A blurb from my last newsletter:
I just finished Philip K. Dick’s ‘The man in the high castle.’ The last chapter is quite something; something somewhat confusing, somewhat unsettling, and it leaves the reader (me, at least) somewhat helpless. Somewhat.
But, there are clues.
The feeling and impression permeating throughout the book, is that there is something just a bit off with the reality the characters inhabit, as if it’s not quite the complete or ‘true’ reality, as if there is another layer of truth just at the edges of one’s vision.
In the last chapter, one of the main characters decides to ask ‘the book of changes’, the ancient Chinese book of wisdom that can also be used as an oracle, the I Ching. Maybe not surprisingly, this book, that can mysteriously reveal underlying truths, is also a main character in the book.
So, she asks the I Ching about her impression that something is 'off' with reality, and gets the following archetype as an answer:
It reminds me of a quote:
Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.
(That’s from ‘Don’t look up’, a movie about looking away from (quite the inconvenient) truth)
But, well, I quite like both.
So let’s see about that Inner Truth. Below is the sign. It’s made up of six lines, counting from bottom to top, to whole lines (a whole line signifyies Yang energy), then two broken lines (a broken line signifies Yin energy), then two whole lines again.
Before reading on, maybe listen to some music that came along this week. Movement 6, in particular, strikes a chord with me.
The I Ching says the following about Inner Truth:
Open in the center, a heart free of prejudices and therefore open to truth.
There, in the middle, where the two broken lines are, an open space in the middle, where truth can ‘land’. Only through openness, truth. Only when our thoughts and judgments and old hangups over this-and-thats are cleared, out of the way, can the this-and-thats be seen as they are.
But we are human beings, beings that mostly do. Want to do. Have to do. So what happens when this truth is captured in the heart, in this empty egg? If we brood on it, what will hatch?
Innner Truth says:
Whenever a feeling is voiced with truth and frankness, whenever a deed is the clear expression of sentiment, a mysterious and far-reaching influence is exerted.
If you read a bit on the album ‘Promises’, that album you may now be listening to, there seems to be a somewhat mysterious (and truthful?) connection that drew Pharaoh Sanders and Sam Shepherd together.
The root of all influence lies in one’s own inner being: given true and vigorous expression in word and deed, its effect is great. The effect is but the reflection of something that emanates from one’s own heart. Any deliberate intention of an effect would only destroy the possibility of producing it.
Isn’t this amazing? When one has a goal, wants an effect from truth and frankness, it destroys the possibility of producing it. It collapses unto itself. Of course! For within the search for effect, an intention other than itself, truth and frankness is lost.
This, I feel, has to do with ‘the sophomore curse’ - the struggle many artists face with producing a (‘good’) second album or book or other artwork. The creation of ‘a first’ is oftentimes without expectation. But then, people come to expect something, the artist (and the outside world) has an opinion of him or her(self), (s)he ‘is’ something, and from this expectation an intent in the artist might be born, thereby losing ‘truth’, thereby struggling to create something that ‘emanates from one’s heart.’
An interesting connection between art and truth, from ‘A guide for the perplexed’ by E.F. Schumacher:
If art aims primarily to affect our feelings we may call it entertainment; if it aims primarily to affect our will we may call it propaganda. (…) We have no difficulty in sensing that something is missing. No great artist … was ever satisfied with just these two. Invariably he strove to communicate truth, the power of truth, by appealing to man’s higher intellectual faculties, which are supra-rational. Entertainment and propaganda by themselves do not give us power but exert power over us. When they are transcended by, and made subservient to, the communication of Truth, art helps us to develop our higher faculties, and this is all that matters.
It’s too much for now to go into Schumacher’s ideas of ‘higher intellectual faculties’, for it deserves a whole book. By the way, that book is written, and is called: A guide for the perplexed. So, if perplexed, read!