THE SPOT IN TIME



softly. . . .

There are unforeseen points at which something of significance may occur. It can be a poem or drawing or a sculpture which exists in its own presence, not tied to any one of the arms of social or intellectual history. Or it might be a pebble carved into a special shape by an unknown hand; or a few words set together in an unusual way, which sets the mind turning like the head of a top. This compaction of a bit of creative energy into a chunk of form happens separately from the Heraclitan flow of everything into everything else. It is different from space and time, it is more like a dot on a piece of paper, a moment of residing absolute in a single dimension. It is in fact a "spot in time", unique and rare, it is the point around which the mind can revolve for a quiet moment of pure consideration.

The drawings in this series were done in an instant-reaction mode, as hand moved in unconscious synchronization with unmonitored thoughts in the mind that drove it. This technique is rough and unmindful of the digital artwork of our time, it goes back to ancient doodling on cave walls, to Rodin's closed-eye sketches, and it is still a useful tool for adumbrating on paper what goes on inside the mind.




Finding a line or a form which has no shape, we try gravity or a point of origin or anything that will give a sense of purpose. But when we give up the chase and leave the scratched mark as what it is, we can sit back and rest, asking:

Now is color really another dimension? Does my retina use another sensor for hue? Did the line fail somewhere near the top and start again, like an error on the evolutionary tree of this scratchery? Was that red streak a mind error or was it actually there? Yes, questions arise when the act of recognition fails, as happens here. . . . Q. E. D.





Balance, with our heavy thought-laden head on top, that is always a human question, which indives a vertigo on the edge of the gap. Worse is the unknowable, worst what the future intends to mean before our hour standing on the edge runs out.

Certainty is the end of learning, uncertainty the paralysis of foot afraid to step. But what is worse than having an idea blossoming head afloat with expanding visions, and not having a foot to stand upon?

When I found this scribble pattern coming up again and again, I guessed there was something I should look into, try again to explore, being now not sure if the rim bound brain was more important to secure than the insignificant foot which was dangling fancy free.







Under the umbrella hat of our thinking mind, we like to keep control, we talk of getting it all together endlessly. But things slip out, they fall away out of our grasp, and we feel we are losing it, that is something we do all know about. The dog eager to chow his dinner spills crumbles out of his dish onto the floor. We smile to see how he relishes the meaty chunks, this simple eager animal. But before he's finished, he goes around the dish and picks the pieces up. He knows the problem too.






It might be a animalcule from the depths of the sea.



. . . or it might be a gaseous discharge from a single hot spot, exploding unexpectedly.



. . . or it might be an expanded image of a neural connection in the brain of a mutant dodecapod.



But ask any child, and the answer will be clear, with a condescending laugh:


Can't you see? It is the face of a kid who can't remember the answer to eight times nine.?







When we find three full and blossoming beliefs


borne on one slight stem of an impractical idea,


arising from nowhere in the garden of rich fertility,


we often forget to see the off-color variant bud


which will mature in an entirely different hue.






Shaping an argument


of some complexity


you lose the thread


and confuse the audience s


. . . unless you take the time and make effort


to pull things together, and be sure that


you have made your point.






But unless you can make the venture


of a free and unemcumbered gesture


you cannot


ever


play


the


violin






starting

with

a

plain

straight

line

we

end

up

other







. . . and when there were no more trains bringing them to the places assigned, and when there were no more chambers filled with groans and sighs, and when there were no more fires sending smoke into the air
then there there was nothing left but official records on the desks of the international judges and the grim ghosts . . .







What wild and raving thought,

flashing through a muted dark lit sky,

strikes with a stroke of bright light

the buried jewel of a new idea?






well, he told me that he could see colors for each note he played on the piano, and he said he did this when he was a kid and it continued for many years, and I told him I didn't believe him, that he was faking it to impress the teacher, but when I though it over later there did seem to be something in the key of F major which reminded me of Mozart and trees moving in the breeze, and the truth was when I looked out the window, that it was all green






The poet told me the poem had something to do with his grandfather's vestpocket watch, which kept coming up again and again in the poem, perhaps it was the tick of the sound or the gleam of the gold or maybe his grandfather's atmosphere as he sat in the leather chair reaching for a match to light his pipe, somthing magical and poetic he said

but he couldn't see anything of poetry when I drew him a rectangle and said that the line from A to B was remarkable, that it had the true touch of magic with that unsuspected square root of six.





the brightness of a new dreamt thought withering hot in the light of day becomes in the course of another day just a spot in the history of time






I smile to myself thinking of the extravagant parties for my friends, the jewels and rare furnishments of my estate with paintings and antiques of greatest cost, the things each man wants in his inner mind but would never dare to get, why just think of the effort it would require, oh no that is for a wily crafty soul like me, gladly I see it all now in the privacy of my cell.






we

try to

be calm

gentle

forgive

and forget

but when the pen

runs free on paper

what comes up first but

anger and a red hot face of ire








the cabin of my neighbor man
I could still see tonight



beneath the basho tree's
overhanging leaves



until he turned off
the electric light.









and

maybe

you

didn't

get

it but

that's

quite

ok





William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris