Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fair Hope for Lost Souls

August 25

I have a friend who would like me to deal with more metaphysical topics on my blog, attempting, at least some of the time, to deal with the eternal questions. He throws down the gauntlet with questions about the meaning of God and man’s place in the beehive seemingly of his (Man’s, with a capital M) own creation. I sent him over to “one cosmos,” the blog I discovered months ago, written by clinical psychologist and Right-wing ranter Bob Godwin at the helm. Godwin is a brilliant writer who claims to be on a spiritual journey. I have visited his blog on and off and sent such philosophical friends to his blog with varying levels of success. I felt this would work because this friend shares with Mr. Godwin some of the righteous anger of the hawkish Right.

My friend was quite impressed with One Cosmos. He made this statement over there: Without the existence of a soul, man's relatively quick passage from birth to death, assuming that after which there is nothing, would be a mere a flash in the pan experience having no eternal significance.

Such a notion as that is denied by most people, due to an inner feeling they have that says there is more after death. Such a feeling can not be thwarted even though constantly being reminded by philosophical know-it-alls of the old refrain: "Even if God didn't exist, man would invent one", which implies that any questions raised by the feeling of existential doubt are the product of a short term imagination.

Since a "hereafter" would demand an experiencing entity to be aware of it, it is concluded by most that this experiencing entity is the soul.

So far so good. But what about the soul? Whence did it come?

Assuming it was God that created the soul -no atheists allowed in this conversation- what was God's reason for doing that? What is the soul expected to and not expected to do? Did all the souls come into existence at one time, or did God throw out a prototype to see if it would fly -that couldn't because of God's perfection, or were souls "launched" in waves?

Any enlightenment on souls would be appreciated, after all, souls are being stymied in their advancement, or so it would seem, and that is not a good thing. Maybe it doesn't matter. I would think that God produce as many as needed.


He was not entirely satisfied with the response over at onecosmos, so I decided I would deal with it myself and see what I could do.

What is the soul expected to and not expected to do?

This question presumes the soul is a concrete entity, capable of performing some action, capable of being controlled by its owner and shaped into some definable, recognizable, even trainable, different thing. This is misunderstanding the concept of the soul, the inner being of man, the center of all growth and spiritual conception. It is not easily understood in such concrete terms as you seem to require with this question. In fact, the question misses the point of souls.

We accept the existence of a soul when we choose to explore the spiritual realm. Our souls are our guides, not the other way round. We must surrender to their influence in order to have a spiritual life. This is what is known as a leap of faith, because that is exactly what it is. Each man comes to terms with his own soul, in his own time, or not, if he chooses not to. This facing of soul as an aspect of self can help one to grow, but it is not necessary to the acknowledgment of the existence of the soul. The soul is directing us, whether we know it or not. Some souls seek higher spiritual awareness on this plane, others are content to live life as a surface exercise and do not seek deep awareness.

Did all the souls come into existence at one time, or did God throw out a prototype to see if it would fly -that couldn't because of God's perfection, or were souls "launched" in waves?

If I didn’t know better I would think you were being facetious here. The souls are not floating around waiting for a home, they are individuated by the existence of humankind. They are part of the human condition. They are as different from each other as human beings are, as all living things are. They are not launched in waves or in any other image you can think of. They are more related to the mind than to the body, but the soul is not of the brain. It is not measurable except by the deeds it does through the bodies of many.

As to why God created the soul, you may as well ask why God created man at all, which is what you are really asking. This is not the kind of “Why is the sky blue?” kind of question one can give a scientific answer to. One can always tell a child the scientific molecular reason that the sky appears blue, but it is just as unsatisfying to the questioner as an answer to why God created man or anything else. There are men with great minds who have tried to address this question, and they often came up with the answer that there is no answer, or even that there is no God. It leads to nihilism, which is not where you want to go, or you wouldn’t have posed the question.

Let us say that there is a force that put all things on earth and in the universe. “Created” may be a misleading word; it presents a human picture. God created man; God was a man working with a lump of clay. He gave it a soul. This is an infantile picture having nothing to do with the reality of either man or God.

The human animal is undeniable. The soul he possesses is unknowable. The questions about its nature are unanswerable, because the real questions are unaskable. If anyone can give you a pat answer to your questions about the soul, he is probably a charlatan. You can find answers only after you have found the right path. A mentor will say only that there is a path, and that you are on it.

With this post we shall see if the philosophically inclined are reading Finding Fair Hope. They will surely want to post comments and engage in conflicts, which activity will perk up my comment section considerably. Or maybe they will suggest that I stick to seeking fair hope for one little corner of the universe rather than attempting to pontificate about the unknowable. That probably won't stop me. I think I'm on a roll here.

24 comments:

John Sweden said...

Soul Food

There used to be time when we directly and naturally referred to and recognized our fellow human beings as souls. He or she was or is a good soul, there never seemed to be any bad souls. The ship or plane went down with the, “loss of all souls” on board or “not a soul on board”. SOS or Save Our Souls. And of course all those individuals that seemed to have no accepted place in life, “Lost Souls”. There once were souls living in Fairhope, now there are just people looking for their souls. It’s really a sad and pathetic state of affairs.

As an artist I am not disturbed, perplexed or confused by the idea of soul, it is an essential essence embodied in any work of art and without it there is no art.

I agree, the biblical description of the soul’s origin seems to be, “an infantile picture having nothing to do with the reality of either man or God”. That is because it is not describing a valid artistic process for the creation of soul and therefore it lacks integrity. A valid version of the soul that preserves all the elements in integrity would be this.

It is a goddess, the ultimate spritual feminine being, the giver of forms, who creates man. The creation of man is, by her, the ultimate artistic act, the complete negation of the Artist embodied as a total opposite. She does this by not creating her own image, but rather what she is not or ever capable of being, , a finite, physical and masculine entity. The soul that she breathes of her own breath or essence into man is the potential to know her. That yearning or potential for relationship cannot be fulfilled by man as she is infinately everything he is not. Therefore she must in order to relate her being create another finite, physical, and this time feminine being in her own image, “wombman” or woman for short. Woman is generated from the physical essence of man so that she can relate to man and man can relate to her. Man finds the Goddess personified in woman and woman finds a very limited version of a potential god or goddess in man, usually as a micelleaneous thought. This potential, of indentification of self, embodied in opposites, is the soul, which can only expressed fully in poety, the arts and love. No Philospher’s, New Ager’s, spiritualists or pundits, living or not living in one cosmos or another, need apply, as only the poets, artists and lovers can bring a soul to their fullest expression.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Very neatly done, John. I like your goddess theory and will ponder it, as I will your comments on love on www.mendaciousmouse.blogspot.com

The soul is necessary for art, and art is necessary for the life man should live. At its bottom art is indeed food for the soul.

Officious Oaf said...

It would seem not too difficult to comprehend the notion that though the soul man's manifests his divinity on the Earth Plan. After all, what good that Divine Spark in man if it is not to do just that?...Ok, I'll go along with leading him down the path of the righteous as well.

The satisfaction that men get when they create some artistic something can only be explained by the fact that they have just had their souls fed. If the creator is fortunate to sell their creation, the satisfaction is double: body and soul fed.

If artistic creation is proof of the existence of the soul, we would have to conclude that our lesser genetic cousins, the monkeys, are souless. I can't recall ever having seen a monkey scratch on a wall or take a wad of clay or make a melodious sound, producing anything recognizable.

That being the case, man has indeed been given a precious and divine gift, which leads us to wonder why so many men squanders theirs by not feeding it. Could it be that he does not know he has one or doesn't understand that the desire to create is coming from a place other than simple physical gratification or ego inflation?

That is why nuturing the soul through creation is so vital to any spiritual advancement. So go out and create, one and all. But don't get that confused with to engender. The world could with a lot less engendering and a whole lot more creating.

Benedict S. said...

I would suggest that the soul is necessary for the perception of a thing as a work of art. I rather put the fact of the soul where it seems to be, not "out there" in things, but "in here" where things are actively experienced as works of art.

One of the Greeks spoke of man as the measure of all things, but perhaps he did not have in mind the notion I have expressed here, that man is the creator of art, not in the making of a work of art, but by actively conceiving it as the outward cause of his aesthetic sensibility. If the soul were actually in a work of art, it would seem that the same work of art would seem artistic to all, or nearly all, people. But experience shows us that one man's art is another's junk, suggesting that the inward differences in people, their different souls, when they caused to act by a perception, act differently.

The major part of that difference can be explained by the holistic manner in which the brain works. We bring to every experience the whole of what and who we are. And because the workings of the bain/mind are so complex, the whole of its being so extensive and so mysteriously networked, we cannot -- except by critical analysis (hit and miss, depending on the critic's soul) -- understand why this or that piece of art is art and this or that is not. We simply know the difference without knowng how we know. Its a mild form of intuition.

I'm sure an artist might be inclined to see it differently, but as a writer I can attest to the fact that good sentences (like perhaps this one :)) do not unfold "out there" but are formed "in here," and are made to appear "out there." To the extent we have adequately experienced the unfolding of our work, we have perhaps created something annother might experience as art. But even if they do not, and we do, then our work embodies an aspect of our soul. If others do not see it as art, tough shit.

Finding Fair Hope said...

There is something to be said for meditation, too, as food for the soul.

And, though not a churchgoer, there are few such sacred spaces that do not affect me with a sense of God and a sense of love. Great cathedrals, little chapels, synagogues, mosques. The silence, the art (or even the lack of it) the music (or lack of it). They seem to touch the soul.

It's just when those guys stand up and pontificate that my soul usually shrivels and turns off.

Robin said...

These things having been said can stimulate one to look deeper. (within) Who is the I that is here?

We are the shapers of the world we live in, and there is nothing at
all impractical or unrealistic about artistic beauty - if people choose
to make artistic beauty a part of their reality. To develop inner
beauty and to appreciate it when it exists in others. And to honor the
greatness, the honor, the vision and the genius of the world and the
civilization that has made it possible for some people to have such a
thing.

Artistic beauty is the justification for the civilization - its flower.

John Sweden said...

Eating Properly

To understand what we are feeding is the first step in eating properly. So let me clarify the best I can in the limited space of blogville and words (“words” because they are purely symbolic and not concrete realities tend to be highly inaccurate and inadequate). For example Benedict’s well-crafted sentence would have no meaning to a person speaking only Swedish.
Even a relatively good translation would be corrupted by many, many factors. The arts do not have that problem, as they are sensuous languages. That is what makes them both timeless universal.

Back to the subject at hand.

“Soul” = “Potential”. It is what we gain by birth and what we lose at death. It is what generally makes, in our hearts and minds, a young person’s death much more painful and difficult to bear than that of an old person. We are already complete “Souls”. There is no separate body or mind. It’s as simple as that, and all else derives from the expansion or contraction of a “Soul’s” ability to include or exclude levels of concrete reality.

The “inner need”, as Kandinsky defined it, for the generation of an art object does obviously come from within, but due the issue of negation, the art object cannot be an illustration or expression of that need. (RE: Ad Reinhart “Black Squares”). What emerges, as an art object, is however the results of a fully engaged interactive active artistic (recognizing potential) dialogue with reality between the artist and art object each provoking an action and response from the other. Ideally the process proceeds until the tension generated by the need is negated as the object reaches an equal and preferably higher potential than the Artist and the artist recognizing its equality or superiority as having a potential for generating another. It is this intimate dialog that feeds the growth of the soul. How truthful and real the dialogue is a measure of the discipline of the Artist to maintain resistance to the corruption or distraction of outside influences. In this way it is much in common with meditation

Your right ff, meditation can and has played an important part of an aspect of feeding the Soul. As a writer and “Social/Artist” (RE: your public efforts in works trying to revive the Soul of Fairhope as a community) you have a special and necessary need to ground yourself in a total meditative physical reality without words or social interaction. Hence the statement “It's just when those guys stand up and pontificate that my soul usually shrivels and turns off”. I would argue however that it not so much a feeding the Soul, as that comes from your work, but rather it is more like removing yourself from the table, and moving to a room with a big fireplace, big stuffed cozy chair and sipping glass of aged port as you, as what they call in Sweden, a “Fire Soul”, digest the delicacies of the previous meal and in anticipation prepare for the potentials delicacies of the next.

“Officious”, welcome to the conversation its nice to have another voice here and an articulate one at that. As I pointed out in a previous blog here, (June 29/Those Miscellaneous Alpha Males) I’m not a big monkey man. I don’t like ‘em, and I don’t trust ‘em. Although I did like “Bed Time For Bozo”, where the distinctions between man and monkey were somewhat blurred by the two leading actors. (Sorry Robin, you’ll have to look it up). I hope I clarified some my thinking on some of your points above.

Robin you just keep getting better and better, what a difference.

Benedict, I will deal you over in your own neighborhood.

John Sweden said...

Changed my mind it belongs here.

Benedict I remember at one point on this blog a long time ago I told you that I thought you knew “Jack Shit about art”. While I admit it was little hard, I knew in my gut based on your comments at the time that I was essentially right. Since I’ve come to know you, through our dialogs to be an intelligent, cultured and sensitive man, I was perplexed as to why I would think that to be true. I have been actively searching for a better explanation of the reason as to why I find so many of your comments on the arts to so empty of insight. I also felt you deserved some weight beyond my 50 years of experience as an artist and my limited abilities as writer to translate what I know to be true, in terms of artistic concepts, into the inadeqaucies of words.

Artists and Philosophers are concerned with different aspects of defining the human Soul and while their approaches are sometimes complimentary they are almost never compatible.

Here is Mark Rothko, one of America’s leading abstract painters on the subject of Philosophers and Artists: “….the ascendancy of reasonable, objective categorization, the resulting specialization of philosophy, and the philosopher’s separation from the poet, the philosopher still needed to synthesize an ultimate unity in which the reduction of all phenomena to the relevance of human conduct was essential. Therefore we may say that the philosopher today produces this unified worldview by making ethics the objective of all his researches, and instead of making sensuality his end he must now make it conform to the harmony of all other factors. Otherwise he remains simply a scientist in higher category. In that sense the rational man, the one to whom logic is still the only key to reality, can find guidance for his conduct in philosophy.

The artist however - that is, the poet and the painter - has never lost his original function and establishes the unity by reducing all phenomena to the terms of the sensual. For sensuality is the one basic human quality necessary for the appreciation of all truth”.

("Particulars and Generalization” from “The Artist’s Reality Philosophies of Art”, by Mark Rothko)

I believe this is at the heart of why your comments on the Arts always seem to fall short. You just don’t seem to get it, or perhaps don't want to get it and that is because you are on a totally different path not a bad one but just different one.

Hej ff, is your soul starting to shrivel up.

Enough Pontification "Be Smart Do Art"

Benedict S. said...

John (S): It pleases me no end learn that we agree -- at least -- on the "artistic process." I said it this way: "To the extent we have adequately experienced the unfolding of our work, we have perhaps created something another might experience as art." You wrote the same thing, differently: "What emerges, as an art object, is however the results of a fully engaged interactive active artistic (recognizing potential) dialogue with reality between the artist and art object each provoking an action and response from the other." I appreciate that you have used the more descriptive phrase "fully engaged ... etc " to identify what I have merely called an "unfolding." The acts that result in the creation of a work of art do unfold interactively, but the interaction is not quite the same as those that occur when two soul-possessed objects communicate. The work unfolding before the artist's eyes contains nothing the artist did not put there, and the aesthetic experience that results at each moment of the creative act happens also in the artist's soul. So what we have is a pseudo-dialogue, the artist speaking to himself.

Perhaps I misread your first comment, that the soul "is an essential essence embodied in any work of art." I took you -- probably in error -- to mean that works of art embody a soul within themselves. It was to that claim, and that alone, that my entire reply was directed. I was, and remain, persuaded that the "soul" of a work of art happens nowhere but in the eye of the beholder.

It did occur to me (as that thought "unfolded") that the artist himself is a "beholder." Hence the (more-or-less) after thought dealing with the artistic process itself. The artist "interactively" "speaks" to his canvas, and it echoes a message back to him. The artist's experience (all his own doing) of that echo may or may not create, in the artist, an impression sufficiently aesthetic to satisfy the artist's need for an aesthetic expression. To the extent that impression matches or exceeds the artist's expectations, he may cease his work. Otherwise, he continues until he either succeeds, gives up, or (more frequently) is satisfied with less than "his best."

Consideration of that interactive process puts me in mind of Emile Zola's novel, L'oeuvre, the work that perhaps ended his life-long friendship with Cezanne. The novel tells the story of an artist who apparently had a sufficiency of talent but could never, to his satisfaction, reproduce on canvas what he saw in his imagination. He finally hung himself in the presence of his “masterpiece,” a mish mosh of lines and swirls without meaning or appeal. Zola had written a few brief reviews mentioning Cézanne’s work, in one of which he referred to his friend as “...a soldier of the uncreated.” Small wonder that Cézanne saw L’Oeuvre as an insulting depiction of his own life, for he was at the time of the novel’s publication wholly unfulfilled as a painter.

Perhaps there are other ways to create paintings with "soul" than the back-and-forth conversation between painter and canvas. Pollock's random splatter paintings certainly work, but I suspect that he produced many hundreds more than he permitted to find their way into the eyes of the art world, discarding those that did not "do it" to him.

As for whether there is a fundamental difference between the "rational" and the sensual ... if as the greatest rationalist of them all was right in claiming that all phenomena can be explained, then those phenomena that may be classed as "sensual" (I prefer "aesthetic") are just as explainable as are the operations of the most mechanical processes. The difference between, say, the way a mouse trap works and the artist's work "works" lies in the involvement of the human soul with the latter but not the former (unless the mouse trap is of a particularly elegant design, that is, a work of art itself). The mouse trap comes into being as a result of the inventor's search for a practical device. If his contraption finally achieves its purpose -- catching or killing mice -- then he has succeeded. The aesthetics involved in the creation of the mouse trap -- and they are there -- grow out of the inventor's satisfaction that his design is adequate.

The artist's "satisfaction," involves a similar union of purpose and result. The difference lies in the "purpose." The artist seeks nothing essentially practical. He aims only to communicate -- presumably to others, but not necessarily -- the essence of "satisfaction," an aesthetic experience. In doing so, the back-and-forth messages between the artist and his work "speak" directly in the language of the soul. That process, and its effect on the artist, can be explained. So can we explain the process that led to the invention of the mouse trap. What has not been fully appreciated -- and I have failed here as well -- is the similarity of the aesthetic processes involved in the invention of practical and artistic things. We know as little of the source of the inventor's sense of satisfaction as we do of the artist's. Both involve aspects of the soul.

The word you associate with the soul, "potential," envelopes at least one great area of the soul's functionality. The exercises to which the soul drives us certainly involve a continuous release of creative tension. That tension can indeed be referred to as "potential," since out of it emerge all the acts the old school philosophers referred to when they spoke of "act and potency." The world is a becoming thing, and it is driven to change by dynamic forces that more resemble thoughts in the mind of God than the pushes and pulls of Newtonian physics.

But that's another story. The bottom line here must turn upon the philosopher's belief that all things can potentially be explained, that is, that they all happen for comprehensible reasons. Rothko said as much, but for very good reasons, addressed the aesthetic process only in the most general terms. Our "science" has, so far, centered itself upon material phenomena. Perhaps in time, after we have finally come to terms with the fact that the mind operates by causes and effects, too, we shall develop a more definitive science of aesthetics. In the meanwhile, we are stuck with having to think of our souls as something "out of this world," when the simple truth of the matter is that the science of mind cannot be explained by the same science that explains the physical world.

Enough.

Finding Fair Hope said...

The interesting part of the question to me was the notion that a soul has a function, and that it might be shaped by its owner. I never thought of it that way, but rather, as the essence of our existence, a soul could be a source of illumination. It is the source of our art, of our philosophy, and our good works on this plane. It is also our light on the path toward greater knowledge of -- here it comes -- God.

John Sweden said...

Benedict, No we don't agree. We are not even close. You did not misread me on the issue of a work of art having a "soul of it's own". The artistic process is not an artist dialoging with himself. It is an engagement with reality in which art object produces it's own answers quite independent of the artist and that is why it has the ability to give insight in the nature of reality and that is why it also leads to a maturing, growth and expansion of the soul of the soul in viewer and artist alike. Therefore we do not and cannot agree on any of the points that you make as the continued flaws in the fundementals of your argument make it impossible. In particular your ridiculous and degrading desciption of Pollack's working process is just a pathetic uneducated and uninformed viewpoint of both artist and his work. Asthetics plays no part....there no point to going on here...you just won't and don't get it.

Sorry ff for not following my first instincs and making my initial reponse in mouse world.

Finding Fair Hope said...

John, you and benedict are welcome to thrash this out on my blog as much as you like, although it is straying from my point about souls. I invite any comments about the nature of the soul, but what seems to have resulted is a more advanced discussion of the connection between the soul and the creative process, particularly as art. We are now discussing art vs. philosophy, which as you say is more appropriate to the other blog in question, which can be reached by clicking on the highlighted words.

Anybody else want to contribute to the discussion of the soul? Please?

As for art and philosophy, I'd love to post on that discussion too.

Benedict S. said...

OK, John. We disgree completely (if you say so). That means one of us must be wrong. I think it's you, you think it's me. Not a problem.

oldphilosopher said...

Actually you're both wrong.

Benedict S. said...

Yeah, old philosopher. John's wrong about me, and I'm wrong about him. But then, he's right about him, and I'm right about me. So you're wrong about both of us.

Geez. This here soul stuff shore do get in-scomplicatin'.

Officious Oaf said...

John Sweden's welcoming me to join the conversation is appreciated. Often one feels like an intruder when just dropping by, but the party conversation on souls was getting lively,and so interesting so I figured no one would notice much my two cents tossed into the mix. But you did John, so thank you. I feel encouraged enough to maybe offer a nickle's worth next time.

Before I sign out, I want to ask for your fellow's patience. You all write well...well most of you do, come up with long sentences with a lot of prepositional phrases stuck in, use words that make ordinary guys like me go to the dictionary often to understand what you are saying, however, you easily get off on side roads, which I confess that I am left wondering if there is anything down them really worth seeing with so much to be examined on the main road, but then again, maybe the main road is quite familiar to you all, so exploring side roads is the next step. As a beginner road warrior, I'll stick to highway.

I'll post something later- gotta go and weld the fender back on the pick up truck; after 30 years I can't complain-it's only the second time.

Thanks again for the welcome.

Robin said...

Gee thanks John S.coming from you that's a real compliment!

"The soul is a being of essence, without extension,
immaterial and incorruptible; her nature consists in a life which is life in itself."
[Porphyry _Launching-Points to the Realm of Mind_ (tr. Guthrie)]

Souls are not created, they are co eternal with Source.

Source is not a soul, nor does Source create souls, nor
cause them to create. Souls operate on their own determinism, drawning
on the power of Source to do so.

Source is the underlying substrate which allows souls to do what
they do.

All creation per se is done through the will viewport of a soul.

The soul was not created in God's image.

The soul was not created in Source's image.

The soul was not created.

What IS created by the soul is everything Source is not.
Souls are a PART OF THE ALL THAT IS, they are not created, they
are not emanated, they are not anything at all, they just ARE.

There is Source, and all over the body of Source are an infinite
number of little viewports into the created world. Each viewport is a
will that can cast or not as it pleases.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Robin: "they are not created, they
are not emanated, they are not anything at all, they just are."

You had me until this statement. Help!

John Sweden said...

It’s ”officious”! There’s to many darn big words, I reckon. Weren’t you a character played by Gabby Hayes in “Red River”? (Sorry again Robin, you’ll have to look it up). Screw Spinoza and while we’re at it Rothko too after all their dead! They have no potential, especially here in Fairhope. But Ida, well she’s still alive and kicking with plenty of potential anywhere she is, and her story is a real story of the potential of soul in art and humans.

In 1999 I received a commission from the city of Göteborg to produce my Social/Artwork “Portrait of a City”, for the millennium celebration. The parameters of the artwork was to have at least 2,000 citizens create their own self-portraits in a social atmosphere during the two weeks leading up to the millennium shift. The pictures would be framed and given back to the people for free as way for them to personally mark this point in time. 60 easels were set-up for 10 days in the city’s main shopping mall. In the end over 2,500 self-portraits were generated.

Now for Ida’s story. I think it was the fourth or fifth day. We had about 30 people painting at the time and I noticed from the corner of my eye a very elegant, small, frail looking elderly lady standing off to the side intently observing two people painting. Her interest seemed so intense that I walked over and asked if she would like to paint her portrait. “Oh no I can’t, I couldn’t do that”. Using all my charm and my own subtle way of engaging people I reassured that she could, placed my hand under her elbow and gently moved her over to an easel. She looked at me and I said “I think you can, here let me the hold the box of pastels for you, give it a try, just one line”. I never ask for more.

Very daintily she picked a color and with a slight tremble of the hand and great deal of hesitancy, began to outline her face. As she continued on she started cry and tears were rolling down her cheek. As a former Art Therapist I began wonder what had I done so I asked if she was OK. She began telling her story of how she was survivor and how during the holocaust as a child she felt she had nothing to paint. This was the first time since she stopped that she had ever attempted to paint anything and with that first line came a flood of memories. We talked for while as she painted and when she was done, I personally framed her portrait. She thanked me for my kindness and left.

A year later, a week before Christmas, I was back at the shopping center generating self-portraits with my own non-profit organization for a Participatory/Kultur, the International Kultivara Kafé Society. On the second day we were there I was pasting up a piece paper on one of the easels when I felt a tug at my shirttail. I turned around it was Ida. I said “Ida! How wonderful it is to see you” She said “John it’s so good to see you back here”. I asked, “well…are you going to do portrait?” “Absolutely” she said, as she took a box of pastels and headed towards a group of easels. I kept my distance, as she needed no encouragement and was painting with a great deal of confidence. When she was done she proudly showed me her portrait and after few words about life, I framed it for her and she went her way. Two days later I get another tug and sure enough its Ida. She looks me directly in the eyes and says, “you know John, I took that portrait I did and hung it next to the one I did last year. I can see how much happier I am. Here’s an ice cream sandwich, the air is so dry in here”.

Now that’s Soul Food!.

We’ve kept touch over the years and she still going strong and still painting.

Robin said...

Miss FF, I'll try and explain what I mean by that, this is only my opinion now:No part of God is created, changed, is mutable, or otherwise
an effect of anything else but its own will.

The ONLY thing that is created are illusions of dimensional
reality in the non dimensional God/Soul operating actuality.

Much of this depends on how we conceive of souls/consciousness as part of a universal soul or consciousness. It is possible that individual souls "precipitate" from the universal consciousness (and perhaps eventually return to it). It is possible that souls "evolve" from a ground state of minimal consciousness.

Robin said...

John S. quote: It is what generally makes, in our hearts and minds, a young person’s death much more painful and difficult to bear than that of an old person.
This is a myth like so many others that abound and it pisses me off. When a young person dies the favorite myth is: God needed them more than their family, friends, lovers,or whatever.

When a old person dies the myth is: Well, they lived a good long life, it was time for them to go..BS!!

All people no matter their age have value, what you wrote has nothing to do with our soul.

officious said...

I'm back with maybe a dime's worth of stuff; nickel was not enough.

After I got the fender welded back on, I drove over to the crossroads store to get some worms -I'm going fishing tomorrow morning at Black Hole Creek with my buddy, Enrique, one of those rare Mexicans who is here legally.The people here say that fishing in that creek is a mystical experience. I don't know about that, but an eerie feeling comes over you when you watch the mist rising from the creek. Anyway...

As I was leaving the store with my jar of worms, I see this car parked outside with the hood up, and a strange looking thin middle aged fellow with a neatly trimmed salt and pepper beard standing next to it scratching his head. I asked him what was wrong, and he replied that he didn't know. I asked if I could help. He said he would be much obliged if I could. I looked inside the engine compartment and saw that the coil wire had come loose. I reconnected it and started the engine. The fellow asked me how much he owed me. I told him nothing; it was a pleasure to help a stranger. He said that he owed me something, and reached into a leather briefcase on the car seat and pulled out an envelope, and handed it to me, saying, "Know the answers to the question and you'll be a long way along on passing the test." I thanked him, not knowing why. As I was opening the envelope, he got into his car.

On the paper inside the envelope were ten questions, unusual ones to say the least. After reading over the questions, I turned to him and said, "These questions don't have answers." "Yes, they do.", he shouted as he drove off.

The paper had this on it.
10 QUESTIONS OF THE EARTHLY MID-TERM EXAM.
1. Why were some miraculously saved while other died in catastrophes, natural and otherwise?
2. Why do young persons or babies die, when some crotchety, blind, lame,uselss persons live into their 90s?
3.Is homosexuality a mental illness, a learned behavior or something normal within a broader scheme of things?
4. Why is killing justified and murder isn't?
5. Should we be our brother's keeper or should we let him work his way out of his misery by himself?
6. Is giving alms to the poor an act of charity or being a sucker?
7.Does God care care if you blaspheme or not? If yes, why?
8. Can despicable human acts be attributed to the inexperience of the soul, and the wise acts of the sage be attributed to the soul being an old one? If not, to what can they be attributed?
9. Does the Devil exist or is an invented personage?
10. Are abortions spiritual abominations committed against the unborn or are they of spiritual irrelvancy for the unborn?

For some of the questions,I have some pretty clear ideas, but for others I need help. Is there anyone out there who can help?

I especially want to thank the nice lady finding Fairhope for letting me use her valuable blog space to make my plea. I'll try not to bother very often. And a thanks to John Sweden who said "welcome".

Finding Fair Hope said...

The officious one has provided me fodder for 10 more blogs...a few of these I'll pass on, but maybe one or two will make the post in the near future. In the meantime, if anyone is inspired, fire away.

John Sweden said...

Robin: If that’s all it takes to piss you off, you’re going to lead a very interesting life. In the general and over in “mouseville” you are aesthetically and logically correct. All life is precious and losses are valued equally. However this is Fairhope. Here, in the specific and real world of illogical, un-analyzable feelings and emotions, for parents, the loss of a child is felt and measured quite differently than the loss of a parent.

If you notice, I didn’t put a god into the equation for Soul. I don’t believe in god. My sense of spirituality and its potential for revealing, another, higher dimension of life comes, pardon the pun, Soul-ly from my life and my art. The expansion of Soul to include wonderful beings like “Ida” and literally thousands of others like her, most of which are personally unknown, is for me, the height of art, soul, and my spiritual connection with the world.

“Officious”, did you and Enrique catch the “Big One”, the old “Soul of Black Hole Creek”. I hope not, taking the soul out of things leaves them quite rationally empty of mystery and mystical wonder.

It’s interesting to see an old “Jews for Jesus” pamphlet show up here in Fairhope. I received a copy of these questions and the answers from group freshly scrubbed kids on the streets of New York about 30 years ago. You open it up and sure enough the bible has all the answers and it gives you all the pertinent bible verses.

As to the mysterious stranger, with the broken down truck, rumor has it that it is the lost soul of Jim Jones, condemned for eternity, by his sinful use of Kool-Aid (actually Flavor Aid), to roam the back roads of South and Central America handing out old, “Jews for Jesus” pamphlets, from a old leather briefcase that never empties of pamphlets or Kool-Aid. Legend has it if you pass the test, his wandering soul will return one mysteriously very hot and humid afternoon with the Kool-Aid. “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid!”

(You may have to look this up Robin)