An Unexpected Harmony (P2)
I started my journal in 1971 and have been maintaining it through thick and thin. It was an instinct to keep a record. It was also the first place where I felt I could always tell the truth. I couldn’t tell all the truth because there isn’t enough time in the day. But I was always free to tell the truth if I wanted to. After all these decades a question naturally arises. Does life have a purpose? Can language express that purpose? Are we what we say we are? Does knowledge matter? In my experience things matter to all of us, but the idea of purpose can be elusive. Nonetheless, we all seem to need some sort of lodestar, something that really gets us up in the morning. That lodestar, that magnetic essence, can be intangible. But when it is operating it is undeniable and has the power to pull us through fear and even severe hardship.
Many activities have meant a great deal to me. Obviously there is a hierarchy – things that root themselves deep in one’s conscience. Those activities can be very special indeed. Conscience can have many parts to it and seems to possess a ‘knowledge base’ that is largely accessible to intuition and that often seems to run deeper than consciousness itself. Some parts are personal and others are for mankind as a whole. When I paint it tends to be a personal quest for truth. I try to express myself freely and honestly and then I want to show it to others. But when it came to the laws of geometry and proportion that seem to underlie the miracle of human form, right from the beginning I knew I intended this for mankind. That it has been one of the most unexpected aspects of the journey so far for me, personally, is a bonus.
I cannot say for sure why I have been drawn to this work. My father was a professor of comparative religion and created the department of religion at the U of Toronto. He was not that interested in anatomy though he wanted to paint portraits when he was younger. My mother was very interested in anatomy and when I was ten gave me my first anatomy book that she had used as a nurse during World War 2 because I had developed an inexplicable interest in the anatomy of the heart after we moved from Southern Ontario to Quebec. I had no interest in the brain at that time – only the heart. It was concurrent with a comparable interest in the French language. Heart and French went together as if they constituted one theme.
When I started the geometry in earnest in 1984, I was introduced to a term called “intelligence-of-the-heart” by the French writer R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. For Schwaller this was the essence of the ancient Egyptian mentality and emphasized synthesis over cerebral analysis.
As I examine it now, I realize that the journey heaped up clues. I had a tenacious instinct to preserve those clues. Gradually I began to see a pattern. The pattern existed within a web of circumstances the keys to which were synthesis and interaction. Some of the clues caused me enormous surprise. They challenged my existing biases and often aroused resistance in others so that frequently I was forced to push on alone. I was all too often shocked at the intolerances of others. But equally surprising were the intrepid few who encouraged me not to give up the quest to prove that everything was interconnected and that the human soul/body was a product of that interconnectedness.
What you see below are two fairly advanced drawings of a female and male canon of proportions. It is important to note that these drawings took around 21 years to evolve to their current state. Each one selects a theme and then attempts to demonstrate the theme with some economy of means. So a lot of information is omitted at any given time, while specific ‘fundamentals’ are always present.
I began with the geometry and the territory within which I hunted for clues was basically wide open. Only gradually did I adjust the form to the geometry itself. I was looking for basic interactive geometrical elements that together as an ensemble would bring the human form to life. It had to offer the feeling of being right, individual and universal at the same time.
As the geometry became increasingly specific, I would then adjust and fine tune the actual figure. Below is an example of one progression as more data gradually emerged. I was working at a small scale on transparent plastic so I had to use a magnifying glass to draw faces, eyes, fingers and so forth.
Like any specialized field of inquiry, specifics are everything. Every surgeon knows this. If you are not specific, failure will be inevitable. The same exists in physics. Specificity becomes critical. Unfortunately this means a language develops that becomes so detailed that it is difficult for others to catch up. I started to develop a geometrical language in 1984 and completed this phase of the canon in 2006. In the image below we see multiple specifics self-interacting.
In the next entry I will begin to enumerate some of the most important clues that influenced the evolution of these images. When looking for a possible relationship between ‘purpose’ and ‘form’ I was amazed to discover the fundamental role played by three intervals in particular that tend to dominate western music: the Octave, Major Fourth and Major Fifth. These intervals also tend to harmonize perfectly with the Golden Number and its extraordinary family. After years of repetition I often felt more like a composer learning his notes than I did an illustrator of form. We don’t merely respond to music in a universal manner; it seems the same notes that move us in music are part and parcel of the way we have been built up from simple zygotes into complex beings with enormous facility.