Infinite

08. “Innermost essence, perfection inner concentration”

The ONE begins to become the MANY, yet in its innermost essence each of the “many” is still the ONE (the Only One), which remains infinite in its absoluteness, while appearing as “many” in its relativeness, or its conditioned, differentiated state.

– The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter 15, 1882, Theosophical University Press Edition

Who of them has penetrated into its Arcana, into the innermost Essence of things and its primary correlations?

– H. P. Blavatsky: ‘The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy’, 1888

He who would hear the voice of Nada [the soundless sound] and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana [Inner Concentration]. Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the Rajah of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion.

– H. P. Blavatsky: ‘The Voice of the Silence’, 1889

 
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16. “the divine dark”

In setting out the via negationis (or ‘negative’) approach to God, ‘De Theologia Mystica’ treatise of the 5th century mystic and theologian Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite describes the ineffability of God as “the Divine Dark”:

The Divine Dark is nought else but that inaccessible light wherein the Lord is said to dwell. Although it is invisible because of its dazzling splendours and unsearchable because of the abundance of its supernatural brightness, nevertheless, whosoever deserves to see and know God rests therein; and, by the very fact that he neither sees nor knows, is truly in that which surpasses all truth and all knowledge.”

– The Pseudo-Dionysius: ‘De Mystica Theologia’

Referencing the Sufi poem ‘The Colloquy of the Birds’, Evelyn Underhill’s 1912 ‘Mysticism’ (’A study of the nature and development of man’s spiritual consciousness’) says that the sixth of the ‘Seven Valleys’ along the road to the hidden Palace of the King is known as the Valley of Amazement in which “the pilgrim’s receptive power appears to be taken from him and he is plunged in darkness and bewilderment. This is the state which Dionysius the Arcopagite, and after him many mediaeval mystics, called the Divine Dark, and described as the truest and closest of all our apprehensions of the Godhead. It is the Cloud of Unknowing: “dark from excessive bright.”

“’That meek darkness be thy mirror.’ What is this darkness? It is the ‘night of the intellect into which we are plunged when we attain to a state of consciousness which is above thought; enter on a plane of spiritual experience with which the intellect cannot deal. This is the ‘Divine Darkness’ – the Cloud of Unknowing, or of Ignorance, ‘dark with excess of light’ – preached by Dionysius the Areopagite, and eagerly accepted by his English interpreter. ‘When I say darkness, I mean a lacking of knowing . . . and for this reason it is not called a cloud of the air, but a cloud of unknowing that is betwixt thee and thy God.’ It is ‘a dark mist,’ he says again, ‘which seemeth to be between thee and the light thou aspirest to.’ This dimness and lostness of mind is a paradoxical proof of attainment. Reason is in the dark, because love has entered ‘the mysterious radiance of the Divine Dark, the inaccessible light wherein the Lord is said to dwell, and to which thought with all its struggles cannot attain.’

– Anonymous: ‘Cloud of Unknowing’

Reinhardt associates the phrase ‘the divine dark’ with Meister “Eckhardt” [sic] on several occasions, including the unpublished and undated texts ‘[Oneness]’ and ‘Black’ as well as in his ‘Black as Symbol and Concept’ contribution to the 1967 telephone seminar, subsequently published by artscanada. The phrase ‘the divine dark’ is more correctly associated with the Blessed Jan Van Ruysbroeck, as in:

When love has carried us above all things, into the Divine Dark, we receive in peace the Incomprehensible Light, enfolding us and penetrating us. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity?

– Blessed Jan Van Ruysbroeck: ‘The Spiritual Espousals’, c1340

It is possible that Reinhardt’s error in confusing Eckhart and Ruysbroeck was due to a book review published in ‘The Tablet’ in 1963, which said:

The mysticism of the New Testament with St. Paul’s “through a glass darkly” and the teaching of the mystical body takes us to Dionysius the Areopagite and the Confessions of St. Augustine with significant quotes from the famous Book X, the real basis and ground of European mystical thought. Two themes are traced of the divine dark or unknowing, and spiritual marriage. Dr. Happold has chosen his anthology with knowledge of the principal texts so that we have Eckhardt [sic] on time and Ruysbroeck on the mystic way.

– The Tablet: ‘Books of the Week’, p. 11, 06 July 1963

23. “Always seen as something new, strange, wonder”

It is the same with one who fixes his gaze on the infinite beauty of God. It is constantly being discovered anew, and it is always seen as something new and strange in comparison with what the mind has already understood. And as God continues to reveal himself, man continues to wonder

– Gregory of Nyssa: ‘Homilies on the Song of Songs’

55. “Break through its own paradigms Reinvent cherishable world within prison of temporality”

The paradigm of the world is eternal; and his existence, as a paradigm, is that which is essential, and not accidental to him. But because he possesses the power of being a paradigm essentially, hence, as he is eternal, he will be eternally the paradigm of the world. If, however, an existence eternally is present with the paradigm, the image also will necessarily always exist; for a paradigm is a paradigm with reference to an image. But if the image was not when the paradigm was not, neither will the paradigm be when the image is not; since, in this case, it will no longer be a paradigm. For either it will not be a paradigm if the image is not, or it will not be the paradigm of the image. Of things, therefore, which are predicated with reference to each other, the one cannot exist if the other is not. Hence, if the paradigm of the world is eternally the paradigm of it, the world always is an image of an eternally existing paradigm.

– Proclus: ‘Argument the Second’ in Thomas Taylor: ‘Fragments that Remain of the Lost Writings of Proclus’, 1825

However, unless he would rather foist on Plato what he [Proclus] himself thought, just as he took over from Plato that the cosmos must be like the paradigm, so too must he show whether Plato wanted time to be infinite in both directions in order to infer the rest from Plato’s assertions in the following way: if the cosmos is like the paradigm in this way – by existing for all time just as the paradigm exists for all eternity, and if according to Plato is infinite in both directions. But in fact, since he is not able to show that this is Plato’s opinion, he assumes on his own without proof that time is infinite in both directions.

– Philoponus: ‘Against Proclus on the Eternity of the World 12-18’

But we never break free of our paradigms of order, and the new ones are always related to the older ones. Thus, when we speak of living in an age of perpetual transition, we are not abandoning the fiction of an end, but merely “registering the conviction that the end is immanent rather than imminent.”

– Leo Bersani: ‘Variations On a Paradigm’, New York Times, 11 June 1967

61. “Motion of non-events”

B. The situation is that of him who is helpless, cannot act, in the event cannot paint, since he is obliged to paint. The act is of him who, helpless, unable to act, acts, in the event paints, since he is obliged to paint.

D. Why is he obliged to paint?

B. I don’t know.

D. Why is he helpless to paint?

B. Because there is nothing to paint and nothing to paint with.

D. “And the result, you say, is art of a new order?” A friend of mine recounts the story of his college art history professor who introduced the work of Piet Mondrian by projecting a slide of the Dutch countryside near the Hague, where topography approaches zero. The implication, of course, is that Mondrian’s extreme rectolinephilia was a function of his environment – his paintings, in spite of their putative abstraction, are inevitably informed by History. I am by nature skeptical of this stripe of historical determinism. In fact, until I learned recently that Jackson Pollock grew up next door to a spaghetti factory, I tended to agree with Dr. Freud, who argued that what comes out is more than likely to be the opposite of what goes in. That is to say, I would not be surprised to learn little Piet spent his formative years in the Himalayas.

– Samuel Beckett: ‘Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit’, Calder and Boyars, 1965

See also, Vivian Mercier: ‘The Mathematical Limit’, The Nation, Vol. 188, 14 February 1959.

“Reinhardt made the slideshow all his own. He referred to his lectures as “non-happenings” – they were often send-ups of both the avant-garde “happenings” also taking place in New York at the time, and the traditional university art history lecture, affectionately known as “darkness at noon.” Reinhardt staged his presentations to thwart expectation and even exhaust his audience. (He once showed over 2,000 slides in one sitting at the Artists’ Club, in a talk that began at 10 pm.) “He’d sit with the tray in his lap, feeding the slides into the projector, improvising as he went along,” Dale McConathy described. “His commentary ranged between art history and a devilish parody of the travelogue.” Reinhardt’s seemingly infinite catalogue mirrored his interest in two influential postwar theories of art classification: André Malraux’s conception of a museum without walls, and George Kubler’s framing of objects and history in The Shape of Time.”

– Prudence Peiffer: ‘Ad Reinhardt: Slides’, The Brooklyn Rail, 16 January 2014

62. “Status in imagination”

The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge: ‘Biographia Literaria’, 1817

66. “Do nothing but repeat its dead form”

Does Islamic non-figurative art triumphantly proclaim the “Infinite Oneness of God” or does it triumphantly proclaim again, with all other art, only the same “endless sameness of art”?

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘Art Vs. History’, Art News, January 1966

This new part of your ‘art-as-art dogma’ looks like the same old thing. Are you still saying the one thing you say needs to be said over and over again and that this thing is the only thing for an artist to say” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“There’s nothing else to say?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

– Ad Reinhardt: Autointerview, Art News, March 1965

The necessity of doing nothing

(The necessity of) not doing anything

“Striving” for nothing.

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘[Notes on the Black Paintings]’, Unpublished, undated notes

Where there is nothing but the one, nothing is seen

Ad Reinhardt: ‘ONE’, Unpublished Notes, 1966-67

Endless repetition of infinite sameness / Not sameness but oneness?”

– Ad Reinhardt: ‘Art-As-Art’, Unpublished Notes, 1966-67

Because there is nothing to paint and nothing to paint with.

– Samuel Beckett: ‘Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit’, Calder and Boyars, 1965