Thursday, February 11, 2010

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

The photos above are of the same sculpture, "Quantum Man," created by Julian Voss-Andreae, the image of a walking man. Made up of over a hundred vertically oriented steel sheets, the 8’ tall sculpture provides a metaphor for the counter-intuitive world of quantum physics. Symbolizing the dual nature of matter, the sculpture seems solid when seen from the front but nearly disappears when seen from the side, as light shines through the spaces between the slabs.

Faithful Reader knows that I have felt somewhat disturbed recently, my usual comfort challenged by Peter Singer's delusion-fracturing book on ending extreme poverty. Then Brenda Shoshann's Zen Miracles asked me to "Find Your Own Pilgrimage."

A word of explanation. My best time for getting in touch with myself and the rest of creation is morning, before my ego structure gets firmly in place and I start making lists of things to do and running around. And this morning I did an idle search on hemoglobin.

That's another element of my personal story - doctor's office called yesterday to say my Hg was low again, and it is time for a Procrit shot. This has gone on for years now, a consequence of kidneys not able to do their rightful work. I learned that Hg is essential for the transport of oxygen - that's why say a competitive biker might want to use it to maximize red blood cells, and why you feel fatigued when you are anemic. But more to the point, I came to the art of the sculptor shown above, because he has done a wonderful sculpture of hemoglobin.

Science/art has insisted on coming my way lately, beginning when? Well, a couple of weeks ago we went to a presentation by a local sculptor, a woman who works in bronze and sometimes paper. What I learned was how messy sculpture can be, how it is literally down to earth, down to clay and metals and fire, and work with the hands. I have been dissatisfied lately with the flat plane of paper on which to draw or write. Writing and talking are such thin things. Words have a very odd kind of reality, intangible, and lately I have been enjoying working with my plants, a way of getting into the earth.

Next I ran into a TED presentation on a scientist/artist who puts paint cans in a pendulum and lets or helps the natural flow create a painting. What was very odd there was that Tom also ran into it and watched it on the new TV. Now there's this, coming to me from Wikipedia as I tried to find out just what a Hg count refers to. I didn't find that yet, but no matter.

My title today is the famous line from the Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. (I guess not everyone in the world was an English major, or wouldn't we be in trouble when the drains clog up?) I think it is famous in part because it so neatly targets that sense of Spring, that desire to be fresh and renewed. Surely that is a big part of why we do this amazing thing, going on retreat.

For Shoshanna, a pilgrimage is when you stop clinging to something, get out of your stuckness. Mine goes to always doing small, private things so I don't get hurt, perhaps, or because of some tiny twist in my DNA. But I think of big things. I admire huge art, like an installation I saw a while back at a fiber art show. I'm sorry, but I don't recall the artist's name. She had created huge panels of barely colored silk that hung from the ceiling, one after the other, and that stirred with your passing. The room seemed to engulf you and make you tender.

Yes, there was yet another sculptor who came my way recently, who does Buddhist work in mosaic. Art that is out there shattering light in garden.

So what is my next step after writing this? I don't know. As often, I hear Seung Sahn (whom I never met) nodding and telling me, "Good. Only keep that don't-know mind."


  1. I had a lovely English teacher in high school that required us to memorize the prologue in Middle English. The part I always forgot was the line right before the line you quoted.

    And um, you might love this:

  2. How cool - to rap in middle English. I do love it. Thanks.