Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner


Originally posted on June 13, 2013

For the last several years I’ve become especially intrigued with the art form of mandala-making, and especially my own form, which often involves making variations of nine circles in a circle. (See a recent example). This has no intrinsic meaning other than it appeals to me intuitively, but were I to try to put into words that intuition, some of the following associations might unfold:

These are the major dimensions of the cosmos that we can access: our own world of three dimensions, length, width (or should I call it breadth?) and height. This constitutes what seems familiar to us and we call “objective” reality. But the fourth dimension, so-called by Einstein, is really different in quality, if you think about it. Yes, time can be plotted on a chart as being theoretically an extension of changes in location over time, but it’s also different. It’s mediated by the mind, which weights the perception of time according to other criteria—this, too, Einstein noted: If a pretty girl sits in your lap, an hour can seem like a minute; if you sit on a hot stove, a minute can seem like an hour. In this sense of subjective experience, time differs from space.

Were I to note, by the way, that in dreams we occasionally encounter superimposed space realms, would that shake you up too much? The point is that we are led to believe that our familiar realm of three-dimensional space is the only “real” reality and the other realities are not so real, if they are to be even considered as being real at all. Consider— just consider— that of course they are real! What is illusory is our tendency to relegate the unfamiliar with the unreal!)

Other dimensions! What a concept! Dimensions interface with each other, interpenetrate. In our more familiar, objective 3-D space, even seeming 2-D images are more than many molecules thick, whether on a computer screen or paper, though when they are projected from a film onto a screen the problem of reality becomes more complex. But Plato in his “parable of the cave” (look it up on Google) addressed this—the problem of the potential for taking projected images as real, the problem of “verisimilitude.”

Music and its power to move us—might it be worthy of being considered a dimension? Perhaps other aspects of mind also might be worthy of that general category. (That is to say, once time became considered a dimension, it changed the meaning of the word. Similarly, evolution as a word has expanded from its original meaning as a strictly biological phenomena to explain the emergence of many new technologies through many generations.)

Mathematics, which combines some trans-mind elements and mind as a growing capacity to detect and represent patterns—I suspect it too would qualify as a dimension. Mystical experiences overlaps mind and the capacity to access trans-dimensional realities. (Note the plural: Whether human mind can indeed transcend and encounter all trans-dimensional realities is as yet open. Even transcending some is liable to give the impression that one has transcended many, or all, has apprehended the absolute. I have it on good authority (ha ha, as if there could be such a thing), or I just made it up, that mind can in no way ever ever be able to fully appreciate or apprehend even half of the absolute everything of the cosmos. If I am mistaken, please enlighten me.)

So, back to the meaning of my mandalas. They are a reaching, just a reaching, and also a contemplation of the nature of complexity. The nine-pointed-ness, the quasi-symmetries in these figures are meant to express a mixture of actual symmetry mixed or layers with chaos, randomness, or playful spontaneity, which at yet another layer is nevertheless seen as a kind of rough order. Life seems to do this sort of thing, layer apparent order with apparent chance variation.

Another feature of all this is a rough balance, which, like a kaleidoscope, is subject to rotating transformation. The figure is a nine rather than eight-fold symmetry to suggest its dynamism. It sort of looks symmetrical but it isn’t, and thus it can never be fully stable. Of course, it’s not supposed to. Some people seek that kind of stability and superimpose images of symmetry, but my gut sense (which might be mistaken) is that of Heraclitus, who commented that one can never step in the same stream twice. (The molecules of water have moved further downstream, so the stream one steps in is correspondingly different.)

Well, that’s enough of speculation for the while.

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