Gnostic art?

Edward G. Nilges, “Hand Study for the Unknown Helper” 13 July 2005. Pencil and ink, Microsoft Office Picture manager.

Gnosticism being the marginal and extremely heretical idea that the Creator (God ver. 1.0) made a flawed world and that a wiser being often female (who may appear in Wisdom in the Bible “dancing before the world” and crying aloud in the market place) must be found for She would create a better world…were it not for the fable of the omelette that is made by breaking eggs.

[The myth that Creation is patriarchal, cruel, destructive, which like most myths expresses a lot of truth: it even appears in Schumpeter, where we’re all expected to quietly accept the destruction of our lives in the name of “creative destruction” and an economic growth I see little of in my own bank account. But: but. We’re the only species I know that preys upon itself “like monsters of the deep” in Albany’s words in Lear, whereas the bugs and trees I see on Lamma Island are just trying to get by.]

Holy Wisdom defers to God the Father, biding her time, using the egg whites for baking, the shells for shelter as the omelette is served while the Angel of History turns away.

All that stuff I thought so cool, the military marches, the heraldry, the technology, is a boy’s own dream from which he must wake.

Gnosticism is the fascination with old books and legends and stories of faeries and mermaids, a second (or earlier) creation. “Come away, human child, to the waters and the wild, for the earth is full of more woe than you shall ever know”. Wandering dazedly post-divorce in San Francisco, old books in shop windows with pictures of the Shining Ones. Away with the wee ones, in fine.

In not using models, I have to continually approximate the form where the line I draw is like the Copenhagen picture of the atom: a set of probabilistic guesses as to where Perfection might be that is continually refined. Which is why I’m not unhappy that the transferred drawing to the big canvas looks weird and clumsy in comparision to the earlier drawings.

The fact that the forearm looks “too” short and the clumsiness of the foreground hand merely opens up new possibilities. I’m thinking of the way you meet some girl you knew as a mousy geek a couple of years earlier, and she knocks your socks off today.

In not using a hand model and in using my limited study of anatomy I am actually saying that I know better than nature. Cezanne made this mistake if it is a mistake, or if it is a mistake that leads to the Way as in Lao T’se.

But in terms of iconoclastic and Fundamentalist religion, not only Islam but also 17th century Puritanism, this is a double “blasphemy” for instead of merely trying to play G-d, I am saying that there’s a better “world” somewhere else.

Cezanne was looking for this in Aix en Provence when owing to the sensibilities of the local priest he tried to imagine what a bunch of girls would look like bathing.

There’s more and more of us in a world where you can’t take the frigging kids to the beach if you live in Texas, Louisiana, Mississipi, Georgia or frigging Florida.


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