Wordless Moments of Being

Claude Monet, "Impression Sunrise"

Claude Monet, “Impression Sunrise”

Throughout my life I have been a collector of memorable moments. If I decide I want to capture a certain moment, I stop in my tracks and tell myself to register the impression. I do not have an eidetic sense, so what I commit to memory is more like an impression, often an unstable reflection, a flickering image always intertwined with the accompanying emotion. All of this without any words. Words actually can murder a moment, as it happened to Faust, who died because he said, “Stay a while, you are so beautiful¨!” The moments I have chosen to remember have always included me in solitary space, often in a natural setting, usually communing with the surroundings. Like in Monet’s Impression Sunrise, the mind had to be fast and busy capturing the transient and ephemeral moments of impression. No matter if weak or transient, the moments left an indelibleimprint on my memory. They are like a well I can draw from when my inspiration runs dry or when I feel disconnected and inattentive.

These thoughts accompanied me while I have recently been contemplating the work of Peter Doig, a Scottish painter whose art hit me like a revelation not so long ago. I have come across an excerpt from an interview with him, in which he said:

“People often say that my paintings remind them of particular scenes from films or certain passages from books, but I think it’s a different thing altogether. There is something more primal about painting. In terms of my own paintings, there is something quite basic about them, which inevitably is to do with their materiality. They are totally non-linguistic. There is no textual support to what you are seeing. Often I am trying to create a ‘numbness’. I am trying to create something that is questionable, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words … I often use heightened colours to create a sense of the experience, or mood or feeling of being there … I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of … I am using … natural phenomena and amplifying them through the materiality of paint and the activity of painting.”

Via http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/doig-echo-lake-t07467/text-summary

While I am looking at his works, all my moments of wordless magic etched in my memory resurface and haunt me. Someone wrote that the world of his art is felt rather than understood. To me, his paintings are a true expression of Heidegger’s concept of dasein (being there), as the philosopher explained it in Being and Time:

“Body’, ‘soul’, and ‘spirit’ may designate phenomenal domains which can be detached as themes for definite investigations; within certain limits their ontological indefiniteness may not be important. When, however, we come to the question of man’s Being, this is not something we can simply compute by adding together those kinds of Being which body, soul, and spirit respectively possess–kinds of being whose nature has not as yet been determined. And even if we should attempt such an ontological procedure, some idea of the Being of the whole must be presupposed.”

Being is more primal to any concepts, words or ideas about what Being is.

Peter Doig, "Blotter"

Peter Doig, “Blotter”

Peter Doig, "Orange Sunshine"

Peter Doig, “Orange Sunshine”

Peter Doig, "Reflection"

Peter Doig, “Reflection”

Peter Doig, "Orange Forest"

Peter Doig, “Orange Forest”

Peter Doig, "Grasshopper"

Peter Doig, “Grasshopper”

Peter Doig, "Milky Way"

Peter Doig, “Milky Way”

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18 Responses to Wordless Moments of Being

  1. roughghosts says:

    Lovely paintings, thank you for sharing.


  2. herongrace says:

    “a collector of memorable moments”…so beautiful! After all, when our time here is up, these are what we may gather and take with us. You describe a recognition of specialness combined with a discipline in honoring these moments in our memories. I love the impressionistic paintings and thank-you for sharing an artist I have not seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Spiral Light says:

    Reblogged this on Weaving Among The Stars.


  4. ambfoxx says:

    I can see why you chose Doig’s work to bring life to this concept. Thanks for introducing me to his work. It’s beautiful. Alive.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. geokalpataru says:

    lovely paintings indeed

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nataraj Express says:

    I didn’t know this artist, truly beautiful essence of moments…. I understand you perfectly! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Monika, and very appropriate for how I am feeling. I just watched the film “Still Alice” last night, about a linguistics professor who gets Alzheimer’s. That is my most dreaded disease. The idea of having all my memories stripped from me is terrifying. As such, the importance of memory has dominated my thoughts this morning. Anyway, if you have not seen the film, I highly recommend it.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. lampmagician says:

    Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
    Wordless moments of being ♡♡♡♡


  9. Maria F. says:

    I love the word “wordless”, because words seem to bear too much information at times. No matter how well intended a conversation may be, there are always those words that may be misinterpreted and begin to ruin relationships. No wonder the old saying, “Silence is Golden”, still seems so relevant to this day and age. The whole essence of “being” becomes contaminated.

    In Buddhism, the term “anattā” refers to the perception of “not-self”, but used in a “skillful” way as with mindfulness. Skillful, in the sense that I’m able to perceive when my “self” is an obstacle, as in literally “killing” the meaning of something, or an intention, because of the words I choose to use get in the way. So from a Buddhist point of view we have to train “intention” so it doesn’t turn against us (karma). “Being” or essence in Nature doesn’t speak, and it doesn’t follow a predetermined or predictable course. This is why for me it’s so challenging to be human, because as Heidegger said “…some idea of the Being of the whole must be presupposed”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for bringing mindfulness and Buddhism into this. I know so little about it and I’m always grateful to learn more.
      About words, since I’m such a word centred person, pregnant silence is indispensable to me. From the silence the right word can be born. Otherwise I love what the Little Prince said: “I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings.”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “Being is more primal to any concepts, words or ideas about what Being is.”
    This is so true and yet so puzzling, as it raises a contradiction of some sort: what are the words good for, other than to confuse us even more?
    Being a social animal, an important part of our identity comes from our symbolic/social relationships which always interfere with that primal sense of being …
    Sorry if this does not make any sense, I am still in the middle of feeling it and making sense of it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you are asking extremely important questions. I think there is something primordial about language as well (thinking of the Kabbalah and logos as a creating principle, or about the AUM).
      Thank you very much for your comment.


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