I’ve been in the season of collecting desiccated Lily blossoms from the Lily patches in our yard and the yard of our neighbors, a retired couple. I walk over and show proofs and drafts of new pieces to ‘Mrs. Neighbor,’ when these involve stuff I’ve picked from the floor of their wonderful, large garden of perennials. The other day, I caught both of them and showed them the photo on the left, African Alchemy. Mrs. Neighbor always asks me to invert the image from the geometry I’ve decided upon. Once the photo was turned upside down–inverted–Mr. Neighbor almost immediately remarked that he liked the inversion better than the ‘pre-inversion.’
I like it better this way! (turned upside down)
I studied it. I nodded my head. I walked away wondering whether or not I could create a new piece out of the inversion, or, join the new pieces into a two panel, and new, piece. A new two panel piece could be immense, 74 inches wide by 54 inches in height.
As an artist of the sort of artist I happen to be, the feedback of a viewer which challenges me to pursue a specific experiment further is simply part of the territory my vision for my art and artistic life inhabits.
With respect to this transaction and response, my outlook intends for the transaction to admit a potential for recursion back into the unfinished project.
“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.
“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”
The Hunting of the Snark – Lewis Carroll
The predicate for the recursion is: uncertainty. There is no completed piece. My work obtains its imperfect goal by virtue of the engaged viewer. There is: the piece, the unaltered (abductive) experiential sense, the abductive experiential sense which requires an altered or alternate explanation. Three times true.
But then I discovered that the rule of three was not invented by Lewis Carroll. It is far older and used to be called nolo episcopari: I don’t want to be a bishop. The idea was that when somebody was appointed bishop it was a given that they would be too humble to accept the post: that’s what Christian humility means. So they would say nolo episcopari meaning “I don’t want to be a bishop”. They were meant to say this twice as a matter of etiquette. On the third request they were meant to surrender and take the mitre. If they did not, if they said nolo episcopari a third time, it was assumed that they were telling the truth and a new candidate was sought. To say something twice may be mere manners, Truth speaks thrice. – Mark Forsythe, author, The Inky Fool
Kailash Awati ends his excellent article about Carroll’s The Paradox of the Learning Organization,
Conclusion. Experts and consultants have told us many times over that the journey towards a learning organisation is one worth making….and as the as the Bellman in Carroll’s poem says: “What I tell you three times is true.” Nevertheless, the reality is that instances in which learning actually occurs tend to be more a consequence of accident than plan, and tend to be transient than lasting. Finally, and perhaps most important, the Snark may turn out to Boojum: people may end up learning truths that the organisation would rather remained hidden. And therein lies the paradox of the learning organisation.
See also, The Hunting of the Learning Organization. A Paradoxical Journey – Paul Tosey, Univ. of Surreypdf