Welcome to Unbound Art, Embracing Life

Welcome to our new blog Unbound Art, Embracing Life. Kim and Fernando will be posting images and observations created to share with you our longstanding exploration of the relationship between consciousness and life.

We clearly sense that the ground of human existence is not in personal consciousness, but in life as a whole.

Personal and tribal identity, which is based on exclusive memory and self-centered and provincial thought, has separated each one of us from most others and alienated the entire species from life. The consequences of this double separation have always been bad, and are becoming increasingly dangerous.

Our present levels of conflict in every sector and at every level of society, as well as the ecological consequences of our reckless exploitation of the biosphere, seems to be placing in jeopardy the very survival of our species. This danger and the urgent necessity for sanity it underlies, seems to be begging every concerned and sensitive human being to question whether there might be an entirely different mode of being in the world.

Is a radical integration with life and harmony with one another possible?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

To Be or Not to Be...

There is the infinite dance of cosmic being, and within it, but largely unaware of its undifferentiated participation in the totality of existence, there is the personal human mind. This mind is insensitive to life as a whole because it is filled to the brim by the particular images and ideas that determine its sense of separate existence and generate the chaotic social reality created by its necessarily conflicted social relations. 

Hidden beneath the isolated superficiality of the experience-based personal psyche —that is, at the very core of mind itself—  awareness and the wholeness of being exist without distinction. However, at the superficial level of mind conditioned by personal and tribal experience and sustained by fear and desire, distinction is all there is. Distinction is, in fact, the life and essence of the self that deems itself separate and unique. Who would any one of us be be without the all-too common distinction between “you” and “me”; between “us” and “them”; between “me” and “myself"; and, more generally, between “me” and “not-me”? 

Life, the ever shifting movement of existence as a whole, is all-inclusive and therefore not “a thing” or a container of things. But personal self in order to exist and endure in its own self-reflective eyes ,  must be something, some “one”, somebody. It must also endlessly strive to be recognized by others as such within its particular cultural enclosure

The personal self is all about gradually evolving identity and the defense and projection of that identity, whereas life is  innocent of separation, and therefore anonymous. Which is why the separate and self-projecting self can never feel secure and at peace, much less survive a serious inquiry into itself and the truth of its participation in life.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

To Wake Up to the Anonymous Self...

No one would deny being alive, but very few are content with just that. For most of us, to be alive is to be defined by a particular story held by memory and sustained by self-centered thought. We generally see ourselves as particular entities living a relatively autonomous and enduring separate existence, even though the stream of life as a whole is nothing if not integrated movement, change, death, and regeneration. Yes, we admit that things change, that the circumstances and even the attributes of the self evolve and change, but we are generally convinced that the “I” remains fundamentally separate and unchanged through time. "I" am who I was, who I am right now, and what I will become in the future.

Regardless of how common this belief in personal identity and autonomy is, if closely observed it becomes clear that there is something deeply irrational about an on-going private life that is largely unrelated to the whole of life. In our proud personas and all-important social roles, the infinite actuality of life has been reduced to particular images and ideas, memories and desires, and that encapsulation is clearly insane. No one needs further proof of this insanity than what an unbiased look at the chaos of the world at large reveals, a world that is but the outpicturing of the egotism, fear, and conflict in the lives and relations of seven billion human beings. Defined, isolated, and ordered around as we are by the cultural imperatives of particular tribes and our own conflicting memories and desires, we generate and sustain the insecurity, ambition, and violence that we suffer and makes others suffer

In relinquishing full
participation in life, we have condemned ourselves to the impossible enterprise of fulfilling the petty ambitions of self, clan, and tribe. Despite undeniable scientific and technical development and endless sequential attempts to reform our institutions and improve ourselves morally and intellectually, we remain incapable of freeing ourselves from the same social and psychological problems human beings have already suffered for millennia. The persistence of this cruel primitivism clearly resides in the alienated and fragmented quality of the human mind. Why should all our efforts to improve the quality of human life ultimately fail, if not because they leave untouched the deep root from which they spring? This being so, our only intelligent and caring option is to confront in ourselves the general fact of a mind conditioned and isolated by experience, and in this mind, the root of all that ails humanity. We need to see that we are made dull and insensitive by the imprint in our minds of the entire journey of the species through time, as well as by the intrinsic limitation of our biographical experience and learning.

Put differently, the insecurity and grief produced by the alienation of the whole species from life, has generated over time countless different responses seeking even a small measure of security and certainty. These responses have at every point in time splintered the species by assuming particular personal and cultural identities. Separate and equally fearful and ambitious individuals organized in different and competing societies, groups, and institutions, cannot but produce strife and sorrow, and this mode of existence cannot be significantly improved, let alone transcended -ever- through superficial modifications that leave its fundamental alienation and divisiveness intact.
The impotence of our actions in the past, in the present, and in a future conceived on the bases of previous actions and failures, clearly indicates the absolute necessity of an irreversible dissolution of the artificial boundaries of self and tribe that separate us from one another and alienates the species as a whole from life. There is no other solution. All other attempts to change are just a projection of the same nightmarish play of sectarian dogmatism and personal egotism we have been enacting over and over since we first appeared on the face of the Earth and started thinking we were original and very smart.

To wake up from the nightmare of self-centered thought is to suddenly realize that the only sane and sensitive human being is one who is not identified with any particular ideology, and lives free of association with any given group or institution. To survive, he or she may perform a given function related to the satisfaction of the fundamental needs of other individuals, but is in no way psychologically identified with this function. In a mind free of the strictures of self and tribe, the doing is not the being. The being is only life, and life is one and anonymous, it has no place or need for particular identity.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Home Green Home

Here is a picture of the installation that we did at Home Green Home, in Ithaca, on Gallery Night.  The little pieces of paper have environmental quotes on them.  I've listed them for you below. 

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.                                                            
          Kurt Vonnegut

A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.
Beverly Sills

A very Faustian choice is upon us: whether to accept our corrosive and risky behavior as the unavoidable price of population and economic growth, or to take stock of ourselves and search for a new environmental ethic.
  E. O. Wilson

For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature.  Now we’re beating it to death. 

Tom McMillan

There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed. 

Time and space - time to be alone, space to move about - these may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow. 
   Edwin Way Teale

Soon silence will have passed into legend.  Man has turned his back on silence.  Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.  His anxiety subsides.  His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.                                                                    
Jean Arp

How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life? 
   Charles A. Lindbergh

It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.                            

 Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854 

We’re finally going to get the bill for the Industrial Age.  If the projections are right, it’s going to be a big one:  the ecological collapse of the planet.
  Jeremy Rifkin

Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he’s been given.  But up to now he hasn’t been a creator, only a destroyer.  Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life’s become extinct, the climate’s ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day. 
Anton Chekhov

A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest 
- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty. 
Albert Eintein

Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo:  not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are offered, without respect to their human consequences. 
   Lewis Mumford

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. 
Ansel Adams

To people who think of themselves as God’s houseguests, American enterprise must seem arrogant beyond belief.  Or stupid.  A nation of amnesiacs, proceeding as if there were no other day but today.  Assuming the land could also forget what had been done to it.
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

All in favor of conserving gasoline, please raise your right foot.             
Author Unknown

As we watch the sun go down, evening after evening, through the smog across the poisoned waters of our native earth, we must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us:  “With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas,” or, “They went on playing politics until their world collapsed around them.”
U Thant

We must not be forced to explore the universe in search of a new home because we have made the Earth inhospitable, even uninhabitable.  For if we do not solve the environmental and related social problems that beset us on Earth - pollution, toxic contamination, resource depletion, prejudice, poverty, hunger - those problems will surely accompany us to other worlds. 

Donald G. Kaufman and Cecilia M. Franz, Biosphere 2000

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
George Carlin

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew. 
Marshall McLuhan

At every turn, when humanity is asked the question, 'Do you want temporary economic gain or long-term environmental loss, which one do you prefer,' we invariably choose the money.
Ethan Hawke

The old Lakota was wise.  He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. 
Chief Luther Standing Bear

Our environmental problems originate in the hubris of imagining ourselves as the central nervous system or the brain of nature.  We’re not the brain, we are a cancer on nature. 
Dave Foreman

I conceive that the land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless numbers are still unborn. 
Author Unknown

Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress.                                                       
John Clapham


Saturday, March 3, 2012

There Is No Separation...

Knowledge and belief describe the boundaries and constitute the contents and projections of the self. And the groups and institutions from which the self derives much of its identity and sense of destiny, also depend for their own on particular bodies of knowledge and belief. None of this fragmentary psychological and cultural content is related to the truth which is one, total, actual, and therefore not reducible to the knowledge of one presuming to stand outside of it. In other words, the very presence and outreach of the tribal and personal self is the negation of truth.

For one who is only interested in the possibility of finding the truth, there is then only one question then: Can individual instances of a general phenomenon of mental conditioning by previous experience and knowledge (personal memory and cultural tradition), revert to the source, the original truth? Can the human being give way to life itself?

It is of utmost importance to realize that this possible transit from the mental reality created by experience and preinformed desire to what is largely independent from such reality, cannot possibly occur in time. So “transit” is not an adequate term for what we are trying to convey here. We are not asking whether the self can move from one state of consciousness to a presumably better one guided by its own or somebody else's prescription. We are asking rather whether the ongoing accumulation and projection of experience that constitutes the self can come to an end.

No one can “know” the truth because it is unrelated to the trappings of the personal self: experience, knowledge, and desire. But complete and direct perception of the actual nature of the self and of the suffering it creates with its fragmentary, conflictive, and enduring mental content, is already on the threshold of truth because such insight cannot but obliterate the self. 

Drawing by Kim Schrag

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who Are We?

If put to the test kindly, who would be able to prove that she or he is perfectly unique and, therefore, existing independently from everything else? Who could prove that personal existence is not an integral part of the restless movement of existence as a whole? And who would dare argue that personal consciousness is conceivable outside of its peculiar cultural moorings, or the unquiet particular brain something apart from the interpenetrating and rather impersonal material reality of the Universe?
Are we just multiple sets of insubstantial personal and tribal memories driven by the same foolish desire for exclusive self-realization and, therefore, ultimately condemned to destroy ourselves? Or is it the case that, being nothing in ourselves personally, together we constitute the point of awareness (or one of the points of awareness) of the unthinkably complex mental and material reality of the cosmos and, beyond even that, the very timeless and formless ground from which all form comes into being and into which all form goes to die? 

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