AN EXPLANATION FOR
ORGANIZATION OF THE CONTENT IN NEPSIS
As before, working back in time:
This body of works that includes the NEPSIS CORE [aka Berkeley Core] is of one theme briefly treated here--Religious and Aesthetic Initiation. 'Briefly here' since the work itself, and in brief, the Core, already turns that stone.
In truth, Nepsis is a bundle of related themes that progress a philosophical/theological perspective- a developing worldview. One might say that it's issues begin to emerge around 1970, come to a head 2005 but really climax 2010 with an ongoing consideration of some of its more challenging issues. In collage, it was Nature and Person, Person and persons, biology and persons, Person(s) and Culture(s). Also, I was one of the few in my art department in the early 1970s fascinated by God... I was mostly trained by the well-known, mature students of Abstract Expressionists who respected my work- or came to respect it before I left school. We learned to draw from still-lifes, nature, the nude figure as was done since the Renaissance. We started with charcoal, pen and ink, pencil for thousands of hours. Then, continued with color and paint. For literature, we started over with grammar, syntax and semantics- etymology... Dostoevsky, Joyce, Proust, and "'Anyone lived in a pretty how town, with up so floating many bells down...'"
The impact from a few teachers of Art and English Literature in high school and college was for me to become a serious student by the time I was 19. I graduated satisfied that I could make effective poems and paintings- less satisfied with prose. I applied to a Claremont Graduate School after our return from South America, fall 1973, was accepted, but was attracted to and baptized in a Roman Catholic Monastery- Valyermo, California, 1975. Mystical Asceticism/Yoga became an object of my interest as did the Church, Buddhism, Shamanism...
After 6 years of fascination with studio art and literature in college, I had 5 years of monastic immersion and study, then 5 more years of systematic theology, scripture, pastoral focus in St. John's Seminary, Camarillo California followed by ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood. It was a great and light filled moment for me- and others I hope. While at the seminary, I was also introduced to Raimundo Panikkar, a world famous scholar and spiritual leader. He's well known as a Gifford Lecturer along with Niels Bohr and Albert Schweitzer, et al. He was a peritus at Vatican II, fluent in 12 languages, published in 6 and until he died last year, was a friend and true spiritual guide. During my last visit to his home in the eastern Pyrenees, I saw a letter from His Holiness Benedict XVI complimenting Raimun on a recent publication. Raimun was beyond right or left wing politics. While at the seminary, I visited India for the first time, inspired by Panikkar and others, to research Nyingma Buddhist practices as an independent study.
Many such journeys, which usually involved hitchhiking long distances, form the heart of my spiritual practice as a "Holy Lander." I.e., one who seeks to go to the Holy Land. That is, the Holy Land of the Heart- the uniate indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each 'moment' and place of creation. These practices took on the general format of the Mass, avoiding its authoritarian, patriarchal language and attitude.
I suppose the stumbling block here is that all of this takes so long... So, its not popular these days. But what else is there to compare- anything better? No-thing.
Long emphasis on 'conversion of heart', 'entering the stream of the nobles', methods there of, in various semantics, are to be found among Christians, Buddhists, Sufis, so many others. Also, Shamanistic healing resonates so deeply and Sorcery shimmers with greeting for Spirit and Machine in the New Age of militant technocracy. Holy Lander... Pilgrimage of the heart, mind and body... to a point beyond names... and virtue without reference.
Serious, Critical Scripture Study is well worth the time spent. Theology is a wonder. Service is a worthy dedication. The sacramental vision of the Church is radiant. Praxis (of religion in the Church) is another question- mixed, like most human endeavors. Occasionally, its the best. Aesthetics and ethics are still the necessary paragons of pastimes... if we are to have time to pass.
The Land: The Genius Loci gives life to inert matter and competition to Real Estate Associations and Chambers of Commerce- Thus hostility to old religion. Its not rejected because its not true.
Sexuality from the perspectives of Celibacy and Tantra studies pursued with detachment of a gynecologist of course were revealing. Possible? See Memo To A Bishop. and painting caption #230.
Point of convergence for all interests: Environment, Spirituality and Ecology, Over-population- Pro-life Politics and War Economies.
As simple as a memo, or as byzantine as an oracle, Nepsis at first impersonates the spiritual task, then 'opens a window' to the 'other world.'
The tale of this story is told four times in four vehicles: Paintings (with captions), Poems, Prose- fiction, non-fiction, and essays about the metaphysical practice of Pilgrimage. See Cycle One above for the first attempt at integration. See all three Cycles for the effects of the whole.'
Seebelow examples for the art with captions and annotations and a few poems just to tickle your fancy:
[99.] Seven Paintings, A-G:
In a meeting in Dharamsala with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, c 1993?, we discussed among other things the nature of the inner life in terms of a silent battle- the themes in these seven paintings. He inscribed a book I had with me with this blessing for the Nepsis Project:
143-147. [84-88.] Mandalas
(See #37, Mother/Son)
Mixed Media 12' x 5' 1988
"Dark Lady" is an image of "chilling" presence, according to some. This work simply presents an essential, though dark element of mystical consciousness. This is a sculptural painting in a series of large partitions, at least two sided, meant to operate on two levels: 1. It represents a means of passage between two ‘worlds.’ 2. It is a spiritually or psychically catalytic object aiding in that passage. It helps effect that shift of consciousness to a specific category of ‘other’ states. See also #37, #70 and #80.
Mixed Media 18' x 10' 1990
This is a sculptural painting in a series of such large partitions, at least two sided, meant to operate on two levels: 1. It represents a means of passage between two worlds and 2. it is a spiritually or psychically catalytic object aiding in that passage. It helps effect that shift of consciousness to a specific category of ‘other’ states
Oil on Hung Canvas 10' x 4' 1985
Vertical graphite lines intersect a misty intersection of sea and sky. Eternal intent intersects the ‘moment’ of our lives, intervenes in the physics of nature.
92 St. Francis
Absolute and Particular
8.  Dragon Womb
represents a series of many works that stretches over several years. The main formal elements here are the amorphic color and space in counterpoint relationship with hardedge, linear and geometric embellishments. It is about the relationship between the general context of being and specific experience as open and luminous. This subject might also be likened to the Sipahpuni (Hopi), the point of emergence from mythic underworlds as well as the physical and psychic womb, to levels of increasing realization. Thus, this painting indicates secondly, a poignant moment of transition in physical and personal evolution guided by the Dragon Lord, i.e., a salvific, catalytic function of Spirit in Nature; God, if you like, or Grace. (I skirt here the word, "destiny", purposely because of its static, fatalistic qualities.)
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