Saturday, June 21, 2008

Self-Portrait Revisited

I've been having further thoughts about that last entry since I posted it. It was only after the fact, surprisingly, that I realized the connection between my "self-portrait" and the piece I had written a couple of days before about sitting for Don Bachardy. My mind must have been storing these things up and putting them together in ways of which I was not consciously aware. Interesting.

The piece also produced some interesting offline responses. I heard from an artist friend in New York, for example, to say that it had inspired her to do the same--in her own medium, of course, not mine. That was gratifying. I heard from several others to the effect that they admired what they saw to be the courage that it took, first to stand there and look that closely at the body that has carried me around for so many years, and second to put it out there in public. I did think long and hard before hitting that "Publish Post" button, and nursed a good deal of anxiety about "what others would think"--a concern that was instilled into me as a child. It felt like a release, though, to finally let it go.

Most surprising to me, on reflection, was the fact that it took three passes through the piece to reach the recognition that this "stuff," the flesh, is really "not me, not mine, not who I am." Materiality, including the body, does seem enormously real to us, and it takes me a while to recognize, once again, that it's really nothing but a bunch of molecules held together by a peculiar energy. I'm finding that feat easier, these days, in meditation, where I find that I can fairly easily reach that point where I watch the body dematerialize as I sit. It's really a very pleasant feeling, that sense of dissolution, a kind of swimming apart of everything that seemed so persuasively put together in one piece. A kind of freedom from the earthly chains...

And now it's Monday morning, time to put everything back together--including, after meditation, the body--and get down to the gym for exercise, and back onto the freeway to Los Angeles. Have a blessed and peace-filled week...

3 comments:

robin andrea said...

That's interesting, Peter, I thought of your posing for Don Bachardy immediately when I read your self portrait post. I actually thought it might have inspired it.

All the things you say about the materiality of the body ring true to me, and that sense of "not me, not mine, not who I am." It's why taking such a close look at the physical tends to give it much more importance than it warrants. We live in a society that thinks the body is all there is. I am drawn to the dissolution of those cells rather than their cohesive illusion.

PeterAtLarge said...

I do absolutely agree with this, Robin. My sense of it, though, is that I need to thoroughly work through the material to reach that point where I can free myself more completely from it. I need to understand the nature of the illusion and my attachment to it, and the best way to do that is to look at it unflinchingly... The world, as Wordsworth wrote, is too much with us.

MandT said...

Not Two! :)