On Seeing the Birth of the Heart

in Religion and the Arts
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Abstract

This is an essay in seeing the heart of humanity, as it is re-presented in a Christian icon (Kardiotissa) and a Buddhist cave (Vishvakarma). Working through a poetics of image and word and the dialectic of revelation and concealment intrinsic to representation, this essay concentrates on wording the visible confluence of subjective and objective domains, as they appear in art and express human being. Interiority, its formlessness and its incorporation in form, is seen to reorient the religious by bearing witness to a religiosity at the core of the human, a faith rendered and remembered in aesthetic form. Representation as word, concept, and phenomenon is both the subject and medium of this inquiry, which, by plumbing the possibility of the inter-religious imagination, seeks to unearth the ethics, and thus extend the capacities, of representation itself. Significant notes in eastern and western philosophical aesthetics provide a comparative platform for a process of seeing the icon and the cave as works of art that formally illumine an originary site of the religious and the aesthetic in the birth of the heart.

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