Post image for Dew of Heaven Observed

Dew of Heaven Observed

This painting was executed four years ago, in 2013. I had been asked to work up an erotic subject to give honor to a particular non-artistic endeavor of teaching and learning in the sexual domain. In general terms, this is the endeavor to imagine the human body and the “natural order” with it’s full-fledged sexual dimension in a culturally redemptive way; that is, how to look at a scene of arousal and erotic connection without immediately getting swept away by the poverties of the modern glance, built up and shaped over many centuries of religious culture reinforced by the panics of minds and hearts unable to shape their own erotic destinies. And not only to “look at” such a scene but also to perceive it’s concourse within one’s own nervous system as an autonomously valuable manifestation.

It isn’t easy to catch sight of the subtleties of conformity and the many guises of conformity, nor the essential uniformity of secular morality with the religiously-inspired moralities that many mistakenly assume to be “in the past.” The “liberated” availability of sexual life and information is only formally distinct in our time from all that has come immediately before. The narrative of catastrophe interwoven with sexual longing is as religiously defended and re-enacted in non-religious culture today as it was in the allegedly overthrown religious culture of our immediate ancestors. That this narrative hides and awaits it’s chance to conjure moral failure even inside of that seemingly innocent word from psychological culture: the “voyeur”–is as certain as the rain falling outside my window.

I wouldn’t say that this painting of mine succeeds (or fails) in this somewhat esoteric regard. I do consider that there is a certain valor enshrined in it nonetheless. I take “valor” in it’s root meaning here–as something that is a tonic for life, strong for the life process itself, and not solely for the comfort and safety of the human being within the life process itself. And it anticipates a language–whether pictorial or by word- language–which may yet conjure a “something else” whose features will be difficult to see in the world as it is today; but which may one day be recognizable as a birthright never to be lost, because it is never lose-able. Even when it lies fallow for a thousand years. We who will not live to see that day do well to learn how to grieve for all that was and still is offered by life and refused–or impossible to validate. For the individual human life there is always such a thing as “too late.” That may be true for the species as well.

There are three scenes in this painting, three couples, so to speak. There are two in the center, in the cross-hairs if not the cross itself–the threat of a crucifixion never very far off. I am sad to feel constrained to say that this crucifixion may possess a higher probability for the dark-skinned one than for the light-skinned one, although as a woman, the light-skinned one may not lag far in this lamentable category. Would that it were otherwise in our world! In the lower-left, a certain presently inevitable reactivity gets to have it’s place in the painting and not just in front of it. And in the upper right, an intimation of both the shamanic and what some might style the “tantric” effulgence of sexual love and longing which I sum up in the old word “birthright.”