Tag Archives: Transcendentalism

das Verstehen vs. das verstand

(understanding as a general concept and understanding as a faculty of the human mind)

 In trying to understand Kant and his rant, I have seriously started to consider transcendentalism and how it might be behind some of my beliefs. I was watching “Little Women” (I read the book eons ago but recently found the 1994 film) and I noticed the emphasis on transcendentalist thought. It is hardly a mystery, considering the author of the book had transcendentalist parents (I found that bit of information on the internet).

What interests me the most is the notion of an ideal spiritual state that “transcends” the physical and empirical and can only be realized through the individual’s intuition. This would make intuition more important than intellect. There are some things I know before experience. Then there are things I know after. I sometimes find myself relying purely on intuition and not experience. Experience comes later and perhaps reinforces whatever it is I just happen to know. Perhaps I am trying to force this understanding into the idea of transcendentalism.

I found myself in a situation last week when I had to “justify” my (much criticized) teaching methods. I used the word intuition a lot and then realized that as usual I could not articulate my intentions as well as I had conceived them. It was then I realized that my new mission is to completely understand what exactly I am doing (quite successfully, I might add but which could just be a fluke) so I can add to it and make it better or so to speak. Thus, on this brave quest I am compelled to read as much as I can to discover the true nature of my intentions.

I had read somewhere that this is the age of cynicism and nihilism. Or maybe even that is obsolete now. I just know that I must have a purpose or I cannot justify the act of living to myself. And so, here I am trying to understand understanding.

Articulation is important. It drives the vultures away like a hunting rifle.

Coming back to the event that triggered this brave venture into my very soul: my critic demanded an explanation for my methods. What exactly is my method? I believe in guiding a student to her/his own mind and experience. But before that I believe in guiding a student to the core of her/his being. What is being? Is it a metaphysical substance? A feeling? An intuitive realm where all knowledge resides? I believe in a spiritual mind – a mind that is capable of knowing all there is to know.

Next, I feel the true path to this spiritual mind comes from self knowledge. And then the knowledge of the world follows. How experience fits into this still eludes me somewhat. I can almost put words to it. There is some knowledge beyond experience and experience follows?

And as far as guidance is concerned, there are tricks. Magic tricks. The carrot and the stick, uncomfortable questions on beliefs, love and more love. How can any form of guidance exist without compassion? Without love for the human race (sentimental, I know) how can anyone teach at all?

My practice involves more than making art-work. It involves teaching and guiding towards a spiritual realm beyond the confines of organized religion and its doctrines. It involves “transformation” (a term given to me by a former teacher) of the human condition/experience. It then becomes a worthwhile practice. I am still developing my own sense of morality and integrity. This excludes religion and includes compassion and common sense.

I am still nervous. Just a few more hours to go and then I will be at the hospital. I haven’t slept a wink.