Apparition Brilliance and Connection
These paintings build on blind contour drawings that mirror slivers of time in which we live lasting 3-5 second (Stern). During the painting process I was blowing bubbles with my 3 year old daughter. Within the shiny undulating surface of these fragile bubbles I saw my reflection and that of my pig tailed girl. In this orb which grew and evaporated in a matter of seconds lies the mystery; these time-bubbles when a few figures expand meet and apparate. Thoreau stated, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment… there is no other life but this.” The present is the only place we can reach out and receive one another.
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” ― Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Merton was certainly not the only one to see in this way, but perhaps gifted in describing the experience of the brilliance of human persons. Many glimpse this brilliance in the face of a newborn, in the magic of a great performance, in the kindness of the fitting word or in the parting breath of a loved one. In her work entitled, On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry described how in the present experience of beauty one responds naturally with “radical decentering” of oneself as a child recognizing a butterfly, stops and watches with held breath. Recognizing beauty, we naturally make space for the other.
“The world is the closed door. It is a barrier. And at the same time it is the way through. Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but it is also their means of communication… Every separation is a link.” ― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
In certain moments the barrier is transcended and becomes a conduit for connection, noise becomes music and stumbling becomes a dance. The stars align and moments of sublime togetherness alight into the horizon and then slip out of sight.
Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Beloved Community” is perhaps an expression of these moments of connection enabled by openness to the brilliance of one another. The perception of beauty invites us into modes of being in which we joyfully honor the light in one another without diminishing the light within ourselves and in our midst appears the experience of “The Beloved Community”. - Joel Klepac- 2017
Merton, T. (1968). Conjectures of a guilty bystander. Garden City, N.Y: Image Books.
Scarry, E. (1999). On Beauty and Being Just. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. p111
Stern, D. (2004). The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & C
Tauber, A. (2001). Henry David Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing. London England: University of California Press
The King Center. (2014), The Beloved Community, retrieved from http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy#sub4
Weil, Simone. (2012). Gravity and Grace. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
thin membrane disc
quick breathe captured
holding the wobbly form.
liquid glass reflecting light
glossy eyes, chasing child
fathers joy bending
within the glassy
then with an excited snap
soapy spit and silence
the moment is memory
alive together against the odds
illuminating our delight