Spirit-Lines: Transpersonal Design
I first came across the concept of spirit-lines during a shamanic ceremony; where the magic circle was broken to leave a gap in it. The purpose of this gap: the “spirit line” is meant to leave a room for the spirit to move freely as it wills. It resonated deeply. I looked into it deeper and it seems to be originally a Navajo concept. Navajo Weavers break the mandala of their rugs so spiritual forces don’t become trapped in it, and also so that their own soul can escape the mandala they are making.
“Many a Navajo grandmother will tell you that crosses represent Spider Woman. The symbol of Spider Woman was given to the earliest weavers to remember her teachings and wisdom. For some weavers, placing the symbol of Spider Woman (crosses) within a graphic form of a diamond, triangle or square was risky business. Spider Woman was not of this world and her spirit should not be entrapped within the form. Therefore in some Navajo weavings, the cross will have an actual hole or sometimes a graphic hole in the cross.”. – http://www.canyonroadarts.com
A person’s thoughts and thinking are understood as being both animate and powerful in Navajo philosophy. All of the thoughts that go into making the rug can be said to reside within the object itself. As a result, therefore “part of” the maker and her thoughts can reside within the objects she or he creates. The pathway provides an exit for a weaver’s thinking, what weavers call “a way out” that allows weavers the chance to actively disconnect from their woven work that is intended to be sold, thus avoiding any potential negative or harmful effects that may occur as the weaving circulates more widely. – https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/article/view/1033/2037
So how does this tie in with Transpersonal Design? ( http://www.jjroux.com/transpersonal-design/ )
Well in my own work I have intuitively been leaving traces of production on my finished objects. In fact in http://www.jjroux.com/project/adaptable-production-by-design/ the traces of production, and the features of redundant functions are used deliberately as aesthetic elements. There is a deeper reason behind this.
The original spirit line.
The traces of production, like our bodies belly buttons, are meant to remind us that the object is just a frozen still-frame in a time-lapse of infinite time: an time-line with no beginning or end. In reality there are never any “objects” or “things” only temporary patterns in an ongoing computation of matter/energy.
When we see objects, we get caught in them as finalities: as finished products; it is our consciousness that gets caught in the mandala of a thing. Leaving traces of production to remind us of the process: that there are no objects only a single process – that is my spirit line.
It is about leaving a gap between the abstract conceptual product (as we know it in our heads) and the living reality which temporarily supports the projection of that idea (the fact we have to manipulate pre-existing existence and matter to make this thing).
So we never perfectly manifest a thing – but rather always have there will always be a flaw in the actual thing (the manifest object) relative the perfect abstract thing (abstractly known object) . The flaw is in actuality the trace of reality in the thing that the thing was made: that the object is a projection, and will be unmade. So the flaw: the imperfect manifestation of perfect concept, becomes a door into perceiving the reality beyond the concept rather than being caught in only perceiving the conceptual and mental dream of a thing.
An example in nature is the Apple. We say look at this object: the apple, but is it really an object or is it a process? The apple rots or is eaten and the liberated seeds grow into young plants, then a tree, then the tree blooms, and then it fruits and makes another apple, and the process continues like a fractal through time infinitely.
But this apple isn’t even an apple process as a closed loop, it could easily be described a branch of a solar energy process, or a water process: that point is there is no closed object and no closed process, everything is open and interdependent. The least thing contributes to the whole of the universe being as it is, and the whole of the universe contributes to the least thing being as it it.
I discuss this idea in my dissertation and creative manifest ‘Making and the transpersonal future’: http://www.jjroux.com/creative-manifesto/ The idea is that because we know in ‘abstract’ that we assume abstract “things” can exist. Abstract things are impossible: there are no definite objects.
AH, I hear you say “…but I see a world of objects, here I am looking at a screen, reading a post, made of words, made of individual letters: endless small objects making endless big objects.”
You are wrong. You receive sensory experience as an undifferentiated unity: the single datum of the fact of existence. The mind has then learnt to interpret repeating patterns within sensory information, and then divide the single real datum of the fact of existence into an array of unreal conceptual fractions of abstract data. By giving generic names to repeated patterns you rip apart the unity of experience into a contexture of interpreted separate wholes. But the collage of conceptual identities is not reality, so long as you experience that, you are trapped in the mandala of perceived thought: you need a spirit-line to break free.
What if I told you there are no generic objects. Every object is unique, a unique set of atoms that travelled light years over aeons from one star to another on completely different tracjetories before being mined in a specific part of Africa by a child called Hannie whose favourite colour was the colour of the mountain near his village during sunset, and then being worked on by a 37 year old woman in China called ReiRei who get heart burn when she drinks orange juice, to make your particular laptop’s charger head.
You can see the assumption of generic: of abstract existence, is already dissonante with the known fact of the unique object even if was “mass-produced’. In actuality dictionaries are useless: there is no finite list of generic nouns, only an infinite list of specific nouns.
But even so, I am getting at something even deeper! Universe is the only noun you need. We are universe in universe perceiving universe, sitting on universe, eating universe. The very boundaries of objects are subjective: are mental projection: willed interpretation. We know black in contrast to white, without white what is black? Things as culturally concrete as the colour orange didn’t exist until about 100 years ago. People literally didn’t see it because no one bother to name that shade of red. That why we say “Robin Red-Breast” when the birds chest is clearly orange. Same for countries and nationalities:
Borders don’t exist in reality. They are, once again, these abstract ideas of a thing which only exist in our heads but that we insist are real. Israel is just an idea, but Zionists are trying to make it a reality: in many ways Gaza and the West-Bank are Israel’s spirit-line: the flaw in the object that shows us it doesn’t exist except on a mental level: that it exists only because we want to interpret it.
Interpretation like breath seems automatic, but we can learn to control it. You can force yourself to look at a word and not see the meaning but only see it as a graphic: black lines on white: just be silently aware of the black lines on paper.
You can do this with speech, it easier with foreign language, but is possible to reduce it to just noise in awareness. Infact if you have learned another language you will know that interpretation is a willed effort until it become automatic.
You can also do this with your gaze. When I say look at the object on the table you eyes automatically contract to focus the depth of field on to the surface of that object. But relax you gaze, look at the entire surface of the table like you would a landscape, make a noise: you just made up a noun to describe a “thing” made up of your table surface with objects on it.
Universe is Universe. Experience is experience. It is interpretation that creates the layer of conceptual reality we use to navigate through the universe as an individual “I”.
In Satori, or Samadhi: when all metal activity ceases in profound meditation, all interpretations are suspended, and experience is experienced directly without the intermediary filter of conceptual thoughts and nouns. Then and only is then are we truly sane: truly free to experience the world beyond the cage of perception, in direct awareness.
And this is the point of spirit lines: that the truth can not be contained in any vessel; that a noun can not define the existential mystery of existence: that all conceptual projection: all wholes, names, containers can never seal inside themselves the fact of Being that is.
Because when we do get trapped in name and form, we no longer perceive the truth, we become lost in the world of nouns and objects we project: and lost in delusion we hurt ourselves and those around us. This can be seen in the massive damage being done to the planet to make abstract “products” that don’t fit into systems of independent ecology and existence. And why humanity suffers so dreadfully because of political and ethnic identities that were never meant to divide it, but only to it synchronise individuals into transpersonal collectives… anyway…
So YES to spirit lines in transpersonal designs! Because transpersonal design is all about reminding us there are no objects on a single process of interdependent existence!