In his poem “The Man Watching”, Rilke says: “When we win it is with small things, and the triumph itself makes us small”. Much food for thought there – what then, is worth really wanting? If I pursue the thought “what do I want?” all the way down the labyrinth to the place of not knowing, many certainties start unraveling.
Rilke’s letters make it clear that he needed to be alone in order to fall into such a condition, to exist solitary in an imagined cocoon so that he could come apart before coming together again. In this raw, naked, fragmentary state of mind he felt both too vulnerable and too repulsive to be near anyone, except a servant. [The beginning of Terror].
For a long time now I haven’t existed. I’m utterly calm. No one sees me differently from who I am. I just felt myself breathe as if I’d done something new, or done it late. I’m beginning to be conscious of being conscious. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll wake up to myself and resume my own existence. I don’t know if that will make me more happy or less. I don’t know anything.
Reaching a place of “not knowing” is good for me. It makes me “see deeper into paintings” (Rilke).
For me, my featured painting for this post (directly above) touches that sweet spot between image and emotion. The way the red peers through the more muted, dark colors suggest something poignant that I cannot quite put my finger on. It relates to what Robert Henri wrote:
That time we sat in the evening silence in the face of the mesa and heard the sudden howl of a pack of coyotes, and had a thrill and a dread which was not fear of the pack, for we knew they were harmless. Just what was that dread — what did it relate to? Something ’way back in the race perhaps? We have strange ways of seeing. If we only knew — then we could tell. If we knew what we saw, we could paint it.
Finally, I will end of with one of my favorite poems by Transtromer:
Storm The man on a walk suddenly meets the old giant oak like an elk turned to stone with its enormous antlers against the dark green castle wall of the fall ocean. Storm from the north. It's nearly time for the rowanberries to ripen. Awake in the night he hears the constellations far above the oak stamping in their stalls. Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly in The Half Finished Heaven.
Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you are happy and content.