Art is an untouchable force
It sings from the "Palace of Nowhere"
The above art installation by painter Leslie Frenz, is entitled “Palace of Nowhere”. It was inspired by the words of Chuang Tzu, “Come with me to the palace of nowhere, where all the many things are one”, and by James Finley’s book Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. Leslie also worked with my album Point Vierge when this work was on display in Seattle.
There is no denying that there are forces of tech, at work in the world, that are probably in and of themselves, not good for us earthlings.
So, during this particular Lent, I carry the ash on my forehead as a distinct mark of who I belong to:
Mother Earth, who is the conduit for the mystery of incarnation in our corner of the universe.
God, who at this moment is apparently being supplanted by a grand plan, to use the clouds of tech, to replace the clouds in which the Divine has resided…
…in lesser myths, that is.
What is heartening about this supplanting strategy, is that it is actually no mimicry of God at all. Although it is a new crucifixion.
As Matthew Fox predicted so very long ago, the next crucifixion of Christ will be the earth herself. Do not read this as nihilistic however… expect resurrection.
Besides the obvious reasons we have placed God in the sky… (Greco-Roman influence/devastating comet events), there could be another less overt reason:
because it is hard to locate that which we cannot extricate ourselves from.
This mysterious realm, or presence, that wills us into coalescence beyond borders and frames, is the center (which is everywhere) and the circumference (which is nowhere). To supplant God-in-the-clouds, with new human/AI tech clouds, is at best, laughable.
I remember as a child, sensing there was something powerfully mystical, and not at all manageable, about this scripture:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Much of my life’s work has been to make art that points toward the incarnation … to sense the untouchable kingdom… the palace of nowhere… at play… which ironically often reveals its presence through touch.
The touch of embrace. The touch of a paint brush. The touch of a stringed instrument. The reverberation of voice on the tongue. A splash of ail on the taste buds. A hand on the heart.
It has come to my attention that art is an untouchable force. It comes from the palace of nowhere. We have mistaken this “nowhere” for the clouds. And perhaps that is a good thing… because our arrogant need to supplant the Divine is aiming for the clouds. A decoy to be sure.
Just as Sauron’s Eye could not see the hobbits in his own lands, surrendering power for the sake of beauty, current power, cannot see that this mystery is everywhere.
In the words of Thomas Merton: “it cannot be rooted out.”
I will leave you with the full quote of Merton’s last words, and the song Palace of Nowhere, in which you will hear James Finley’s voice, and Thomas Merton’s voice, affirming deep, deep, trust.
“If you once penetrate by detachment and purity of heart to the inner secret of the ground of one’s ordinary experience. You attain to a liberty which nobody can touch, which nobody can affect. Which no political change of circumstances can do anything to. This kind of monasticism cannot be extinguished… it is imperishable. It represents an instinct of the human heart and it represents a charism given by God to man. It cannot be rooted out. Because it does not depend on man. It does not depend on cultural factors, and it does not depend on sociological factors or psychological factors… it is something much deeper.”
In other news, and along these lines: I head into the studio this week with my band… after two years of penning a Folk Opera. It will be called ‘Hireath’, after the Welsh word that invokes a mysterious homesickness, that, I daresay has a lot to do with what I’ve just been speaking about.
It touches on this lost connection, and on the pain of immigration, and colonization… but then turns… and addresses the pyramidal eye through which modern humans see, which is this enlightenment inheritance (that thinks we can supplant Divinity through hierarchy). This turn in the folk opera, works to integrate the whole story. How we have been so close to our origin. And we still are. How we have had the capacity for such magic it brings tears to my eyes. And we still do. How we have been story carriers with such power, that bardic proportions still resound in the air around us. We are carriers still. How we found a way to sometimes walk on the waters of myth, to see our own hands and feet, and look to sovereignty, (not the individuality that coopted it). We still can.
The project’s end surprised me… because it ends in devotion. A coalescence of everyone and everything, praising the Maker, within all things.
To support this folk opera Hiraeth, and my work… I invite you to join me on Patreon.
You can also subscribe here or give a subscription as a gift.
beautiful and inspiring piece today, Alana. May you be blessed in this work. Thanks@