The Hidden Sphere
(of Artistic Concerns) Cecil Orion Touchon

Without leaving the studio know  the world. [1] 
Without looking out the window, see the order of the Creative Harmony. 
The farther a field you go searching for knowledge, 
The less you will understand the true nature of things. [2] 

Therefore, the mastercraftsman knows the nature of things 
rather  than acquiring a knowledge of  them. 
He sees to the depth of things having not wasted his time on the  superfluous. 
He accomplishes his work without the imposition of his personal will 
 so that it could be said, " Of himself,  he did nothing."


[1] The saint (or mastercraftsman) becomes more humble every hour, for every hour he draws nearer to God. The saints see without knowledge, without sight, without information received, without observation, without description, without veiling, and without veil.

Dhu’l-Nun al-Misri (796-861)

  [2]  Think, dear reader, of the vain, illusive side of the searches and disturbances that go on from one end of the world to the other. All that the world in its most distant places can supply, all that life in its rarest conjectures can produce, you can obtain without budging, at your own discretion, at your own doorstep, by the assiduous exertion of any occupation. Our universe is continuous, at a uniform tempo, it is like a homogenous sea: you can plunge your spoon into it at the first place you come to. Would you rather, reader, friend, that I traveled, that I took you to absurd countries, led you before mosques, pagodas, Persian markets, tropical rivers, coral reefs? Kindly think seriously about the inanity of dimension. It is a mad prejudice, a vulgar trap, which makes you marvel at your snowcapped peaks, high cliffs, your garden of rare species, or your elegant islands. Burn scale! Look at what lies at your feet! A crack in the ground, sparkling gravel, a tuft of grass, some crushed debris, offer equally worthy subjects for your applause and admiration. Better! For what is more important is not reaching objects of reputed beauty after long days of travel, but learning that, without having to move an inch, no matter where you are, all that seems most sterile and mute is swarming with facts which can entrance you even more. The world does not extend over one single plane, all on the surface. The world is made on layers, it is a layer cake. Probe its depths, without going any further than where you stand, You will see! I am speaking figuratively, you understand.
 Jean Dubuffet, “Empreintes,” 1957 Trans. Lucy Lippard

   When we lift up the eyes of the mind to what is invisible, we should consider metaphors of visible things as if they were steps to understanding. Therefore, in spiritual matters, when something is called ‘the highest’, this doesn’t mean that it is located above the top of the heavens, but rather that it is the inmost or most intimate of all. Thus, to ascend to God is to enter into oneself, and not only to enter into oneself, but in some unsayable manner, in the inmost parts to pass beyond oneself. He who can, as it were, enter into himself and, going deeper and deeper, pass beyond himself, truly ascends to God. But when a man, through the senses of his flesh, goes out to visible things, desiring what is transitory and perishable, he descends from the dignity of his natural condition to what is unworthy of his desire. For what is inmost is nearest and highest is eternal; and what is outside is lowest and distant and transitory. So to return from the outside to the inmost is to ascend from the lowest to the highest and to gather oneself from a state of scatteredness and confusion. Since we truly know that this world is outside us and that God is within us, when we return from the world to God and, as it were, lift ourselves up from what is lowest, we must pass through ourselves. Thus, when we turn from outer, perishable things, it is as if we were sailing over waves, until we find the calm that is within us. Happy is he who escapes unharmed from the that storm-tossed sea, and reaches the safety of the port!

Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1100-1141)


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copyright 2000 Cecil Touchon all rights reserved