Preface — The personal
I knew that I was grazing, just touching, existence itself. I could feel this thing, hovering, shimmering, in the work. I knew that the pearly substance, being created by this pattern of black and white bits of marble dust and cement, does set things in order in such a way as to reveal existence, to make us see it, to see it shining, just beyond our grasp. Book 4 has to do with this inner meaning, with the task of making and reaching this shining “something”. I want to describe it so that we can talk about it, understand what it means, share it as an aspiration, recognize it as something true, and have some inkling of what it is.
All value depends on a structure in which each center, the life of each center, approaches this simple, forgotten, remembered, unremembered “I”… that in the living work each center, in some degree, is a connection to this “I”, or self… that the living steel and concrete bridge is one in which each part is connected to this self, awakens it in us… that the living song is one in which each phrase, each note, is connected to this self, awakens it in us, reminds us of ourselves… that the living picture is one in which every center has this self and, thus, because it was painted there, it reminds us of ourselves… and that the living building is one in which each window, each roof, each room, each ceiling, each doorway, the gardens, the flowerbed, the trees, the rambling bramble bushes, the wall by the stream, the seat, and the handle on the door, are all connected to this I, and awaken it in us.
I believe that the ultimate effort of all serious art is to make things which connect with this I of every person. This “I”, not normally available, is dredged up, forced to the light, forced into the light of day, by the work of art.
Similar to nature
In this, the work of art is similar to nature, because in nature too, this “I” is what we find. The rock, the ripple in the pond, and the fish darting along the stream are connected to this I, reverberate with I, awaken and enliven us, continually refresh the I which sleeps in us. And this I which sleeps in us will not then follow the remembered voice. For this I which comes to life, as we gaze upon the pond, the buttercup, the cloud floating in the purple sky, the rush of water in the thunderstorm — this self is first awakened and then speaks to us, encouraging the I in us to be itself, in a new form taken within us, not similar but awakened in its newness, and speaking, itself, in a voice which will awaken I in other selves.