Verse 17: Lack of Spirit

I felt anxious when I approached painting verse 17. The verse frames Spirit and I had no idea how to approach painting it. Fortunately, the generative process for painting had matured by then and I was able to lean on it. I was surprised both by how fluent the process unfolded (especially given the anxiety I felt at the beginning) and by the resulting painting.

The verse itself is so concise (so few words) and yet requires such extensive commentary to unpack it. It was challenging for me to grasp the verse. It became clearer when I revisited it now, before publishing it, and after completing the study of the text. It required the most editing before publishing and the summary for this verse is one of the longest in the text.

In retrospect, I can clearly see how both the mechanistic content and quality of the verse informed the painting. I’ve read the summary many times by now and I am intrigued by the gap I experience between an inhibited sense of understanding and a deep resonant experience it evokes. It seems to point (that which) with rigorous clarity at Spirit and yet seems to say very little about what it is. There is something striking about the firm mechanistic quality of the verse and the delicacy of the subject matter.

When the painting started to come together I was surprised by what had happened. The generative process clearly assimilated the “that which is made of parts” aspect of the verse. As a result, the painting that emerged seems to be of an “absence of Spirit.” This outcome amused me. It was as if the process responded to my anxiety about painting Spirit by saying “then don’t!”

I encountered the painting again, now, as I prepared to share it and it felt to me like a timely statement. Though the term “Intelligence” has not yet been framed in the text (it will be in verse 22) I do wish to break the generative quality (here in the journal entry) and call upon it prematurely. Looking at this painting in the present moment I see Intelligence that is lacking in Spirit.

Spirit is not something to look at. Spirit is that which looks. Or in the words of my teacher:

“What I am looking for is where I am looking from”

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