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Exchange of Values

Exchange of Values
acrylic on board 48'X96'

"Structure of Color Perception"

"Structure of Color Perception"
48'X96' acrylic on board

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


We must love the hand of God that strikes and destroys us.”  Fenelon.

I very much liked the movie “Noah.”  I actually prefer it to the story told in the bible.  Of course neither story makes sense, how could they?  And when we try to force stories like Noah’s or Job’s to make sense then we are likely to miss something important in these myths; that is, we are likely to misunderstand something important about ourselves.

Genesis 6: 5. The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”

This is the only time in the Bible the word “grief” is used in reference to God.

Even so, we still give ourselves over to arc-building.  I can’t say how many arcs that I have built in my lifetime, hundreds I suppose. I have of course built arcs for my family like Noah, but I have built larger arcs too, arcs for my religion, my “race,” my ideologies, my money, even an arc for my ego, but these arcs have always floundered and cast me back into the dark threatening sea.  A coffin is a kind of arc too.  But a cross isn’t.  A cross is the antithesis of an arc.  I have built a lot of crosses too, but they were usually for other people.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31.
“And God saw the earth and behold it was corrupt.”  Genesis 6:11.

Arc-builders and cross-makers, is that who we are created to be?  Maybe it only seems like god is waiting for us to make up our minds?
“Noah is the Old Testament on acid. It's the movie equivalent of Christian death metal. It's an antediluvian Lord of the Rings, fist-pumping, ferocious, apocalyptic, and wet - very wet.”  Stephen Rea, The Philadelphia Enquirer.

The Talmud tells a story that when Noah went to send the raven to find dry land that the raven refused to go and argued that because he was an unclean animal and there were only 2 ravens on the arc that if he was lost it would mean the extinction of his species.  So Noah relented and sent a dove instead.  But why didn’t Noah argue with God about destroying humanity?  This is part of why I prefer Abraham over Noah (even though he was ready to kill his own son).  Many critics complained about Noah trying to whack his entire family like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” but that seems to emphasize the essential injustice and irrationality of god deciding to destroy all animal life.  If it was human actions that were offensive then shouldn't only the evil-doers be punished and not everybody and their dogs?  But if human evil is some sort of genetic imperfection then Noah is correct and leaving any humans alive will only allow the evil to re-propagate itself.  But if it’s mercy and compassion that stays Noah’s hand from killing his grand daughters then where does that leave god in this story?  I think that is one of the central questions that I like about Aronofsky’s take on the story, that is, does the compassion of Noah supersede that of god?  Or was this whole narrative just one horrific theo-drama and test, and all the dead folks and critters just collateral damage like in Job?

Von Balthasar wrote:  “If God wishes to reveal the love that he harbors for the world, this love has to be something that the world can recognize, in spite of, or in fact in, its being wholly other.”

Not far from where I live and without warning a massive mud-slide wiped out the entire community of Oso Washington.  Rescuers are still digging out the bodies but the death count is up to 38 as of today.

“Noah was a preposterous but endearingly unhinged epic.”  Observer film critic Mark Kermode.

“To be faithful to God, one must be aware that he is nothing more than a drop of water in the sea, and that, even to be faithful to himself, he has to do everything in order to become such a drop, which is to say that he has to exist in a way that is almost similar to disappearing.”  Fenelon.

"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below."  “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” by Thornton Wilder.

On Saturday morning, March the twenty third, 2014, the community of Oso was buried under a mudslide and a number (known only by God) of its inhabitants were entombed beneath a mountain of mud and wreckage.

The fortunate people of Peru crossed themselves and whispered prayers of thanks for their own deliverance. But in the heart and mind of humble Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, who witnessed the catastrophe, their burned the question, ‘Why did this happen?’"  Wilder.

“Darren Aronofsky's film about the Old Testament shipbuilder has been sparking controversy - but there's no denying that the Great Flood, digitized, is a pretty great flood.”  Bob Mondello, NPR.

“The one who really loves God knows he is nothing and, consequently, has to do everything he can in order to really become nothing:  Be a real nothing, everywhere and in all you do; do, however, do not add anything to that pure nothing. Of that nothing, no grip is possible. It can lose nothing. The real nothing never resists, and it has no ‘I’ to worry about. So, be nothing, and nothing beyond; and you will be all without supposing so.”  Fenelon.

"We can confirm that we have recovered 2 more bodies, bringing our total to 38, and believe we have located an additional 8," the Snohomish County Twitter feed said.  John Pennington from the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management said the most recent incident happened without warning.  "This slide came out of nowhere," he said.”

“Some say that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God.”  Wilder.

“Miraculously, Aronofsky has spent $130 million of Hollywood money on a visionary art film that asks us to examine what we believe. In this flawed, fiercely relevant film, wonders never cease.”  Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.

On Saturday, rescuers dug through the rubble while survivors cried for help underneath debris. Rescuers heard voices around 11:30 p.m. and considered trying to reach the possible survivor or survivors, but "the mud was too thick and deep."

“If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.”  Wilder.

"Mother Nature holds the cards here on the ability of ground personnel to enter the slide area. It is essentially a slurry," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters Sunday.”

“If nothing else, Noah succeeds as pure spectacle, offering up nightmare sights and sounds of Old Testament reckoning that top anything previously brought to the screen.”  Peter Howe, The Toronto Star.

“The people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing, athirst for compliments, hearing little of what was said to them, unmoved by the accidents that befell their closest friends, in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires. These were the sons and daughters of Adam from Cathay to Peru.”  Wilder.

“Though rescue teams will keep looking for survivors, Pennington said it's less likely by the day that anybody will be found alive.  We as a community, as a county are moving toward a recovery operation," he said. Chief Travis Hots told reporters that "the situation is very grim."  "Total devastation. I mean, it's just unbelievable.”

“But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”  Wilder.

“Suffer in peace, abandon yourself; go, like Abraham, knowing not where. Receive from the people the comfort that God will give you through them.  We must love the hand of God that strikes and destroys us. Oh, excellent use of our substance! Our nothing glorifies eternal Being....Let us be the holocaust that the fire of love reduces to ashes.”  Fenelon.

The point to take home is the message the movie leaves you with, which works regardless of your faith (or lack thereof). Humans are inherently flawed. How we deal with those defects is what truly matters.” Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald.

Arc-builders or cross-makers?


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