Sunday, September 29, 2013

Entry

 
 
The 3D figure was attached to the thrown bowl before it was fired. It was partially glazed leaving room for the illusionistic painting which began as watercolor. It was then sealed and finished in oils.

Land of the Prefrontal Cortex

The world of information we spend so much time in is not just a
frontier in itself but is creating a new frontier inside our brains.
The pre-frontal cortex is the location in the brain most active when
we’re planning, imagining, analyzing, all the things that are
particularly human. It’s the place we generate ideas, where curiosity
blooms, where we’re using the most evolved part of the brain and
enjoying every minute of it. Peak experiences are always connected to
stretching ourselves, being fully involved in a challenge. And by
using this part of the brain we’re increasing its area. The brain
changes in accordance with how we use it, giving more fuel to the
parts we use the most and less where we don’t. This means as we use
these capacities they develop. New circuits grow; new patterns of
association are created and reinforced.

We enjoy it because the brain is designed to reward good survival
behavior. Developing the skills in the newest part of the brain is
strengthening what builds our efficacy in the world. So many inputs
from the prefrontal cortex go to the primary reward center it would
suggest that this is how we’re meant to grow. Use of investigation,
imagination and self-expression stimulates the nucleus accumbens,
initiating dopamine mechanisms that increase attention and focus. This
is demonstrated by studies of happiness that found the most important
factor was being involved in some sort of self-improvement. It’s why
videogames are so pleasurable. So are learning, building skills,
creating and wondering. For the most part, time on the Internet is
time using and building the prefrontal cortex. Like most other parts
of the brain there’s a left and right. Language and symbolization, the
way we break things down, analyze, sort and examine parts are methods
of the left. It’s the right prefrontal cortex that is a new frontier
to be developed by more and more visual orientation to the
relationship between things and not the tiny parts. Sensitivity to
patterns and overviews are the necessary evolutionary step to develop
harmony in the world. We can only grow wisely by having perspective on
the big picture.

It may be that with so much time in the Land of the Prefrontal Cortex,
people have naturally gravitated to exercise, yoga, tai’chi and sports
to balance the mental life by taking care of the body that supports
it. It might be why I need to work with physical matter now, to make
things out of clay that use more of me than my brain and my hand. It
still feels strange to be to working with a physical object instead of
looking through the portal of a drawing into another world of mind.
Throwing bowls on the wheel permits no other world. Attention must be
centered. In a world of distractions this may be what attracts me
most.

Interacting with our technology is getting more visual all the time.
Our brains are evolving to match our tools. But cultivating
mindfulness is important to being more conscious of what’s directing
our attention

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Matter


The ocean is never the same. Raging and crashing one day, smooth and lapping the next, it’s seductive in its hypnotic motion. So to what degree should the material of the ocean be thought of as defining the ocean? When we say a feeling is oceanic we’re not talking about water. Charting the behavior of matter is such a small part of what we experience as the ocean. All of the senses are involved; the scent changes with the direction of the wind, toes wriggle in the sand as more sand swishes up around your ankles with every wave. Meaning shoots out in every direction. Every sense has the capacity to stimulate memories, reinforce the feeling of being using the other times that conspire in the moment. And there’s so much our senses don’t take in. We can’t see the radiation or hear the communication of whales. Much is outside our spectrum of sensitivity.

Einstein said matter is condensed energy. Where we are is the place where the field of mind has condensed into physicality, and on this plane reality is described as the interactions of matter. We as physical beings interact with other aspects of matter but we should remember how much in the way of energy fields and unfolding patterns is not in our awareness, yet like gravity may be influencing us profoundly.

In art, though films may come the closest to creating more multidimensional experience they still require time. Music evokes the emotional world with enormous range and power, but also requires time. Images have the capacity to fill attention with the relationships that show meaning in a moment of insight. With more and more claims on time, the immediacy of art is there to clarify relationships and change the way we see things. Like icons of ancient times, they offer a window to something bigger and more encompassing, a moment of recognition. When the image is contained in an object, the meaning is layered over what already adheres to that object. Whatever the form of art, it is never the object, image, artifact or story as much as the “Aha moment” illuminating universal human consciousness that matters. The choices made when looking at art reinforce and develop that connection and reflect qualities about who we are that can’t be expressed in material terms.

Maybe our attraction to material things is because they represent what material existence is. The extraordinary variety, beauty, order and uncertainty are the gifts of physical creation. We participate in creation with what we do and what we cultivate in ourselves. The self we express throughout life is in the choices we make about things that matter.