. Concentrating these experiences in different parts of the body is a way to hold these energies while allowing for something new to arise. This is well beyond emotional expression of playing with color and marks. The embodiment ignites a leap of insight leading into unconsidered territory. It takes time, slowing time to hold these energies in the imaginal body. This practice of seeing how the piece wants to be completed is a bit different from what we have been doing, as we have been unconcerned if a piece is finished. Considering how to complete a piece takes invites in the unknown, possibly through an acasual or synchronistic event. It is like the capping haiku line that leads to something that embraces the banal in a greater light. The third substrate resolved the contradiction with the soul being held by unsatisfied desire. The final image suggested an offfering  of a nest or boat.

Blog #3B In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trips

Images of In-Bodying the Field Participants

Click on thumbnails to see large images

 

 

 

Blog #3A Imaginal Field: Refrigerator an Archetypal Portal

Anavami Center

Anavami CenterMark-marking this week continued to cultivate somatic intelligence as we access the Imaginal Field. By becoming-like other things, we expanded the felt-body response by cultivating vision into the unknown through imagination. It is an ancient portal that the age of reason has upstaged, and yet is alive in science and all the arts, music, performance, literature and every aspect of life that is carried to artistry, like architecture, landscaping, cooking, parenting or even politics.

This shape-shifting is becoming easier as we recognize how many ways we slip into each other and address other with empathy and compassion. It is an ancient way of learning, expanding perception and gaining new insights. Through Marking, we soften the demarcation of inside and outside, experiencing more and more how our defined physical body is really integral to a greater biosphere.

In the arts, an archetype creates an immediate sense of familiarity, without need to ponder why a character or event is understood. Archetype can be defined as an emotion, character type, or event that is notably recurrent across the human experience. Consider the archetypes of things around you. The chair that holds you for comfort and ease to do things like eat, work, converse or travel. It is a structure adapted to human body, a kind of a container to easily enter and leave. It has a history beyond function and culture denoting social status and even termination of life. Our inquiry is interested in the metaphor and poetics of archetypes in relation to the Imaginal Field.

Anavami CenterYour home, a safe private place, like a nest or a shell, is what Gaston Bachelard marks as the place to dream. In the introduction to his book, The Poetics of Space. Richard Kearney says, “Poetics, for Bachelard, is not a matter of anonymous floating signifiers; it signals a relational dynamic between beings, involving vital dimensions of intimacy, secrecy, desire and repose.” And later, “Imagination is at its best when it is incarnate, elemental, opening out into time and space, even when the space is elsewhere—before being, beneath being, beyond being, more than being.”

This week we explore universal archetypes as organizing principles, which unite physical matter with consciousness. We used opening a refrigerator door, that everyday utilitarian object, as the start for everyone to step into a unique Imaginal Field. My refrigerator contained containers, preserving sustenance and enjoyment. This container has a physical inner structure but also a metaphoric structure related for me to the psyche. I thought of how different the freezer compartment is from the shelves on the door or the vegetable bins. The archetype of refrigerator gave us a poetic fulcrum to investigate being in our marking.

 

Majio

 

Click on thumbnail to see full size image.