Mobilizing the storm

I am certain that some fairly strong version of the connection between centeredness in the world and this “I” must exist. I am not sure just how far this connection goes, but it seems to me that to make sense of the life of buildings, degrees of relatedness, as I have analyzed them in the previous section, need to be comparable to the higher levels of intensity I have described. They do not need to be expressed in transcendental terms. But, at the very least, they must be acknowledged as a core of human experience.

When we succeed in making a living thing from this point of view, we achieve a building (ornament, painting, garden, street) in which strong centers are connected to our own (individual and collective) eternal self. That is, the center becomes something so close to us emotionally that we experience a yearning for it and belonging from it and from being in its presence. It is tied to us, as if by blood. It is ours. We shine in its presence. Such a building endows us with knowledge of ourselves, makes us feel awake, conscious, more human, more ourselves, and in the end makes us experience ourselves as if dissolved in a flood of tears.

The success of every truly great work — town, street, building, painting, windowsill — lies simply in the extent to which the living I appears in it. For every artist, every builder, this must be true: as I work I must try to create a structure which appears like I to me. I must try to arrange the colors in a painting in such a way that living breathing I appears in it. This effort makes the centers live; it makes me communicate with the ultimate beyond all things; and at the very same time it mobilizes myself, animates me, makes my person, my being, awaken, because I am then more present. It is this mobilizing of my self in the great work which chills me, devastates me, wakes me to the bone. And this, which is so personal because it reaches the personal in me, also connects me to the great ultimate beyond all things: to the ocean and the wind and the fire.

So, the work which means something is at one and the same time something religious, spiritual, something which connects me to God. And, at the very same time, it is also personal and childish. It connects me to me.

In human terms it is down to earth. It is the core of the earth and child in me. This “something” is black as night. It may be yellow or red. There may be touches of white around the greenish-white incandescent light. And perhaps at the core are black, purple, and dark tones of red.

What it touches is beyond reason, and before reason. It may be a connection to some realm, where I no longer am, and where I shall always be.

That is our task, as makers of things: to mobilize — to open — this eye to the storm.

(Page 70)

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