Saturday, December 5, 2009

The long flash

What if epiphany is not a brief flash that changes everything? Lessons of spiritual practice suggest that the flash of insight is usually illusion, or, at best, passing.

Blake's epiphanies are not flashes, but worked out in the dialogue between Heaven and Hell. Not of one, not the other, but of the long, dynamic interplay.

In Bill Viola's show up now at James Cohan Gallery, the bodies of light ("Saints," "Innocents," "Acceptance," et al) look like epiphanic experiences emerging from between life and death. But the flash of your own life? It feels long, right? Messy. Complicated. And yet, underneath the busyness of this or that daily white-noise-actions, the flux of apparent needs, wants, responsibilities, there is a tone that some call personality. It might even be something like what some refer to as soul. But what if that personality -- is it warm? generous? frightened? mean? -- is part of that individual's one experience. The long flash we live in. It just depends on the speed of the film, the exposure, the settings, including distance, we see it by.

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