Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beauty Breathes, Day Uncounted: My Crackpot Picasso Theory

My Crackpot Picasso Theory

I've been short on posting this last week because my six-year-old computer finally gasped it's last breath, and I've been without a PC for almost a week. I now have a new, compliant, smoothly running computer! It's been a major and yet-to-be completed process of building/downloading/patching/remapping everything, not to mention a packaging waste nightmare, but it's totally worth it for the unimaginable luxury of being able to run more than one program at once.

It was my birthday this week. Although I'm still grouchy and out of sorts about being in my forties, (mostly because I don't feel or act anything like what I imagine “a woman in her forties” should feel and act like), I'm in a much better place with it this year. Meaning, my husband didn't need to distract me with a trip to Vegas to keep me from having a complete depressive breakdown. Instead, he bribed me to take the day off work with an omelet breakfast and a trip to the Picasso exhibit at SAM.

When I go to an exhibit, I always avoid the listening devices because I want to go in viewing the work with as a little information as possible. I don't want information to distract me or bias me to what I'm seeing. I don't want any knowledge coming between me and the pure energetic and emotional experience of viewing. My policy has always been: see first, educate later. I can always fill in information that I need or want after the fact, but I rarely get a chance to spend an entire morning encountering one work of art after another in a quiet, contained environment created specifically for that purpose, so I want to take full advantage of the experience. To me, the worst thing that can happen to interrupt that process is some disembodied voice telling me what to see and how I should see it, or dictating to me what it's “about.”

Before I explain my Crackpot Theory About Picasso, I should probably provide some context: When I was a massage therapist, I was most interested in working with the mind-body connection and emotional healing. I spent several years studying energetic and mind-body healing techniques with the ARC Institute under Pietro, in my opinion a brilliant teacher who not only perceives human energetic fields on multiple levels, but is one of most powerful healers I've ever met. Through him, I learned how focus my intuition into perceiving energy, which for me has always been a kinesthetic rather than a visual experience. Most of the time I'm not able to “see” the auric field. I tend to act more as an antennae; picking up heat, cold, sharpness, softness, pain, constriction, and emotional content through my hands, or feeling where the client feels discomfort directly in my own body. Pietro is able to see, hear and feel the energy fields on multiple levels, which occasionally lends him a slightly glazed and haunted expression. I have a hard enough time dealing with my own highly sensitive tendencies, and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to go through life with his level of intense awareness.

I believe that Picasso was a powerful psychic who saw the human energetic field on a very real, intense visual level. I think he saw this energy all of the time but had no context for what it was, and that's why he painted the way he did. I've taken very few formal visual arts classes and I don't have the language to describe what I sensed in his art in formal terms, but to me, almost all of his work carries powerful vibrations and movement that seems chaotic and uncatchable, as though he was constantly trying to capture visually what he was seeing in and around his psychic field of vision. I think it's possible that he painted the way he did because that's exactly how he saw the world around him. In many of his paintings, it's as though he's trying to paint his subjects from the inside out; he's reaching in to capture the vibration, the energy and movement at the soul core of his subjects. It was an amazing thing to witness, and I wish that I had a lot more time to sit and absorb everything.

But maybe it was for the best that I didn't, as standing in the middle of all of this, I started to have another experience exactly like the one I had in Alaska, where I felt everything melting around me and thought that I was going to fall down. I started to feel panicked by the beauty of the experience; overwhelmed. Tear began to flow, but I was standing in a crowd of people, and I desperately didn't want to make a scene and have to explain that was I perfectly fine, just breaking apart on a cellular level because I couldn't hold that much beauty and love in my body all at once. I didn't want to have to say, “I'm just going to disintegrate into God now because that's what I'm standing in the middle of.” I had to pull it together, put on my public face, and disappointingly, wall myself off to some degree from what I was seeing. This is the third such experience like this that I've had in the last several months, and it's disconcerting, mysterious, and strangely okay all at the same time.

I wonder what will happen if I let go completely one of these days; just slip into it without fear or resistance.

--Kristen McHenry


Hannah Stephenson said...

Hi Kristen,

I found you through your excellent piece in qarrtsiluni.

I'm happy to have found your blog...I love what you have said about feeling "panicked by the beauty of the experience." I felt this way the first time I went to the Getty Museum here in LA. I have felt this way listening to certain music (Sufjan Stevens, for example, this past Sunday night--just ecstatically amazing). It's as if someone reaches into our bodies and flicks a switch we didn't know we were built with.

You mention fear in your last line--perhaps we are fearful of the experience ending before we have time to process it and get all the meaning from it we can?

Looking forward to more of your work.

Kristen McHenry said...

Hi, Hannah

"...perhaps we are fearful of the experience ending before we have time to process it and get all the meaning from it we can?"

This is definitely part of it for me...the other part is about dissolving completely. The other part is about being embarrassed.

I will have to check out some Sufjan Stevens--it sounds like amazing music!


Jo-Ann said...

You are so honest, Kristen...its always such a reward reading your blog. Jo-Ann