A lot of people will tell us that the world operates under a set of universal laws and we create our own reality. Even if it were true and there is strong evidence towards this idea, I’m not arguing for or against it. I’m simply wanting to discuss the fact that there is a lot of horror in this world and with all this horror there are a lot of wounds. Trying to make sense of the world can seem like an effort in futility, so in the past, my efforts were directed towards the visual arts.
I was trying to make sense of the world through various mediums. The paintings, drawings, mixed media and digital artworks, were meant to make people think about the world around them. It seemed like a reliable vehicle to express ideas and to allow people to come to their own conclusions even though there was intention behind the works that were created.
Like in life, you give art your own meaning.
Now my focus is more on words but I am sharing the art today to illustrate my point about suffering. Sometimes when we use words meaning gets lost in translation. In my oil painting series entitled Even Angels Die or Razboi/War (shown below), produced in 2008 and 2009, I attempt to address the horror and the wounds.
The War where even angels die
The war is ambiguous, it applies to so many wars, including those within and without, our own internal battles and ones that are perpetrated on the people by people. These images though are meant to be universal not to any specific time, nor to any specific event.
Making sense of the absurd and senseless –
Joseph Campbell somehow softens some of our wounds with his words of how the world operates – something to help us make sense of the absurd and senseless.
“The first step to the knowledge of the highest divine symbol of the wonder and mystery of life is in the recognition of the monstrous nature of life and its glory in that character: the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think—and their name is legion—that they know how the universe could have been better than it is, how it would have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without life, are unfit for illumination. Or those who think—as do many—“Let me first correct society, then get around to myself” are barred from even the outer gate of the mansion of God’s peace. All societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable; and so they will always be. So if you really want to help this world, what you will have to teach is how to live in it. And that no one can do who has not himself learned how to live in it in the joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy of the knowledge of life as it is.” – Joseph Campbell
This painting oil on stretched canvas actually reminds me of one of the tragedies experienced by a childhood friend, her husband was murdered. He was shot during a drug deal. I wasn’t thinking about this event consciously when this was painted years later. Even though we didn’t see each other regularly as adults, I will always remember the agony that beset her heart, her tears as she said goodbye to her husband and when I look at this painting, think of that sorrow.
The truth is that even the people who perpetrate the most horrific crimes against others are people too. The complexity of the human condition requires empathy and compassion.
Primum non nocere
Primum non nocere, do no harm, might have been claimed by the medical community but for me it applies to all human beings. Primum non nocere, the precept –
“given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.”
For me it just means compassion, being human and simply doing no harm to another, including ourselves. We often do a lot of harm to ourselves when we don’t love ourselves and life as it is. Do no harm to yourself either. Love yourself.[clickToTweet tweet=”Being human and simply doing no harm to another, including ourselves. We often do a lot of harm to ourselves when we don’t love ourselves and life as it is. Do no harm to yourself either. Love yourself. #love #donoharm #compassion” quote=”Being human and simply doing no harm to another, including ourselves. We often do a lot of harm to ourselves when we don’t love ourselves and life as it is. Do no harm to yourself either. Love yourself.” theme=”style3″]
Continuing, I was going to write – Some words to try to live by but every time that I think of the word try – Yoda pops into my head and reminds me that ‘…there is no try, only do.’
But I wrote them anyway…
Some words to live by:
Do no harm. Live and let live. Thou shalt not kill.
Perhaps easier said than done, however, I can never remember a time where I thought war was anything else but unnecessary and maybe this belief has only grown even stronger through the years. My attitude towards war will forever remain, utterly unyielding.
p.s. I am also opposed to the war on drugs and to the war on terrorism since these constructs do more harm than good.
What do you think? How do you feel about what Joseph Campbell shares with us? or about war? or any of the ideas shared in the article? Leave a comment.
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Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By: “The Confrontation of East and West in Religion”
Original paintings © Amy Adams Art