The Artist at Work

The Artist at Work
The Artist at Work

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dwell in Possibility: Religion, Science and the Art of Metaphor

Detail from the painting titled "The Watch"

In The Life of the Skies, Jonathan Rosen talks a lot about the fracturing of the world (or the western mind) that happened after Darwin. It's a fracture Rosen himself is still trying to heal, through birdwatching as an mediating activity - one that makes people look up and see. For Rosen, as for many of us who love birds, what we see when we look up is the glory of a bird, but also all that the bird represents - literally, spiritually. Metaphorically.

He talks a lot about naturalists of that time - Darwin, Alfred Lord Wallace. And about how they also sought the divine in their work, whether this was made explicit, or not. Wallace, for example, spent years on the Malay Archipelago before he finally found the bird that sent him on this quest - the bird of paradise - a bird in which the natural and the spiritual seem to meet by virtue of a name!

Rosen uses poetry to really bring out the spiritual aspect of birding. He connects Alfred Lord Wallace's quest and love with Wallace Steven's mystical bird, the one in "Of Mere Being" that sings "in the palm at the end of the mind." Rosen makes a good distinction we really appreciate between the materialist versus naturalist.

Marcus responds to this idea in a way that reminds us of poetry, reflecting on his life, confined, yet metaphorically free through the natural world he creates in art. The following words to the conclusion of the post are his thoughts, shared with you. The featured image is a detail from his current work, the painting, titled "The Watch," which you can see in progress in the slideshow to the right:

My confined life is metaphorical happiness.
I should be miserable because?
But, I do not accept misery as a solution.

Self value is part of measuring happiness.
I have purpose, the result is bliss.

Emily Dickinson pops up the the book Life of the Skies too. Her poem, "I dwell in Possibility" evoked this response:

Why not live a life without restriction.
An infinite perspective is the fountain of youth.
Which feeds our hunger to search in a spiritual and or scientific way.

I love the intertwined idea of science and religion. Because I breathe the metaphorical, my acceptance of both is satisfying. I am not grasping for Big answers! Content with the obvious, focusing on MY metaphorical foot print and embracing what is real.
This is my consumption!
Reality is the foundation, for I live in an abstract frame.
Escape through paint, brush and love? YOU BET!
If your mind becomes bored with your heart, you are defeated.
Rock on!


  1. I love the detail image of Marcus's painting. For me, it seems to imply that the self should govern perspective and time. I love how the "mechanics" of time seem to be floating away from the eye/watchpiece....The line "An infinite perspective is the fountain of youth...." is a fine experience (one from which my partner would whole heartedly agree:)... but sadly I wonder how many people truly live in such a state.

  2. love the slideshow and painting, and the poetry. reminds me of the prisoners I meet with at the jail every Monday evening, how some of them talk about their time there being their first experience of real freedom. also thought about the great country music poet,who sang "may the bird of paradise fly up your nose, may an elephant caress you with its toes." Emily Dickenson meet Little Jimmy Dickens!