This blog blog post is the next best thing to actually visiting the exhibit that will be open until the end of June, and it is especially intended for friends and relatives who live too far or abroad.
If the books are not on the reading table, please ask for them at the desk.
Let me know if you would like price information.
The Bookery is a very special bookstore with a recently inaugurated gallery space, and it is located at the DeWitt Mall, downtown Ithaca, NY. Open everyday from 10 to 5, except Sundays.
This is the brief text that introduces the viewer to the paintings, prints, and books in this show.
Small Signs of the Integrity of Life
After five thousand years of recorded history and the lives and deaths of an estimated hundred and eight billion individuals, the feelings, actions, and relationships of most human beings are still being predetermined by thinking that is narrowly tribal and self-centered. There are two good reasons why the tragic reality this fixed mindset generates is not the central subject of this exhibit. The first one is that a good sense of history and a daily inspection of a variety of news sources makes any caring person fully aware of the injustice, anxiety, conflict, and sorrow that flow from our chronic state of conflicted and conflictive cultural and psychological separation. The other reason is that, while this reality is—excuse the redundancy—painfully real, it seems only reasonable to assume that its intrinsic cruelty and stupidity cannot possibly constitute the truth of our insertion in life. Consequently, what this exhibit aims to provide is some sense, admittedly sketchy and insufficient, of the unified and therefore unthinkable stream of life that is the deeper source and the truth of our mysterious cosmic presence.
Even though this may seem uncanny, I am asking you, the viewer, to stretch your mind enough to see in the artwork on these walls the unitive flow of life and the human form (you and, I and everyone else) so fully and unselfconsciously integrated within it that at times it is hardly perceptible. One of the books (An All-Inclusive Presence) harbors an essay and sixty prints made from digitized paintings on glass in an attempt to represent different degrees of human alienation from, and integration with life. Another, (Seeing the Stream; Being the Stream) gathers a collection of photographs made over many years at a local creek (Taughannock) and with the help of some texts, turns the familiar stream and its varied contents into a lively representation of the energetic ground of existence. A third book (A Glimpse of Death from the Vantage Point of Love) collects another set of images made at Taughannock creek aiming this time to reveal within the turbulent flow of life, the mysteriously vivifying power of death. Twelve remarkable poems by Mario Hernandez and an essay written by me help drive the point home.
A warning may be due here. It would be a mistake to take the general character and evident shortcomings of this fragile pointing towards the truth beyond knowledge, as yet another display of arty bourgeois complacency or fatuous spirituality. The books and wall art in this show are rooted in a long, unwavering, and often direct inspection of the toxic mental and social reality into which we were all forcefully socialized, and that is sustained by old reiterative ideas, feelings, and actions, and our children’s innocent ingestion of their toxicity through imitation and uncritical education. Perhaps paradoxically, what best elicits the appetite for truth and beauty is a keen and uncompromising awareness of a divided and suffering humanity that is, in our own day, greedily bent on damaging the web of planetary life, and with its injust and violent division tempting the possibility of a thermonuclear winter that ends our presence on Earth.
The necessity of a profound love for the integrity of life, and this love’s most reasonable concern for the fate of humanity lies precisely in its power to dissolve the on-going identification with different and opposed tribal ideologies and personal stories that so effectively undermine our natural capacity to perceive, think, and act intelligently, and therefore caringly. Only by overcoming our proclivity for exclusive self-identification can we hope to accurately see and adequately address the multiple and interconnected
problems that millennia of myopic ideological and egocentric separation have generated.
As the contingent of human beings who are alive today, we face a stark choice. We can continue doing what we have been brainwashed to think best serves our imperious desire for cultural righteousness and personal fulfillment —which is what we have always done and what has brought us to the mental, social, and ecological abyss where we presently find ourselves. Or we can awaken to the absurdity and grave danger posed by a general claim to a unique and separate existence based on particular association with fixed sources of identity and (false) security that are the very negation of the fathomless integrity and wisdom of life.
To paraphrase one of physicist David Bohm most incisive comments on the nature of the mind conditioned and splintered by cultural and psychological experience, I will say that for as long as we continue to act out, personally, as idiosyncratic combinations of multiple forms of dogmatism --nationalistic, sectarian, racist, sexist, classist, ethnocentric, scientistic, occupational, and egocentric-- we will continue to slide into increasingly intolerable circumstances, possibly leading to the extinction of our species, along with thousands of others. Put the other way around, only by allowing ourselves to be cut to size by the shocking realization that the sense of existential separation to which we commonly subscribe is a long-standing illusion, can we stop contributing to the dangerous disorder afflicting humanity and perhaps prevent an irredeemable catastrophe.
We are the bumbling outcome of eons of procrastination and false and contradictory hopes, so it is essential that we wake up to the fact that, barring a truly revolutionary change in consciousness, the future will continue to be a slightly modified version of the same ideological and methodological dysfunction (both secular and religious) we have always known and suffered. Separate and antagonistic cultural and personal identities change constantly, but never get better. Their presumed social and spiritual achievements and endless reform plans are, for the most part, a sham because they are constitutionally unable to open the mind to the all-inclusive embrace of life and thus realize the just and peaceful integration the entire species so sorely needs.
Our history and present circumstances demand from each one of us a resolute abandonment of absurd authorities and stultifying cultural conventions and personal habits. For only the undoing of the false and harmful distinctions claimed by the conditioned mind makes evident the most immediate, intimate, and revolutionary truth, which is that we all share in equal measure the honor of being alive. The ground of being is our only actual place of encounter, and this encounter the single point of entry to a unified and therefore sane human culture. May this little exhibit serve as a catalyst for this most urgent encounter and the radical mental deprogramming it entails.
Paintings — Sumi and alcohol inks, acrylic, and oil
Prints from digitized Sumi ink paintings made on glass
A Glimpse of Death from the Vantage Point of Love
One-of-a-kind book housing a collection of photographs and an essay by F.L., plus eleven poems by Mario Hernandez
An All-Inclusive Presence — Second edition limited to ten copies. It harbors an essay and 62 prints of digitized ink paintings made on glass.
Seen in Ithaca — One-of-a-kind, large format book with 102 photographs of tiny town spliced in)
Seeing the Stream; Being the Stream
This limited edition book contains a collection of photographs of Taughannock Creek, an essay, and three other short texts (only two copies remain).