Not At All, mixed media, 2021
goodness is wild a solstice of passion an aria for a flannel shirt
Goodness is wild. I believe that. I also believe that goodness is something we can see—not with an inner eye, but literally see with our eyes—and would perceive much more readily if we weren’t conditioned not to. That is, if we weren’t so civilized.
I imagine that if we saw differently, we’d behave differently. I imagine we wouldn’t have crises of values, that we wouldn’t be so easily desensitized to violence and cruelty, that we wouldn’t do monstrous things to one another. After all, how could we if we were all able to see the good that both surrounds us and is within us?
This isn’t naïveté. This is what it means to wake up to ourselves. Very often the goodness we perceive in others—the kind that lightens our spirits, makes us feel a certain kinship, or physical attraction—doesn’t match up with their bad behavior or their poor treatment of us. Which of us doesn’t know that feeling of disappointment? But even though life is sometimes cruel and we all sometimes behave poorly, goodness still surrounds us, and goodness is still within us. Goodness is wild. The source never abandons us (but it’s often the other way around).
I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.Henry David Thoreau
Goodness is my own wild nature. It is my own creativity —the wildest of acts—to my mind. To reinvent old forms. To access the source. To become, in effect, part of the source.
After my last post, when I first proposed that goodness is something we can see, I felt obligated to ask myself, “what does it look like?” The answer is: I know, and I don’t know. Goodness is a face, but it is more than a face. That face is both human and animal. It is a bluebird. It is a lion. And it is a man. Or maybe—just maybe—it is a kind of harmony. A kind of overarching harmony—the eyes, the mouth, the way they work together to create an essence that’s greater than the whole. And what about the rest of nature—could that harmony of forms extend to forests, to entire ecosystems, to the view from the top of a mountain—are these innately good (in addition to being beautiful), and that is why they’re also healing? (A wonderful book on the healing power of forests, by the way, is Forest Bathing by Dr. Qing Li. Very highly recommended.)
There’s an all-at-onceness to this kind of perception, I think. It’s immediate, like a flood. Something like apprehending the entirety of being—the entirety of another human being—all at once. I know it intuitively. When it happens to all of us, we know it intuitively. And I believe our eyes see it first. All at once, perhaps, or not at all.
I’ve just received news that The Lovers and Woman No. 9 have both been accepted for inclusion in the juried show, “Open,” beginning January 1 at Colors of Humanity Art Gallery. I’ll post another link on or around that date for anyone who wants to view the show. 10% of all entry fees will be donated to Feed the Children.
Prints for all of the artwork in this post are available in my Etsy shop.