How much do the ‘shapes’ in our lives affect us?
“shape (n.) Old English sceap, gesceap “form; created being, creature; creation; condition“
“shape (v.) Old English … “to create, form, destine“
A few weeks ago my friend Michael (Hidden Agendas) & I walked the streets of Boston’s financial district with its intense, overpowering buildings. We began a discussion & exploration of the …
… effect of shapes & structures that I will be expanding upon in the weeks to come.
Up till now we have been prisoners of the structures in our lives (& our world) – mostly because so many of them do not possess a three dimensional reality.
Michael & I are about to take a course on structure with Robert Fritz. In the meantime I want to issue a challenge to you, to look & play …
… with any of the structures/shapes/patterns in your life (or this world). Feel free to use the comments section here to work with others. As always there are no right answers, this space is offered for an exploration of structure, with the intention of angling towards restructuring the course of our future, along more ‘human’ lines.
What if all
those huge statues
round the world
sneaky depictions of giants
that still hold humans
Prompted by synchronicity, Michael Skaggs joined me for a conversation about the distortion of our innate rhythms & the hidden history of the world.
Was earth …
of the giants’ …
is it still?
Or listen to our podcast below:
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Thanks to Michael’s editing skills sound quality has been improved – you may just need to adjust the volume during the first segment.
You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find a way back, but if you destroy their history …
… you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed“.
I went to see the movie …
… The Book Thief recently. What I had read about it suggested I might find a little kinship with my past.
I’m pleased to report that I intuitively walked out shortly before most of the cast were annihilated:
“The family is reunited only for a short time though as one night the city is bombed and no air raid siren alerts the citizens. Hans, Rosa and Rudy’s family … have been killed in the blast. Liesel was spared from the bombing by falling asleep in the basement … Rudy is brought out of his house by neighbors and he is barely alive. He begins to tell Liesel that he loves her but he dies before he can finish the sentence … During this scene, the Angel of Death is heard speaking again about how he received the souls of the dead“.
The movie was yet another ode to “the grave”.
This article is dedicated to the living.
As such it contains some outrageous suggestions
to stimulate healthy heart function.
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Just before the movie started there was a preview of (yet another) WWII movie – The Monuments Men – based on the “true” story of ‘heroic’ men & women who risked their lives to save ‘art treasures’ from the Nazis.
Job descriptions included:
“protecting and safeguarding civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict during World War II“
“to avoid the destruction of 1000 years culture“
Today’s opening quote comes from that movie:
“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find a way back, but if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed“
All through what I stayed to watch of the The Book Thief, that phrase kept coming back to me.
The idea that culture is pivotal to our ‘humanity’ is as common & unquestioned as chem trails.
The Book Thief assures itself of …
… cultural patriotism
by serving up …
… the historically obligatory
Nazi book burning scene.
Yet for the first time ever, that sacrilegious scene failed to have the correct effect on me. I began to wonder:
What would it be like if all ALL existing art …
How much would it matter?
Are our cultural ‘treasures’
beneficial & life-giving,
or simply another …
Just what is culture?
“the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively“
“The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought“
Where was its etymological birth?
“The modern term “culture” is based on a term used by the Ancient Roman orator Cicero … where he wrote of a cultivation of the soul or “cultura animi”, using an agricultural metaphor … as the highest possible ideal for human development“
Isn’t that interesting? Especially when we consider that agriculture has never been known for its “interest” in …
… human development.
“To condemn all of humankind to a life of full-time farming, and in particular, arable farming, was a curse indeed“ ~ Against the Grain
If culture was birthed in agriculture, then let us use agriculture to explore it. As you read the following, allow your mind to weave …
with ‘the arts’:
“There is a distinction to be made between what I have called agriculture and simply growing food … The difference is that the goal of agriculture is not feeding people; it is …
… the accumulation of wealth. What agriculture grows is not food but commodities, grain not to eat but to …
… store, trade, and process. Consider the range of plants humans consume, the hundreds of species. That’s food. Consider that two-thirds of our calories come from wheat, rice, and maize. Add sugar and you have a nearly complete picture of commodities … these commodities have a fundamental and key distinction from the rest of food; they are…
… storable and interchangeable and close to currency in their liquidity; in fact they are …
… traded in markets just as currency is. They form the basis for the accumulation of wealth, and have done so for ten thousand years“
Once upon a time gold was a shiny metal used to make pretty statues. Then it got turned into currency.
The Arts = currency.
They are consistently associated with the wealthy or wealthy institutions. They are used as a symbol of status, success, power.
Why is it that artistic creations have worth because of WHO created them?
If there is …
… doubt about the ‘parentage’ of a ‘work of art’ millions of dollars can disappear in an instant.
This is exactly the same mindset that equates the worth of a child with who its …
… parents are.
So a work of art is known as “a Picasso” or “Beethoven’s 9th symphony” or a “Hemmingway novel” or a “Kubrick movie”. I wonder how much attention these creations …
… would actually receive
without their pedestalised ‘creator-parents’?
I have nothing against art. I studied art history at school & have long felt an affinity with it.
Nor do I have nothing against literature – I enjoyed that at school too.
But that’s kind of the problem.
Why are we studying it?
Why has it been made so much a part of our education curriculum? And by curriculum I also mean the media & entertainment education system. Very, very few people have seen even a fraction of the “great” paintings, yet most can …
… name their creators
in an instant.
Most people can quote at least a few lines from ‘Shakespeare’ even though that entity …
has been dead nearly 400 years.
The Arts = currency
Can you spot the flaw in that creation equation?
Currency bows …
… to a showy creator
Life bows …
… to the creation.
Anything placed under patronage of the gods always deserves closer scrutiny:
“The Nine Muses were Greek goddesses who ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects. They were the daughters of Zeus, lord of all gods, and Mnemosyne, who represented memory“
How many people do you know whose lives & abilities have actually been …
… nourished & strengthened by absorbing the art of the ‘great ones’?
And by arts I mean any member of the ‘family’ of art – painting, sculpture, music (all flavours), literature, opera, ballet, plays, poetry etc – let’s not leave anything out of this equation.
I’m not denying that people enjoy them. But that’s not my question. What I want to know is how many people you know who have created something wonderful in their lives because of what they have …
… seen, heard or learned
from these ‘great ones’?
Ok then now how many do you know who have been …
… sensorially over-stimulated?
How many gut-weakened because they could never do anything as “good” as that?
How many have even tried to ‘have a go’ at something?
What I’m suggesting here is that the way ‘art’ is ‘done’ in our world leads to a lessening of life. I remember Edward de Bono saying something along the lines that art has failed humanity because it hasn’t taught them anything – it just makes statement about what already exists.
What is at the heart of art?
What follows are some ridiculously over the top suggestions
or are they?
Artistically sacrilegious proposal #1:
The majority of art is trauma-based because humanity is trauma-based. The need to tell our unheard-stories is so strong that it will not be silenced. In artists it is not only woven through their art but may even be the reason why they developed their own …
… particular art-form in the first place.
- if art oozes trauma what does this suggest about why ‘art’ is so ‘valuable’ to the ptb?
- if art some kind of living record of pain, who gains from this?
- what does idealizing trauma do to the human psyche?
I have no doubt that we are creators, but to my mind what we have created so far has been fiercely dictated by …
… dehumanization on every level.
We cannot look to any existing art to lead the way. It is time to look to ourselves to create something that hasn’t been here before:
“Another possibility is that of a new Renaissance, one on which people are involved with their lives, their growth, & their own continuing learning in the creative process. This is different ground than we have seen before. We cannot use our old assumptions, values, biases, premises, or structures. But neither can we change if we are motivated by conflict, dissatisfaction, or disorientation“
Artistically sacrilegious proposal #2:
When an artist dies their work should be ‘phased out’ to allow the living the freedom to continue creating anew. If an artist has truly contributed while alive, their influence will live on through those they artistically ‘touched’. Every day the sea clears the shores …
… for the next day’s creations – why should art be any different?
- by relying on dead artists to ‘stimulate us’ we deny our own life force
- by relying on dead artists to ‘enlighten’ us we throw ourselves back into a time that no longer exists & deny current reality
- dead artists make no mistakes & take no risks so their value as a source of inspiration is redundant.
- dead artists often have a history of suicide – never a good influence.
- life belongs with the living
“Let’s face it, most of us have a suspicion there is much more to life than what we have been led to expect … possibilities that there are dimensions to ourselves, depths of our being, & heights to our aspirations that are lurking just below the surface …
… Despite years of attempts by relatives, friends, acquaintances & society to bring us to our senses, the desire & impulse to reach for what is highest in us is still there … perhaps we are only a shadow of our future self, & the subtle persistent force that nags at our consciousness – to be a creator, one who brings into existence creations that previously lived only in one’s innermost dimensions“
Artistically sacrilegious proposal #3:
Living artists should be anonymous:
- this would put all the focus on the creation instead of the creator
- anonymity would allow oh so many people who fear criticism & censure to begin to create
- by focusing on the unnamed creation before our eyes or ears, we are freed to choose what we do & do not like.
Artistically sacrilegious proposal #4:
Pack away all existing art forms & begin from scratch.
“To create something new, sometimes something old must end“
Create multiple new art forms that embrace humanization as the goal of our species.
I now believe there is no such thing as humanity – not because it can’t exist but because it has never yet existed.
In reading Richard Manning’s …
… “Against the Grain’ my whole understanding of the past of the human species was radically revised. Humans have been nothing more than farmed animals – starved, abused, workhorses – it is really not possible that the ‘art’ they created was ever healthy or life-centred.
Recognising what was is however an important part of choosing a different future:
“we can transcend the consequences we have put into motion. Cause and effect are suspended. Past actions do not become manifested in future outcomes. The past, no matter what it has been, is no longer a dynamic that must play itself out. Not only do we recognize the past is over, it is no longer at issue. We are able to re-create our lives anew“
We simply cannot rely on anything that currently exists to pull us into a new future – we have to do this work ourselves – starting now:
“What could motivate this change? Nothing short of rethinking what we are doing, how we are living, what our lives are about, where we are going, & what we want to create. There are horizons you have not encountered yet that lie before you as you begin to travel the road of creating“
“When you know the operational principles of anything, you can begin to make up your own rules, and even change those rules when it makes sense“
Perhaps you would like to reread the opening quote & wonder about what was really said there.
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Text in this colour from Against the Grain ~ Richard Manning
Text in this colour from Robert Fritz
As a warm up to a soon-to-be-released article, I challenge you to contemplate (play with) the following suggestion:
“Art & literature …
… will be
the death of us”
Feel free to post thoughts in the comments section – there is no right or wrong here – just playful, insightful exploration.