Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ego vs Conscience

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Lately I have found myself struggling with individuality. Not mine, per se, but of others. Now, allow me to quickly dispel any notion that I’ve gone Communist on you, and explain myself, for a moment. You see, it’s not so much as individuality, as it is Individualism that I have a problem with: Individualism taken to an extreme, mutating into a cop-out philosophy of relativism that defends one’s selfishness as an expression of one’s being. That, now that is what I have problem with. And why? Because it writes off its opponents as “haters” (deeming them the immoral ones) for attacking  their (the Individualists’) freedom of expression.

Anyhow, as this mindset is becoming increasingly more prevalent, I find it necessary to share with you my perspective on the Human Ego. But first, a fable often attributed to various Native American tribes that I believe echoes my sentiments quite well. It goes something like:

“An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life…

He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One wolf is evil — he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied: “The one you feed”.”

http://www.turtlezen.com/twowolves.html

Right. Jolly good. Well said. Message received loud and clear. At least….I hope. And, if not, perhaps this explanation will help clear things up a bit. (Or muck it up. I really can’t be sure anymore.) In any case, it makes sense to me, as I wrote it:

It is my belief that the Ego is that remnant that we inherited from our hominid ancestors, prior to evolving into humans through the development of the conscience (i.e. the Human Spirit). Therefore, to cultivate it (the Human Ego) is to grow and develop that part of ourselves that is most beastly in nature. Yet doing so suffocates the Spirit, muffling its cries in the process.

Incidentally, I do not believe that Humanity is a given, but a delicate and slippery goal that we must always strive to grasp. And this can only be achieved by overcoming the compulsions of Ego. Should we abandon this goal, Ego would inevitably take over, and evolution would lead us back to a state of lower comprehension and revert to a beastly form.

And the beast is a short-lived creature, for it does not plan that far ahead—if at all—but satiates himself in the now; living his life on a day by day basis. To feed the Ego is to resign ourselves to this beastly lifestyle. In doing so, we surrender our autonomy as we become creatures of habit, either through routine, or compulsion to seek familiar comforts and pleasures; often with exceeding intensities. Such trains of thought are confining, and are what ultimately limit even similar beasts from attaining our levels of comprehension.

Thus, if we wish to be free, we must abandon the fallacies demanded of the Ego. That is, for those of us who appreciate our humanity for what it is. For those who don’t, please try to keep it down, as you rattle your cages in anxiety and despair? One may only feed you so many times before she or he grows weary of getting bit.

Fin

So, there you have it. My perspective on the Ego and Spirit in a nutshell which just so happens to embrace evolution. But I think it fits, and I hope you do too. Like last time, until next time, please feel free to rate, comment, and share.

Good night, for now!  ^‿^

The Path of Excess

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Recently I have begun to notice that many of my friends have embraced the  false-virtue of Individualism as an excuse to justify their excessive lifestyles.

Among them, many have argued that their excessive lifestyles are not immoral, yet are merely the means by which they express the core of their personhood, through which they expect to attain both happiness and fulfillment. Moreover, they consider admonishment toward these lifestyles as affronts on their very being, as they are only “being true to themselves”. It almost sounds like a religion, when you think about it, but I’ll leave that one be, for now. At any rate, this is my reply:

It has been said that “the Path of Excess leads to the Tower of Wisdom”.  I must concede, this is probably so, but only after rendering the exorbitant toll of Regret; thereby depleting one’s treasury of Spirit; leaving one wholly dissatisfied.

Given such a price, it is no wonder that so many are inclined to leap from the top — ‘diving off the deep end’, as it were — in the misguided hopes of ‘just getting it all over with’.

No, to be brutally honest, Humility is the only prudent path: by virtue of  staying on course, one carves out a deeper sense of appreciation within oneself, and ultimately arrives with a greater sense of satisfaction. And the only cost is that of the Ego — of which, we each possess an inexhaustible surplus.

I will post more on my concept of Ego and Spirit in the  next post. Until then, feel free to rate, comment, and share. ^‿^

A Few Brief Observations About Art In General

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“….Art cannot be “added” to a useful object, contrary to what Ruskin and his school believed: it is born with it; it is the spirit that animates, or else it does not exist.”

—Régine Pernoud

I am in the middle of reading this author’s, Régine Pernoud’s, book, Those Terrible Middle Ages! And, once again, it has brought up the topic of Art; about what it is, and what it is not. So, at the risk of reiteration, I will say a few more words (since last time) on the subject.

When an Artist has succeeded in his method, and has nothing new to discover to complete his project, when his work is a solid answer—leaving neither questions unasked or unanswered—in other words: when one could say—were this any other endeavor— that he has this “down to an art”, it is precisely then that he has, in fact, lost it.

For Art isn’t so much the invention as it is the process of developing that invention; it is a process of learning and adapting. Art asks the questions of how? and why?; and both the questions and the answers can be found within its details. Moreover, Art is moving (or stirring); but not without impedance. Art is flowing; though it does not always need to be graceful. Art is dynamic, organic; Art is alive! It is said that “the state of nature is a constant state of war”. This is true for—as I am so fond of reminding everyone—”if you are not fighting, you are dying”. For this reason, Art will always be diligent, or not at all.

Art also needs a cause. And that cause is the Spirit. If the Spirit is absent, all we have is but a husk; a hollow edifice of potential where life (Art) could have been, yet may never be.

Art can neither be created for its own sake, yet may only be realised in another’s. The most invigorating Art is that which was inspired by another, for another, and freely (without obligation). Such work, created under these circumstances, could easily be misconstrued by others as, in some way, magical, and few would be so inclined to convince them otherwise.

Often I wonder, while drawing (and sometimes even writing) how much I might be imprinting my very thoughts and subconscious into my work, as I can look back at the detail and recall what was going through my mind. It’s sometimes like the lines and strokes are like the etchings in a vinyl record; encoding my thoughts, emotions, my trains of thought into these works; and here I am, giving all of this information freely, and without second thought as to what all of this could mean to another.

At any rate, it’s been a while since I wrote something here. Strangely enough, it’s not that I’ve stopped writing—I haven’t, I mean, I am writing, just not here; Facebook really—I just haven’t had time to devote to the project of jotting down those crucial eight months in the U.S. Air Force that I talked about last time, and so I thought I might wait to post anything until I could. Still it’s been a while, and it’s been getting to me—all this time without a word—so I thought I might share with you this snippet of my life.  You know, her book, Miss Régine Pernoud’s Those Terrible Middle Ages!, is actually quite fascinating and insightful, as it aims to challenge still prevalent misconceptions of the Middle Ages, and puts into perspective the stagnant view of the Classical Arts. My father recommended the read, and I am grateful for it. And so, mere three chapters into it, I find myself recommending this book to you, my audience. Check it out. Let me know what you think. Perhaps we can have a discussion over it and—potentially extracting great material for future blogs.

Until next time, breathe deep and seek peace, my friends.

Sincerely,

T. S. Vandenberg