shanshui and insecurity
I came across the most beautiful sight on a walk around the neighborhood this week! The roads here are all on an incline, so these lovely road paintings were created after:
a fair amount of snowfall, followed by;
an industrious snowplow salting and sanding the roads, followed by;
a nice little rain
I was enamored with these part man-made, part nature-formed tableaux and thought the water and sand were running down the asphalt in a way that looked eerily like the Chinese shan shui paintings of yore:
The reverence I was feeling at the hands of my shan shui road paintings was then called out in a book I’m reading right now: The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
Alan Watts’ book is a rumination on the idea of psychological security. And how it can prove even more elusive when we actively seek out stability and control in an unknowable, uncontrollable world. Basically, it’s a self-help book 😎
One of his most important points is that experiencing something wholly can get distracted by attempts to explain/describe/articulate it in the moment. Thinking to yourself “I am happy” vs. actually being happy. Basically that words and language fail to express a tremendous amount, and to never miss the spirit of a thing in an attempt to name it.
In one of his first examples of this idea, he brings up Chinese landscape painting as an art-form that would be entirely unappreciated if representational art were intended to be purely literal:
If I can think of painting only as a way of making colored photographs without a camera, I can see nothing but ineptitude in a Chinese landscape.
Which is a quote that brings my road paintings, experience of wonderment, AND my attempt to describe it to you here full circle
Though I experienced a very pretty depiction of nature & man this week, many in Texas are facing extreme, life-threatening circumstances due to the winter storm and ensuing electricity supply crisis this week. A good friend in Texas has shared the most important mutual aid funds doing immediate life-saving work and this is where I felt my support could go to the most needy and under-served. If you haven’t already, I recommend donating a little somethin to these Venmo handles:
While my Venmo feed is typically filled with inane emojis, “drinksssssssss”, “1/2 rent December 2020”, it was so, so uplifting to see the flooding of payments to these extremely worthwhile orgs all throughout the week ✨