Art Thought, by Alonzo King

We are all individual hieroglyphs. Every human being is a conundrum and enigma that must resolve itself. We begin as imitators and it takes time to understand who and what we really are. Who knows who they are?

We may know things about ourselves, habits, likes and dislikes, the stain of environment, culture, language and place. But these things do not reveal who and what we are. If we begin the query, “who am I,” with rigorous introspection, we have to realize that we are not race, sex, age, occupation. Do we hold those titles when we sleep, or when we leave the body? We transcend those limiting definitions. All of life is a game of hide-and-seek towards self-realization. We are seeking ourselves. In the chase, stumbling through chimeras of illusion and suffering the mosquitoes of countless distractions, we now and then catch glimpses of the Self that resides within.C_Book_AlonzoKing_120607_255Polonius’s celebrated words, which he speaks to his son Laertes: “To thine own self be true,” is often erroneously understood as do what feels good, or cater to your egocentric whims. The true meaning is to honor that which dwells within and animates these physical bodies. We have two selves. The weak, whining, complaining self and the heroic indestructible Self. Polonius is addressing the higher Self.

We have conscience that observes what we do at all times. It is called the witness.

In many ways the artistic path is the spiritual path.

A Geiger counter, a blood hound, that only seeks truth, and denounces what is false. The view of the witness is our own and yet it looks upon us as though it’s watching someone else. Autobiography of a Yogi author, Yogananda states that when you awake from sleep, you know whether you slept well or not. So there is this overriding consciousness that always remains aware.C_Book_AlonzoKing_120607_657-1051

Diversity is an amazing trick in that it can make all things, humans, plants, animals and gems, seem so shockingly different from each other, yet in essence as the rishis of India have communicated and now scientists are echoing in – all things are created from the same essence, and the appearance of difference is only in the rate of vibration. As ice is a different vibration from water, which is a different vibration from mist. Condensation and evaporation are movements through the changes of one form into another – although its the same substance.

Another remarkable commonality expressed in all things is the need to expand. The radiant brilliance of gems, the oak seed into the tree, the small mind into the larger mind.

Everything is reaching for omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience.

Dance, Music, Painting, Architecture, Agriculture, are the same work. They are tools for humanity to express their art. Let’s think of art as intelligence. A knowing that is beyond inference and deductive reasoning. An intellectual virtue that is possessed within all human beings – which has no limits to its diversity of expression.crop for book

When any artist thinks that his discipline is uniquely different from another discipline we fool ourselves. And when any creative, child-rearing parent, teacher, gardener, activist, cook thinks that they are not involved in art, they are fooling themselves.

Everyone involved in self reform is some kind of artist.

In what we call primordial cultures there was no driving roar of cacophonous city clamor, no skyscrapers that blocked the horizon’s view, nor bright lights that obliterated the starry dome of night’s awe-provoking mathematical sky. Plainly put, these people were not removed from nature and its continuous outpouring of information. When you have the opportunity to experience the vastness of nature, you become aware of the loudness of silence and its ever-speaking profundity. You gain the liberating perspective of your own minuteness and become aware of rhythms and cycles. Not just the obvious change of seasons or climate, but a subtle perception of Nature as a living and communicating presence. Plants, animals, stones, sky, metals, water—everything in life is whispering its meaning, and with great listening, the meaning behind everything can be understood. That is what a true education is, when the meaning that is being conveyed behind all things is understood. This can’t happen from books alone – there’s not enough time. But knowledge can come from a developed intuition.

All humans have access to intuition, but like anything, if not cultivated or developed it remains unknown.

Art is a “knowing,” an intellectual virtue. Intuition and Nature are the elder sisters of art. Art doesn’t want to imitate the “look” of nature, but more its manner of operation.C_Book_AlonzoKing_120607_844The principle expression of life is movement. In the Big Bang theory, what occurred first; the vibration of movement or the vibration of sound? They are the same. Movement and sound are inextricably linked. One does not exist without the other. You have to move something to make music, i.e., fingers, breath, feet – all movement produces sound. The sun, stars and planets move, thoughts are movement, in fact that’s what ballets are “thought structures.”

Music is thought made audible, dance is thought made visible.

The body with its beating heart, rushing blood, inhalation and exhalation, are all sound producing movements. Dance is living. And that is the point. All that lives is dancing. Whether it be the brutality of war, or the harmony of peace, there is nothing living that is not dancing. There is a constant rhythm and sound in the cosmos, that rhythm and sound has an alliance with the human body, and that rhythm and sound can be plugged into for healing, and knowledge. This is what primordial cultures clearly understood.C_Book_AlonzoKing_120607_473_v2

At its basic level art is the knowledge of how things are done. At its highest level, the purpose of art is to awaken memory and break down the delusion that we are weak whining mortals, and remind us that we are gods.

Emerson puts it perfectly when he states “the aim of art is higher than art.” Human beings have a tremendous ability for scrutiny. In character we look for sincerity.

We want to know in all of our investigations the difference between what is sparkling and shiny, and what is pure gold. The artist is concerned, as is the scientist, with the X-factor behind all phenomena. The scientist begins his investigations from the outside, the artist from within. To make the invisible visible is the goal of artists as well as all humans.

Anyone involved in the search for themselves is a practicing artist.

All of us on the planet who haven’t been stymied into hopelessness are seeking some form of expansion. Most people in moments of quiet feel that they have a great purpose in life. And that is true. Not fame, which is the misguided interpretation of that call, but the great purpose of our lives is to realize who and what we really are, and through that discovery to serve others.hero skinClear thought is not a common occurrence in the world. Even when people are speaking directly to you, you have to listen for what they truly mean behind the words. When clear thought is seen, heard, written, it can produce aesthetic shock, because it’s so simple and true; it works as a tuning fork that resonates with what is inside each of us. Skill is often understood to mean a display of powers. The definition is “the ability to do something well; expertise.” With mastery comes efficiency, you don’t want to show off powers, you want to do what’s required to create what is needed. What you are interested in is making ideas clear.

There is this thought that a dancer, singer, musician, has to have an incredible range of physical possibility to be skillful. But this isn’t true. It is the mental ability and the heart’s capacity that has to be huge.

It is the mind and heart that dances, sings and plays. Not the body.

You don’t have to know every word in the dictionary to write a masterful novel. The artist is concerned with motive, statement and understanding. Genius has access to a vault of information called the superconscious. We have a waking day consciousness, subconscious and the superconscious. The superconscious state is a place of intuition, where what is known is known, and needs no validation.

Great dancing is a state of heightened awareness in a transcendent balance between will and surrender.

Most dancers will tell you, that in their treasured moments of dance, they felt that they were being danced. Likewise, our great composers have communicated that their most sublime works were not the result of intellectual rigor, but rather gifts, which were received. Creation is about discovery, and discovery indicates something was found and, if found, that it already existed. What already exists within us is our perfection.c_book_alonzoking_120607_407.jpg

Training is the work of discovering that perfection and removing anything that inhibits or blocks it. You build upon and honor the law but aim to eventually rise above its hold. Each individual has the uniqueness of an electrical current unlike any other that must unapologetically emit its luminance. We are a triumvirate of body, mind, and spirit, and in that hierarchy sprit is above mind, and mind is above body. Spirit inspires the mind and the mind dances the body. When aboriginal cultures dance in groups it is to participate with others as their larger Self. There has to be a plug-in to something larger than yourself, or skill is soon accompanied by conceit, and you remain in shallow water.

Humility is the doorway to deeper expansion.

In training what is being taught are values, and what is being freed and strengthened is the mind. All of us are given two tremendously powerful gifts, will and thought. With these two tools we can construct or destroy our lives. These two forces manipulate the universe. It is the mind that liberates or imprisons.

The dancing body is a symbolic miniature of the macrocosm and can potentially operate in the same manner. Dances are thought structures to be directly experienced and/or contemplated. Early man understood that we are conduits for information and that one must get out of the way in order to receive and transcend. In the rooms where most of us spend our time training and rehearsing, we cannot forget that we are linked to that primordial history, and our aim is the same.

Cover photo of Alonzo King by Franck Thibault; all other photos of LINES Ballet by RJ Muna