Law of contradiction
Like a Zen Koan
My life has, in many aspects, turned into a Zen Koan. A Zen Koan is a question for which one wrestles for a solution to which there is no answer. In a stalemate of contradicting forces, one's mind is almost short circuited and becomes 'mindless.' The thinking is that when your mind is taken out of the equation other higher realms can fill the void, at least for a moment.
When I was young sometimes I would use aids in making art. Sometimes results were impressive. These aids were part of the environment and I didn't think twice about doing so. Later, different instructors I had looked down upon such usage and convinced me to do the same. A real, basic foundation was sought even if it thwarted or changed me. At times I look back and wonder if this was a mistake. However, I held this purist position for decades, even if my work didn't fully reflect it.
Recently I ran across an artist who creates trompe d'oeil paintings that are impressive in their polish and finish. I can tell however that he uses aids in his process. Upon listening to an interview with him, he keeps this no secret, and even touts it as a viable tool. What is interesting is that he agrees with the purists when it comes to foundation building. During schooling he thinks no aids should be used. Only after rigorous training do they remain an option. He recognizes most artists who use such aids haven't had such a background.
At first I resisted what he said but realized my loyalty to the purist camp hasn't always been appreciated nor given results. It is something I just followed in the name of a higher principle. Perhaps it limited my scope. It's possible I stood right inbetween; on one hand seeing the validity of not using aids but on the other hand not fully masterful enough to do what I wanted to without them. The make up of how things come about can be too complicated to fit into a simple purist camp. Ideology, which I have a leaning towards, while good on paper, can often disappoint. It can be man simplifying existence into components he is able understand, but it is not often the full truth. The full truth is more mysterious than that.
And so, another quandary was revisited, almost similar to one I had around 21 that felt devastating. However, this time around, maybe through weariness, I accepted it and didn't fight back. Something might be understood about it down the road. Indeed, part of me even wondered how this artist incorporated the aids into trompe d'oeil painting. Curiosity is a good sign, a sign of life. Even if one has to remain on a fence not sure which side to jump onto, a precarious position at best, this too can be accepted. At the very least life goes on. At the most such helplessness makes effort and pushing forward extraneous. As with a Zen Koan, one is forced into a higher realm to find rest in, however briefly.
Perhaps many are facing today these Zen Koans that lead to perplexity. Our core issues become a metaphysical puzzle that we can't answer. We can no longer strive to solve and judge our own dilemmas. Rather we are kicked into a higher plane and only that perspective makes it possible to live with ourselves. In a sense we enter a place of peace because it's the only option left.