I am going to risk sharing an experience with you that was out of this world. As a teenager - my best free time was spent 'lurking' in art galleries. Many, many hours. I'd hang around long before and after the usual press of visitors that no-one really noticed me. And I could get in free - because I was that young. And here's why I 'lurked'. I love art.
We were taught that the definition of art is 'line in composition'. That's a brutally simplified definition. But it's right. Well. Here's how I learned this. Around about that time, a Mr 'McEwan' started an art movement, a school for the younger Africans in Zimbabwe - then Rhodesia - where they were invited to carve soap stones. He provided the material and tools. They only needed to show up and do the work. I'm not sure that any of those stones were sold. I hope not. Because that collection deserved to 'stay together'. Regardless. This particular exhibition taught me EXACTLY what was meant by that 'definition'. I got into a 'mode' where I could see the sheer eloquence of all that line in all that composition. Sculpture is the purest form of this. Not sure how to describe my reaction. But I was thrilled on an intellectual, emotional and physical level - that I have difficulty to describing - in any context at all. It was the most curious experience because, from nowhere - I was able to understand that abstract complexity at a level that was both overwhelming and entirely consummate. And I KNEW - from somewhere deep - that this was EXACTLY what McEwan was looking at. WOW. Now I knew what it was that kept him driven. To display what he displayed. That was the catalyst to my enduring 'love' of art which, before this, was merely a passionate interest.
This is my point. That deep level of appreciation was positively devotional. Now. If one has gone through that experience - then one will also NEVER forget it. I know this. As mentioned, it comes from somewhere deep. It's one of those moments in life which are used in the framework of 'comparative reference'. It's up there with the 'first kiss' - the 'first love' - marriage - childbirth. It's BIG. But unlike most other experiences that shape our lives - its motive - its catalytic spark and force - is FIRSTLY - intellectual. The brain engages - in the analysis of the line. The emotions follow after - in response to that line, be it pathos, sympathy, triumph, modesty, cruelty, indifference, - whatever. And then the appreciation is for the eloquence of that line. For the skill in its rendition.
Now. Like most young and aspiring artists - I had my own portfolio and my small suitcase full of Eisteddfod Certificates of distinction. Lots of them. I had even won an 'open' competition in art when I was barely 14 years old. My 'line' has always been more than adequate. And my obsessive interest in any kind of representation was probably because I was as blind as a bat. It therefore represented a kind of challenge - I think. This myopia of mine was only 'discovered' when I was deep into my teens. And the surprise - when I fist wore glasses - was that everyone else could see the WHOLE WORLD with such extraordinary clarity. It never occurred to me that when I could not see the blackboard - that others COULD. That I relied on memory to such an extent was probably how I compensated for my poor eyesight. So. This, and the art of 'inference' which is required when one hasn't got access to a visual reference, is how my poor brain was obliged to develop - if such it did. lol.
But this is what I need to stress. What that response elicited in me, was a sense of devotion. It was also a shared experience - with a Mr McEwan - who I had and have never met. Here was a man who showed me something that, quite simply, took my breath away. Wonderous - doesn't cut it. It was awe inspiring. Just SO amazingly - insightful. And so, so much more. It was indeed - CONSUMMATE. And after this? From that moment onwards I KNEW that I did not have, in me, the required skill to do justice to this new found love. I could NEVER, myself, be the artist - that I had always assumed would be my career path. Anything that was mediocre would be a travesty on this love. And I was very, very concerned that my very best efforts would, at best, be mediocre.
Which brings me back to the 'theme' of this post. I was privileged to have that experience a second time. The first was when I was in my mid teens. This second was when I was 50 year old. And this time the spark came from Gary Zukov's 'Dancing Wu Li Masters. With a masterful excellence he mapped out the 'condition of standard physics' up to the time of publication - I think it was sometime in the '80's. Not only that but he had accessed expert comment on all issues that he covered. It was TRULY representational of the standard model. Again I was captivated and engrossed. But what engrossed me most was NOT so much what he wrote but what he DID NOT write. Why, for instance, did he NOT propose that a magnetic field may be a primary force? By now I'd bought magnets. And I could see that there was a STRONG interaction between them - but without any electric energy at all. Where then was the other side of the equation that Maxwell required? That electric inducing a magnetic and vice versa - thing? Why, with equivalent charge was the proton yet, and ALWAYS, precisely 1836 times BIGGER than an electron? Why did the gravitational force interact with objects at THE SAME RATE regardless of their weight mass? Into WHAT did those particles decay that exploded out of the bubble chamber in a particle accelerator? What earthly relevance was there to unstable particles? And on and on. I could barely manage the questions. And, with characteristic immodesty - I decided that the only way I would be able to get to the answers - was to find them out for myself.
Which is what I did. And that was when I found a new devotion. This time to the vision of the magnetic field. And if and when any of you get it - then I'm reasonably satisfied that you will experience exactly the same sense of surprise and awe that I've experienced. Meanwhile I am compelled to simply attest to it and, within the constraints of my poor abilities - somehow try and share it. That it solicits that absurd attack from those such as Poynty, Harvey, his wife, Glen Lettenmaier, Ashtweth Palise and many, many others - is irrelevant. Amusing at best. But entirely off the point. It just shows me how far they all are from seeing the real issue - that FIELD that answers so, so much. It's not so lonely looking at the miraculous vision of all those soapstone carved with such eloquent skill and aplomb - when one also knows that - at its least - McEwan also saw this. But it most certainly IS lonely when I look at the comprehensive excellence of the magnetic field and I simply do not seem to have the skills to show this.