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A Beautiful Autumn Interlude

Oct 10, 1995 09:44 AM
by John R Crocker

 A couple of weeks ago I heard, in a couple of different
places, about a unique artistic exhibit at a New York gallery,
and it is beautiful and strangely moving enough that I thought a
few people on the list might enjoy it as well.
 There is an old Jewish folk tale that has a Biblical scholar
coming across a simple, uneducated man whose prayers seem
remarkably successful. Upon being questioned, the man told the
scholar that he could not read or write - causing the suprised
scholar then to ask the man how he could pray ... and the man
replied that all he knew was the alphabet, so he just asked God
to accept his letters and make them into prayers.
 Diane Samuels, a Pittsburg sculptor, had apparently for
years been keeping a sketchbook of different but recurring shapes
that she drew on over and over again in her sculpting, and when
she heard that folk tale, it moved her, and starting her thinking
that in those shapes was her own personal "alphabet" - and the
art that grew out of it (called "the Alphabet Project" I believe)
came about as she started "offering her letters to God". She
chose 30 (or so) of the shapes (each one corresponding to a
letter in the Roman or Hebrew alphabets), and began translating
them into three dimensional sculptures all over the world. In
Poland she scratched her letters into a frozen lake; in France
she did them in the sand on a beach; she even talked a
multilingual class of schoolchildren in Ohio into forming their
bodies into the shapes of her letters. Photographs were then
taken of all of these different forms, and the current exhibit
has both three dimensional sculptures as well as sets of these
photographs ... arranged to spell out, in numerous different
ways, the "simple man's prayer".
 While the sheer creativity and aesthetic beauty of such an
artistic endeavor certainly moved me, it also caused deeper sort
of reflection about what it is we do when we speak words aloud.
While my particular orientation doesn't quite resonate with the
simple man's belief in such a personal God - the concept embedded
in both the story and the art does. I began thinking about all
the free energy poured daily into the planetary biosphere, at
both the inner and outer layers (from cosmic spiritual energy to
purely physical solar energy) - energy that then moves through
all the different layers of individual lifeforms ... and is again
re-radiated as action, movement, and in perhaps one of its most
refined forms ... words. I wonder what it might be like to be
able to sit on the moon ... with enhanced hearing, and to listen
to what the totality of all the human voices speaking at once, in
thousands of different dialects, would sound like - and then
adding to that the voices of the other knigdoms ... birdsong and
cats' meows and chirping crickets and roaring streams - I wonder
whether Earth is speaking a *word* ... and what that word sounds
 And even (pushing this even further), wonder whether perhaps
the Biblical phase "In the beginning was the Word" might be
understood as a single supreme foundational vibration that was
the original source of all that energy that now flows into our
little planet from so many apparently different directions ...
and whether the spiritual "evolution" so many esoteric traditions
speak of could be conceived as the struggle of our planet to hear
that "word" completely, and to *speak it back to its source* -
that perhaps that fellow with the good hearing sitting on the
moon, were he to sit there for all these millions of years
listening to Earth's Voice ... would first hear a low murmering
as life began, gradually building to crescendos followed by quit
periods as the various waves of periodic evolution and extinction
cycle through the kingdoms ... taking on crisper and clearer
forms as life individuates and the "word" acquires more
precision, but also becoming more cacophanous and often
disharmonious as the awareness of differences (a natural and
necessary phase of evolution) come into focus ... and perhaps
leading, sometime in the distant future, to a planet where
individuality has been harmonized with awareness of the whole,
and every "instrument" plays its own tone perfectly, but also
with full awareness of the rest of the orchestra - I wonder if to
that fellow on the moon, the whole planet might seem to be
struggling, over a scale of several billions of years, to sound a
single clear word ... that will resonate outward in all
directions ... that will be the "answer" to that original "Word"
that was in the beginning - and whether the moment that word is
spoken all the kingdoms participating in its speaking might just
dissolve back into the One ... liberated instantaneously by the
sheer and unbearable beauty of such a sound.
 Oops, got a bit carried away (comes from spending the day in
the mountains (-:) ... but still, maybe I'll at least take the
tiles from my Scrabble game and leave them out on the table in my
yard tonight.
 Face up, but in no particular order (-:) ... -JRC

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