To REACT & To RESPOND

(Drawing may take many forms…)

“If the aesthetic is seen in contrast to the anaesthetic – or numbness, it can be understood more correctly as ‘enlivened being’. Reclaiming the aesthetic in this way enables us to understand the link between the aesthetic and responsibility: response-ability not as a moral imperative, but as the ability to respond.” (Shelley Sacks, UN Summit on Culture and Development, Stockholm 1998)*

 a dizzy line, westward ho! (pward 2010)

After an event, without circumspection, one might naturally react as if the only way is to recuperate the change of form, the energy lost, the expectation raised and then dashed upon the rocks, the hurt and discomfort of right and wrong behaviour and the connotations to body and mind of mine and yours and others; I could kick out, blurt out what first comes to mind, or seek revenge, tit for tat and find some justice in that.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Or, in poverty, I could just grab what I want, what I think I need immediately, what I want to possess and hold it to myself, bind it there with words and fears, with locks and keys, with ropes and chains, however fine, and without another thought. I could try to keep it – to hold my gaze upon it. I could fight and fury and stamp and never let it from my sight. I could morally justify my actions – the world surely owes me this much – this jurisdiction in karmic surety.

But harmony is not a world stood still.

And circumstance is of fluid form and what was yesterday is no longer today. My feelings and my thoughts are part of a reactive force, not part of my self – they belong to others as much as to me. There is no line drawn, no division, and no description to adhere to. No finality at all. As I draw this temporal analysis, its start has already changed form in relation to itself – it has adopted an ecological relation to momentum and its mutating attributes.

The wind that blows the sand that erodes my line casts its intention to the wholeness of the beach and the sea, where waves are breaking to this day.

So on its journey through conditional response, or reaction, my artfulness accrues an identity that might unmask such delusional fixation upon construed reality. As I work the material with my fingers, I watch my thoughts change form and purpose – I could be trickling water through my hands, breathing one deep breath, listening to a single starling as we await its murmuration, talking with a friend or a stranger, or smashing a rock with a hammer, but all the while seeking an answer, holding the wholeness of this challenge to mind.

Time is action is resolution.

It is to have faith in process, in creation and innate ability and intelligence. We are beyond total control and total understanding, but we do benefit in belonging to this marvellous mystery. (And knowing that I have known you even for a short while allows me to move on.) By stepping back awhile from confrontation; by looking around; by fiddling and playing for whatever ends; and by giving thanks for it all.

Nothing is forever, except forever.

So, to react is a conditioned movement, born of physical circumstance, of mental dictate, maybe to be attributed to universal laws, but in no sense the only or rightful action to take.

However, to respond is to take time to consider the totality of a situation, its ecological and social dynamic, and to then choose to act in a way that befits or benefits as much as one feasibly can, rather than just oneself.

And then drawing is the means by which we can individually assess this totality through process and faith; it is the way we may sensibly belie reactionary fervour in light of responsible action.

 beach drawing, westward ho! (pward 2010)

* from www.universityofthetrees.org

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