Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ontology (unfinished)


I’ve been drawing penises and vaginas for a long time now. I think that most children, as evidenced by the walls and desks at all my junior high schools, feel the impulse to celebrate such forms through 2-d rendering. Boobies and poop are also popular desk tags.

This new drawing (unfinished, charcoal) also includes some of those time-tested symbols for life, growth, and decay. Baby, scull, birth, death, vagina, penis, flower (lotus), chakras. The chakras are in the form of crystal balls (also looking like eyeballs). Right now, please notice that they move from above and beyond the baby, down though the baby, and then out the penis. Chakras symbolize states and structures of consciousness, and I want to suggest the presence and passage of consciousness through every stage in the growth and decay of the individual.

The lotus was my first introduction into Buddhist symbolism. I discovered it my freshman year of high school in my Japanese class. In Buddhism and Hinduism it represents purity, Buddha Nature, the always, already completed wholeness we all are. But even though the flower is always a flower, it still needs to bloom and unfold, and thus, the lotus symbolizes our own ability to transform. The gorgeous flower grows using the filthy shit of the swamp it’s surrounded by. Then, when it's ready, when it has collected and transformed all the shit it can, it opens.

The skull is an ancient "memento mori" or death reminder, used in art to remind the viewers of their own impending death. I remember feeling a real skull in college and then touching my face and feeling my own skull and actually knowing that the corpse I will be when I die is with me here and now. Skulls are like sacred mirrors.

The other day I biked to school in the rain. I biked in my crocks without socks and I put on dry socks when I got to the school. Because my feet were kind of wet, I bunched up the sock and put them on my feet that way. The attendance lady was watching me and when I said "good morning" to her she replied, “You know, it’s so interesting. Even though you are from a different country, you put on your socks the same way we do.”
Internationalization. It's fun to think about the universals we all share. Hunger. Thirst. Poop. Suffering. Socks. Isn’t there a saying “we all put our pants on the same way--one leg at a time”?

"Everyone poops." "Jesus pooped." This drawing is also about that-- things we all share. Universal things. Catholic things. Spiritual things. Human things.
Josh suggested I call it Ontology, which is is the study of being or existence (very metaphysical). Michael Garfield reminded me that ontology is also the study of bones. and my sister Jane adds that "Also ontology can refer to the biological origin of existence i.e. embryology and the development of a biological self. We have a saying that “ontology recapitulates phylogony” – in other words, development from a single cell to a full term baby mimics evolution from single celled organisms to looking fishlike, reptilian, … mammalian, primate-like, and finally taking the human form in utero."

I'm also reminded of Plotinus: "So the world, grounded in a timeless movement by the Soul which suffuses it with intellegence, becomes a living and blessed being."

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