Ahriman – III

Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, says in Tao Te Ching: “To know others is knowledge, to know oneself is enlightenment. To rule over others one needs force, to rule over oneself one needs power”… During the 6th century BC, in a moment similar to the one when I write and you read, the soul incarnated in Lao Tzu attempts the cycle of self-knowing. The soul comes on earth in order to know the earth: it investigates others, loves, procreates and attempts enlightenment. Human reality is the only possibility through with the soul may attain knowledge of oneself.  Ancient and modern thinkers agree. Lao Tzu aims for enlightenment, Hegel aims for enlightenment. Ancient gods and believers are very similar to modern gods and believers. Change is propelled by systems of reference, it is propelled by memory and the human imagination which materializes in historic epochs…

To know oneself means “nirvana,” “beyond” or “perfection”. The dimension of the sinless soul is the eternal present, which the Spark of Creation pulls in the avalanche of the multidimensional chaos of the universe. The spark creates mystery. Mystery extends its spectrum through the breath of the universe and penetrates human history as a temptation of the truth, which is sheltered in the diversity of appearance and illusion. Typical representation of this reality becomes the images of time and space, which appear separate from each other: on the one hand, three dimensional matter which expands hurriedly, on the other, the trajectory full of illusions of the past “that happened” toward the future “that will happen”. As rowdy children who disturb the divine present of the soul, the mysteries of the four dimensional universe articulate the world of art.

The whole is mirrored on the part and functions within the part, with all the range of its core and appearance. From the primitive spark and on, the avalanche of art expands as an atomic umbrella which accumulates values of epochs. No human soul could survive the giant avalanche of art. But the giant avalanche of art wraps around the quintessence of travel, incarnated in the true artist.  If you happen to be in their midst, you enjoy the fate of the free spirit who lives in the eternal present. The past is imagination and memory, the future is imagination and projects. If you are part of the geniality of travel, you do not live the materialized morality of the past or the greedy projects of the future; you live an “eternal present”, because you enjoy the true freedom of the sprit and you have the merits of great art.

*

I am in front of my atelier. It’s an aromatic, fresh Monday morning. I ask myself: am I capable of painting today?  According to memories that are verified by my surrounding, I have been painting for thirty years, yet I am never certain if I will paint and I am convinced continuously that what I do is art.  In front of the door of my atelier, the mantra of the morning is offered by the words of Adorno: “nothing which concerns art goes without saying”. The unexpected can only happen inside the atelier, when the bells of art kidnap me unexpectedly toward unknown depths. I give life to my creations in the atelier, and in the atelier I return from the unknown depths which hold my memory hostage. Where have I been in those moments, have I visited the past or the future?  I can never answer to these questions.  “Everything that has to do with art is taken for granted”; is the positive explanation of those magical moments.  Yet the unknown depths repay me tenfold, when in front of my still-wet creation, I feel like I have expressed the freedom of the spirit.

I enter the atelier, I turn on the light, close the door and I give the mural cosmos a greeting gaze.  Everything is in its own place. The inhabitants of the atelier are just like the other inhabitants of town, who more or less one knows what they represent and how they live: framed or unframed, with or without pretenses, beautifully or appallingly. I get ready to start working, firstly looking at the last ten minutes of the past.  Along the road from the house to the atelier, I have spent ten minutes, I have exchanged a few words with my old friend Nesho, I have saluted Adi, the head of the casino, as well as the young beggar who gathers coins wishing the passersby good health to their girlfriend.  Perhaps with the exception of the beggar, the mysteries of this morning particle do not offer anything special. I need a real motive, because art does not easily acknowledge the passive tales of reality… The beast which was painted tens of thousands of years ago in the primitive cave, was and will be a real motive…

On the white screen of the canvass, my imagination this Monday projects a phantasmagoria of situations, where the motives of the human being and the artists contradict each other, they agree or become transformed into each other, thus becoming both intriguing and difficult to choose. In this case, the situation of creation becomes complicated and a gaze over something more than the last ten minutes of the past, would be entirely reasonable.

*

It is beyond me, to remember and judge for how long and how I have lived during the past 2000 years, but not being alone in this world – an extraordinary destiny for each of us – world history becomes the generous table which aids my spirit and mind…

I thus consider the history of the past 2000 years as divided in three parts. The pre-modern world, the modern world and the postmodern one. The pre-moderns generally accepted mythology, the supernatural, as well as an unquestionable spiritual hierarchy in their society. Authority was undisputable and status was determined by one’s position of power. Things were true because thus stated tradition, the holy books or authoritarian people… European Renaissance and the “age of reason” brought about changes.  Humanist philosophy produced a social model which focused its attention on man more than god. Reason replaced dogma and tradition.  Individualism and free thinking were encouraged, whereas status was determined by success, ownership, money. Mythological paganism and supernatural Christianity were almost “fired”. Every problem of this world had to be resolved by reason and science. A society could be considered ignorant, but not sinful. The sky over the world was filled with optimism. The disciplines of theology, metaphysics, morality or aesthetics were almost abandoned by the moderns. “God”, “love” and “justice” could not be tested in a laboratory, and thus they did not have much meaning for the moderns. The crevices of this logical positivism and modernism, more generally, were commenced by the Romantic period.  Agnosticism was in style. For the existentialists, life had no objective meaning.  Through a qualitative philosophy and art, they thought that the important issues of life could not be explained by science. Truth and morality were considered relative. Nietzsche said: “there are no facts, only interpretations”; Marx saw economic structures as the foundations of everything, whereas Freud – sexuality and the unconscious. Everything could be doubted and the door of postmodernism was now open… In the ‘60s, the new generation raised question marks toward science, pollution, weapons of mass destruction and the offensive control of society. The optimism of the modernist views was sutured by the World Wars, the Holocaust and Vietnam. The successes of the material world could not quench the mysterious thirst for a more powerful spiritual world. The desire to be free of moral and intellectual overloads paved the way for experimentation with drugs, mysticism and occultism.  Nietzsche announced the death of God in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and taboos were resigned. The last taboo was taboo itself. Homosexuality and abortion became legal whereas the freedom of press gave way to pornography.  The gods of pleasure rushed to fill the vacuum, because anyone could do whatever seemed reasonable… In the free choice of interpretation, postmodernism surpassed the existentialists:  There is no absolute truth. “Language” constructs reality and for as long as language could change, what is real for a group, need not be real for another one. The traditional dichotomies between truth and untruth, good and evil or beauty and ugliness, are not all-encompassing realties, but social constructs that could change from culture to culture without causing conflicts. Human reason is dubious therefore the human being could not be the center of the world. The center does not ever exist! Nobody can be free because everybody is prisoner to the language of society. Meaning itself does not exist…

Surprisingly, even the status of the postmodern being was defined by style, the right clothes, the right music!

How difficult it is to challenge a worldview without representing a worldview!  The mantra of postmodernism: “Absolute truth does not exist”, is a typical declaration of the absolute truth! Postmodernism did not survive itself. Like all predecessors, it was devoured by the mysterious core of humankind, here, deep in the center of the world.

*

The beast that has been painted in the primitive cave since tens of thousands of years ago was and will be the true motive. This truth is sheltered in the world of a mystery, which during the period of civilization offers the most unrestrained specter of spectacle and illusion…

Over the body of the beast I could model the palms of hands, I could model primitive spears or the glasses of red wine found in my atelier. I am of the mind to model it on metallic rods, to take photos or to write novels about the beast!  But fate has been determined: what is suitable for my atelier is painting, wine glasses and the primitive ritual under the sound of music.

In the late hours of Monday, the painting is finished. I approach the couch with my gaze focused on the beast and I sit cross-legged as a meditating yogi who intends to awaken the mysterious force of Kundalini. The spirals of “my holy bone” could interfere with the breath of the universe and challenge demonic forces! Wonders have no end for as long as we feel alone… I hear knocking on the door and I get up from the couch.  Sofia, Stavri and Rozi, some of my closest young friends, enter the atelier introducing the aura of a party that defies reality. There is debate, drinking, laughing, and nobody pretends that the inhabitants of the mural cosmos of the atelier do not participate. We feel fortunate that the figure and reality are one!  For a moment, in the midst of the mayhem, I am suddenly reminded of Ahriman and I ask my friends if this entity exists or not for them. My friends answer in unison, with the greatest ease and certainty that Ahriman does exist, everywhere, in every corner, inside of us… I look at the primitive bull of the cave once again, then the glass of red wine, on whose reflection I notice the images of an old story.

*

During my odd years of the mine, one day I had the chance to working with one gnome. The gnome was less than one meter tall, he was three times stronger than normal people and he would not take his pipe off his mouth even for one moment. As I sit down to rest, I light the cigarette and I look toward the gnome who was smoking close to me.  The stark eyes of the gnome exuded light and warmth. It was one of those happy moments when the roughness of the underworld submitted unquestionably to the radiance of the human spirit.  Reading my feeling, the gnome comes closer and begins to tell me the story: “Once upon a time, there was a great and powerful king…”

I am not able to say to what extent and in what way the gnome continues to have a connection with this world.  But if times come and go, the image of the gnome lives forever with his story, now, in the flicker of the wine glass, everywhere and in every corner…


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