The World is Not Exactly an Illusion

Contemporary aesthetic fashion holds that there are only surfaces and social relationships.


Sure. It is only humans who are mesmerized like that. That illusion is, so to speak, our signature. If you see that illusion popping up, then it’s safe to say:


A Human Was Here!

The world itself is dark.

To illustrate this point, here is a line up of young male humans waiting to go inside a mirrored box of light in early morning Reykjavik at the end of April, brought to you as an image of oh-so-human light.


Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik

And here is a glimpse of some extra bits …


… and closer …


Leftovers from Constructing the Harpa

See? Any way you shake it, it’s just light. Well, no. Look again.

P1090386Sidewalk, Grass, Salsify, Light and Shadow

When it is said that this is all surface, it’s the same as saying it is all a series of social relationships and the same as saying this:

Because humans have developed a series of sciences based upon separating the human experience of the earth into components such as energy, light,  mechanics, chemistry, the theories of social science, the workshop practices of creative writing and the gallery practices of art, and when they train themselves in them, it is what they see.

The earth, and human relationships to it, are something else. It is good to remember that there is a third way. Let’s call it: The Sculptural Way. It works on the principle that what humans make are representations of bodies — their bodies. This, for instance, is a starling in its real life, but now it’s a representation of a human body, too:

P1610235Human Body

So is this:

P1000297Ocean Resort Spiritual Maze, Vancouver Island

So is this:

P1610089Wooden Body Word Sculpture, Vernon, British Columbia

And this …

P1000021Street Construction Materials, Vernon, British Columbia

Aka: a human body.

Anything else is just a social interpretation. You can make that interpretation. You can even live within it and carve out social space there and its social-spatial-representations-of-the-human-body, but you will never shake off the dark. It will chase you to the end of the earth, unless you stop and call it by your own name.

P1550124Darkness in the Shape of Woman and Child, Reykjavik

The bench and the derelict houses are you, too — and are at the same time not you.

That is not a social relationship, and it is not an illusion. No creative writing workshop or social intervention can help you with that, Earth Creature. Will you go there into the dark, or will you turn away into the dazzling light? Here, let me try to shape the body of this piece with one more level of clarity:


Image of Icelandic Goose in April

This is not darkness or light. It is closer to a sculpture in time.

And …

snaefellsSkaftafell, East Iceland

This is not time or space.

Words are just tools. Handle them with care. They will change you. Sometimes they will even take your place.

bookcityBookstore, Reykjvaik

Fortunately, you can still find yourself there.









4 thoughts on “The World is Not Exactly an Illusion

  1. I don’t agree. We wouldn’t know if animals have illusions. They dream, that means they can also have illusions. You like to refer to nature as being the real thing. And you’re writing this on a computer. I don’t know contemporary aesthetic fashion or care and thus I don’t understand what you or they want to say about surfaces and social relationships. That does not describe my world. But then.. I am really not a specialist for social relationships. There’s more than one form of illusions, optical, sonic, logical, sentimental. I like the photo of the ducks on the water. It shows that there is no surface. 😉

    • There is definitely a duck and water, whatever they are. The way they appear are products of languages: intellectual, social and otherwise. As is, as you point out, the photographs and the words. I think we agree a lot, actually. Contemporary social-aesthetic theory, however, would hold that it is all illusion, ergo no duck, no observer, but the illusion of nature, and especially the scientific language that predetermines it, would be real. Goethe would not have liked that. He tried to warn us against that. Forget nature. It’s a baroque parlour game. But there is a duck. And it is swimming in water. What that water or that duck are, ah, those are topics for another day. Of course, if one does hold that ‘science’ is truly neutral, then the rest would, logically enough, be illusions. I was trying to point out that this is only one possible interpretation. What we should do is discuss this over some calvados some day, and perhaps let the calvados do most of the talking. Cheers. H

      • No Calvados for me. I had a very bad calvados experience when I was young. Beer’s okay and the hop would make sure we don’t exaggerate. Or red wine but then we might get a bit silly.
        But still… since I do not know what contemporary social-aesthetic theory claims or is about (I’m 19th century) it would be Francis Bacon (1561-1626) who said something like: everything could be an illusion, we can not prove anything, because it would be always us who prove and we might invent the things we try to prove. That’s a valid point. I agree with Francis Bacon on that (who, if I remember right, left the good path of logic at that point, because he wanted to prove the existence of god). But it doesn’t matter much if we invent everything or not. Because the duck is there, if it’s an invented duck or a duckduck. I don’t know who said it but it was a buddhist who said: the wall might be only an illusion, but if you run against it, it will hurt. Or in this case the water under the duck might be an illusion, but you’ll get wet nevertheless if you fall in the pond.
        So, do we say the same or not?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s