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find: Visual Arts Germany

Robert L. Schwarz  

poet, writer, philosopher, U.S.A.

H a t s

That was where the hats were worn:
A black one for the beginning of the week;
Another, moon colored, for Wednesday afternoons,
And for the holidays, a hat of pain
To give us sympathy for others.

Arts Dialogue, February 2000, page 11.

Fixeless Symmetry

Like the instant beauty
Of the crystal flake,
My soul quaked
At the din of time;

And, leveling in their flight
The shadows of evening,
I saw the void of air
Swirl into a mirror of ice,
More carved in the blast of the stone
Than all the summerís tempests.

Arts Dialogue, June 2001, page 23.


Excerpt from the beginning of the short story:


Put your eye the lens. What do you see?
I can't tell.
The image is inchoate. You have given me no expectations. No context.
Yes, but haven't you approached this situation with a specific mind set?
Not specific, no.
No, of course. How stupid of me. Only a vortex of determinative vectors. Of which at any given moment we have only an arbitrary cross-section.
Very well. The cross-section...
Which is ever changing. By the concept of instant, we have a variant of Newton's fluxions, instantaneous changes. Only instantaneousness is time not in time.
Or nontime in time.
Precisely. And yet, by this concept, this intellectual double entendre, Newton was able to construct the calculus.
Yes, so then what I see is neither of time nor in time but nevertheless from time.
So far, so good. But we must make more of it than that, else you will be sent to the audio-visual department where roentgenological cognoscenti will probe for pseudo- organs of sensation. And find them, too, if they have sufficient expectations.
Undoubtedly. Therefore, or for that, concentrate on the proto-image before you. Before me, spatially or temporarily? Perhaps both, but spatially as a first condition. How many conditions are there? That we can determine only in time, serially. Well, now you have created a context: before, and a sequence... The order of which is yet to be determined.
And time as the containing body.
However, that was Aristotle's definition of space: roughly, the boundaries of the containing body.
So we have it that historically, or 'in time,' space precedes time.
Yes, the Babylonian units of time referred to areas of ground which could be seeded within so much time...
It would seem that to invoke time, we must refer to space, and the space to which we refer arcs into time. I see time and space as two ends of a rainbow.
Ah, well! the image is coming into focus. Yes, let me have a second look. The rainbow has closed into a serpent swallowing its tail. Or, mythologically, the serpent swallowing its own tale. You have imparted a rotation to the image.
The cycle of seasons. Autumn turns into winter, and winter, into spring, and...
The serpent swallows more and more of itself until its circle closes to a point. But then, space and time become one, and the sequence is not a sequence at all. What then is a point?
"The still point of the turning world."
Or the turning point of the still world.
With that reversal, you slide into Plato's definition of time as the moving image of infinity.
We pass, and time stands still, or time passes and we stand still. The consequence is the same.
The con-sequence. One, two, three. One, one-and one, one-and-one-and-one. There is no sequence in numbers other than that which we imagine or, as mathematicians are fond of saying, 'by definition.'
And to define is to set a limit upon. Therefore, how do we define infinity?
We set a limit of having no limit. Like time out of time. And once more the serpent swallows its tail.
Kekule's dream, which suggested the structure of the benzene ring.
Except that I am not asleep.
An exception we conveniently overlook. The primary processes, as Freud liked to call them, remain the same. Suspend the percept in the visual memory, the noos, as Homer called it...
And then manipulate it.
From Latin, manus, hand.
We turn the percept as if by hand, and as we turn it, the perspective changes. And space becomes time, the space of experience, and the sequence moves from walking by foot to moving the hands of time.
What if we have never seen the idea, like time? I seem to see time stretched out before me... Let me look once more. Yes. And it's trailing out behind me.
You have to paint a picture over the invisible frame of the abstraction.
And what colors do I use?
You suit yourself.
All right. I'll look again. Now I see time stretched out behind me and before me like an endless blue ribbon. I can't see either end. But I can imagine that somewhere beyond all limits the two come together, and the serpent swallows its tail.
Out there somewhere space and time blend. And I conceive what you are describing as a Mobius strip. Inside is space, and outside is time.
And inside is outside......

(NOTE: the title is a reference to the story "Why I don't Write like Franz Kafka" by William S. Wilson, and this story here in the framework of a semi-philosophical dialogue is a parody of that work.)

Arts Dialogue, June 1998, Arts Dialogue, pages 14 - 15.

  • Poem: Fixless Symmetry, Arts Dialogue, June 2001
  • Poem: Hats, Arts Dialogue, February 2000
  • Short Story: Arts Dialogue, June 1998
  • Poem: Fixless Symmetry, Arts Dialogue, June 1995
  • Poem: Where Nowhere is, Arts Dialogue, December 1994

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