In this book the author takes an unusual multi-disciplinary approach to debates about contemporary art and poetry, ideas about the mind and its representations, and theories of knowledge and being. Arts practices are considered as enactments of mind and as transformative modes of consciousness. Ideas drawn from poetics, philosophy and consciousness studies are used to illuminate the conceptual and aesthetic frameworks of a diverse array of visual artists. Themes explored include: the interconnectedness of existence; art as a way of interrogating appearances; identity and otherness; art and the self as ‘open work’; Buddhist concepts of ‘emptiness’ and ‘suchness’; scepticism, mysticism and the arts; and mind in the landscape. The book contains an important and distinctive visual dimension with photographs and drawings by the author and texts employing unorthodox syntax and layouts that exemplify the themes under discussion. The author hints at a new aesthetics and philosophy of indeterminacy, paradox, uncertainty and discontinuity - a
contrarium - in which we negotiate our way through the instabilities and contradictions of contemporary life. Written in a lively and accessible style this volume is of interest to scholars, arts practitioners, teachers and to anyone with an interest in art, poetry, consciousness studies, philosophy and nature.
Artists, poets and philosophers discussed, include: Cy Twombly, Helen Chadwick, John Ruskin, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Long, James Turrell, Anish Kapoor, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Agnes Martin, Land Art, Arte Povera, Minimalism, Charles Olson, Kenneth White, Robin Blaser, Fred Wah, Gary Snyder, RS Thomas, Alice Oswald, John Cage, Jorge Luis Borges, Guy Davenport, Kenneth Rexroth, Heidegger, Marjorie Perloff, Thomas McEvilley, Merleau-Ponty, Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, David Abram, Thomas Merton, Pyrrho & Nagarjuna.
Through an analysis of many different examples, Danvers articulates a new way of thinking about mysticism and scepticism, not as opposite poles of the philosophical spectrum, but as two fields of enquiry with overlapping aims and methods. Prompted by a deep sense of wonder at being alive, many mystics and sceptics, like the Buddha, practice disciplines of doubt in order to become free of attachment to fixed appearances, essences and viewpoints, and in doing so they find peace and equanimity. They develop ways of living with impermanence and the unexpected by letting go of adherence to dogmatic beliefs and by suspending judgement. In common with many artists and poets they act as agents of uncertainty, actively disturbing the routines and habits of day-to-day thought and behaviour in order to demonstrate how to maintain a sense of balance and spontaneity in the midst of life’s difficulties. Topics explored include: being and self as process; mysticism and language; scepticism and dogmatism; Buddhism, interdependence and emptiness; Daoism and impermanence; dialectics of doubt in art and poetry. Written in a lively and accessible style, accompanied by drawings and photographs by the author, this volume is aimed at scholars, artists, teachers, and anyone interested in philosophy, religion, art, poetry and ways of being.