upward and outward

monday sermon. april 8, 2013

                                    upward and outward

there is a conscious raising importance to looking up.  raising the gaze beyond the boundaries of a personal sphere gives one a sense of a large world that expands beyond our imaginings.  up increases the wonder and possibilities of the soaring puzzles that make up the heavenly world, both physical and metaphysical.  a narrow world exists right before us, sometimes very trivial concerns occupy our immediate attention.  how dull it would be if we were never enlightened by imagination.  looking up and out from our point of perception has indeed led to wonderous advancement in science and understanding, yet has brought with it some perplexing issues.

since the 1940’s Jacques Lacan, a french psychoanalyst and psychiatrist described the anxious state that comes with the awareness that one can be viewed.  he suggests that this gaze effect can similarly be produced by any object such as a box or a computer screen.  this is not to say that the object behaves optically as a mirror; instead it means that the awareness of any object can induce an awareness of also being an object.  stemming from his work are feminist interpretations of the male gaze.  arguably the gaze is universal and it is an accident of recent history that it remains in the power of the masculine.  with the democratisation of information and imagery the gaze as inspirational and captivating can more accurately be explored.

it seems physics may have had a better way of framing the issue, as early as 1930, Werner Heisenberg showed that the observer becomes part of the observed system.  in quantum physics, the observer is no longer external and neutral, but through the act of measurement he becomes himself a part of observed reality.  certainly the artist has inherently understood this, becoming the conduit of the idea through the gaze.  often an all encompassing gaze, especially in the works of the early masters.

the upward, outward gaze is a gaze of fire and air.  warm air rises, and air being lighter than everything will also try to rise.  fire enjoys being in a gravity environment, one with definite up and down orientations, so it can point up and consume circulating oxygen.  physical representations of philosophical memes.

fire is commonly associated with the qualities of energy, assertiveness, and passion; having mixed symbolism because it represents energy, which can be helpful when controlled, but dangerous if unattended.

air is a part of every living thing that exists, a life force or spiritual energy.  it is frequently translated from eastern languages as energy flow, or literally as breath.  air is linked to persons whom are kind, intellectual, communicative and social; however, they can also be selfish, superficial, vicious and very insensitive to other people’s emotions.

the symbolism and spirituality of up and out is easily seen in sun and sky worship.  a heightened way of thinking.  there is a deep connection in looking to the other, to including more knowledge than just your own.  survival depends on the other’s inclusion rather than exclusion.  expansion:  growth, amplification, augmentation, development, enlargement, evolution, extension, increase, inflation, magnification, maturation, multiplication.  these are the results of outward extroverted upward gazing.


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