Is there any escaping this relentless cyclical windstorm of different-colored attempts to appease the ego?
I don’t know from experience, but from what I’m given to understand, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The tunnel out of my deeply personal Alcatraz, apparently, can be dug by sitting and doing nothing.
At first glance, a cakewalk. But somehow, the stumbling blocks to simply sitting, breathing and listening for whatever is next are as omnipresent as babies on a flight. (I expect one in each ear, as a rule). When the thought of getting my meditation on crosses my mind, it is rarely alone.
Companions of the idea to meditate range from remembering that I must check my email right this second to needing to go for a run, all the way through to maybe it’s time to fix a little something in the way of a snack. So what’s a well-informed but poorly practicing aspirant to do? Well, it was either a Vipassana retreat for me, or make some art about it.
The art wins, so far.
“Serial Ego Killer” is an installation I’m putting together, and it needs your participation. Give me your best quotes on meditation, and if they rock, I’ll write them down on a torn up envelope, and make them into art. It started with the chair above. It is exploding now onto large pieces of plywood and who knows where it will finally take shape. It is, of course, another form of ego gratification.
Just because I’m choosy about what I want—in this case, enlightenment, or peace, instead of money or prestige or fame or any of those things—doesn’t mean I’m not as egotistical and self-seeking as everybody else.
~ J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
At this point the more astute among you will be asking “Hey! What’s with the Salinger fixation, and morover, the Franny and Zooey fetish?” Well I’m glad you asked. “Franny and Zooey,” besides being the best book ever, is also the jumping-off point for the quotes all over the chair inspiration. Though it’s been a decade or so since my last reading of it, my deep love for this work is alive and well. In it, J.D. gives one of the most achingly beautiful descriptions of spiritual struggle ever to be typed. Know a better one? Please, clue me up. Meanwhile, yeah, I’m loving the dude. Sam Harris too of late, but I think that’s for a different article.
Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful, reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.
~ J.D. Salinger
And if you are asking, “Who is this guy, as an artist?” then thanks for the question. I work with whatever I can get my hands on, but mostly, stones and steel. One of the places I seek in my work is the crossroads where substantiality and insubstantiality meet. This piece is “A Good Egg,” my most recent large-scale work, completed last month in Akumal, Mexico.
In the “Serial Ego Killer” project, I want to bring all of my attention to making something that moves people, me and others, into inaction. If you take my meaning. Maybe get beyond the finite confines of perpetual normalcy. For a sec. And I want your voice in it. So what do you say?
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger