This is the final entry summarizing the “vor und nach” of my trip to Berlin.
Part one can be read here: Choice.
Part two is: Decision.
A few weeks before my trip I happened across a book by Anton Ehrenzweig, “The Hidden Order of Art,” that talks quite a bit about control and artists’ use of it, as well as how the unconscious and subconscious plays a part in the construction and synthesis of works. No coincidence then that it was the only book I took with me to Berlin. Not that I read much while I was there, but what I did read was hard to get past because the paragraphs are so biblical that one feels an enormity within them as the text unfolds.
“If an idea is really new, the artist can never predict how it is to be realized in a medium. A new idea will inevitably be modified through its impact on the resisting medium and conversely impose entirely new uses on the medium. In the end, by their mutual impact both idea and medium will be realized in a more profound manner.” – page 57.
That passage is actually one of the more demure ideas I’ve encountered. However, this is the one that continues to resonate within me and carry me through the chapters, a torch light, if you will, when the light gets dark:
“It is the privilege of the artist to combine the ambiguity of dreaming with the tensions of being fully awake.” – page 12.
So, Ehrenzweig encourages us to meld the worlds we transition between. Dreaming, or the un/subconscious; and living, for most of us, the conscious. We’re privileged, artists, aren’t we lucky?
Control is a big liability for most of us. I think it is safe to say that most people are happy being out of control. Millions of people show up for religious indoctrination every weekend, content with being force fed rules and regulations for living a clean, well-to-do life at the behest of eternal damnation, or something. Rules. Direction. Boundaries. Stemming from tradition, ritual, familial ties, a need for explanation of the unexplainable and unfathomable, escape, salvation from one’s own perceived inabilities to control oneself, brainwashing, an insatiable need for external validation, serenity via spirituality… It’s only Sunday because we’ve chosen it to be.
Why is it that there exists a fear that atheists and ‘disbelievers’ will run the world amok, out of control, living under a code without ethics, murdering and pillaging the land like oldentimes? Controlling oneself can be incredibly hard, as demonstrated daily on twenty-four hour news portals. Self-control requires one to define their own missives.
I digress… for now, for at least this is not the correct moment or venue to expound. Believe it or not.
But, something to think about, you and I. This concept of control and belief, perception and choice, sits with me as I work in my studio. Taking ideas from elsewhere and re-appropriating them into larger ideas. Each moment a singular piece of a larger composition.
There is ultimately little I can control today. I cannot fix Muni. I cannot fix the disgusting BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I can do very little to help those living under dictatorships, very little to remedy poverty and class disparity, and almost nothing for those lost in mental illness or escape. The reality is that those wounds of society require a significant amount of time, a quantity of which surpasses my presumable length of existence.
I control myself, though. Perhaps if more of us were able to understand the impact of accepting this responsibility at full value in each step we take and each idea we put forth, change would then become something we all transcended just a belief in. Politics and passion seemed to get wrapped up and gnarled through the solutions of progress; I myself have crossed a threshold of tolerance and my own frustrations with this conundrum have lent me to the surrender of a deeper introspection. Ultimately, as I seek happiness, success or love as I define it, I realize that no one else is creating that path for me. Sadly, in fact, I think there are many out there who do their best to keep the light clandestine rather then share the way. Maybe soon I’ll find a more optimistic facet. For now, I’m keeping with the present.
Berlin was an opportunity. It was a feast of emotions and an uncovering of truth. It was gorgeous, it was gruesome.
One of the final moments I experienced in Berlin was a late-night walk at the Holocaust Memorial near the Brandenburg Gate and the United States Embassy. An entrance to a city, an institution capitalizing freedom, a memorial of the final exit of many… too many… too many who could not choose, were deprived decision, kept under control. These three symbols are sandwiched next to each other, each from and about a different period of time.
The Holocaust Memorial is a massive field of grey, monolithic structures in a grid formation. There are no ropes, there are no signposts with rules, there is not even a plaque or inkling of inscribed text saying what it is or what it is for. It is simultaneously empty and dense. It is an experience you should wish for.
I value the experience of an experience… to speak more about the field would be a selfish act of expression. I recommend that if you find yourself in Berlin that you go.
Being conscious is hard. No amount of indecision will take your farther then where you are. Resisting fear suffocates choice. Your voice and your action are with you in this experience and they are how we can honor nature, as well as each other, with the perpetuation of truth.
Nobody else but you can do it.