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Composition as Explanation

June 29th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

The La Jolla public library is a charming little building. Having an hour or so to spare a couple weeks ago I found myself there skimming Fritijof Capra’s book, Uncommon Wisdom, Conversations with Remarkable People. If you were wondering what it would have been like to have a private sit down with Krishnamurti, this is the book. On page 22 Capra writes about he and his wife’s move in 1969 from France to Berkley:

“We were enchanted by the physical beauty of California but also amazed by the general lack of taste and esthetic values in the straight culture. The contrast between the stunning beauty of nature and the dismal ugliness of civilization was strongest out here on the American West coast, where it seemed to us that all European heritage had long been left behind. We could easily understand why the protest of the counterculture against the American way of life had originated here, and we were naturally drawn to this movement.”

Contrast will always be with us. It clarifies who we are; it helps us to realize the long view. It helps us to make our choices: I want this not that. Contrast is always part of the composition. It is the contrast that bands and drives into the fold similar view points and creates agreement of outlook of what is important and what is not important creating a sense of purpose and time. Of what is fashion and what is not fashion. Of what is style and what is not style. Of what is art and not art. Of beauty and what is not beauty. Most start with what is already accepted and then talk about it from there. To look at everything and wonder about it’s beauty is something else. But surely that is the point. It is all beauty. Gertrude Stein lectures:

“Of course it is beautiful but first all beauty in it is denied and then all the beauty of it is accepted. If every one were not so indolent they would realise that beauty is beauty even when it is irritating and stimulating not only when it is accepted and classic. Of course it is extremely difficult nothing more so than to remember back to its not being beautiful once it has become beautiful. This makes it so much more difficult to realise its beauty when the work is being refused and prevents every one from realising that they were convinced that beauty was denied, once the work is accepted. Automatically with the acceptance of the time-sense comes the recognition of the beauty and once the beauty is accepted the beauty never fails any one. Beginning again and again is a natural thing even when there is a series. Beginning again and again and again explaining composition and time is a natural thing. It is understood by this time that everything is the same except composition and time, composition and the time of the composition and the time in the composition.”

-Desk Sir Edward Maufe, 1925. Mahogany, camphor wood and ebony, gessoed and gillded with white gold; ivory and rock crystal; silk handles.

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