Thoreau idles among trees by the pond, losing money, and hints as he closes down Walden that he might be a monkish artist carving a stick – but for what? At what cost?
Getting my note from Yafo, Catlin Lowe thinks à deux, thinking with Thoreau (it might as well be) of trees, temples, art, time, and the sea.
“Yafo/Jaffa: I recently spent a long late morning with Charles Ray’s 2007 “Hanoki,” a massive floor sculpture of Japanese Cypress hand-carved to match in scale and form (down to the flaking bark and worm-driven root structure) a fallen tree of unknown species happened upon on the central Californian coast. It put me in mind of the Cedars of Lebanon–brought in by that port city for the building of both First and Second Temple. Ray’s piece, more even than Lichtenstein, Johns, or Rauschenberg I think (but perhaps only by accident of associated heft, labor, and cost), begs the questions ‘Is it art?’ ‘Is it worth it?’
Is it art? Is it worth it? A husk of a tree, but not even a tree, a replica of a tree, indiscernible as such save close up, impossible to take in in full, hollowed out, chopped up, driven to LA, cast in silicone, remolded in fiberglass, shipped to Osaka, meticulously re-inscribed quarter inch by quarter inch in an ancient, almost invaluable, tree, which lost its own life, to what end, to what end, to what end . . . ?
My sister, Emory, upon seeing an image of a thousand Buddhist monks gathered together in silent meditation, said, “That is an activity of infinite worth.” Shortly thereafter she quit her lucrative job in finance and went to live with a Catholic community in the tall woods within walking distance of the sea.
Why build the First Temple? Why build the Second? Why ship those cedars from Lebanon to Yafo at so great a cost? So that God should have a place to dwell with us . . .
So then the question becomes: Is the art museum where we now meet God?”
From Distinctively Praise the Years, see blogroll